France is known as a country of romance where the people love to love and be loved. French dating, however, can be a confusing experience for anyone not familiar with the customs and etiquette of dating there. There are none of the rules in French dating that many Americans are familiar with---romance and courtship is a relaxed affair that is lead by intuition and feeling rather than by a prescribed set of rules.
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Attracting a Partner
French women have a reputation for being aloof, and some people might perceive them to be unfriendly. However, there is a very valid reason for this. If a woman maintains eye contact with a French man or is open and friendly, it is assumed that she has some romantic interest in him. Flirting is common in France and French men can be very persistent as French women often play hard to get.
Asking Someone Out
French people ask each other out in much the same way as any other nationality. Phone numbers may be exchanged but there is no set period of time mandated before a phone call can be made. Teenagers and young adults may not even feel the need to ask each other. It is common for teens and young adults to go out in groups and for people to just partner off if they are attracted to each other.
One-on-one dates do occur in France but often, the French court by attending parties or dinners with a group of friends. Dating is not necessarily a public or announced event; people often get together without the knowledge of their friends or family, even when out in a group. Dates are often informal and are not what one might think an "official" date is. If two people plan to see each other again, they might just meet up as part of a group, rather than as a couple.
If a couple does go on "official" dates (i.e., a date where one person invites the other out as part of a twosome), the dates themselves are not any different from the kind of date an American couple might have. Dates may involve going to a restaurant or gallery or whatever the dating couple might desire.
In America, it is not unusual for a person to date several people at once before getting serious with one. Americans may also kiss any of these people, especially by the second date as is convention. In America, not kissing by the second date means you are "just friends." In France, there are no such conventions or any prescribed time frame in which to kiss a person you are dating. However, in France, kissing someone on the lips at any time in the courtship means that you intend them to be your girlfriend or boyfriend and that you are exclusive.
French people do not tend to sit down to have a talk about the seriousness of their relationship or where it is going as is customary in the United States. In fact, doing so can be a turn-off and may cause a boyfriend or girlfriend to be scared off. It is usually an indication that a relationship is serious if either one of the couple brings their partner home to meet the family.
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- France Today: French Women Don't Date; Harriet Welty Rochefort; December 2009
- The Frisky: 365 Days In Paris: Le French Dating, Part I; Leonora Epstein; September 2009
- The Frisky: 365 Days In Paris: Le French Dating, Part II; Leonora Epstein; September 2009
- Ask a Frenchman: How Do You Date a French Man?; August 2008