(asked by S.B. from… somewhere… apparently people don’t like to mention where they’re from when they ask questions)
I’ve begun learning French and apparently he’s working on his English…
We’re both in our mid-twenties.
My question: He told me he’d like to spend a lot of time with me when I go back and take me places to eat, places to see, etc…
As you can imagine, I’m thrilled but… do you have any dating tips for me? My cousin can only help me so much… I need some info from a French guy’s perspective.
I don’t know anything about French men… Particularly shy, family/friend-oriented French men… Any suggestions are welcome!
Ah! Dating a Frenchman! The dream of every foreign woman, and a few gay men too…
But how make this dream come true?
Do you simply go to the country, you meet the man, and there you go?
It’s not that easy.
See, one big mistake a bunch of people make when dealing with love and relationships is to assume that “oh well, this is a universal feeling, this is what makes us humans, so it’s all the same everywhere”
Everything in our lives is influenced by our cultures. Everything! And especially dating…
And ignoring the dating rules of the country you’re in will cause trouble and failures in your dating attempts (yes, I’m sadly talking from experience here). I say “the country you’re in” and not “the nationality of the person you’re dating” because I believe that at least in the beginning, you cannot assume that a local will know the rules of dating in your country; on the other hand, a local, being a local, usually cannot know the rules of your country, sometimes isn’t even aware that rules are different.
Here I’m assuming that one of the two persons is a local. Things will be different if they’re both foreigners in a third country.
That you know the rules of the country you’re in is very important, just like in any other case, but in dating even more, because as I said early, too many people assume that dating is “natural” and not “cultural”.
That being said, you’re all dying to know the rules of dating in France… Well, here they are!
The rule number one in dating in France is that there are no rules!
Well, that’s not exactly true, but let’s say that there are much fewer rules than in many other countries, especially the US (as usual, in what follows I will mostly compare with American culture).
Actually, the very concept of dating is not as defined in France.
Remember that even if “date” is a French world (meaning: day, month and year), there’s no word in French for “date” meaning “romantic get together”.
Let’s get into details.
First, the “asking out” part:
Asking out in France is not that different I guess.
It’s mostly about saying “Would you like to [insert something about dining, going to a movie or similar activities here]?”
You usually ask this to the girl after you know her a little, having met her at work, school, through common friends, etc.
I say ask the girl, because it’s really rare that the woman asks the man out in France. It can happen, but it’s extremely rare.
Please note that in France, you rarely meet your future date in a bar or a club… Well, it can happen, but much less than in the US.
A big difference between both countries is the bar scene.
In France, it’s really rare that you talk to strangers in a bar, unless it’s a very lively bar, it’s late at night and everybody is very drunk and happy. But early in the night, when people are still quite sober, it’s really rare.
As an (almost) rule of thumb, if a guy talks to you (a girl) in a bar, chances that he’s sketchy are extremely high.
Also note that blind dates are almost inexistent in France.
But also note that all of those things have been changing a lot in recent years because of internet dating that has become extremely popular in France, and especially in Paris.
One other thing one needs to know when asking a French woman out. In France, “no” doesn’t mean “no”. It means “maybe”, “let’s see”, “ask again”, etc. So if a French woman says no when you ask her out (or anything else), it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to go out with you, it means she’s playing hard to get, and you’ll have to ask several times (of course, there’s a fine line between “several” and “annoyingly too many”, and this line will depend from one individual to another…)
How is this relevant for an American woman dating a French man?
Simple, if you, the American woman, are saying “no” meaning “no” and you have the French man still insisting, don’t get mad at him. He’s been trained like this by French woman, and he’s just thinking you’re playing hard to get and/or you need convincing.
Same thing goes with “I don’t know” and “maybe”.
I’ve noticed that in an American woman’s mouth “I don’t know” often means “no” and “maybe” often means “yes”.
Usually, in a French woman’s mouth (and consequently in a French man’s ear) “I don’t know” means “I don’t know, I’m not sure, convince me.” And “maybe” means “maybe, I’m not sure, convince me.”
OK, the asking has been done, the date is about to happen.
Remember that dates are not as codified in France, which means that basically anything goes, and what will make it a good or a bad date is whether you had a good time or not, and not whether he or she said or did this or that.
