It is so funny to see how some social behaviors are exactly the same between France and the US, and others are completely different. Well, this was a big shock to me when I arrived in the US. I understood of course a man and a woman could be interested in each other in a romantic way, let me reassure you.One of the very obvious difference is the dating game. But I was not aware that accepting to go out to dinner with a man alone gave the signal that I was possibly romantically interested in him.
Nor did I know about this first date, second date and third date business.
In France, it’s very common for a girl to go out to dinner with a male friend.
Sex is not taboo in France as it is in the US, and it is much more present in humor, art, tv and everyday life than in the US…
and so is nudity: children are often naked on the beach, women can go topless (although it’s less frequent now than when I was young)… I wrote an article about French Sex Vocabulary if you are curious – watch out, it is explicit and written for an adult audience.
Many of my French friends – men and women alike – have waited to meet someone special for their first time, didn’t just want to get rid of their virginity, and have never had one night stand.
If sex between consenting adults is very much socially accepted, most French people won’t rush into it, and get to know each other before jumping into bed.
The game is the main point, it’s relatively innocent and usually no-one gets hurt, just a little blushed :-) With kissing hi and goodbye being the standard and French women being more “flirtatious”, it can be difficult for foreigners to correctly read a French woman’s body language.
I guess since there is no set protocol, French women are pretty obvious, and often more direct than other women. It’s unlikely they’ll refuse to take it further, but not unheard of.
You will know when a French girl is flirting with you: she’ll smile to excess, move her hair a lot, smile at you, blush, laugh hard and loud at your jokes, find occasions to touch your shoulder (or even your knee… and it’s not unlikely that she’ll make the first move. Again, the game is often more important than the catch, even to men. The woman has all the power when it comes to dating. It’s then up to the guy if the company of “la belle” is enough for him, or if the game has lasted long enough – in which case no-one is forcing him to continue to invite her.