Sep 23rd, 2015, 10:01 AM

That Awkward Moment

By Desiree Suhr-Perez
L'amour français. Source: stokpic
The unexpected errors of an American in the French “dating” game.

The French do not date. Dating in France does not exist. Instead, it is regarded as an odd Anglophone ritual that holds no place in French society. As a young American university student who permanently moved to Paris, finding this out was like getting slapped in the face with a baguette multiple times: both strange and completely unheard of. Going from the American mannerisms of blunt pick-up lines (usually filled with bad puns) at bars to an alluring coucou implying more than what was explicity said was wake-up call, to say the least.

In case you are new to France or if you just want to laugh at my badly played-out love life, then here are a few tips to keep you out of trouble when trying to find l’amour français:

1. Exclusivity is not talked about in France, it is implied almost immediately.

I am definitely the first to admit that I have commitment issues, and I thought three to six months was a pretty normal period of dating to bring up the dreaded question of transitioning into an exclusive relationship. In France, you do not talk about exclusivity; instead, it is implied after the first kiss. When a French person kisses you on the lips, they are also telling you they want you, and just you (or at least for a couple of months). The whole serial monogamist nature of falling in “love” so quickly here got me in trouble more than once. This is mainly because je t’aime in French can mean both “I like” and “I love,” whereas "I love you" can be taken in a light-hearted manner in the States. My troubles with French exclusivity also arose because I had a mental timeline based bad American TV shows of the 90’s, which showed me that you were not "exclusive" with anyone until the “so what are we?” question came up. Until then, all is fair in love and war...but not in France. Oh, how my naive American ideologies got the better of me more than once.

2. Despite this booty calls do exist but that is not dating in France.

Inster type here.

3. “Dates” are not a secluded affair but more of a reality dating show called “If you can hang with my friends then maybe you’ll get you a kiss”

Coming from the U.S.A. where both parties were relatively upfront that it was a) a date for two b) no, you will not be friend zoned and c) there better be a goodnight kiss at the end or you are off the roster for good; made the whole French relaxed culture of meeting their friends before anything has happened between you two was a nightmare at first. I was use to the whole “you don’t meet my friends till we are official” gig but after living here for a while, it makes so much sense. You get to know them in a chill environment, with other people around to make the experience less awkward, and if it all fails romantically between you two, you usually come out of it with some new French friends. Which in a city of expats is a god send.

4. Accept that sometimes you are just a sex-tutor for English and that is okay because the tutoring goes both ways

This one goes for any expat living in any country. If you speak a different language then the native language of the country you now live in, then there is 50/50 chance you’re new love interest with the smoldering dark eyes is just looking for some pro-bono tutoring where they “pay” you back with sex. But if you want to learn the native language it is not a bad exchange.

You improve your language skills, learn some new slang words for your anatomy class in the morning, and successfully avoided the question of exclusivity. Bravo mon ami! You made it to the promise land.