Nov 102009
(asked by Frou Frou from the Czech Republic)

Ha, ha, Frou Frou! I know why you’re asking this question. You’re still shocked I praised French women in my answer to your last question, so you found the one question that you knew I would find no excuse for French women… You’re a sneaky one, aren’t you?

So why is that?
It’s pretty simple, but to understand that, you need to understand French women’s psychology (some people would say that it’s an impossible mission, but I don’t think it is).

French women want only the advantages of life, and none of the inconveniences. French women want total equality with men, but only when it’s in their favor. For example, when the conscription still existed in France, no French woman ever thought it should become compulsory for women. I say same rights also means same duties. They don’t.

Back to our topic and back in the days -I’m thinking 19th Century, but maybe even earlier than that- things were pretty simple: men would ask women out, because men and women were not equal.
Sure women could say no, sometimes, but an unmarried woman had pretty much no rights, so she could say no a few times if she wanted to, but she would take the risk to not find anybody else, and remember that at the time if you’re not married when you’re a woman, you can’t really have a social life or a social status or anything else for that matter.

Women needed to get married as soon as possible when reaching adulthood, so they could choose what men they’d end up with, but once they did, they signed up for life, and most of the time not such a fun life.

Hopefully, I’m not teaching you anything here as it was the same pretty much in all of the Western world (and still is more or less like that in many other places).

Time passed, women became more equal and more independent from men. In all logic, rules of courting should have changed accordingly, just like they have changed in most countries where men and women are more or less equal.

But something went wrong somewhere.

My guess is that as French women being sneaky little ones, and French men being stupid when it comes to the topic of French women (I must be different as I know better and haven’t touched a French woman that way in more than a decade, mostly because I got tired of their stupid mind games… they make good friends though… more info on that topic there).
And French women realized that if they kept having men chase them around without never giving them anything else than a “no” or sometimes a “yes” when the guy had basically to go blind and take all the risks especially looking like a fool (and when you look like a fool in France, you’re pretty much done… ok, I exaggerate a bit), while they’d just had to sit and laugh.

You see, in most Western cultures, men still ask women out, but women give them clues beforehand so that the guy -if he’s not an idiot- pretty much knows what to expect when he asks her out.
Not in France.
In France, most women will be as secretive as possible (with the guy) about what they think about a potential mate, not giving him anything. They think that if the guy is clueless about what will happen, he’s taking risks and in their eyes it proves… I have no idea what it proves. Some call that “romanticism”, I call that “playing games”.

And of course, they don’t seem to realize that with that kind of behavior, they’re missing lots of opportunities too. In my younger years, while many girls turned me down when I was sure they liked me, there were about as many about whom I learned, months, sometimes years after the facts, that they actually were into me and I didn’t have the slightest clue, because they wouldn’t give me one.
While, on the other hand, I never had a foreign woman turn me down. I’m not saying that I could get any foreign woman I wanted, that would be very pretentious of me. I’m saying that with foreign women, I always knew if they were interested in me or not, so I just wouldn’t ask out the ones that I knew were not interested.

If you add to that the fact that most of them are immature bitches, always want everything and its contrary and love playing games, all of those without understanding the meaning of fun, you’ll understand why more and more French men give up on them and turn towards foreign women.

But all in all, the answer of your question is that they want all the good sides of everything and none of the bad sides. So they want men to take all the risks in the “approach” phase of the relationship, and they just want to be passive and then bitch about it if you don’t treat them like superior beings.

To be fair, I must add that not all French women love to treat men badly and most will not ask men out, nor give them signs because of peer pressure (sort of) and education. This is the way it’s being done by everyone around them, so this is what they do. And this horrible behavior gets perpetuated generation after generation that way.

(now I can’t wait for the answers of my French female readership and have their side of the story… just know that if you plan an all out flame war against me, I’m pretty busy these days -as you can see when the number of posts here- and I may not have time to humor you as much as I would like to).

