Written by Breanne Gibb.

Walking to get Kiwi Loco, playing mini golf, going to the movies and eating dinner are activities that normally do not cause people anxiety or stress. However, throw in someone of the opposite gender and the word date, and you have a whole new ball game.

To add to the tension, this other someone might be a complete stranger.

Dating here could be a bit forced.

The idea of going on a date with a guy or girl you hardly know sends the majority of people straight to the comfort zone of having mere friendships and nothing more. Having to seriously date is something that can wait.

It is hard to blame people for doing this with the dating culture at BYU-Idaho. Some YSA wards have things such as a “dating box” where anyone can write the name of a boy and a girl in their ward they think should go on a date. Those two people are given the piece of paper and encouraged to go out together.

Jumping from being strangers to going on dates in the early phases of a relationship is something seen at BYU-I, but many students, especially international ones, may not used to that style of dating.

“In Argentina, dating isn’t something you do until you’re in an actual relationship with a person,” said Matias Costa, a junior studying business management.

Costa is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has lived there for 14 years. He lived in the Czech Republic, Oman and France.

In contrast to the purpose of dating at BYU-I and the U.S., he said,that in Argentina, you would not date someone to get to know them. That is what friendship is for. He said people do not date each other until they have established that they want to have a deeper relationship with one another and only that person.

“You wouldn’t just go on a date with anyone,” Costa said. “It would be someone you would actually like to date for a while.”

Becoming friends before dating is also done in the U.S., but meeting someone totally new is more accepted here compared to foreign countries.

“I think that makes the date better, but also, at the same time, if you go on a date with a new person, there’s a lot more to explore about that person and to get to know them,” said Kelsee Wilding, a freshman studying family and consumer science.

Costa said that when he first came to the U.S. and was exposed to how people date here, particularly when he came to BYU-I. He said he thought it was all very strange.

“It was super weird because to me, some things that people call like a date, to me was, no I’m just hanging out with my friend,” he said.

He said the idea of going on a date with a girl that he identifies as his friend was bizarre to him. He said he had always known dating to be something that had a sense of romance to it. Because of this concept, it would be awkward to go on a date with someone you call a friend.

“You wouldn’t just go on a date with your friend,” he said. “No, you would hang out with your friend.”

Costa said he feels that dating is forced at BYU-I. The majority of people here do not know each other, yet leaders encourage them to be dating often.

Not knowing people makes dating even more awkward than it already is. You can tell by how everyone responds to their bishopric when they remind them that they should be going out on a date every week.

Costa said he believes his leaders have good intentions with the amount of encouragement they give to students to date. However, the counsel to date a lot of different people is confusing to him because of the cultural customs he grew up with.

“I should just be dating one girl,” Costa said.

Wilding said she has a bit of a different take on the dating culture here than Costa.

“I don’t feel like it’s forced too much,” she said. “Because if it wasn’t forced, then nothing would happen, and people would kind of just like hanging out, and it would be more casual than it could be.”

Wilding said a main goal for most people at BYU-I is to someday get married. Reaching this goal can seem far more difficult you feel constantly pressured to date and date often.

Whether it gives you sweaty palms or is a confidence booster for you, dating should be enjoyed. It should feel natural, not like something you are forced to do.

And if friendship is all you are looking for at the moment, that is nothing to worry about. After all, you should marry your best friend.