As much as American girls may complain about the state of dating, sex, courtship, and guys, at least we can read the signals on our own home turf. (Whether we want to believe them is a different matter.)
But over here in Paris, where the word “dating” literally does not exist in the French vocabulary, understanding male/female relationships is all the more confusing. The issue here is that French men and romance are traditionally stereotyped (just like American women, or any romantic situations for that matter). The way things are “supposed to be”: If a French dude kisses you, it means he’s fallen for you, and there’s no pretense, and a week later you’re buying toothbrushes for each other and making love to accordion music on a bed of croissants. But, when things don’t magically become this clear-cut, the confusion sets in, and there’s no rhyme or reason to actions because … well, there’s no standard dating code of conduct.
Where this leaves me at the moment is wondering if I got the brush-off, or what comes next (if there even is a “next”). I was actually hesitant to write this post today, which I realized was a good sign. As a blogger, once things finally start happening in your life, and you have issues and details that become relevant, interesting, and worthy of analysis, it often means that things just got intensely personal. Which, depending on who you’re discussing, can either be flattering to them, or a dealbreaker. So here is the part where my paranoid self puts this out into the universe for whomever might be reading it: I don’t expose identifying details about those in my life, and keep those people anonymous. And this blog is never about what “you did,” but rather “what’s happened to me.” Capiche?
I think you can guess that what I’m getting to is this: That double date last week went really well and there was a sleepover involved. Or, at least, I thought it had gone well.
I’m not a sleep-on-the-first-date kind of girl because I’ve learned from experience that it’s usually the kiss of death for ever having a relationship after. But here, the idea of not moving quickly once you meet a guy seems irrelevant. After all, one of my best friends here slept with her now French husband on the first date; plus, I’ve heard dozens of other similar stories. So when my date (let’s call him Pierre) didn’t make a clear follow-up, I started to think … did he think that was a one-night stand? Do the French even do casual sex? Either way, it’s fine. I’m not emotionally involved by any means, but it does bother me that I can’t tell. So, I asked a male friend, Antoine, about how French people would treat the situation:
“Antoine, how do you say ‘one-night stand’ in French?”
“What does that mean? I’ve never heard this expression before.”
“Oh boy. Really? You know … if you sleep with a girl just once.”
“Ahh … I don’t think there is a special word. You could say un coup d’un soir.”
“Un coup? Really? But like, you still say un coup de foudre for love at first sight? Wait, is there a term for ‘casual sex’?”
“I suppose you could also say un plan cul or un plan fesse.”
“Ass plan?! Butt plan?! What the eff is wrong with you people?”
Sigh. So it doesn’t surprise me that just like there’s no real translation of “dating,” that there wouldn’t be any clear-cut lines for sex either. I then asked an American girlfriend who is married to a French man about the situation. She confirmed that when sex happens quickly, it’s what the French might consider as natural, and your chances of staying together are just as good.
“So what gives?” I asked her, now completely lost.
Her explanation made me sad, but also made sense: “Sleeping with a guy on the first night doesn’t rule out a relationship; however, the joke among French men has traditionally been that American women are easy. They come to Paris, go out and party, meet a guy and expect to be whisked away, and to get there, they sleep with a guy on the first night.”
God, I’d been so naive. I’d totally forgotten about my own cultural cliches. That’s the thing about stereotypes—you never think that you, yourself, could ever be one.
Well, I haven’t given up hope on the situation. After all, if there are no rules, then I suppose there’s still potential. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Original by Leonora Epstein