More Questions Answered:

  38 Responses to “Why French Women Do Not Ask Men Out?”

  1. Haha ! French women responding!
    So the problem is always with over-generalization but I do know that I grew up believing that if you ask a guy, you're a slut.
    Hence, no asking.
    However, I'm not much into mind games and I always tried to give signs when I was interested (but sometimes would have to be quite direct to be understood). The problem was always the fear of being ridiculed and also the fear that my signs would be considered as asking out and we're back to the Slut issue.
    My two cents…

  2. Believe me, if you know this guy, you two get along, and you like him and you're pretty sure he likes you, he won't think you're a slut.

    Asking out random guys in bars, yes. Asking out this nice guy you've been hanging out with, no.

    And as far as giving signs, yes, you'll have to be obvious.
    On that topic what French women call "subtle" is called "invisible" or "undecipherable" by the rest of the world (men and women alike), and what French women call too obvious are called normal by the rest of the world.
    You have to be obvious, you want the person to understand you, that's the whole point.

  3. I do not even remember asking, that had to be ages ago???:)
    Anyway, fascinating. Looking forward to comments..:)

  4. It was during the summer. Just after I answered your previous question. (remember, it takes time to get an answer, not because I do research, but because I have a huge list)

  5. It may sound like a lot of generalization, but overall I agree with Frenchman. French women do play mind games, consider the most furtive oeillade to be an obvious sign and sometimes expect guys to be able to read minds… And it's got implications further along the road, not just for early dating. I found that many of them are unable to express their desires and that's probably because of the "slut" syndrome Laurence mentioned. When it comes to sex it complicates everything. One has to guess what's pleasurable or not, what fantasies could rime with playfulness… I've never been with a French woman who could express straight forwardly what she wants in bed.

    Like Frenchman, I enjoyed discovering the difference of attitude and conventions abroad, and it makes for relationships with better communications and more reciprocity.

  6. -Frou Frou: maybe it's not fair, but how do I call people whose national sport is mind games then?

    -Boulet: Yep, I didn't expand because it was not the question, but yeah, that behavior usually extends to the whole relationship, not just the first dates.

  7. Want a French woman to fall in love with you? Act like you don't notice them and seem more interested in other things. They can't get enough of this treatment for some reason. I discovered this naturally as I am genuinely not interested. (of course this comment is a gross generalization, but not entirely untrue!)

  8. Do women who grow up in France really know that much about how people carry out their love lives in other countries? It seems to me that they just act the way they do because of cultural norms, not because of some mass conspiracy against men. You're reading their behavior from an international perspective most people don't have.

    The big question your straight female readership probably wants to ask is how to approach a French man who has grown up assuming that women who approach men are easy. Will he respect you if you ask him out for coffee? The cultural programming goes both ways.

  9. Ho, oui … je comprend. After having (for two-years) a potentional mother-in-law and two sisters (the family of my fiance) en Brest I understand this. I always felt 'different'. I saw how they manipulated men. My fiance's mother had a different man in the house each time we visited and once he stopped to kiss 'her arse', he was gone.

    Of course, I found my Breton to be a massive cheater and we have now broke but we were also of a differnt social class so maybe he did me the favor …

    Now I am with a Parisien, a friend of my family and he tells me that it is "refreshing" to be with a woman from a diffent culture as that French women make it all but impossible to be open with them.

    Maybe this is just his opinion and I am eyes-wide-open with my second Frenchman but life in Marly-le-Roi is not so bad right now.

    Vive la difference !

  10. Kendra: If I compared with other countries, I think I also tried to give what's going on in French women's mind, regardless of what's going on in other countries, didn't I?

    And to answer your question, all French men I know would love it if a woman asked her out, and no, they wouldn't disrespect her for that, why would they?

  11. As an American woman living in Paris, all I can say to my French sisters is thank you! I find French men hungry for something that I certainly am not qualified to describe, but this post just may describe it perfectly. It makes dating Frenchmen overall quite good. (And I don't even ask them out…I just communicate with them.)

  12. Personally, I would never ask a man out.
    If he likes me then he should make the first move…
    Why does he not ask me out ?? Is it because he does not like me "very much " ? Is it because he is "afraid " of a no ? Is it because he really could live without it ??

