7 Things to Remember When Dating in France | Talk in French
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7 Things to Remember When Dating in France

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From country to country it’s fascinating to look for similarities in cultures only to see vast differences.  For example, while we can see similarities between France and other countries with certain social behaviours, there are some big differences when it comes to dating.

It’s unlike what we see in movies when it comes to dating in France, let me assure you of that. So if you’re looking to date in France, here are seven things to keep in mind.

1. There Is No Dating Code

In other western countries like the US, there is a sort of code to dating. You ask someone out, take them to dinner and a movie, and so on. There are distinct milestones that need to be achieved in the dating game. 

In France though, there is no such thing!

What this means is:

  • Going on dates doesn’t mean you’re actually dating that person.
  • Having dinner with someone is totally normal. Even if you’re single and the other person is married or is in a relationship.
  • There is no “third date system” that is commonly used in American and other cultures.

Don’t be mistaken, French men and women know that they can become intimate with someone. But what’s important here is the overall attitude about certain things. How the US and other countries go about dating is widely different than here.

As we are going through this, you’ll find that a lot of things which are big no-nos in other cultures are accepted---and even embraced!--in France. For example, the idea of two people going to dinner implies nothing at all. In other cultures though, people can read too heavily into  that.

2. Expect Lots of Flirting

One other aspect that’s open for French people is flirting. In the US and other countries, flirting is directed to strangers or people you’re into. But whether you’re single or not, in France, there is plenty of flirting regardless of marital status.

To both sides, flirting is an art form. So you’re going to see it thrown around a lot.

In the cases of women, they flirt because:

  • French culture says so. There is a certain standard that women must meet.
  • Flirting is a byproduct of that standard which suggests that a French woman is to be admired for her own beauty and wit.

Men on the other hand aren’t tied down to specific standards. Instead, they flirt for key reasons:

  • Similar to a woman’s beauty and wit, there is some level of expectation for men to flirt regardless.
  • But even when they know there is no chance at all, flirting evolves into a “dating game” for them. It’s innocent enough which is good enough for them.

Overall, flirting is a flexible tool in this game. It can turn into a way of hooking people in or it can be innocent comments that don’t harm anyone.

3. Body Language is Everything

When dating in France, body language makes all the difference. Why? Well let’s look at two scenarios:

  • As mentioned above, people flirt all the time in France. Innocent or not. Single or not. This creates complications for a foreigner coming in and getting the wrong idea. Just because someone is flirting doesn’t always mean they’re interested and available.
  • The second scenario is kissing. As we know in the US and other cultures, kissing is a way to show deep affection.  In France--or French culture in general--is the odd one out in which kissing is the way to greet people.

Because of these two scenarios, you can only really count on body language as your saving grace. If you want to know exactly what someone is saying, look at what they’re doing.

Women are the most telling with regards to this. You can expect them to show interest when they:

  • Smile a lot
  • Run their fingers through their hair
  • Blush or laugh loud and hard at jokes/comments you make
  • Find plenty of reasons to touch either your shoulder or knee
  • Some might even be more direct and make the first move.

In the case with French men, they’re tougher to read. Part of that reason is because dating is a game for them. They’ll flirt, be persistent and tenacious and more. But they’re that way mainly for the game.

What this means is they’re more into the sport of being in the dating game. Having sex, and being with someone else is an extra bonus to them. With this in mind, you’ll likely won’t know if they’re interested unless you ask them directly.

4. French Women Decide Whether It's a Go or No

As I mentioned above, going on multiple dates doesn’t mean that you are dating that person. To answer the question why that’s not the case, we turn to women in particular. While there are all kinds of standards for women, they do get perks. One of which is to decide on whether they’re dating the person or not.

It can take several dates to convince a woman to date you which suggests a couple of things:

  • First, it implies that the French are more focused on getting to know someone.
  • Second, it pushes the French man to work hard for the affection and the chance to date them. This could be the reason why French men are usually tenacious and romantic.

But what’s so interesting and amazing is this: even if the girl says yes or no, the game isn’t over. There are no expectations or obligations from either person!

5. Love and Sex are More Exclusive

Remember that I said the French are more focused on getting to know someone? Well, this particular point solidifies that: how they handle love and sex. 

Since the French are more direct with their flirting, it means their true affection is more reserved than others. That’s not to say their flirting lacks emotion, but the idea of dating and having sex are deeper forms of affection compared to other Western countries.

But while having sex is intimate, talking about it is fair game. For example, many people talk about waiting to meet that special person to share their first time with.

And a little off topic, but nudity to that extent is more open, too. Children are allowed to be nude at the beach. Even women are permitted to be topless! Though today you see less of that behaviour.

See also:

10 Myths About French Women

10 Common Myths About French Men

6. Even Dating Is Exclusive

But one other exclusive aspect is dating. But that shouldn’t be a surprise. The French have a culture of being direct and open about so much, there aren't any particular tells. Because of this system, it’s not out of the ordinary for French folk to be flirting with several people while they are single.

However, that changes when they are dating someone. Once they’ve made up their minds that they want to be dating someone, you are expected to remain exclusive to that person.

Because of this aspect  of French culture, it’s easy to see how the dating game takes a long time to develop compared to other Western cultures.

7. Dating in France Can be Complex

Navigating this dating system requires experience and understanding. You don’t need to go deep in the culture to understand everything. But the more you know, the more you can better navigate the dating scene.

If you do decide to take up dating in France, my suggestion is to take these aspects to heart. I’d also suggest reading this article on other etiquettes when dating a French woman or a man.

By being aware of the cultural differences, you may get lucky and find a French person you can fall in love with.

What part of dating in France do you find most interesting? Share your experience in the comments!

About the Author Eric Burdon

Eric S Burdon writes for a variety of websites covering a wide range of topics. His interests include culture and language among so many others.