Everything You Need to Know about Dating an American and Having the 'Relationship Talk'
Having lived in the U.S. for two years now, I have been experienced many firsts, but none of them compare to the first I experienced last week - my first Valentine’s Day. Well, the first Valentine’s Day I actually got to celebrate, anyway.
It is hard to believe that my first big day romance-wise happened in a country that I am not from and with a guy who is not Chinese. But I think it just made the whole thing fun, cool and memorable.
My friends were so surprised that at 24 years old I had never had a real Valentine’s Day, but I am pretty sure I am not alone (please LEAVE COMMENTS below if this year was also your first V-Day!).
Last Valentine’s Day, my friend told me not to be sad that I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with - when the time is right, it will exceed all your expectations. And he was right.
So let’s go back to talking about the big V-Day date, and chatting about some points that I think are interesting to share.
Having "the talk"
Before V-Day this year, my boyfriend and I had been dating for a couple of months, and we were right at the point of “defining the relationship.” We had a big, formal talk over dinner one night to discuss where we were in this relationship and where it should be going, and this talk basically determined if we would celebrate Valentine’s Day together.
Why do Americans have these big relationship talks?
Two American girls talk about their experiences having "the talk"
Well, there are so many types of relationships in the U.S.: dating, casual dating, relationship, open relationship (this one does not make any sense to me), serious relationship, etc. It’s easy to see how people could be confused about which stage they are and which stage their partners are.
Why V-Day is scary
Valentine’s Day creates pressure to sort out all this confusion, and also gives people an excuse to define their relationship with certainty. Both people have to agree if they are already in or want to move into a relationship, which determines whether they do the V-Day thing together.
I was listening to On Air with Ryan Seacrest a few days ago, and a girl called in crying, saying how disappointed she felt that the guy she was dating did not take her out for Valentine’s Day. The hosts said that this was normal - the guy and girl did not have the exclusivity talk to figure out where they were in the relationship, and obviously they were not on the same page. So she got hurt.
A couple of my American friends told me they would rather just be alone on V-Day, even though they are dating someone. Why? Because they are just not sure if they are ready to take the dating to another level, and they do not want to create a misunderstanding with their partner.
My own V-Day
In my case, both my date and I are very cautious and drama-free. We used this V-Day to make it official that we are only dating each other, and we got the chance to have beautiful V-Day date night at the beach.
In China, and I believe in other Asian countries as well, there is only ONE type of relationship. You are either boyfriend and girlfriend, or pure friends, so there is no chance to be confused. In other words, when it comes to V-Day, people either have it for sure, or don’t even think of it. No discussion needed.
Is this the case in your country? Let me know in the comments!
Here's an example of how frustrating defining the relationship can be :)
Overall, Americans are very very cautious on the dating scene. It can sometimes take a long time for a romantic relationship to develop into an official boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Sometimes that never happens at all. There are all kinds of different stages of relationships that foreigners need to be aware of, and some of them will always seem kind of ridiculous (like the open-relationship stuff, I am just never able to get it). But the key is that everything is talkable, and open communication is the key to navigating the relationship scene in a country that we are not originally from.
See all News Updates of the Day
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U.S. graduation ceremonies usually feature a public figure who offers advice to young people starting their careers. This spring, graduates have heard from President Joe Biden, actor Tom Hanks, Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa and even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who became the youngest prime minister in the world at age 34, told her audience that change cannot wait, even at their age. “To change things,” she said, “you have to take over.”
Read the story from Dan Friedell of VOA Learning English. (May 2023)
What Did Justin, a Golden Retriever Mix, Do to Earn a Diploma?
Justin is a service dog and accompanied his owner (who graduated with honors) to every single class for four years. The student’s university honored the dog’s hard work with his very own diploma, which he accepted, tail wagging, in front a cheering stadium of other graduates.
See Justin’s walk across the stage in this story from Bill Chappell of NPR. (May 2023)
What Are US Diplomats Doing to Further International Education?