    Well, either way, he is the one with a problem if he doesn't do it ) And if he does not like me that much to dare do it, then I don't really need him . )

  13. Interesting topic indeed! But my personal observation after several years of living in Paris is rather opposite and is confirmed by some of my French men friends, who complain that local girls are too pushy at the beginning ("they call too often, keep e-mailing, want to control the situation", etc)

    …I am sure cant really judge a reality, as in our culture a girl never-never asks anyone out. )))

  14. -Rosabell, this is exactly what I'm talking about… A man can like you and still not ask you out, because he's shy, because he thinks you don't care (because you haven't given him clues for eg) so why bother? etc…

    And what about if you like a guy and he doesn't ask you out, and you don't do anything? Who's problem is it then?

    -Ask a Russian: letting somebody ask you out is also being controlling (without taking control), which is exactly along the lines of what you mention happens afterwards.

  15. -Frenchman, I am not saying the way I think it's the proper one. I am just saying this is what I feel ( think/been taught). And yes, I have been through this when I was a young lady,being alone and miserable just to find out later that there were guys I really liked ,who were in love with me but "didn't have the guts " to ask me out and tell me about it …

    But I still wouldn't ask a man out ) Better alone and feeling the blues than havig the boys " comment " on you ))

  16. This isn't like you, Frenchman, to make such a hatchet job! I feel Frenchwomen are being attacked for opposing reasons here (in the comments as well, I mean) - for not taking control and asking men out and then because they take control, or too much control, once the relationship is established, like there's some kind of timetable.

    Foirgive me for saying that it's a slightly sexist stereotype - the ideal woman who does the pursuing, thereby saving you, the man, the bother and potential rejection, and who then somehow knows to relinquish control to you, by not phoning or wanting to see you or call the shots, or whatever is that's actually being complained about.

    I'm no expert in this field, as I met my current partner when I was 19, and I've never had the slightest interest in cultivating traditional feminine wiles. But I would say that, as you say yourself, Frenchman, the continued social pressure on women to be more sexually passive than men (if she's aggressive or pursuing or has a lot of partners, she's a slut, but if he does the same, he's a stud) has a large impact. I still think that this retrograde set of conventions means that it takes more courage for a woman to ask a man out than vice versa. I wish it weren't so, but it is.

    And as for that guff about women not giving off any signals or clues, come on! Women are giving them out all the time - men simply need to train themselves to be more observant, because these clues don't involve a woman blatantly trailing her fingers suggestively down your biceps! Has it occurred to you that a woman may simply not be attracted to a man who is so dense he can't 'read' her, even if he's terribly interested in her? I'd certainly find having to semaphore my interest in someone really, REALLY OBVIOUSLY a real turn-off!

    There's also another solution - males, stop asking Frenchwomen out. It is not compulsory. Instead find those fantasy women from other lands, who do all the running.

  17. -Rosabell, the problem I saw with what you wrote what not as much about your behavior (as you said, it comes from education and culture, although nothing prevents you from changing your behavior if you want to), it was more about the conclusions you drew about men who did or didn't ask you out.

    -Nathalie: I was waiting for your feedback.
    As I previously mentioned, I don't see any opposition between taking control and not asking out. On the contrary, when you are asked, you're the one that decides which way it's gonna go, hence you have power and control over the other one.
    And I'm not saying that roles should be reversed. If it's wrong one way, it's as wrong the other way.
    My main problem really is always the same with French women (in a relationship situation), it's the lack of communication. And in this particular case, it's the fact that the man has to go blind when he asks out. You're saying French women give out signs too.
    Expect that those signs are so secretive that no French men is able to read them, even the ones that actually have no problem asking women out can't read them. They just don't care about being rejected, because they don't care that much about the woman at first (and sometimes later as well).
    And giving out signs doesn't mean behaving like a slut. If women from many countries can do it, why can't the French?
    And what does it say when I (and other men that have met people from many countries) have no problem reading signs from other cultures and can't read the ones from their own culture?

    But I guess when you say that giving out signs that are understandable for the man is a turn-off, you really summarize what's wrong with French women as far as love is concerned: the more complicated, unintelligible, secretive, messed up, nonsensical, the more you're turned on.

    So yes, I did what you suggest, I stopped bothering with French women a long time ago (I think the last time was 1997) and I don't regret it one single bit… And no, foreign women are not fantasies and they don't do all the running. But they can communicate with men, and the understand that messed up means messed up and it's a turn off for anybody with a right mind.

