Sep 212008
OK people. I’m afraid there has been a misunderstanding since the last question I answered. Why is it that every single question I’ve received since is basically the same:
“I’m dating/am interested in this French man. What does it mean when he does or says this? What does he want? Will my relationship with him work? Will we have many kids? Etc…”

I think some people missed something about this blog. Maybe they’ve only read the previous entry and didn’t bother to read the rest of the blog or the small text on the right column.
So let me restate this: This blog is about cultural differences between France and the Anglo-word (especially the US), it’s not about giving advice about personal relationships.

And on a side note, if you think that a complete stranger can give you advice on your relationship, it might be time for some introspection.
It’s almost offensive actually, as the fact you assume that I can know what’s going on in your man’s mind just because we share the same nationality implies that you basically consider all Frenchmen to be the same and that you don’t consider them as individuals, and that even makes me wonder if you’re dating / are interested in them just because they’re French.

So, no, all of that doesn’t make me want to answer your questions, but as stated in the text on the right column (the one you might have not read) I promised to answer any question, so I’ll answer your questions.
But let me be clear: after that, this is it. No more questions about the French guys you like/are dating, etc unless you’re sure it has a cultural dimension and not only a personal one, and do so while fully knowing you might not like the answer.
I hope we have an agreement? (well, even if we don’t, it doesn’t really matter, does it?)

So, Tracie from Tucson, Arizona asked me:
“I’m currently talking to this French guy and he told me that he loved me, “even my American parts.” I know that he doesn’t like the US much, but what does this mean?”

Well, Tracie from Tucson, Arizona, I have no more idea than you about what your guy meant by that. As you said, he doesn’t like the US much, so there must be a connection, don’t you agree?
In my opinion, it’s just a lame way for him to say that despite the fact that he’s a freaking anti-American, he’s trying to go past his idiotic prejudices to be able to get more intimate with you.
Not the best way to do it in my opinion, but maybe he really likes you, and maybe your relationship will go somewhere and maybe he’ll see past his prejudices.

Then we have Anonymous from Canada who sent me a way too long email to basically ask me everything about her relationship with her French guy, because obviously all French guys share a telepathic connection and we all know what the other French guys around think and want.

So to get into details, her French man is very loving and caring and she’s confused by it
I don’t really know what to tell her except that it is the way a boyfriend should be and if her previous ones were not, she should be rethinking her criteria when she chooses her men, regardless of their nationality.

She’s also asking me to tell her how genuine her guy is…
Mmmm… What do YOU think, beloved readers, how genuine is her guy?

She also wants to know if Frenchmen always lead…
And the answer is yes! Except when they don’t.

“Do Frenchmen talk about their feelings or am I just supposed to know?”
Last time I checked, unless one can read minds, nobody can just know, so nobody is just supposed to know. Talking is not just one way to know, it is the only way to know what other people think or feel.
Why is it that so many people still think that one can magically know what the other thinks or feels without talking? Wonder why there are so many dysfunctional relationships out there.

And when I say talk, I mean talk with your mouth and words, not “talk with eyes” whatever that can mean.

“What do French men value about a woman?”
How can I seriously answer this question? Does she really think that all French men are just clones from one another (and even clones, I’m sure they think differently about different issues).

“What do they value in relationships?”
Some value love, some others value sex, some value both, some others are into power struggles, some others prefer kinky stuff, some others care about having kids and a mother for them, some others…. (sorry, I don’t have enough room for the list as it goes on for about 30 millions more things)

Sorry Anonymous from Canada, I hope you’re not too offended (who I am fooling here?) but seriously do you realize what you’re asking when you’re asking it?

And finally we have Isabelle from Los Angeles, and I must admit that in retrospect her questions are not bad, I guess I am just a bit peeved by the previous ones.

So here they are:
“What do Frenchmen think about American women (please be specific)?”
Once again, I guess there are about 30 millions answers to this question. But let’s try to reduce them to just a few.
Let’s first talk about non-Parisian men who have little or no actual knowledge of Americans (apart from what they see on TV and movies). I wanna say that they don’t really think anything about American women at all.

Then we have Parisian men and most of them think that American women are sluts or at least very easy. Why is that? Simply because, most young American women (think study abroad students and such) do behave just like that when they’re in France. There’s this strange idea among some people and especially American students that when they’re abroad there are no rules anymore and they can do whatever they want and especially the things they wouldn’t do at home. A little bit as if the whole world was Cancun and it was Spring Break all year long outside of the US. So you can imagine what the locals will think of the entire population when those people are the only ones they meet from said population.
Also, there’s another factor that is not women’s fault, but there, they’re the victims of the sexist education they’ve received in the US.
As you all (American women) are well aware, you’ve been taught since your earliest childhood to smile at all times, in any situation, with pretty much anybody you meet.
Except that in France, smiling to –let’s say- strangers, tells them that you want to communicate with them, socialize with them or even want to go further than that with them. So don’t be surprised if after smiling to a stranger he becomes what you will call: harassing.
In France, the rule is simple: if you don’t want to be “friends” with a person, you don’t smile at them.
If you’re in a shop, you may smile, but you must keep the communication to a minimum: Hi. How much? Bye.
If you’re in the street, you don’t even make eye contact. Any other signal will be interpreted in a way you might regret.

