When you think of the French, you think of "l’amour"… The Eiffel Tower by night, small countryside bed and breakfasts with picturesque views, perfect for two people to cozy up…
If you’re a single woman getting ready to embark on a journey to France, you may be asking yourself, "How does dating work in France?" and "How will I meet men?" Well, the first thing to know is that dating actually does not exist in France. WHAAAAT?! That’s right! The concept of specifically setting a time to go to dinner and have a question and answer session with a semi-stranger/potential love-interest to see if there are any sparks, is not français at all. If you ask a French person about dating, they will actually look at you with confusion. But, is that such a bad thing?
We’ve all been set up on blind dates by well-intentioned quasi match-makers before. We’ve felt that nervous awkwardness, uncomfortable silence and "Help! Get me out of this!" feeling. In France, romance tends to occur more organically and naturally.
Meeting Organically & Naturally…
One way single people meet is at dinner parties. Formal or casual, pre-planned or last-minute, no matter! The important thing is getting a group of new and old friends together in the same home (and asking them to bring friends, too) and then working the room. French woman have figured out that this is a perfect context for seduction! You can chat with one guy to see what he’s like, while others size you up and find the courage and opportunity to go and talk to you. It takes the awkwardness out of the equation, and replaces it with excitement and oh la-la!
Though dating websites are popping up in France, most women still meet men while offline—at bistros, museums, art galleries, social groups & clubs, bars, through friends, etc. Instead of going out on several "dates" as is typical in the US upon meeting someone, first encounters between two people who are interested in becoming romantically involved are usually far more casual: walks in the afternoon/evening, which may be followed by an informal drink at a café, a quick bite to eat at lunchtime, etc.
Walking around the neighborhood is another wonderful way women meet men in France. If you visit shops and stores, go to a museum or sit down at a café with a good book or your journal, men will notice you’re alone and strike up conversations. You can engage, or politely decline depending on how the suitor tickles your fancy.
Natural can be confusing…
To an American woman, this may all seem like it can cause confusion and blur the line between friendship and romantic interest. But rest assured, if you are flirtatious and sending "come hither" signals, most Frenchman will act on them and the relationship can blossom (or not) from there. If you’re only interested in friendship and the Frenchman makes advances, he will be confused if you accept a one-on-one invitation with him again, and he may try to seduce you encore.
Here are a more few tips and guidelines to help you with amour a la francaise:
- The "blind date" is pretty much inexistent in France as a whole. It might be growing a bit in large cities like Paris, but even there, most French people have only seen in les films americains.
- In France, if a man expresses he is interested in a woman, and asks her to go out for coffee, for example, her "non" doesn’t necessarily mean "no". Frenchmen are used to Frenchwomen playing hard to get, and will often ask several times. If your "no" really means "NO! PERIOD, " try not to get annoyed or angry. Simply refuse politely and firmly. Every time. Unless, of course, he grows on you and you end up wanting to say "yes"!
- Since dates don’t really exist as such in France, there aren’t any rules to get hung up on, which means anything goes. So, try to enjoy yourself and just focus on whether you have a good time or not.
- In the US, there are a lot of theories on waiting a certain amount of time after a date before calling a woman back. A lot of times a woman can lose interest in a man if he calls her too much. In France, this is the opposite. If you have met a guy and gone out with him, the fact that he’s calling/texting/emailing a lot means he cares about you and is genuinely interested.
- Be honest and upfront and ditch that fear of being offensive. If you’ve been seeing a man and are no longer interested, just let him know and be on your way.
- Kissing someone in a bar and then never seeing them again is quite typical in the US. In France, however (though this does occur sometimes), when you kiss someone on the mouth, it communicates that you want to be in a relationship with them, and you are considered to be their girlfriend after it happens. The relationship can be very short or long, but either way, it’s considered to be a relationship. This also applies to becoming intimate with someone. There are no taboos about doing so early on…it happens quite frequently. Know that the same "now we are a couple" rule applies here, too.
We know that situations and people vary, so consider these to be used simply as guidelines. Most importantly, just go with the natural flow of things, keep an open mind, and have fun with this more organic and subtle form of discovery and amour!