Field report: the Grouper date

by GK on April 15, 2013 · 13 comments


Comfort is a two-faced bitch. It lures us away from the jagged rocks of pain to the soft shores of protection. It is a great time-saver and facilitator; it might even be fun for a while.

Comfort is also our undoing, robbing us of our potential. It’s the difference between Bilbo Baggins staying in the Shire as a Hobbit, and fighting a dragon as THE Hobbit.

So, let’s keep this in mind when I offer my thoughts on Grouper, a self-described “social club” offering a new spin on online dating — although they never use the word “date,” and you’re hardly ever online. After using Grouper three times, I’ll say this: it’s one of the most comfortable ways of meeting women that a guy is going to find. Take that for what you will.

Here’s a quick lowdown for the uninitiated: Grouper started here in San Francisco and New York and has since spread to other U.S. cities. A “Grouper” matches one guy with one girl, and although the company takes great pains not to call the event a date, you must each find two single friends of your gender to go. I suspect this formula will gain popularity with younger, techier crowds who don’t want the anxiety of approaching attractive strangers.

It goes something like this:
grouper formula

All the prep work is done for you: there are no online profiles to sift through, no email exchanges and no planning where to go. These factors will be pros or cons depending on your viewpoint, but I mostly consider this an improvement over standard online dating, where scanning profiles and sending emails can be an eye-gougingly dull experience. Yes, at least you exercise choice with OK Cupid, but we’ve covered the downside of that.

The price includes a free first drink, making the cost of this endeavor far cheaper than traditional arranged group dates like Table for Six, or even your average first date. So that’s a plus, too.

You will not know what your Grouper partners look like before you see them, nor will you have any information on them other than a generic-sounding promise that the girls are “super cute.” I suppose that’s more comforting than being promised that they have “great personalities,” but the matching system, based on people’s Facebook profiles, seems as sophisticated as throwing at a dart board.

I’ve been on three Groupers with the same two wingmen, and we each took turns being the guy who signed up. We have plenty in common, but not so much in common that we should get the same type of girls each time — for example, one of us is a hard core Burning Man guy whereas I’m quite the opposite. But diversity was hard to come by.

Leaving physical attractiveness out of it for a minute, all nine of the girls we met were in their mid-20s, white and of mainstream tastes. Virtually all of them lived in or hung out often in the Marina, which is the Never Never Land for ex-frat boys and sorority girls. None of us are compatible with Marina girls beyond a drunken night of hooking up to songs by Ke$ha.

Based on my Grouper outings, here’s a quick cheat sheet for any guys considering your own:

Get fun wingmen you can trust, and have a game plan: I had the first part of this down — my wingmen are great friends — but our first time out we didn’t consider the logistics of having a six-way encounter where we’re all sitting at a table. Unless you want polite chit-chat the whole night, you need to switch seats and isolate at some point. The girls came together and will have pressure to leave together, so your insta-date odds afterward are slim unless you’re really hitting it off.

Give the point man first dibs on a girl: Even though my friends and I have different physical tastes, we agreed each time on who the best looking girl was. So to avoid any conflict or miscommunication, I advise giving first dibs to the guy who organized the event. My secret code for calling dibs was looking at the girl and saying, “How about those Giants?” Smooth, I know.

Don’t be shy about escalating: I find it ironic that while Groupers seem marketed to shy people and uses a “no labels” mantra, you need to exercise some PUA skills to close the deal. Grouper doesn’t give you the girls’ contact info afterward, so you will need to get her number by the end of the encounter, probably in front of everyone.

Now for the recap of my three Groupers:

No. 1: Thumbs up on the bar Grouper chose, and I liked being able to get Scotch as my free drink. As for the girls, it was a three-headed Marina monster. They could talk about sports, visiting Western Europe, and drinking, but that was about it. One of the girls was good looking enough that one of us probably should have gotten her number just for the hell of it, but we didn’t regret it.

No. 2: The best I can say about this one was that the girls were all nice (in fact, all nine of the girls we met were nice; social conventions sort of require it). However, none of them were remotely interesting to us, physically or otherwise, and the bar had a DJ blasting music so loud we could barely talk. After this one I had to talk one of my wingmen into doing a third Grouper, on his condition that I write this review. So I hope you’re happy, buddy.

No. 3: I was the point man for this one, so I was fortunate that one of the girls was cute. Yes, she lived in the Marina, but at least she was apologetic about it. I got her number but she didn’t return my texts afterward (was it my Giants line?); still, even soft rejection felt like an improvement. The bar was solid, and we took an inspired Groupergram — you’re encouraged to take a creative Instagram photo of the six of you. It was my idea to have the five of us simulate surgery with knives on my shirtless wingman while the bar manager watched in horror.

Grand total for three outings: None of us is swearing off Grouper forever, but none of us would rely on it for dating. Combined, the three of us spent $60 and over six hours of our time. We had a whopping one phone number (that didn’t lead anywhere) among the three of us. We had perfectly safe, pleasant conversations in safe settings with nine friendly girls who mostly did not attract us (the feeling may very well have been mutual).

But phone numbers are beside the point. This is more about the costs of comfort. There might be little to lose in talking to three pre-selected women, but for many guys I suspect there’s also much less to gain. Personally, I would rather exercise my own judgment in meeting my kind of girls — and the risk of immediate rejection is an asset, not a liability.

I’d still recommend Grouper to a guy who just wants to go out and meet lots of people and maybe hook up with a girl or two. But if you’re looking for girlfriend material, I’d take the bumpier road.


