When I first moved to France, I remember stopping dead in my tracks and one Frenchman in particular. His beige trench coat, his tanned skin, and his handsome face almost stopped time altogether. In shock, I wondered if it were possible to snag a guy like him. But cultural misunderstandings set me back for years…
Paris dating etiquette
The Frenchman in his natural habitat will take every measure to show himself off in public. The impeccable clothes, coiffed hair, pointy dress shoes and incredible confidence will make any American girl fall weak. But his intentions are far astray from the expectations of the naive Yankee.
Not used to feigning affection, américaines can often be confused when French men, even taken ones, flirt with them beyond belief. They love playing, they love to know they have that certain je ne sais quoi about them. But don’t be fooled when their flirtations turn into nothing but a game.
All that changes when a Frenchmen really wants to date you. Relationship etiquette in France go against the conventions of American “dating”. In fact, the word “dating” doesn’t even really translate into the French language. While we waste time with formal dinner dates and interview-like nerves, the French put more emphasis into initial attractions and group gatherings.
You’ll know when he wants to date you, because he will hound you incessantly until you surrender. The unspoken rule is that once you kiss a Frenchman you’re a couple! Of course, this is not always true, but most of the time you may find yourself in relationship bliss.
The rules of attraction
But how can you attract the handsome Frenchman?
I made the mistake of trying to French-ify myself. Don’t smile, don’t eat, wear black, be delicate (maybe I should have thought to ignore gross generalisations as well). Yet, that did nothing for my confidence, and didn’t seem to be working too well either.
I often found myself discouraged, racking myself up against too-tough competition. But one day, something changed. A good French guy friend of mine told me, “you’re doing it all wrong”. When guys told me I have a cute accent, I needed to stop cursing off my 8th grade French teacher and start embracing my foreign appeal.
I met guys at places I would in the US, like at athletic events or groups for people with similar interests. While French girls were side-lined with heeled boots and emphysema, I made a clean sweep in the male department. You can try joining club teams like basketball, crew or tennis, or you can join an informal running club.
The other way to meet people in Paris is through mutual friends. Nightlife is not like in the states – most French guys don’t go out to pick up girls. Being introduced through friends is a much more safe way of jumping in the dating pool.
So this fall, as the Parisians come crawling back to Paris, try some of my tips for corralling the Frenchman. Overall, stop stressing over non-existent barriers and restrictions – French relationship etiquette is a lot more open than the ‘ole it’s-been-three-days-can-I-text-him-now routine. Enjoy yourself and don’t be afraid to be who you are.
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About the author: Brenna blogs at Fabuleux Destin Brenna (@fabdestinbrenna)