Now, here are a few important points where things are quite different between France and the US:
-Calling: in the US, there are all those strange rules about calling, who’s calling who, when, how much time between two calls, etc, etc. None of these exist in France. And, contrarily to the US, the more the guy calls, the better.
In the US, I’ve had some first dates going great and everything went to the gutter afterwards because the girl felt I was calling too much, almost harassing her.
Thing is that in France, if a guy calls a girl a lot, it means he cares. If he doesn’t, it means he doesn’t care. Simple.
I remember a few weeks ago, when my French female roommate started seeing this French guy, she was all worried and stressed and pissed because he hadn’t called/emailed/messaged in about 8 hours! For her there was one possible explanation: he didn’t care about her.
Yep, this is how French women are, and as a consequence, this is how French men (that have only dated French women) will behave.
-Kissing: One thing that always disturbed me in the US is how it’s sometimes easy to kiss or to get kissed (I’m talking mouth kissing, or even French kissing here). Sometimes, people, especially when they’re drunk, will kiss for whatever reason. And more important, people that are dating will kiss at the first date and regularly after that, even if they don’t think/feel that they are in a relationship, even if they see other people.
None of this is OK in France.
Well, kissing while wasted is somewhat OK, but might become very embarrassing the following day, depending on who were the people that kissed.
But in a dating situation, kissing on the lips, and especially French kissing, means one and only thing: you wanna be in a relationship with the person.
I’m saying it again: if you kiss somebody on the lips in France, it means that you consider this person as your boyfriend or girlfriend and that you want to be exclusive and in a relationship with them (long or short term doesn’t matter here, though)
Kissing and dating other people is not OK anymore.
-Sex: On the other hand, remember (as mentioned in a previous question) that French society and French people are not as fucked up as Americans are when it comes to sex. Even if things are far from perfect, they have a much healthier and more casual approach to sex. And in France no such thing as wondering after how many dates it’s OK to have sex, as “no sex on the first date, that means you’re easy”, etc.
In France, the rule with sex is simple: it can happen anytime after the first kiss… even minutes after it. It’s that first kiss that will trigger the “ok for sex” option in your relationship. Hence the importance of the timing of that kiss regarding to where you want to go and what you want to do with that person.
-Offending: One thing that’s not exactly related to dating, but it can be… That fear that American people have to offend other people is totally misunderstood in France. In France, it’s OK to offend people, or rather, it’s the offended responsibility to be offended or not, not the offender’s one.
So, don’t be afraid to be honest for fear of offending the person. OK, it doesn’t work for everything (even in France, telling your girlfriend she looks fat in that dress is a big no no), but overall, French people are much more open and upfront than Americans. Keep that in mind when you’re in a relationship with a French person, whether it is about what they say or about what you say (or rather what you don’t dare to say).
-Overall Advantages and Disadvantages of the (absence of) rules in French dating:
Well, the main advantage is that things are more “natural”, people follow more what they feel and less what should or shouldn’t be done.
The main disadvantages are that things can be too blurry at times, especially in the pre-dating phase. I can’t tell you how many French girls I never asked out even though I liked them because I was convinced they didn’t care about me and I learned afterwards that the only thing they were waiting was that I ask them out. And on the other hand, how many French girls turned me down when I asked them out when I was convinced they had a crush on me and I didn’t. These kinds of misunderstandings never happened to me in the US.
But I wonder if this is really related to the difference in dating rules in both countries, or in the difference in behavior in girls from both countries?
Edit: Apparently a lot of people arrive on this blog here, and fail to read the instructions before sending me a question.
So, please if you have a question in the form of “I’ve met this French guy, I thought he liked me, but now I’m not sure anymore” or something like that, and you send it as “anonymous”, don’t expect me to answer that. At least, give me a way to respond privately (an e-mail address would be good), but be aware that my answer will most likely be “I don’t know the guy, and I can’t read his mind, so I don’t know what’s going on.”
So, before sending me a question about dating, make sure that:
-the answer is not already here or elsewhere on the blog.
-there is an answer that I can know, that is something that has to do with behaviors in general, not about a specific guy.
Thanks for your understanding.