1 Ethan April 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I can see this being a good thing for guys who are trying to get over some patterns of super-shyness and want some opportunities to socialize with girls in a safe setting. Like you say, GK, it wouldn’t be healthy to rely on Grouper too much, but it could be very useful to go on 3 or 4 grouper outings to get over some social anxiety.

2 J May 12, 2013 at 10:05 am

Hey man! Here’s a loooooong post for you!

This has nothing to do with Grouper Dates but I needed to get something off my shoulder about a failed date I had last night. I’ve already asked a female friend of mine for advice but I wanted to get some advice from a trusted source as well :)

Yesterday I got together over drinks with maybe the most beautiful girl I’ve ever gone out with. She goes to my school and I’ve been interested in her for a while, therefore I had the time to build up some nervousness before I asked if she wanted to grab a beer with me. She agreed and we met up at a bar close to where we both live. To my regret I failed to shake off the nervousness during the night and I struggled to make any fun conversation. I tried to “touch her” during the night on her hands, shoulders, outside thighs and such but didn’t feel I got any reactions to it. We changed venues and met up some of her friends and around closing time I suggested we’d go back to my place for some wine. She responded that she didn’t think it was a good idea, that she recently (2,5 months ago) broke up with her boyfriend and that she wanted some “independence-time” without sleeping with others. I said that I respect that and she added something vague like “but you know, the summer is long” or something. We parted ways with a long hug but without making any new plans.

Today I met my female friend for coffee and told her the story. She told me it was pointless to try to take this any further, that the girl had already stated her intentions by refusing to get back to my place along with me. And I agree with my friend I think, if she had been attracted to me she would have come back home with me. I think Dirk Manley would’ve agreed anyway. My friend adviced me to send a “friendly text” though, saying thank you for a nice night, to erase any risk of awkwardness occurring the next time we see each other, and I sent such a text.

Now, based on the short novel above, what do you think? You see any chance for me here or should I just give this girl up? I’m attracted to this woman for sure, she’s very beautiful and sweet, and I blame myself for not being able to get in the moment with here, man up and make some more moves.

I know rejection is a good thing in the long run but I tell you man: it’s HARD when it happens! I’ve been quite upset today, thinking I’ve blown it with a girl that I feel such strong attraction for. I try to think that the struggling conversation, her not responding to my “kino” and not wanting to come back to my place only points out that we’re not right for each other, but I still want her. In short: I’m confused. Any way of setting my mind straight?

Once again: thanks for an awesome blog!

3 J May 12, 2013 at 10:13 am

I read my own post and feel like I just have to make a little comment to it. You might get the impression that the set up was to vague. I’m sure I could’ve (and should’ve) been more clear that it was a date, but still I know that she knew what she was walking into. I’ve felt the vibes in school that she’s been kind of interested in me and she was the one who suggested that we’d get together this weekend a few days ago. Just to make that clear.

4 GK May 13, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Howdy J,

I think I know exactly what Dirk would say, and it happens to be what I would say too. The right decision is really up to your own tolerance. Are you OK with continuing to hang out with this girl knowing you might never hook up with her but also knowing that something COULD happen? Or is it just too much and would you rather move on and look for other girls who are more into you? There’s no wrong answer to this.

From what you describe, this girl sounds like a Level 2 girl (read this post if you didn’t already). That’s still better than Level 1 and implies that she could eventually warm up to you. But you’re also showing a lot of nervousness around her and it’s putting the odds against you. If you really think she’s worth the effort, then go for it, but don’t overdo it. Give her space, meet other girls and let her see you at your most confident. As she said, it’s a long summer!

I disagree with your female friend. It didn’t sound like you got a firm rejection. Sounds like there’s some potential for seduction there.

I hope that helps.

5 J May 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Thanks GK!

It really does help and I’m going to think it over for a while and keep looking for other options, just as you say. Really great of you taking your time to answer this! Thanks again! :)

6 J June 8, 2013 at 3:09 am

Hey again GK!
I just remembered a thought I had a couple of weeks ago and posted in the comments section. I think me, and a lot of other guys, would love to see your “complete guide to getting girls” :). You once said that you’d struggle to make such a guide more than ten pages long, maybe you could turn it into a ten post series or something? Just an idea, do what you want with it :)

7 GK June 11, 2013 at 12:03 am

Howdy J. Thank you for the friendly reminder :) I would love to write that 10-page guide and I haven’t forgotten. As I get more committed to my career, it gets harder and harder to keep a foot in the dating world, and thus my lapses between posts. But I still am not ready to leave it entirely. Stay tuned!

8 J June 17, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Please don’t GK! I really love this blog and the kind of role modelship you present through it! Like your advice in this comment section, it really helped! It put me at ease, allowed me to move on and now I’ve just started seeing this other girl who is a much better fit for me!

9 GK June 17, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Thanks J! It’s those kinds of small interactions I have with guys that have kept me from walking away entirely. I’ll do my best to stick around.

10 J June 18, 2013 at 9:25 am

Hope you do! And hope you feel awesome for actually doing a positive difference in some guy’s life!

11 a June 25, 2013 at 3:11 am


12 Socialkenny October 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Never heard of grouper before and it comes off to me as just another medium to turn men into wussies who are afraid to game women in person.

13 social anxiety At 130 Bpm October 18, 2014 at 11:52 am

Thanks for finally talking about >Field report:
the Grouper date <Loved it!

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