    Note: for anybody interested in going further on that topic, just be aware that I currently have problems with my modem and I'll soon be away for a few days, so if you don't see your comment showing up, it doesn't mean I rejected it. Cheers

  18. What you describe is true for all women all over the western world, not just French women. It's just that when ANYBODY initiates a relationship with a foreign women, a lot of the BS games won't occur because a woman will feel less of a need to play them when because she feels like she is not on her normal "playing field". I can't explain it well I am sorry to say. Let me just say that an American in France would say that French women are great and that American women are bitches.

  19. I see what you mean zephyr, and it's not an invalid point.
    But the American women I talk about, they were in the US, and the French women I talk about, that was in many places, France, the US and more.
    And while a lot of people will cut the BS when they're not in their comfort zone (their own culture for instance), you'll also find a lot of people that are even more full of shit because they're abroad and they'll think they kings of the world or similar things because of that.

  20. French woman… A topic I find particularly interesting since I am pursuing a French lady on an online dating site (I can imagine the comments you have in this, but it is another topic). I have already sent her two e-mails, and have not received any tangible response, good or bad. Silence is a response too, but what does it mean? I know she looked at my profile, and again after my first e-mail. Does she wants me to explicitly let her know what I feel without having met? Does she just want to know I am resolved enough to send many messages without giving up? Or is she not interested and can not be bothered telling me? I have not dated for more than 10 years, which makes it even harder for me to know my knee from my elbow. It seems I am much more out of my depth than I thought at first…

  21. Antonie,
    Don't worry, I have no (mean) comments to make about dating sites. They're not my thing (I must admit that I tried when I moved to Paris and didn't anybody in this big city full of snobby Parisian women, and after trying I can say that it's definitely not my thing) but if some people like them, good for them.

    But as far as the fact that she hasn't responded, I think it means the same in every culture: she's not interested. (if she looked at your profile after your message, it can simply mean that she wants to look at the profile of the person that has just sent her a message to know who that person is)

  22. gee, i can't believe i'm readin all these stuff. you see, i have this cyber love affair with this french guy. and i could see that he's really into me. but now i'm having doubts already, it might be that he's pursuing me cuz he can't get a french woman cuz they're blunt unlike me?! what if he's eyeing on some french girl but he just couldn't have her in just a flick of a finger so now he's throwin himself to me who's the complete opposite of what you just described a french woman is. i'm asian by the way. should i make that a big deal? oh i forgot, you're not a shrink! sorry for askin some sort of an advice! peace. bisous!

  23. Yeah, as you said, I'm not a shrink…

    But if I can give an advice: when you ask yourself (or to some people you don't know on the Internet) that kind of questions, be aware that the only person on Earth that can answer them if that person… So why don't you ask them directly?

  24. Even though this idea came into context quite a few centuries ago I believe that certain things often integrate themselves into society so much that people do not even realize that they are there, but do you suppose that this (generalized) mentality might have anything to do with the influence of the roman courtois and the notion of courtly love? I don't know how familiar you are with Medieval literature but these type of mind games seem a lot like what happened with Lancelot and Guinevere in Le Chevalier a la Charette. (If you're not familiar with it essentially Lancelot must humiliate himself in order to save Guinevere but because he hesitates before humiliating himself when he arrives to save her Guinevere decides that he must not love her enough for her to allow herself to be saved by him and so he must humiliate himself even more before she will allow him to save her.)

  25. Yes!
    You couldn't be more right.
    Why hadn't I thought about it? (answer: because I hadn't thought about medieval literature in a while, and yes, I am (to be totally honest: "used to be") familiar with medieval literature and yes, roman courtois is where it all started.

    Most people are unaware of that fact, but even unconscious and ingrained concept such as love are cultural too, and "French love" was really invented by the troubadours. Thanks for that comment. This thing deserves it's on topic really because it really goes beyond than that.
    Novels were invented at the same time by the same people (novel is "roman" in French, and it's not a coincidence that it's similar to "romance" and the fact that France is seen by the Anglos as a "romantic country" comes from that (because let's admit it, English were (still are?) barbarians when it came to the things of love), and not the modern clichés that Americans and Asians fantasize about these days.
    Yes, I'll definitely write a full entry on the topic. But you'll have to be patient.

