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Group Date Do’s and Don’ts


Heading out with your sweetie… and a few other people? Try these tips on mingling, maintaining a little romance, and mastering this new dating dynamic.

By Carly Milne

et’s face it: The intimacy of a one-on-one meeting is unbeatable for getting to know someone. But sooner or later, most couples — whether they’ve just begun dating or have been together for months — start itching to break out of their cozy little twosome and hang with other people. Group dates, in fact, are all the rage these days, although they’re hardly a new phenomenon: It’s been said that Frank Sinatra was the king of group dating, and his former paramour Angie Dickinson has been quoted saying they almost never went out alone. So if your own sweetie suggests “Hey, wanna meet up with a few of my friends for Happy Hour on Friday?” don’t feel dissed or intimidated: Consider it a casual way to mix things up and meet some of your date’s inner circle and introduce your date to some of yours.

That said, group dates do have their own rules of etiquette that, if ignored, can drive a wedge between you and your sweetie. So before you jump into the crowd, remember these points to keep those group dynamics working in your favor.

Arrive together if you can—and definitely leave as a duo
A group date is not an excuse to send proper dating courtesy out the window. Unless it’s insanely inconvenient (like, you’re both driving in from opposite directions), try to arrive
Arriving and leaving together sends the message that it’s still a date between the two of you.
with your date—and unless he or she has to bail super-early due to subsequent engagements, leave together. “This seems to be mind-numbing common sense, but I’ve seen people violate it, especially when the drinks start flowing,” notes Ron Geraci, an online dating expert and author of The Bachelor Chronicles. Arriving and leaving together sends your partner the message that although you’re in a group situation, it’s still a date between the two of you. So, no matter how tempted you are to say, “Well, see ya!” so you can down a couple more drinks with your posse, resist the urge.

Ace your introductions
If there are people at the event who haven’t met your date yet, it’s imperative that you make the necessary introductions versus leaving it up to your honey to do so. But if you haven’t discussed whether you’re officially an item yet, what should you say? The terms “boyfriend/girlfriend” may sound too serious, “this is my friend Nadia” offensively casual. Veteran group dater Kimb Smith, 26, however, has figured out a comfortable in-between move. “It’s a body language thing—you don’t necessarily have to call them anything,” she says. “But an introduction during which you touch your date’s arm or putting your arm around the other person is subtle, but makes the point.”

Never neglect your date
While you and your date certainly shouldn’t stay joined at the hip all night, the last thing you want is for your date to feel ignored. “Nothing makes a date feel less
valued than when you get distracted by everything and everyone except your date,” points out relationship expert April Mansini. One easy, low-maintenance way to
show you’re keeping an eye on your partner in crime is to make sure he or she is never in need of a drink—whether that’s a lemonade or a Lillet. If your date is empty-handed, buy a drink for him or her. “Even if you’re at the bar but aren’t standing together, give the bartender money for your sweetie’s next drink,” says Kimb. “It sends a nice message.”

Avoid insider conversations
“That means you spend 90 percent of your time talking to your date and you give others in the group mini-briefings to get them up to speed,” Geraci advises. “Many people on group dates do exactly the opposite: They talk fluidly to their friend or coworker about
“Public displays of affection annoy the living daylights out of many people.”
something that’s inside knowledge to them, and then lovingly stop at regular intervals to fill in their dates on the details they lack. This is a subtle way of telling someone, ‘You’re not necessary here and we’re making concessions for you.’ You never want your date to be on the recipient of that feeling. It’s deadly.” However, by the same token…

No private asides with your date, please
You and your sweetheart will have plenty of time later on to swap sweet nothings or other observations after your outing. So, do everyone else a huge favor and refrain from indulging in very private asides in front of the group. “It’s kind of rude,” says group dater Rich Juzwiak. “I just think that whenever someone is in a group and they close themselves off by whispering or whatever, the automatic assumption (however faulty) is that they’re talking about the other people, you know?”

Master the art of a private PDA
“Public displays of affection — kissing or heavy petting in front of others — annoy the living daylights out of many people,” points out Geraci. “And this annoyance becomes more aggravated in a group, because it’ll likely have the effect of emphasizing single people’s hard-up status and other couples’ lack of comfort in being that openly affectionate.” Still, if you’re dying to lavish a little love on your significant other, there are ways to do so: namely, a private PDA. For example: “Sometimes my boyfriend will squeeze my thigh under the table if we’re at dinner,” says Sharolyn Wiebe, 31. “It says, ‘I haven’t forgotten about you.’” A private PDA need not be invisible to others; it just needs to be something that won’t raise eyebrows. Charles Peterson, 35, offers this alternative: “One night I was at a club with a group of friends and my date. While we were waiting in line to get in I reached over and tickled her briefly. It was fun and playful. It shows you’re paying special attention to your mate that you don’t show to your friends.”

Use eye contact to connect with your date
Even if your sweetie’s way over on the other end of the room, there’s a way you can send a quick “thinking of you” love dart his or her way: namely, through eye contact. “Using eye contact as a way of communicating can be very romantic and sexy,” says relationship expert Janice Hoffman. What does she recommend? “Make eye contact with your date and use facial expressions to communicate. Smile at your date. Wink once in awhile. This lets your date know you are enjoying their company, even when you’re not close.”

Top off your group date with a little one-on-one time
So you and your amour have mingled up a storm. The end of the night is a perfect time to peel off and indulge in a little alone-time over a night cap or dessert. When 27-year-old Adam Grayson found himself the designated driver for most of the group dates he and his girlfriend went on, he figured out the perfect way to cap off the evening. “I would always pick everyone up and drop everyone off,” he recalls. “So I’d always take everyone else home first, then either wind up at her place or my place, depending on whether I picked her up or she met me at my house. That way, even if we didn’t spend the night together we could have a little alone time before our evening came to a close.”


Carly Milne has written for Maxim, Stuff, and other publications.
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