Wall street journal online dating article

Team Dating's 40,000 members are concentrated mostly in urban areas and field teams that average three people.

Ignighter's 10,000 users also mostly hail from big cities.

The groups often try activities a little more adventurous than dinner and a movie, perhaps because there is less one-on-one pressure to impress than on a traditional date.

Participants go bowling, take a hiking trip or try a night at the Philharmonic. "There's been a long history of group-dating in this country," says Beth Bailey, the author of "From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth Century America." "In the 1920s, people went to 'petting parties,' where young people made out in the presence of their peers.

Just as group-dating protected women of the Greatest Generation, many today see it as a shield.

"I don't know how willing I would be to go on a date with a stranger," explains Jacqueline Malan, 25, who has been in two groups set up through Ignighter.

Group-dating came on the scene in 1998 with 8at8, a service that sets up dinner dates with four men and four women and now has 25,000 members in six major metropolitan areas.

Meet New People, a Facebook dating application, has more than three million users who post when they are free to "hang out" and RSVP to group gatherings.No, this wasn't a corporate morale booster, an alumni gathering or a charity event. Group-dating -- think of it as double-dating on steroids or as Facebook in the flesh -- is making a noticeable blip on the dating radar, as a younger generation turns away from such courtship rituals as the blind date.Even Web sites like e-Harmony and have become passé.We wanted to come up with a way to meet new people and still be with our friends," Mr. On Ignighter.com, groups are formed through an ambassador -- a kind of social director -- who invites his or her friends to join.The group is given a name, a members' photo is montaged together from the individual ones that have been submitted (creating a sort of artificial group picture), information about the group is filled in, and a link to everyone's Facebook profile is inserted. And this is where it becomes a bit different from your typical singles event. Any individual in the group can ask another group out on a date, but everyone in the group goes, eliminating some of the awkwardness that plagues singles events.

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