Dating is an important part of life, no matter where you are. Dressing up, meeting new people, making small talk, and going to new places is all very exciting. But, it can also be very scary, especially if you are in a new place.
If you’re hoping to find love in the U.S., or just meet someone new, there are some American dating etiquettes you should keep in mind.
Feeling anxious or overwhelmed? Don’t worry, it’s normal to feel that way. Keep reading this article, and we will guide you through the basics of American dating culture that every newcomer should know.
Anyone can ask anyone out
It’s the 21st century, and there are no rules about who can, and who cannot ask someone out. Traditionally, men have been given the role of asking women out, but times are changing. If you like someone, ask them to go out with you, regardless of their or your gender.
You don’t have to worry about ‘seeming too forward.’ You can just drop a text, call, or ask them out in person.
Always prepare for rejection, though. No one is obligated to go out with you; remember that. If they decline, don’t make a scene. Just respect their choice and move on.
Your golden phrase to tell if it’s a date
We have all been in that awkward moment. You’re with a person and you just don’t know if it’s a date. It’s worse when you have asked the other person out, and now you’re unsure of whether they’re aware that it’s a date.
Every part of the U.S. has slight variations on what makes a date, “a date.” But overall, there’s no way around it; you have to be explicit and use the word ‘date.’ If you’re asking someone out for food or drinks and they say yes, to emphasize your intention, ask or text, ‘So, it’s a date?’ If you’re unsure if someone is asking you out on a date or just inviting you to hang out as friends, ask the same question.
If they say no, just brush off the awkwardness with a laugh. That small moment of awkwardness is much better than going on a date that may not even be a date.
Be sure of your intentions
The first question you need to ask yourself is: “Why are you dating?” If you’re planning to ask them out, what are your intentions? If you have been asked out on a date, the question is still worth asking.
Dating in the U.S. doesn’t necessarily mean dating for marriage. Although dating could lead to marriage, that is not always the intention. Many Americans go on one or multiple dates just for fun, or to find a meaningful connection. Sometimes, people go on dates just for the pleasure of it, and it doesn’t have to mean anything.
So, before you romantically get involved with someone, ask yourself, ‘what do I want from this person?’
Of course, you don’t have to have an answer right away. However, to make sure that you don’t get heartbroken, it is best to figure out your answer, and then find people who match your intentions.
Labels are complicated
Don’t tell people that someone is your boyfriend or girlfriend just because you have been on a few dates. Don’t label them as anything unless you both have talked about it. If you haven’t talked about being exclusive, your partner could be dating other people. You’re also not bound to be loyal to the person you are dating if you haven’t decided to be exclusive.
Relationships can be of many types: casual dating, serious relationships, open relationships, or your pattern may prefer to not use any labels. Even being exclusive does not mean you can term them as your boyfriend or girlfriend.
This is why it’s important that you talk to your partner and make sure that you are on the same page. Any labels should be mutually agreed upon. If you both want different things, you will need to discuss those differences.
What to do on a date
Now that you’re on a date, what should you do? The simple answer is take an interest in the other person, and give them a small compliment. Talk about things that you both like. Don’t fixate on yourself.
Try not to engage in serious, controversial topics on the first date. Keep things casual, and most importantly, have fun. Chances are, your date is just as nervous as you are.
When the bill comes, ideally the person who invited the other person out should pay. If your date insists on splitting the bill, there is nothing wrong with that either. However, if the other person ordered expensive items and didn’t even offer to pay, you may want to reconsider seeing them again. Dating can be a lot of fun for some people, and harder for others. As a newcomer, all of this can feel very overwhelming to you. Your best shot is communication and observation. See what other people around you are doing, and talk to them.
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