You may be surprised by the informality of relations between men and women in the United States. Couples go out alone in the evening to attend a movie, concert, lecture, or party; students may get together for a "study date." In the past, the man usually asked the woman, and the man paid the expenses of the movie, concert, or meal. Today, a woman may ask a man to go out with her. Whether the man or woman offers the invitation, students often share the expenses.
Relationships between American men and women of college age range from simple, casual friendships to strong emotional and physical commitments. As your friendships develop past acquaintance, you may not always understand what your partners expect of you. Whatever the relationship, the best policy is honesty and frankness. Although sometimes embarrassing, it is best to express your feelings and intentions so you can avoid misunderstandings and even greater discomfort. If your date appears interested in a sexual relationship and you are not, it is very important that you say no clearly. And if someone seems to be saying no to you, listen. Unwanted sexual attention is a very serious matter in the United States. Do not interpret the acceptance of a date as anything more than an agreement to meet at a certain time and place and to spend some time together.
If you are in doubt about correct behavior, talk with American friends, with your host family, or with your foreign-student adviser. Be aware that alcohol and dating can be a problematic mix, particularly in a cross-cultural setting.