Cultural Norms

The culture and style of relationships in the U.S. might be very different from your home country. Americans generally socialize and associate with people from all classes, races, religions, and backgrounds. While certain divides among some of these factors do exist, rarely does it affect day-to-day interaction, especially on university campuses. You are expected to treat everyone with basic respect.

For the most part, Americans prefer a larger amount of personal space and less physical touch from friends and colleagues than those of other cultures. An arm’s length is considered appropriate space between two people. Close friends might be comfortable being closer, but it depends on the person.

It is commonplace for men and women to be friends outside of school and the workplace. There are no social rules against men and women spending time alone together, either.

Romantic Relationships

As mentioned above, men and women interact, spend time together, and form close relationships without the expectation of a romantic relationship. If a man or woman seeks your friendship, it does not automatically mean they are interested in a romantic relationship. It is common for men and women to spend time together (also spending time along) without engaging in a romantic relationship. If someone is looking for a romantic partner, it is common for people to meet at recreational events, bars, restaurants, and even online dating sites/apps. The term “dating” can either refer to people who are going on set outings together to see if they would like to be in a relationship, but “dating” can also be used to refer to a serious, committed relationship. “Engaged” means planning to get married. If you are asked on a date, it is perfectly acceptable to politely refuse. 

The American culture values individuality, even in romantic relationships. Men and women are seen as more or less equals, in capability and intelligence. Many American women do not take their partner’s last name. It is common for single and married women to work full time outside the home, but it is not uncommon for women to stay in the home, as well.

U.S. law regarding marriage is different in an all 50 states. Divorce is also common in the U.S. Gay marriage was legalized in the U.S. in 2015. It is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation.


Sexual harassment and sexual assault are unfortunately common problems in American society. Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual activity or contact that you did not consent to. If you have been sexually assaulted, get to a safe place and call 911. If you choose to seek medical care, you can be examined for injuries and have evidence collected with a rape kit, if necessary. It is important to reach out and ask for help. In the U.S., our laws state that even if the perpetrator is your partner or spouse, it is still a crime and should be reported.

Sexual harassment is defined as harassment in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks. Sexual harassment is not tolerated at UT Health, and you can read the specifics of our policy in the Title IX Sexual Harassment/Sexual Misconduct Policy. 

The Title IX Office is here to help deal with sexual harassment, misconduct, and discrimination on campus. Reach out to them if you have any questions or concerns.

In order to increase personal safety, people commonly take the below listed precautions, but they are often emphasized for women:

  • Not walking alone at night
  • Carrying pepper spray/mace on their person
  • Locking car doors right when you enter the vehicle
  • Not leaving drinks unattended
  • Not accepting rides or offers from strangers
  • Securing personal items that they are carrying
  • Keeping an eye on their children
  • Locking house/apartment doors upon leaving and entering
  • Knowing to call 911 in emergency situations