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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.
But I would never do that to my Dad who would be very upset if I did. When I meet a man and I am without my husband, I’ll place within the first minutes of the conversation that “my husband blablabla… That usually is enough to make my state of mind really clear.
I did the same thing as a girl, talking about my boyfriend (actually existing or not) early on in the conversation. And some people are just not faithful, but contrary to popular opinion, it’s not worse in France than anywhere else (and several studies demonstrate it). It’s in our genes and it’s socially accepted in France.
Now, not everybody does that of course, some girls like to play, and sometimes lose themselves in the game, or hurt people. A Frenchwoman is expected to play her feminine side, and be “admired” for her beauty and wit among other qualities.
Frenchmen like to flirt as well, even if they know very well there is no hope of it leading anywhere.
Even for a married woman to go out with a male friend who is single: I often travel to Paris by myself, Leyla and Olivier stay in Paimpol, and have dinner with one (or several) of our good male friend(s), single or not.
Olivier trusts me, and we both trust our friend(s), who would never make a pass at me.
Nor did I know about this first date, second date and third date business.