Personal behavior

How do people behave in their personal lives in the USA? Learn about staying clean, personal relationships, and addiction.

young family group talking at home

Personal behavior means many things. It includes topics that are hard to talk about. It means your private life, your habits, and your personal relationships.

Staying clean

Staying clean is a very important part of personal behavior to Americans. Most Americans take a shower or bath every day. They use soap to wash their bodies and shampoo to wash their hair. Some use conditioner to make their hair look shiny. Many people shower right after they exercise. Americans do not like the smell of sweat and so they put deodorant on their underarms to stop sweat and smells.

Americans wash their clothes often as well. Most people do not wear the same clothing two days in a row.

Clean homes are important to Americans, but most people do not clean every day. When guests are coming, they make sure that their houses are clean and neat. Americans use dishwashers and vacuum cleaners to help them with cleaning. Most Americans do not take off their shoes when they come into a house. Some do, and they may put on slippers. If you are not sure what to do in someone’s house, it is okay to ask.

Personal relationships and dating

Dating is spending time with someone in a romantic way. People who are dating do things together, such as going to dinner or going to the movies. If you would like to take someone on a date, you should invite them. If they say yes, the two of you can decide where to go and what to do.

There are many ways to find someone to date. You can be introduced by friends or meet someone at work. If you date someone at work, you might need to tell your employer. Dating apps on smartphones are becoming more popular with young people. You can download an app and meet other people who are interested in finding someone to date.

Americans choose who they date. Their parents may give them advice, but they do not decide who they will date or marry.

Americans do not all get married when they are young. Men and women may date many people before they find someone to marry. It is also common in the USA for older people to date after a divorce or the death of a partner.

Family relationships

Both men and women do housework and take care of children in the United States. About half of the people with jobs in the USA are women. Women are often paid less than men in the USA.

Every family is a little bit different. Older people and grandparents are much less likely to live with their families in the USA than in other countries. Families also have fewer children. Some people in the USA choose not to have children at all. People who live in rural areas may have more children than people in cities. They often have less modern lifestyles, too. But even in traditional households, most women work.

Smoking and chewing tobacco

Smoking is not allowed in any public places, including bars and restaurants. You must be 20 feet away from a public building to smoke. Most Americans do not like it if a car or home smells like smoke.

Americans know that smoking is dangerous. So electronic cigarettes that burn liquid nicotine are popular. But they are also addictive and bad for your health.

Chewing tobacco is popular in some parts of the USA and unusual in other parts. It can cause cancers of the tongue, gums, and throat. You have to be 18 to purchase all tobacco products.

Drinking alcohol

Drinking alcohol is very common in the USA, especially in social situations. Americans drink wine, beer, and liquor (drinks such as whisky and vodka). If you do not want to drink alcohol, it is fine to say no or ask for water. Most people will not be upset or pressure you. If they do, say no politely again.

Driving when you are drinking or using drugs is dangerous and illegal. If you get caught, you will go to jail. You will also spend thousands of dollars on lawyers and paying fines. You will get your license taken away. You might even have trouble with job applications.


In the USA, the term drugs means medicines as well as  illegal drugs. Over-the-counter drugs are are legal medicines that you can buy without a doctor’s prescription. Prescription drugs are medicines that you cannot buy without a medical prescription. You should not share prescription drugs with anyone. Taking prescription medicines that are not prescribed by your doctor is also illegal. Using drugs hurts your body and can get you in trouble with the police.

Marijuana (also called pot or weed) is a type of drug that is legal in some states. It is a plant that people smoke or eat. Some people use it to help with health problems. Other people use it the way people drink alcohol: because they like the effect it has. Every state has different rules about marijuana. In some states, you can go to jail for using it. In others, it is legal to use marijuana.

Alcohol and drug addiction

Alcohol and drug addiction is a very serious problem in the USA. Addiction means you cannot stop smoking, drinking, and using drugs, even if you want to or if they are making you sick. You might realize that addiction is hurting people you love or causing you to have trouble at work. Stopping can be very hard, but you can get help. To get free advice by phone, call the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health helpline. You can also search FindHello for help near you. Enter your location or address. Then choose  “healthcare and mental health” to look for free and  low-cost mental health and addiction resources.