Finally we have Frenchmen that spent enough time in the US to actually know American women and these men won’t really have any preconceived ideas about them and may even understand them better than they understand French women…

“Why do they expect girls to dress sexy all the time?”
They don’t. You might be reading the thing in a totally wrong way here. Thing is that French people and especially French women will usually pay attention to the way they dress at all times, 24/7. And it’s very disturbing for a French man in the US to see women dressing sexy when they go out (French women won’t dress that sexy, unless they’re sluttish) and then going grocery shopping in their pajamas. It just doesn’t make sense for him. And he’ll soon be wondering why is it that she can dress sexy (because he’ll like that a lot) when she goes out, but not the rest of the time (because he’s used to French women dressing in a decent way all the time).
So it’s not that he wants you to dress sexy all the time, it’s that he wants you to pay attention to the way you dress all the time, and as he knows you will dress sexy at times… So…
That or some men are just pigs… Even French men…

“What do you think it says about a guy who has had many one night stands but wants to be exclusive with you?”
This one is easy.
I think that either is actually falling in love with you (which doesn’t mean he won’t cheat on you later if he’s into one night stands, which doesn’t mean he will either), or that he’s a big liar and he’ll tell what you want to hear in order to get what he wants from you (a night or two of hot steamy sex)…

And after that last question, that’s all!

No more question about French men and North American (or other country) women unless you’re positive that it has some cultural relevance.

More Questions Answered:

  13 Responses to “Dear Frenchman,”

  1. Bravo Frenchman!! I think this is very thoughtful and well-written…
    I beg to differ with you on the smiling thing, though.. I read a few books about French culture that told me to throw my sunny Californian smile out the door when moving to France!! I couldn’t DISAGREE more with this… and though not everyone smiles back- I have had countless- men, women and children pass a greeting back to me whether it was verbal or non-verbal… I have also had people on the street - men, women and children smile FIRST at me!! Maybe it’s just my sunny personality/aura/charm/charisma (call it whatever) but I have been hit on more NOT smiling at guys than when I actually smile at them… I could write a book… and when I mean hit on… I don’t mean in a harassing or annoying manner- but just as it is… someone trying to hit on a cute Cali. gal- Sorry guys! I’m married and I don’t give out my phone number to strange guys! No, seriously… that could be a topic for another question… I will devise on for you!
    Ciao and have a nice day…

  2. “And it’s very disturbing for a French man in the US to see women dressing sexy when they go out… and then going grocery shopping in their pajamas.”
    LMAO, that’s hilarious, you just described me!
    Love your blog, I’m trying to think of some good questions for you…

  3. This is such a nifty concept! I’ll think of a groovy question and get back to you!

  4. Hi Frenchman, I am the Anonymous woman from Canada. Don’t worry I do not have a question that will infuriate you and then cause you to blog about it. I just wanted to say thank you.

  5. Did you see my post on Korean men? No matter what controversial thing about Korea I put up — Japan-hate, dog eating, fan death — the post about Korean men is No. 1 as long as AAK! has existed. Go figure.

  6. I guess Anglophone women are obsessed with foreigners…

  7. I have read that if a French man kisses you on the lips then you are in effect his petite-ami and therefore in a relationship…i’m not convinced this is true!

    • It is true for the most part (except in drunken situations basically) and I mean lips locking and possible tongue action, not just lips touching.

      • Thanks for that - although it only lasted a week as apparently my french is not good enough! Oh well, what can you do? lol

  8. Um….I live in rural France and everybody smiles at everybody and bonjour/bonsoir to even complete strangers - it’s probably because I live in a small village near a small town (and thanks to my local boyfriend I now know most of the people anyway) but I would disagree with the ‘don’t smile, don’t make eye contact’ comment - I think it’s more important to be polite and don’t flirt with anyone you don’t want attention from, although I haven’t been harrassed at any time since moving here from the UK, the most I have had is a’ bonsoir madam (said with a definate leer), comment ca va?’ from 3 guys in a bar and you can just laugh and respond and they get the message not to go further without having any dents in their pride. To be honest, I find the French people to be friendly, approachable, helpful and a heck of alot better than the people I came across in the UK - I even avoid the ex-pat community where possible and I prefer to hang with my french buddies instead - they are more fun! mdr

    • Well, “rural France” is the key word here.
      Yes this “don’t smile” thing applies to big cities mostly.
      In smaller towns and the countryside, people tend to communicate more, even with strangers, and to be generally more respectful to them too.

  9. LOL on the whole thing. You’re funny, Frenchman!! You always say you don’t like answering these “dating a French guy” questions…but actually, after reading a few of your responses to these questions, I think you’re pretty good at it! Ahhh…irony and sarcasm.

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