February is known to many as the month of love in the US. On February 14th, Valentine’s Day brings lots of couples together, and we know that some students have or want to have romantic relationships while they’re in the US. Since dating and relationships may be different here compared to your home country, we’ve put together a brief guide to help make sure any relationship you have is safe and happy!
Asking someone out
This is when you want to ask another person on a date. Either a man or a woman can do the asking. It’s good to choose a specific activity. A common first date is having coffee together. If someone asks you on a date, it’s ok to say no if you’re not interested.
If the first date goes well, you can ask for another date. If it does not go well, or one person indicates that they do not want another date, do not pressure them or make them feel bad for saying no to a second date.
People commonly have ‘personal space,’ which is the space close to their body. Many Americans do not like other people to be in that personal space. If you notice that someone is moving away from you or turning their body away, you might be getting too close. Remember that you might be making someone uncomfortable.
It’s very common for each person to pay for their own meal and expenses on dates. If you want to pay for the other person, just offer. If your date offers to pay for you, it’s OK to refuse. You have the right to pay for your own expenses if you don’t feel comfortable allowing them to pay for you.
We’re “just dating”
Even if you’ve been seeing the person often, don’t assume that you’re exclusive or that they’re your boyfriend/girlfriend. Many people, especially during college, date several people at the same time. It’s also good to move slowly in a relationship. Entering a serious relationship with someone too soon is sometimes a bad idea. Get to know the person well before you decide you want them to be your boyfriend/girlfriend.
Saying the “L” word
Don’t tell someone you love them too soon! Love is serious and should not be rushed. It can ruin a good relationship by making things move too quickly. Take your time and only say it if you’re sure.
If the other person says “No”
Consent = permission. If someone you’re dating or hanging out with says “no” to a kiss or other physical contact, that means you should not attempt to do anything physical with them. If you try to force or pressure them into physical contact, it may be considered harassment or assault, which can lead to prison time and deportation.
A person must be sober to give consent. This means you should not try to kiss or have sex with someone who is drunk or on drugs.
And remember, if you’ve given your consent, you can always take it back. You can always change your mind.
If something bad happened to you
Sexual assault is when someone forces you to engage in sexual activity with them. If you think it has happened to you, free and confidential resources are available at OSU:
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
500 Snell Hall
Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS)
500 Snell Hall
Student Health Services
201 Plageman Building
Some fun date ideas
There are lots things to do around Corvallis. We already mentioned that coffee is a great date, but you could go to Francesco’s Gelato in downtown Corvallis, where you can get coffee, gelato and snacks. You could go bowling or play billiards in the OSU Memorial Union Basement. You could even take a trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium for a unique experience and some clam chowder!
Be safe and good luck!
While dating in the US may be different than in your home country and there might be a lot to learn, it should be fun and healthy. If you have sensitive questions, you can ask Emily Lawton, INTO OSU’s Care and Conduct Coordinator. She’s happy to help! Visit the ILLC Welcome Desk to make an appointment with her.