Hook-up culture among young adults has been getting a lot of (potentially overblown) hype lately, and though some say the digital age has brought about the “death of courtship,” a new movement is beginning to define Millennial date nights. New apps and platforms are using Millennials’ fast paced lives to their advantage, providing instantaneous events and ideas that get them away from trolling online profiles and instead connecting IRL, and some young daters are turning to new services that are ushering users out the door to find their next connection, friend, hook-up, soul mate, or otherwise—with their friends in tow.
Group dating is on the rise, with a growing number of services, apps and sites being created to take the awkwardness out of a one-on-one night with a stranger. The trend only makes sense for the group-oriented generation; who view their friends as their safety net and thrive in using the digital world as a tool to foster offline connections. Group dating takes friend connections to a new level by increasing the possibilities for a match and erasing the fear many young people have about blind dates. Some older dating sites like Match.com have been experimenting with offline group “non-dates” to bring users from behind their screens. But services focused on organizing group-dates are catching the attention of more and more single Millennials who are looking for easy, comfortable ways to meet up, and are bypassing the trappings and troubles of online dating.
Ever wished you could bring a wingman on a date? Grouper, a group date site and app that seems to be leading the group date movement, lets you bring two. You are matched with another group of three friends, putting the odds ever in your favor by providing three viable romantic choices at once. Grouper turns dating into a group sport and erases the stigma for blind dating since the pressure is off with friends by your side to fill the awkward moments. In fact, insiders at Grouper don’t even use the “d-word,” calling dates “groupers” instead. Instead of letting Millennials procrastinate by endlessly scrolling through pictures of potentials, Grouper gets them offline, and even chooses the spot the group date will take place. The site pre-charges a $20 fee per dater that buys the first round of drinks, making the fear of being stood up en masse a non-issue, and introduces a gaming aspect by offering a free round of drinks to the best “Groupstagram” of the night, as if vying to be the cutest one amongst your friends wasn’t competition enough. The iPhone app provides “on-demand” group dates, matching up three guys with three girls, or vice versa, in close proximity at the press of a button.
The Dating Ring
This group matchmaking site has only been around a few months and is still in beta, but its focus on making romantic connections could set it apart from Grouper, which some see as just a way to have a fun night. Twenty-four-year-old founder Lauren Kay found that online dating was “becoming a second job.” Tired of endlessly scrolling through profiles and going on pointless dates with people who weren’t honest about themselves online, she decided to create her own solution. Like traditional dating sites, The Dating Ring has new users fill out an extensive profile, but not to be posted for anyone’s perusal. As they say, “we do the work, you can go on dates.” Only the matchmakers who work for the site read the profiles, in order to create group dates that are filled with optimal matches. The Dating Ring is hoping to raise money to expand, but say they have already made matches and started relationships through the service.
Dating in Groups
Launched in late 2012 for DC residents (where group dating seems to be taking off with older singles as well) Dating in Groups (DiG) emphasizes having fun new experiences outside your comfort zone that still feel safe. DiG is currently invite-only, so exclusivity is part of the appeal. Calling online dating “creepy” and one-on-one dates “embarrassing,” the site sets up events around town that members only can attend. DiG also mashes up the concept of the group date and the group deal, providing discounted experiences for participants. Once signed up, members browse the sponsored group dates happening soon at fun venues around the city, join the event they want to attend, and invite their friends to come with them with a simple click. Once at the event, members show a special code to the bartender or host to receive the group date discount. The most recent event touted a personal flight of beers and shared appetizers for your group for $26 per person. After the night is over, messages can be sent through the site to either an entire group of daters that you met or an individual in case you want to try a one-on-one date, or just arrange another group hang out on your own.