Thoughts on Dating An American Like You

Dear Cutie,

After recently getting back from what I believe to be one of the most incredible, wild, fun, and memorable road trips I’ve ever taken so far to Nevada, Utah, and Arizona visiting sights like the Vegas’ strip and the impressive Hoover Dam, hiking the Angel’s landing of Zion Park and visiting the breath taking lower & the adventurous upper Antelope Canyons, as well as a stop and climb on rocks at the stunning Horse Shoe Bend, I am delighted to share with you (and my dear readers & friends) my thoughts on dating an american guy (like you), a topic that has been feeding countless debates for lots of conversations I’ve had with my fellow French expats.

Firstly, I am honestly still trying to process (recall self-reflection, self-thinking, and why not throw in affirmation in there ahah) how two total strangers suddenly come together and create new beautiful stories to share with the world (because that is what I believe life is all about and I am grateful to have a space like this blog as a conduit to share my stories). I also believe that traveling together is the best recipe to test patience, teamwork, and a person’s ability to be fun to hang out with; you see, when two people get stuck in the same car for more than 12 hours sitting through awful traffic, there is no other choice than… sharing laughter, giggling and singing/dancing all the way to our destinations right?! I enjoyed how you are not scared of trying new things with so much enthusiasm, learning from one another something new every day (aka soporific is in fact an English word), and offering each other different perspectives on life…

From my own experience, there are some unique and interesting cultural differences I wanted to highlight in this post that affect dating from both sides of the Atlantic between the Europeans (particularly the French) and the Americans. Evidently, this is not meant to merely create a generalization as each person and situation is specific, but rather some things to consider from my recount of dating you. Ready to read my thoughts on dating an American like you?!

  • On first impression and personal style: French guys tend to carefully select their clothes for the fit and create outfits with neutral color palette. They are usually well groomed and take great pride in looking attractive on the date. American men (including you) are more casual and show up wearing anything ranging from their favorite graphic band’s tee-shirt (see post here of my take on being effortlessly cool) or a pair of loose jeans (shameless about ill fitted clothes) and a polo. They are more concerned about comfort than looking good! Wouldn’t you agree?
  • On the concept of dating: this vocab is non existent in France! People meet each other via group settings such as hanging out with friends unlike the Americans, they don’t get into a formalized pre-packaged deal as stereotyped in movies where it’s a candle lit 1-1 rendez-vous mid-week dinner. That’s so much pressure particularly if you don’t know the person well enough. Meeting someone you like in friend’s environment also allows to observe how the person of interest interacts with your friends so French dating accounts for a community dynamic rather than a private affair when it comes to going out with someone.
  • Speaking of going out settings, where to go on dates: when you would like to see the person you like in private, it is usually a walk by the river or a visit at a museum. It’s very casual and non-chalant and all about being in the moment. On out first travel night out, we walked through the strip of Vegas when everything has already closed down due to the holidays (no clubbing, no adult shows urgh, no comedy, etc…) and yet we did our best in each other’s company to have a fun time together regardless (breakfast for dinner at Denny’s for instance was so much fun especially seeing my friends’ reaction to associating this unlikely place for dinning with me or even Stratography as a noble field of study by speaking of formation or the Virgin River). Unlike the Europeans, Americans tend to plan out all activities in advance which isn’t always a bad thing but it loses all the spontaneity?!
  • What to talk about on dates? American men tend to overemphasize on degrees earned and career related and take great pride in predicting the future with topics such as university studies, internships, promotions, and the workday. But money is taboo for the French and talking about what people do for a living or how they spend their money. It has more to do with creating personal connections. I really enjoyed when you described the casserole dish you make back home in Louisiana or the guinea pig you lost when I was sharing my experience of losing my dog too as we drove by an animal shelter in Utah.
  • Flirting is a way of being French while Americans are more direct (include the Dutch here too). I recently start to grasp why Americans don’t understand the flirting signs of the french as it is so cryptic and embedded in our cultural. I would often disagree with you cos it’s more fun that way even though I may not necessarily believe in what I argue about. I could be perceived as stubborn and opinionated on many topics so get ready to take a stance! Know your geography for god sake it’s really embarrassing! And when I ask tricky questions, it’s not because it’s to test you (nah actually it’s always a test and it’s so fun). Yet you still must answer this one: Can two people from two different worlds get together well? Yes/no and how?
  • On seduction: while European men are charming with their words and are superior on verbal seduction, American men are sweet yet more reserved with the outpouring of compliments. They may point out something they like about a woman’s outfit or hair for instance. This may sound anti-modern but European men love the chase by mastering the skills of being persistent and clever and by being persuasive with the art of negotiation. Women who gently resist, make them work harder and sweat more to win over her heart, which creates tension/attraction in this push/pull interaction presented as a playful challenge. On the other hand, American men tend to be more direct, straight talking, and super relaxed (perhaps like you). If they want to court a woman, they will let her know through a series of thoughtful actions and words without much fuss. Let me know if you disagree or have anything to add 😉
  • Sarcasm is a native language to the French and a great flirting tool: let me describe an anecdote… As I’m staring at the guy’s shirt (yours!) and make a disapproving face, I exclaim: “Please Burn this shirt!” Wait for a couple of second to see how his mind is racing and how heart failure might occur in any moment then add “because it’s giving you an unfair disadvantage!” So please don’t always get offended for everything I say because it’s not meant to be harmful because I am in truth also sensitive and thoughtful.
  • Americans always want to know what lies ahead (i.e. defining a relationship can be part of it) while us French, we just go through this process called life and enjoy the ride. We don’t overemphasize the final destination. So European men like to live in the moment. Although they may have work and familial obligations that require advanced organization, they value letting their life’s process unfold day by day. But when it comes to marriage, there exists a lot of external factors regarding economic crisis and strong family pressure that draw the path of marriage sooner rather than later. American men are more future oriented and value the path of efficiency, hard work, and planning to reach both short and long term goals, so I’d imagine that they tend to commit and marry sooner but for the reasons of building a life side by side with her while it’s advantageous financially speaking. Capitalists!
  • French people enjoy the little frivolity in life (dancing in the living room, giving you my last caramel au beurre salé from my summer trip, or sharing with you a little sweet surprise from my memories of Rome, or how you open my door and pull my chair, or how you planned marvelously our trip and I thank you for your preparedness (Americans!!) something I seem to lack of when it comes to trips, even how you laugh at your own jokes is abominably cute). I also enjoy someone who is always willing to go along with the fun and crazy ideas I may have. Being spontaneous and having an appreciation of small delicate attentions to me is the ultimate sexy.
  • Transactional interactions (who pays for the first date?!!) Although American men value a woman’s strength, intelligence, and have the natural inclination to be caring and protective of her, they tend to be more passive if a woman reaches for the check or offers to pay half. With women making equal or even more money, a power struggle or blurred lines can occur anywhere from making plans, initiating communication, and determining the direction of the courtship. From my own experience, the French tend to be more chivalrous and pay for the whole date but then I’ll always offer as it’s a gesture from me to be part of the team playing aspect. However, these guys would be utterly offended if I ever dominate to emasculate them by actually paying half or god forbid me the whole date!  This might explain why the French must be more assertive when it comes to the so called taboo of who pays for the first date and the French women enjoy a man who has this confidence and won’t let her impede such details of the date progress.
  • Lastly, to be a couple or to not be a couple? I think this is the easiest to answer… by the French meaning of a kiss! There is no need to discuss exclusivity as it’s implied in the kiss. Voilà!

