Dating as a High School USA student does not violate any of our program rules, but there are a few things you should know if you are (or plan on) dating in the U.S. while on our program. The first and most important thing to remember is that host families have different rules and expectations regarding dating that apply to their children (and to you!). That means it is important to talk with your host parents about these rules and expectation if you are or plan to date while in the U.S.
For more information about dating in the U.S., please choose a topic below.
Having a Healthy Relationship
Dating in the U.S. may be very different than dating in your home country. In some cases, the U.S. will be much more conservative. In other cases, it will be far more casual. To make sure you are being respectful and adhering to your new cultural norms, you should:
- Define a healthy relationship: Understand that the foundation of a healthy relationship comes from respect, mutual understanding, trust, honest communication, and support.
- Beware of abuse: Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, financial, digital, and more. Stalking, for example, is a form of abuse. You should never abuse a partner or accept abuse from your partner.
- Set expectations with your host family: Discussing expectations with your host family at the beginning of the year is important. Discuss family rules for curfews and dating to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Discuss boundaries with your partner: When dating, it is important to communicate. That means understanding your partner’s physical and emotional boundaries (as well as sharing your own).
- Be respectful: It is important to be respectful of your partner at the beginning, throughout, and even at the end of relationships. Treat your partner as you want to be treated: with kindness, patience, and respect.
Tips for Talking to Your Host Family
Talking about dating with your host family can feel awkward. Here are some tips to make it easier:
- Be direct and honest. Tell your host family what you think, feel, and want. Giving more information will help your host parents understand. It was also make it easier to come up with a solution that works for everybody.
- Try to see it from their point of view. Even if you do not agree with your host family’s rules or expectations about dating, try and see it from their side. Resolving a problem, after all, is about compromise.
- Do not argue or whine. Use a calm and respectful tone of voice while talking with your host family, even when you disagree. This will make it easier for your host family to listen and understand what you have to say.
Examples Statements to Get You Started
- “I am interested in dating and would like to talk with you about it. Is now a good time?”
- “I need your permission to go out this weekend. Can I talk to you about it?”
- “I need your advice about something. Can we talk?”
Important: What Is Consent?
When it comes to sexual activities, you (and your partner) have the right to decide when, where, how, and especially if you want to engage in them. You (and your partner) always have the right to say no. Even if you (or your partner) says yes, you still have the right to change your mind.
Before engaging in any sexual activity, you and your partner must both give your consent. That means saying yes. If any other response is given, either by you or your partner, that should be taken as a no.
Never engage in sexual activity of any kind with explicit consent.
It is illegal to engage in sexual behavior with someone who is under the legal age of consent. Keep in mind that the legal age of consent depends on what state you live in. In some cases, a sexual relationship between a 16-year-old and 17-year-old could be considered illegal, so make sure you know what is allowed in your state. Also remember that photographs of a sexual nature can be considered child pornography and sending them to someone older could get you (and them) in a lot of trouble. Never send sexually explicit material of yourself to anyone, even if you are dating,[IB1]