10 dating tips for the USA

Are you dreaming of finding love in the USA? Then you need to master American dating etiquette. We have compiled the top ten tips for finding a partner in the USA to help you avoid love culture shock!

What's different about dating in the US?

Dating in the USA can be an unusual experience compared to other countries because there are clear rules that every American seems to know. For example, the "three-date rule," which requires a prospective couple to go through a list of dos and don'ts for each date, is perfect culture shock material.

Also, the question "Who's paying?" has sent many non-Americans back to the friend zone. And don't you dare forget Valentine's Day!

With our USA dating rules, you're sure to make a lasting impression on your crush!

First date in the USA

#1. First, second, and third dates

Rules for first, second, and third dates in the USA can vary depending on cultural background, individual preferences, and expectations. However, there are some traditional guidelines that you should at least keep in mind:

Dating rules in the USA Explanation
First date The first date is about finding out more about your interest in each other. Meet in a café or park and take it easy. Dress nicely, but don't overdo it, and enjoy a casual chat with a nice person. Is the chemistry right? Then you can go on a second date.
Second date On a second date, you have clearly communicated that you want to get to know each other better. Dress up a little, and pick a more formal date like a visit to the museum, the cinema, or a sporting event. If you both feel like it, you can hold hands. However, on your second date, you should keep a low profile.
Third date Your third date is special. You have now made it clear that you are seriously interested in each other. Dress smartly and plan a romantic evening or even a weekend away. From now on, you can deepen your conversations. At best, tell each other how you see your joint future. Good news: You may kiss now!

Extra tip:
Don't plan your first or second date on Valentine's Day. The pressure of expectation is far too high on this US holiday of love.

#2. Stay positive

When discussing the differences between the USA and Europe, American positivity is often cited first. You should allow yourself to be swept up in the good mood of Americans, especially when going out on a date.

Arrive cheerful and relaxed, smile, and be as polite as your language skills allow. Also, a small and thoughtful gift can make a very positive impression.

Happy dating in the USA

#3. Learn dating slang

If you're not a native English speaker, dating in the US will be more challenging for you than for the average American. So remember our top 'code words' when it comes to dating in America:

American dating code words Explanation
Bae This variation of the word "babe" means "before anyone else." If you call someone your Bae, that person is number 1 for you!
Fans of “How I Met Your Mother” will be familiar with this word. In the US, a wingman or wingwoman is a friend who helps you meet people. They keep the conversation going, pass the balls, and make you look your best.
Making out Time to get hot and heavy: "Making Out" means to kiss or do even more. This is not usually done in public in the USA.
Crush Your "crush" is someone you have fallen in love with secretly. Therefore, you don't know yet if the romantic interest is mutual.
Hitting on someone To "hit on" means to make a move on someone. This is the first contact you make to get someone’s attention.
Dump You'd like to avoid being "dumped" when dating. However, we all have to go through it sometimes: If someone dumps you, they are breaking up with you.
Hook up The phrase "to hook up" is used when two flirtatious people make out with each other but do not end up in a relationship.
Netflix and chill This phrase is often misused in Europe. The meaning of "Netflix and chill" in the US is that a planned movie night will inevitably turn into sex.

#4. Conversation etiquette

Although times are slowly changing, Americans are generally more conservative regarding certain topics of conversation. As a rule, don't discuss politics, money, or sex on the first two dates.

If you're dating someone the opposite of conservative, you'll want to approach critical topics with deftness, e.g., with a "What topics are off-limits for you on a first date?”

Topics of conversation on the first date in the USA

#5. US dating dress code

You should gradually improve your outfit from date to date. On the first date, don't dress too casually (tracksuit bottoms are a no-no!). On the second date, you can dress like you're going to a fancy restaurant, and on the third date, you can start thinking about your choice of underwear.

#6. Be frugal with alcohol

According to a Match Group survey, alcohol is a turn-off for more and more singles in the United States. Therefore, before a date, find out what your crush’s drinking habits and possible dislikes are like and hold back accordingly.

#7. Short dates

For the first two dates with someone, don't schedule multi-hour activities to avoid fueling your own expectations too much. Why? For someone new to the American dating market, it can be pretty brutal when, after a nice second date, it all suddenly ends without explanation.

Try to agree on about 90 minutes or, at most, the length of a movie followed by a meal. From date no. three on, you can flirt until dawn.

#8. Who is paying?

There are no hard rules about who should pay on a date. But a recent study by dating technology company Match found that Americans increasingly find financial awareness sexy.

So you can openly suggest an economical (not cheap) date that includes free activities or creative, inexpensive alternatives to the classic date stuff.

However, if you initiate a meal at a fancy restaurant, even though your date may not have that much money, you should also offer to foot the bill. According to the Match study, financial stability is also perceived as attractive.

#9. Looking for a partner for life? Say it!

You can reduce your dating frustration enormously by letting it be known that you are looking for a permanent partner, not an adventure. A common mistake made by (unwilling) singles is to shy away from openly talking about it.

Anyone who bails when you are honest about your intentions will save you time and heartache. And remember, everyone can't like you - you don't like everyone either, do you?

Dating in the USA

#10. Don’t be late!

Showing up on time for a date with your crush should go without saying. However, surveys consistently show that being late is one of the top reasons for bad dating experiences. So, since it hasn't reached all love-starved singles yet: Don't keep your crush waiting!

Dating in the USA: fun facts

Here are some facts you probably didn't know about dating in the United States:

  • According to a Bumble survey, more than 50 % of Americans are happy to be single.
  • The most popular pick-up line in America is "What's up?”
  • Dating.com found that a third of Americans would try virtual dating in "Metaverse" & co.
  • A 2017 survey found that Americans' biggest dating fear is bad kissers.
  • According to Match's Singles in America study, 58 % of young singles would start a relationship with someone who lives more than 3 hours away.

Now you are well prepared for the American dating market. We wish you the best of luck finding a partner in the USA! And who knows? You might even end up getting married!

Green Card Lottery

Win one of 55,000 Green Cards in the official Green Card Lottery of the US authorities!