(asked by anonymous (I wonder why) from Dublin)
So my brief answer is “yes, he’s so totally married and doesn’t even have the guts and honesty to tell you (now, if you expect honesty from a cheating man, maybe you knocked at the wrong door).”
The other option is that he’s into you just for the sex and nothing else.
I guess this is all there’s to tell about this story.
Now, if I bothered to respond to this question despite the fact that it is anonymous and is totally personal, it is that because one part of it made me go “oh, oh, stupid stereotype here, it’s your job to clear this up Frenchman!” (I don’t think I ever called myself “Frenchman” in this blog before, but the comment of the other idiot the other day was so funny, I feel like I have to now… now that I think about it, I think this comment was not here, but on another blog I was commenting… oh well, it’s not like we care, is it?)
So, the part in question is: “given the attitude French people have towards extra-marital affairs”
I wonder what she alludes to here… Yeah, right, unfortunately I totally know what she alludes to… It’s that it’s common and normal to cheat on your wife when you’re French…
This is stereotype is not the most talked about, but may be one of the most common one about Frenchmen… Even my boss (who’s American and who’s lived in France more than 20 years and who know more than some French people about France) has been guilty of mentioning it a couple of times…
So, where does the truth lie?
In many places…
First, a little bit of history.
Back in the days, when you were part of the aristocracy, you rarely (we can even safely say: never) married to your loved one, but to the one that your parents had decided it was best you marry for the interest of the family’s assets and such.
So, of course, when you don’t marry for love, your propensity to have affairs is quite big and it’s safe to say that most nobles and aristocrats had affairs on a regular basis. It doesn’t mean they constantly fucked around (well, some did), but very often, it meant that you had your spouse and your loved one on the side not too far and very often you spent more time with them than with your spouse… History is full of examples with kings and such and not only in France (and not only in the past: Charles, Camilla, Diana, anyone?)
Then, the Revolution happened, and the bourgeoisie took the reins of society (I simplify a bit, this is not a history lesson right now). First their goal was to differentiate themselves from the previous dominant class… But quite quickly, dominant classes do what dominant classes do, and most of the time, those habits don’t come from the fact you’re a noble or a bourgeois or anything else, it comes from what place you have in society.
And the bourgeoisie started to have important assets (money, titles, reputations and such) and they married accordingly and not for love, just like their predecessors did. And it was as common as a practice among bourgeois as it used to be among the aristocracy to have lovers and mistresses and such. Still, it was a bit less socially acceptable to do it in the open, so the thing became a bit more hush hush, despite the fact that it was still common practice.
What about nowadays?
Nowadays, the dominant class marries for love (at least I hope they do, even if you’ll never see a bourgeois marry somebody from the ghetto… but it’s more a question of homogamy here) and I guess cheating is now a sign of power and of being part of the dominant class.
All of those things are what gave us, Frenchmen, this despicable reputation. So, it’s not totally unjustified, but it’s definitely not a generalization to do either.
Now, it would be a lie to say that only the dominant class does it, one can find cheaters in any social environment, but I don’t think it’s that different in the rest of the Western world. Cheaters are everywhere, they’re shameful and dishonest people, I don’t think I can say much more about them without being rude.