It is so amusing to see how some social actions are precisely the same between France and the US, and others are totally different. One of the very understandable difference is the dating game. The French don’t “date”… So what is a man to do?
Well, this was a big surprise to me when I arrived in the US. I had no idea what “dating” meant.I understood of course a man and a woman could be attracted in each other in a romantic way, let me reassure you.But I was not aware that accommodating to go out to dinner with a man alone gave the motion that I was possibly lovingly interested in him.Nor did I tell about this first date, second and third date business.
In France, it’s very public for a girl to go out to dinner with a male Person friend. Even for a married woman to go out with a male friend who is single: I frequently travel to Paris by myself, Leyla and Olivier stay in Paimpol, and have dinner with one of our good male friend, single or not.
Olivier beliefs me, and we both trust our friend(s), who would never make a pass at me. I guess it’s much more accepted in France for men and women to be friends.But I would never do that to my Dad who would be very upset if I did. But I digress…
When I meet a man and I am without my husband, I’ll place within the first minutes of the conversation that “my husband blablabla… and our daughter blablabla…”. That usually is sufficient to make my state of mind really clear.I did the equal thing as a girl, conversation about my boyfriend (actually existing or not) early on in the talk.
Now, not everyone does that of sequence, some girls like to play, and from time to time lose themselves in the game, or unhappy people. Some boys never give up… and from time to time their obstinacy pays off… And some people are just not correct.
French people flirt. It’s in our genes and it’s socially accepted in France. A Frenchwoman is predictable to play her feminine side, and be “venerated” for her loveliness and wit among other talents.Frenchmen like to flirt as well, even if they know very well there is no hope of it leading anywhere. The game is the main point, it’s comparatively cleared and usually no-one gets hurt, just a little flushed.
With kissing hi and goodbye being the standard and French women being more “flirtatious”, it can be difficult for foreigners to correctly read a French woman’s body language.
I estimate since there is no set procedure, French women are pretty clear,and often more direct than other women.
You will know when a French girl is flirting with you: she’ll smile to excess, move her hair a lot, smile at you, blush, laugh hard and loud at your jokes, find occasions to touch your shoulder (or even your knee… oh la la),… and it’s not unlikely that she’ll make the first move. So relax and enjoy the show.
As for French men. Well, they are men. It’s unlikely they’ll refuse to take it further, but not unheard of. Again, the game is often more important than the catch, even to men.
It all boils down to this. The woman has all the power when it comes to dating. She decides whether she wants the guy or not, and may need more than one dinner to make up her mind… Then, she’ll make the situation pretty clear… or just keep on flirting for the joy of it.
It’s then up to the guy if the company of “la belle” is enough for him, or if the game has lasted long enough – in which case no-one is forcing him to continue to invite her.
So, since there is no dating procedure, French people have to work hard for it… They cannot just assume that if the girl accepts to go out with them three times, “c’est dans la poche” (it’s in the pocket, it’s a done deal).
Maybe this is why French guys have the reputations of being so romantic, and… tenacious !! We trained them well (with some exceptions of course… pretty much every politician.
Believe it or not, at the opposite of all the stereotypes, French people are much more about love than sex.
Sex is not offensive in France as it is in the US, and it is abundant more present in humor, art, tv and average life than in the US… and so is nudity: children are often naked on the beach, women can go topless .
Still, sex is very much associated with love. I wrote an article about French Sex Vocabulary if you are curious – watch out, it is explicit and written for an adult audience.
Many of my French friends – men and women alike – have waited to meet someone special for their first time, didn’t just want to get rid of their virginity, and have never had one night stand.
If sex between agreeable adults is very much socially accepted, most French people won’t rush into it, and get to know each other before flying into bed.
It’s only in American movies that I found out about this “let’s be exclusive” concept.
In France, pretty much once you’ve exchanged a kiss, it’s expected of you to be exclusive: you don’t chase several rabbits at the same time… Maybe that’s why things take a bit more time to develop in France – we like the game, and we like to take our time playing it.
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