  26. Hi everyone. I would like to thank everyone, especially the author and the French women, for this post. I'm not trying to be cocky, but I am fairly charming and usually have very good luck interacting with women, even from other countries. I'm an American (please don't assume cocky here either, I'm actually not a fan of my own culture), and I recently met a French woman. A friend introduced me to her. By my standards, she was very friendly and flirty with him and totally ignored me. Even some of best methods of becoming friendly seemed to be ignored. I messed up a relationship with an Israeli woman once because of my ignorance so I decided to search online.

    I think I found a possible answer. My friend has a girlfriend and the French girl knows it. He is not available, so she is very friendly with him. I am a potential mate though, so I was not flirted with. Two things. One, by her ignoring me I mean she didn't give that little twinkle in the eye and flirt with me like I get with most women I meet, she was friendly and conversational. Two, I could be reading this wrong and she is totally not interested in me. Regardless, thanks for the insighte.

  27. This is really interesting….I'm an American woman and have the hardest time meeting/getting asked out by American men, but not by French guys. I first noticed it 10 years ago in college and came to the conclusion that I'm sort of a contradiction: I'm outgoing and friendly, but still somewhat old fashioned and don't usually make the first move. My current boyfriend is French and he's explained to me his complaints about French women, which are similar to yours, but is it really all their fault? (not saying this so he'll leave me for une francaise, but to be objective) From my observations, the french culture is not as quick to accept familiarity or as open as a lot of other cultures are. It is based on traditions and formalities, which in my opinion creates more reserved people on the whole. Which is why French women aren't as likely to give grand gestures of interest or even friendliness, as your typical American. Honestly, I feel bad for the women in France who feel like approaching men is seen as slutty, or even feel that being open with men is bad taste. But I think it reflects on something larger, on the steadfastness of tradition in France, good and bad.

  28. Frenchman, I'm certainly puzzled by what you feel about French women and their signs. I've lived all my life in France, though I stayed in many different countries, and I rarely experimented what you describe . Having a commonly warm attitude towards the women I meet may help, but I must admit I never shared the same anguishes you expose . On the opposite, in my youth, each time I was coming back from an (always) wonderful trip, with rich human (and feminine) encounters, I was pleased to find back our lovely French ladies . When I say lovely, I mean more than the physical aspect . It's all in their way of being, of moving, of smiling, of reacting, of acting etc… By this time, I used to say " if we did export women, France would be the wealthiest nation ). Hmm.
    But more than anything, I love their way of being with their man, and men in general. This comes from comparisons with many different countries, in which I found some pleasant ways, but always uncomplete for me . In French women, and even in one, I find many women, many ways of being a woman . Maybe the eyes that watch have a role to play in what you see,and i love this interactivity . French women have a charming way of playing games, and I always try to make them play with me, not against me . I utterly dislike hostility between the two sexes, and everything that looks like a fight for power . Everything that looks like a fight in fact .
    In another thread, NightFlyer mentioned this word "complicité" between men and women, saying he didn't know an English equivalent . This thing is capital for me . A state of complicité is very easy to establish with a French Woman you meet (I don't speak about "dating", which I don't know ), at least by the use of humour . When this has started, if the girl attracts you, it's far easier for a man in France than everywhere else to send discret or subtile signals, half-demands half-approachs and receive answers on the same level . In this case, no risk, no uneasy feeling, if the unspoken answer is a light no you catch it and can keep the complicité on a friendship ground . This famous complicité has a higher value too . I strongly believe that friendship is a necessary part of a couple life, beside passion and tenderness . Your "compagne" has to be your best friend too, not only your lover, your mother, your little girl, your sister, your spiritual counterpart, your exciting sexual partner… All of that cannot live through decades without Friendship, and that's where complicité is a starter . And ( from comparisons I repeat) I find French women wonderful upon that aspect . Our easy-going yet sophisticated basis of reationship between sexes is precious and grow many enjoyable fruits .

