The Maneater

MU Counseling Center hosts ‘Dating in the U.S.’ seminar to explain national dating customs

The seminar explained consent, dating vocabulary, websites used to meet people and what a “successful” date looks like.

The "Dating in the U.S." seminar was held in Memorial Union on Feb. 14, 2018. Maneater file photo

The MU Counseling Center directed a “Dating in the U.S.” seminar on Feb. 14 in Memorial Union. The seminar was held for international students to get a better understanding of dating culture in the United States.

The seminar was hosted by Shraddha Niphadkar and Teresa DePratt, psychologists at the Counseling Center, and was the first of its kind at MU. Niphadkar said she initially set it up to explain to international students the distinctive customs that come with dating in the U.S.

Niphadkar said she wanted to increase students’ cultural exposure. There are a lot of misunderstandings that can come with dating in the U.S., and she explained how sometimes students who come from different cultures can feel that difference. For example, she said, in countries like India where arranged marriages are popular, there is essentially no dating.

“If you’re coming from somewhere where you wouldn’t date and you come here [to the U.S.] where it’s a part of social life and you want to engage in that, you need to kind of know what you’re getting into,” Niphadkar said.

DePratt said dating in college itself, no matter the country, can be difficult for people to manage.

“It’s popular and confusing,” she said. “It’s a lot more to balance with school and everything else, and it’s often when people want to start serious relationships.”

DePratt also said there is a lot to consider before going into a relationship. Something to think about, she said, is what both parties might want in a relationship. She said she knew a student who wanted a long-term relationship but would “run and leave after two dates.” In addition, she said it’s important to consider what “successful” dating looks like. For some, it results in a long-term relationship and for others, it might just mean another date scheduled.

The event went through different cultural norms in the U.S., including the unique vocabulary. DePratt explained certain words such as “ghosting,” when one romantic partner will suddenly cease communication with another for seemingly no reason. These words can seem like a completely new language to someone who might not hear them in their home country, Niphadkar said.

Technology also plays a crucial role in U.S. dating culture, Niphadkar and DePratt said. DePratt explained popular dating sites such as Match.com and eHarmony as well as dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. In college, a lot more students will use apps to meet new people as opposed to the more traditional websites, DePratt said.

Furthermore, there are also risks that can come with dating in a different culture, Niphadkar said. Because there are students who may not know the culture norms or laws, they could accidentally potentially jeopardize their future in the United States.

“If [an international student] wants to take that risk, just remember what it could mean,” she said. “They have their immigration status to think about.”

Niphadkar said it’s important for international students, as well as others, to know the age of consent. She said she advises international students to avoid dating people under the age of 18 because if they’re caught in legal trouble, they could risk being deported.

Niphadkar expanded on the terms of consent and said it’s good to be open and communicative with potential romantic partners about boundaries and expectations from one another.

DePratt said she knows students who might stop talking to another person because they felt they were being pressured to do things they weren’t ready for. However, she said the other party may not have been aware that they were unintentionally pressuring someone. Therefore, it’s important to know what each person expects and wants out of the date, DePratt said.

Niphadkar and DePratt said the Counseling Center as well as MU’s Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center are resources to help students with dating issues, such as questions or Title IX filings. According to the RSVP Center’s website, it provides “ongoing case management and advocacy as needed by professional staff.”

Edited by Morgan Smith | mosmith@themaneater.com

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