Group dating is a modern pattern for dating where a group of single men and a group of single women organise a night out, with the hope of forming romantic partnerships. It is most popular in Japan, where it is known as gōkon. In other cultures, group dating is becoming more popular as a safe alternative to single dating (especially blind dating), also helping to ease tension, because both parties will feel more comfortable having the company of their friends.
In Japan, a gōkon (合コン) is a group blind date, typically used to form at least some friendships between two groups that are each of a single sex. Generally, a single man and woman who know each other organize the gōkon in advance, each agreeing to bring three or four eligible friends. The venue is usually a restaurant, an izakaya, or anywhere people can eat, drink and make a bit of noise.
The term gōkon comes from the Japanese words konpa (a party for members of a single group, class, or club) and gōdō ("together", "combination"). Generally speaking, gōkon are not primarily intended to result in one-night stands (something more associated with nanpa), but rather for making friends and possibly forming long-term relationships. Typically groups of men and women will sit opposite each other and converse with one another, while simultaneously whispering discussions with their same-sex peers about which potential partners they find attractive. Sometimes games are played to reduce tension and encourage a convivial atmosphere.
According to an article in USA Today:
Group online dating, its creators and practitioners say, is safer than traditional Internet dating: With friends in tow, there's little fear that a date will spike your drink during a trip to the bathroom. It's more natural, akin to happy-hour mixing. Going out in groups improves your odds, at least in theory. And if the opposing social circle doesn't live up to its virtual profile, well, it's a night out with your gang."
According to a San Diego Union-Tribune article:
[The Concept] is part of a growing trend in the lucrative online dating market – harnessing the power of friends. Several sites are tapping into the idea that most real-world relationships begin, like it or not, with the help and influence of friends and family.
- Barker, Olivia (March 9, 2006). "Invite the gang for a night of online dating". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
- "Dealing With Preteen Dating". Parents Connect. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
- "Compa Parties". Japan for the Uninvited. June 23, 2006.
- Azuma, Hiroki "Azzie" (9 September 2004). "Matchmaking parties, conquered by keitai". Keitai Log. Japan Media Review. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- "Online matchmakers ease pressure with group dates". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 2008-05-25. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
- Azuma, Hiroki "Azzie" (21 September 2004). "Mobile Dating in Japan". The Mobile Technology Weblog. Creative Weblogging. Archived from the original on 21 December 2004. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- evankirby (16 April 2006). "16/04: GenkiJACS' first "goukon"". GenkiJACS. Genki Japanese and Culture School. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- "Middle-aged gals hooked on swinging matchmaking parties". Mainichi Shimbun. September 12, 2001. Retrieved 2007-06-28.
- Takano, Yuko (24 May 2004). "An Introduction to the Somewhat Strange Dating Practices of the Japanese People". The Stanford Business Reporter. Berkley, Calif. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2012.