  29. phildange, you must be an Alpha male.
    For an alpha male, of course there will be no difference between try to date a french or a stranger.
    It is the same case for Brad Pitt, American, french or russian, all woman would like to date him ! haha

    but for normal guys, be HONEST, there is a difference, and I know it well.

    you seem to like playing the game’s woman….Cause for you it is OK to plya this game, you are not winner at each date, but , sometimes.

    for guys like Frenchman and me, you must to try to date 50 girls for to be boyfriend of ONE !
    I am 26 years old, I have only 2 girlfriends in France, first was very ugly , and I don’t fuck her. Second was only for a evening , I don’t fuck her immediatly cause I think she was serious (she was only jealous of her ex-boyfriend)… Except these two….nothing, only few woman in my life in France show me interest , really few…

    So, I start to meet escort girl at 23years old, cause I was tired of it. I met strangers girls in France , and they were more nice than frenchgirl .
    ANd finally, my only 2 true fiancée , at 25yo(with free sex, and with mutual love), were ukrainian (the 2 in one week!!). I precise I am not rich, or not very beautiful. The first was maybe interested in that, the second was pure and honest.

    Now, I am 26 yo, I know there is NO future for me (in love affairs) in my native land….It makes me very sad to be a sub-citizen in my own country.
    I don’t have the power anymore to try to “draguer” girls like some years ago.
    I think I have UNDERSTAND that these fucking french whores are shitty females.
    If I have a woman one day, I can say that she will be stranger (ukrainian, slovak, or maybe english…).

    • Wow, wow, wow…
      Don’t bundle me up with you because I disagree with Phildange on that one.
      I never had the same issues as you describe (in a quite strong language, may I add) with French women. It’s just that their personalities and mine don’t always mix well when dating is concerned.

  30. Craigy, I’m sorry, but I don’t think you have much of a future ANYWHERE…

    Phildange, that was a lovely comment to read, and Frenchman, interesting as always. Thank you.

    • Thanks for pitching in (and thanks for the compliment).
      I wanted to tell him myself, but I thought it’d have more potency if told by a woman.

  31. I’m an American. What’s funny about this is American men complain about it all.the.time. They say that American women want it both ways and that we play mind games. I say I agree with them. What they are forgetting is that they were taught to play along with the same games. Brits complain about it too. There are forums dedicated to Germans/Brits/Americans/etc finding “traditional” wives in the Philippines, Africa and elsewhere.

    Personally, I think it’s just an annoyance with what you grew up with.

  32. Interesting! Women playing mind games is universal. Some cultures play it more than others. I’m a American with Asian blood and Asian women are really hard to figure out! American women are hard to figure out. So I think one shouldn’t misplace his/her misconceptions with the opposite sex on being a “cultural.”

  33. Hi Frenchman,

    I was reading your blog when I bumped into that post. I am a Frenchwoman, born Vietnamese and I live in Sydney since 2007. I have to say that dating was a struggle for me because Aussie men don’t chase women as much as in France. It is also the women dutie to do the chasing. But one thing I realised is: the reason #1 Aussie men don’t ask women out is the fear of rejection. And that very same reason applies to French woman too. When I tell the French expat newbies, that they will have to ask the guys out, they are mostly paralyzed and/or frightened (I am not exaggerating). And I have to admit, my own dating life was near to zero during my first year in Australia, because I wouldn’t be straightforward. Also another expat friend made the following comment to explain why Aussie weren’t interested in the chasing is: The top four priorities of an Australian man are 1. Beer, 2. Sport, 3. Food, 4. Women, whereas the top four priorities of French man are 1. Women, 2. Food, 3. Sport, 4. Beer.

    Let me know if that was useful…


    • Hi Karine and welcome here.
      Yes, your comment was useful.

      Concerning the fear of rejection, it’s true, but it really goes both ways, hence the need to share the burden. I’m fine with one gender doing the asking out as long as the other one gives out clear signs they’re interested or not.

      Sport in third place for Frenchmen?
      Well, it depends who you ask. While I’ve heard (and even met) a few Frenchmen who cared about soccer or rugby (or even sillier things such as tennis), if you ask my friends, I’m not sure sport reaches the top 10.

  34. @karine Fear of rejection is universal!

    @Frenchman, I agree with you there! I don’t mind doing the asking/chasing the woman. But give me some sign that at least you are interested? I know that in Asian cultures, women are particularly hard to read:) Is this the case with french women? They never show interests?

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