What Is Group Dating?

Group dating is a fairly safe and fun way for teenagers to spend time together without getting into serious trouble.

Among conservative teenagers and their families, a new version of an old fashioned dating practice has emerged. Group dating simply means that a group of trusted teens go out together rather than pairing off as couples. This multi-person arrangement provides security and accountability rather than allowing for possible problems when underage youth spend time alone in a social context.

What are the advantages of group dating? Here are some reasons for giving it a try:

1. Socialize in a group. Everyone appreciates the benefits of placing our kids with positive role models and those who serve as good examples. Group dating extends this influence into the dating realm. Kids in their mid-teens can learn from and be supervised by older youth in their late teens. Obviously as parents you want to encourage the best kind of influences and the trustworthiest peers as opposed to kids who get into trouble and might lead your teens into trouble.

2. Observe the opposite sex from a close distance. Teenagers are always curious about the opposite sex. Yet it can be excruciatingly painful to ask someone on a date, only to be rejected. In a group date setting, several kids of both genders, often those who are friends or acquaintances, make plans to go out together in a safe and reasonable manner. For example, they may agree to meet at the bowling alley or a movie theater, and then go out for fast food afterward. In these types of settings, teens can keep an eye on each other to check out someone's use of etiquette (or lack of), how someone talks or acts around others, what peers say about their families, and so on. Without risk, teens can get to know others and further define their ideas about a suitable dating partner or spouse in the future.

3. Get acquainted casually. Having fun and getting to know one another are two hallmarks of a group-dating situation. Each teen can pay individual fees, thus further reducing potential performance pressure that comes with assuming responsibility for a date. Light conversation, teasing banter, and questioning interchanges help to build friendships that enable the kids to learn from each other and about life in general.

4. No one-to-one risk or temptation. Kids that date in a group are less prone to feel as though they must be on their best behavior to impress another person or to become someone they are not. Instead, they can be themselves in a comfortable manner that promotes true acquaintance and builds trust. Temptation is also reduced, since in a group setting among trustworthy peers, there are few options for sneaking off to do something you shouldn't with another person. Teens soon enjoy the fun of being with several other people instead of just one, and they don't face the social demands of having to grow up too quickly.

5. No either-or pressure. In one-to-one dating, there is enormous pressure to perform for and please someone you don't know well at first. As the acquaintance progresses, however, the fa├žade wears off and teens that become themselves can face rejection and emotional disillusionment. With group dating, everyone has a good time for the most part, and no one need worry about the phone call that will end the relationship. If one person drops out of the group, chances are there are several more who are eager to join.

Encourage your teen to give this style of dating a try. If it doesn't work out, the teen can always go back to dating as a couple. But chances are that group dating will become an attractive alternative for many.

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