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Life in America: The Dating Scene

April 16, 2012 :: Admissionado Team

At Admissionado, we like to think we’re pretty well-versed in the rules of attraction. We know what you need to do to catch that special school’s attention. We take great pride in the thousands of successful matches we’ve helped make.

It’s time we address another, extracurricular, form of courtship: dating in America and, more specifically, dating while in school.

A common stereotype of Americans—with the possible exception of New Yorkers—is that we’re friendly. We smile at strangers, say hello to neighbors, and are eager to make new friends. While the extent to which this may be true is open to debate, there’s no denying that our culture is an informal one. We are, after all, the proud pioneers of “casual Fridays.”

So…whatever you’re looking for: soul mate/the occasional romantic encounter/activity partner or something else entirely, school’s a great place to find it; in fact, one in five people meet their match at school or work. Either scenario is not without its hazards: you’d best think twice before putting the moves on your classmate on the first day of the semester—you’ll likely be seeing them daily for the next two years.

Romance in the U.S. is all about that famous American institution: the date.  Dates come in all shapes and sizes: a cup of coffee at the local café, a skydiving trip, or the classic combo or a dinner and a movie. A date will not necessarily involve intimacy. More than one date may be promising, but is by no means an indicator of commitment.

The first question, of course, is how to get a date in the first place? These days, there are two possible routes to take: ask someone out in person or set up an online dating profile. Each has its pros and cons: real-world asking out is more direct, and you know for sure that you are at least initially attracted to the person. But, of course, it’s not always easy to meet people you find attractive, and some people aren’t so good at turning on the charm when it’s needed. Worse still, your opening may fall on deaf—or disinterested—ears. Online dating has the advantage of relative anonymity —and a message not replied to is easier on the ego. You can browse hundreds of profiles, choose a few that seem promising, send a well-crafted message and wait (hopefully) for a reply. After a few messages, you and the prospective object of your affections set up a date, and wait for the magic to happen. There are numerous sites, some of them free, and others subscription-based, whose algorithms promise to help you find what you’re looking for. But browser beware: the anonymity encourages embellishment, more on that here.

Once you do set up a date with someone who seems promising, there are a few ground rules to keep in mind. First, the age-old question: who pays for the date? Despite it being 2012, people still tend to be old-fashioned about this, and the person doing the asking-out is generally expected to… if not definitely pay, at least to offer to (and maybe have to be talked out of doing so). At least on the first date. After that, “going Dutch” is common—that is, splitting the cost of the date.

If things go well, and things get romantic, you might end up “hooking up”—a term that can encompass ALL KINDS OF …hmmm, contact … you should keep in mind that, as someone once said, “a kiss is not a contract.” Even after this, things might well still remain casual and open-ended. Communication is key here, and it helps to keep your expectations flexible. Actually, that’s really the no.1 rule in all of this business: keep the channels of communication open and realize that there are many different ways to date. In America, the cliché is actually quite true: anything goes.