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken touted his department’s achievements in a recent address to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The State Department has relaxed student visa and study abroad requirements. In fact, it issued over a half-million student visas last year – the highest number in five years. Blinken, who spent part of his childhood in France, thanked educators for “helping us to see the world through another’s eyes.”
Watch his remarks in this press release from the State Department. (May 2023)
Soon-to-Be Graduates Put COVID Behind Them
During the COVID-19 pandemic, learning lagged for students around the world, including the U.S., where many had access to online learning. Now these soon-to-be graduates say they are behind in certain subjects because of time missed at school. VOA’s Laurel Bowman sat down with high school seniors on the cusp of graduation. Camera: Adam Greenbaum, Saqib Ul Islam.
Former US Congresswoman Liz Cheney Urges Graduates Not to Compromise With the Truth
Former U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney implored new college graduates to not compromise when it comes to the truth, excoriating her House Republican colleagues for not doing enough to combat former President Donald Trump's lies that the 2020 election was stolen.
In a commencement speech at Colorado College, the Wyoming Republican repeated her fierce criticisms of Trump but steered clear of talking about his 2024 reelection campaign or her own political future.
Cheney, who graduated from Colorado College in 1988, recalled being a political science student walking into a campus building where a Bible verse was inscribed above the entrance that read, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
"After the 2020 election and the attack of January 6th, my fellow Republicans wanted me to lie. They wanted me to say the 2020 election was stolen, the attack of January 6th wasn't a big deal, and Donald Trump wasn't dangerous," Cheney said Sunday in Colorado Springs, connecting her experiences as a student to her work in the U.S. House of Representatives. "I had to choose between lying and losing my position in House leadership."
In three terms in office, Cheney rose to the No. 3 GOP leadership position in the House, a job she lost after voting to impeach Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol and then not relenting in her criticism of the former president.
Cheney's speech touched on themes similar to those she has promoted since leaving office in January: addressing her work on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and standing up to the threat she believes Trump poses to democracy. She also encouraged more women to run for office and criticized one of the election-denying attorneys who worked for Trump after the 2020 election for recent remarks about college students voting.
"Cleta Mitchell, an election denier and adviser to former President Trump, told a gathering of Republicans recently that it is crucially important to make sure that college students don't vote," Cheney said. "Those who are trying to unravel the foundations of our republic, who are threatening the rule of law and the sanctity of our elections, know they can't succeed if you vote."
In an audio recording of Mitchell's presentation from a recent Republican National Committee retreat, she warns of polling places on college campuses and the ease of voting as potential problems, The Washington Post reported.
Most students and parents in the audience applauded throughout Cheney's remarks, yet some booed. Some students opposing the choice of Cheney as speaker turned their chairs away from the stage as she spoke.
Cheney's busy speaking schedule and subject matter have fueled speculation about whether she may enter the 2024 GOP presidential primary since she left office. Candidates ranging from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley have calibrated their remarks about Trump, aiming to counter his attacks without alienating the supporters that won him the White House seven years ago.
Though some have offered measured criticisms, no declared or potential challenger has embraced anti-Trump messaging to the same extent as Cheney. She did not reference her plans on Sunday but has previously said she remains undecided about whether she wants to run for president.
Though she would face an uphill battle, Cheney's fierce anti-Trump stance and her role as vice chairwoman of the House committee elevated her platform high enough to call on a national network of donors and Trump critics to support a White House run.
A super PAC organized to support of her candidacy has remained active, including purchasing attack ads on New Hampshire airwaves against Trump this month.
After leaving office and being replaced by a Trump-backed Republican who defeated her in last year's primary, Cheney was appointed to a professorship at the University of Virginia and wrote "Oath and Honor," a memoir scheduled to hit shelves in November.
Two of Cheney's five children as well as her mother are also graduates of the liberal arts college.
Cheney's speaking tour appears to be picking up. She is scheduled to appear Thursday at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan.