1) She can probably out-hike you.
She’s been breathing this high-elevation air her whole life. While you might be a real trail stud, if you’re new to the state, she’s going to kick your butt.
2) He might have an irrational college football alliance for a school he didn’t attend.
Lots of people who grow up in Utah come from families that are either die-hard BYU or loyal University of Utah football fans. Check his closet; if the hoodies are blue, it’s BYU. If they’re crimson, he bleeds red. It doesn’t matter if he went to Harvard; he cheers for “his” Utah school with the same fervor of an alumnus.
3) Her family will take you four-wheeling, boating or snowmobiling.
Utahns play outdoors a lot, and we do it with our family. Once you’ve gone out with her three times or so, expect to be invited to a family outdoor play session. If you're worried that they're watching to see if you're manly enough...you're right.
4) He has crazy survival skills.
If you’re dating a home-grown Utah boy, odds are good that he’s an Eagle Scout. If he paid attention at Scout camp, he knows how to tie 863 different knots and can start a campfire using nothing more than a gum wrapper and a battery. If he didn’t pay attention, he knows 7,324 fart jokes and can belch the alphabet—backwards.
5) She has an extensive Disney memorabilia collection.
Utah families love DisneyLand. It’s close enough to drive and it’s good, wholesome entertainment. Your new girlfriend has probably been to Disney a half dozen times or more. She’s got several pairs of Mickey ears, a collection of snowglobes and mugs and a plethora of Disney-themed apparel. If you’re thinking about marriage, make sure she’s not expecting a Disney honeymoon.
6) He owns firearms and camo clothing.
If you’re from out of state (especially one of those blue states), you might be horrified to open your new boyfriend’s closet and find several hunting rifles, army-style boots and a camo vest that holds 2,500 rounds of ammo. Odds are slim that he’s planning a mass shooting — he’s just been hunting, shooting and collecting guns since he was five. Whatever you do, don’t ask him about it, unless you’re ready to sit through several hours of stories about the “Big buck that got away.”
7) She’s ready for marriage in months, not years.
People in Utah marry quickly, and young. You can blame this on the Mormon church, but even people from other faiths (or no faiths) seem to marry in their twenties. Once you’ve been dating for eight weeks, her family is waiting for you to pop the question (and so is she).
8) He (or she) has kids.
Because Utahns get married so young, we tend to get divorced young as well. So even if your new love interest is only 28 years old, he might have two kids and an ex-wife.
9) She has some mad pioneer woman skills.
She probably knows how to knit, quilt, can tomatoes and prepare delicious meals from freeze-dried food products. Utah women come from strong pioneer stock; we learn early how to do some pretty old-fashioned crafty things, and do them well. Ask her for some jam to go with that toast; she’ll ask you which of six kinds you’d like, then pull out a homemade jar.
10) He has some mad Home Depot-style skills.
Utah men learn early how to take care of things themselves. Your new boyfriend can fix his own car, finish a basement and remove a 40-foot tall tree without professional help. Odds are also good that he has extensive experience with residential roofing and helping neighbors load and unload moving vans.
11) She has a huge family and they get together often.
Even if she grew up with a “small Utah family,” that means she has at least two siblings. Add in two spouses, six nephews or nieces and the various aunts, uncles and cousins that are always hanging around and you’ve quickly got enough for a softball team. Be prepared for a lot of noise at family parties (yes, you’re expected to attend these frequent functions). Expect to be roped into volleyball games, ping pong tournaments and other family contests. Never turn down a second helping of funeral potatoes and have some ready answers when Aunt Margene starts giving you the third degree about religion.
12) He plays an instrument.
Utahns have a thing about kids and extra curriculars; probably because Utah moms have to find a way to get their little darlings out of the house for a few hours every week. So, ask your boyfriend (and his numerous family members) what instrument he plays. He may have only taken tuba lessons for two years, but the family will have great fun recounting the horrors for you. If you’re lucky, he took saxophone lessons for 10 years and he’s already shown a penchant for serenades.
Of course, any of these things are easily interchangeable. He could make the best jam in the state; she could swing a hammer better than her brothers. She could be a die-hard Utes fan; he could push for marriage after eight weeks of dating. If you live (and date) in Utah, you’ve seen all this — and more! In what ways are Utahns different than others when it comes to dating? Tell me in the comments.