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Grouper Road Test 

“They’re definitely huge nerds,” I declare to my two girlfriends as we head to our Grouper—a group blind date with three guys and three girls. “They have to be, we’re one of the first Groupers in Orange County.”

Technology is my job at Orange Coast, so I figure my nerdiness excuses my two friends from the label. Plus we’re all recent O.C. transplants, so we’re allowed to geek out in the quest for friends. 

The app blindly connects our group with another group based on age and height, then sets up a round of drinks at a bar. Driving to San Clemente from our homes in Newport Beach, we grumble about the distance. Turns out, so do the guys, Irvine natives. Strike one, Grouper: The get-together was easy to set up, but you blew it on geography. 

We approach the evening with open minds: Meeting new people will be fun, even if the guys are single for a reason. And so they are. Nice as can be, but nerdy and all shorter than me. Strike two, Grouper: Epic fail on your height-preference matching.

We enjoy two rounds of drinks and exchange numbers, with plans to meet up the following weekend to check out a dive bar we’d talked about throughout the evening. But no one follows up. Can’t fault Grouper for that, because the app did succeed in introducing us to new people and letting us take it from there—or not.

Yelp Events 
Yelp-sponsored happy hours and user-submitted Orange County events allow you to find people whose tastes match yours. yelp.com/events/newport-beach-ca-us 

Applying the wingman concept to dating: Groups of three pair up in hopes of finding connections among friends. joingrouper.com

A dating app connected to your Facebook account that allows you to swipe left for yes or right for no to potential dates, activating instant messaging if there’s a match. gotinder.com

Like tinder, but for gay men. grinder.com

How About We
Singles post first-date ideas and connect with those who are interested. The site encourages friendship, and couples can plan curated dates. howaboutwe.com

Stay on people’s couches (or in guest rooms), or host visitors to your city. We find that hosts and guests love to hang out. New friends! couchsurfing.org

Warm Showers
Like Couch-surfing, but for bicycling tourists. warmshowers.org 

Search the community section for activities, groups, volunteering, and more. orangecounty.craigslist.org

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue.

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