I wrote these observations with lessons learned from my previous relationship in mind and so I hope to make the best out of ours. (Evidently hope is not a plan so I’ll rephrase to I commit to work to make the best out of ours). Is that an American thing haha

I am so looking forward to more laughter with you and long car rides and more travel stories (hello Europe!). Looking forward to cooking together with our friends and making drinks and also snowboarding. I am just thrilled that you are now part of my story (including Instagram stories hahahah) and that the internet is more than ready to take you in haha but promise me that fame won’t get in your head too soon!

PS: I love how cute you are when you are eager to speak french and know that I think you are really smart. I may fail to express it verbally so then I write it here for you. Keep working at it!!!

One comment

  1. nomadicfille

    Went back and reread this post…It shows that even French men don’t always fit into regular cultural norms. I feel like my BF and his friends veer off from so many of these behaviors. I don’t remember how much we have discussed this but going to leave this comment to show how French men can veer off the general cultural norms for other readers:

    His preferred date is a dinner and a movie and I’m “let’s just walk along the Seine and have a picnic, easiest and most romantic thing to do in Paris, done.” We’ve compromised with Sunday picnics at Parc de Belleville when the weather is warm.

    He also didn’t think we were in a full-blown relationship until I verbalized that he was my boyfriend. He told me that the first kiss doesn’t mean the start of a serious relationship for him…I blame his years in Canada on this lol. I was the only girl he kissed from Tinder though so he is picky haha. ^ -^

    Money is not a taboo topic at all among his friends (all engineers like him) and they seem just as ambitious as my American counterparts even if they don’t always say it directly. My BF and I talk a lot about our financial backgrounds and that of our families though.

    The flirting or “la seduction” is still very true and for us Americans it’s hard to understand how in many instances, it is innocent, it’s just wordplay and it doesn’t always go anywhere. And the constant debating as well. We sometimes get into it and I have to remember to not take it as seriously as if it was I was getting really into it with an American…which is why religion and politics are taboo at the American dinner table but not the French one if you don’t want hurt feelings lol.

    My boyfriend does not like the chase but he does like the constant communication that is so typical of French men. He knows now that if I’m not texting him back right away it’s not because I don’t like him, it’s just that I’m busy or I’m hanging out with someone and the phone is hidden away haha. He’s also a planner/doer and while I’m also a planner, I’m very hesitant to commit so the relationship has probably moved slower than he has anticipated like us moving in together after 1.5 years when everyone (including him) was thinking sometime sooner. Yes the pressure to marry is definitely on. I caught a bouquet at a wedding we went to last year and we have decided to not tell his mother after blowing his image of “X doesn’t like kids so don’t ask for them” last summer.

    French and (Southern!) American men have always paid for our dates in the beginning. 😛 I’m always prepared to pay my way for dates that we both know that I can (currently) afford.


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