Left. Left. Left.
Ooh, he’s kind of cute. Maybe? No, wait, all his photos are selfies and he has this one on here twice. Never mind.
Left. Left. Left.
What about this guy? He’s cute and he’s got a guitar. We can bond over being musical if nothing else. Going right on this one.
Wow, he’s gorgeous. I’m swiping right just to see if he swiped right on me too.
If you’re on Tinder, you’re probably familiar with this thought process; this is generally my experience every time I open it. For those who are unfamiliar, Tinder is a mobile app for dating. You choose attractive photos of yourself, write a short biography, and then begin swiping: right on people you want to match with, left on those you don’t. It’s entirely based on physical attractiveness, and it’s shallow and ridiculous yet incredibly entertaining.
I downloaded the app shortly after arriving in Paris, France. After never finding it appealing back home, I was convinced by a friend that it would be a good way to make make friends here, as au-pairs are predominantly female.
My friends and I have met many French men through Tinder, and thus have learned a few things about the dating culture as a result:
1. The French don’t waste time
If a Frenchman wants you, you’ll know it. While many on the app will never initiate conversation or will chat for awhile until one of you decides you’re not interested, the ones who want to see you will ask you out. I’ve met guys in bars as well and once was approached on the metro. However, if they decide they want to meet you in person, they’ll make a move. If he doesn’t do so within a few days, move on.
2. They play it cool
On a few of my dates, I had trouble reading the mind of the man sitting across from me. Some dates seemed like they would love to see me again, and then I never heard from them. Others were rather quiet and aloof and then would make their move with an unmistakable gesture—either going in for the kiss at the end of the night or asking for a second date right away. Even if it seems like they’re not feeling it, it’s definitely possible that you’ll still end up having the romantic French encounter you’ve always (not-so-secretly) wanted. A few of mine include nighttime walks in the rain along the Seine, being kissed on a bridge with the Eiffel Tower behind us, riding around the city on the back of a scooter, and strolling hand in hand on the love lock bridge. It was all insanely romantic, but I never would have discovered that had I written them off as being disinterested.
3. You need to discuss expectations
For the French, kissing can signify the beginning of a relationship. If you’re going out with someone and kissing them, it means you’re in an exclusive, monogamous relationship. That is, IF you have established that what you’re both looking for, and often the way that’s established is by not discussing it at all. Not every French guy I’ve kissed has been looking for that, and most of those who weren’t have told me. I always take care to clarify it with them now, though, after briefly dating a guy who was relationship-minded, about which I wasn’t fully aware until drunkenly asking him outside of a bar at 4 in the morning after we’d been together for a couple of weeks. Yes, it was awkward and could have been avoided had we had the conversation earlier.
4. Sex can make or break it
Obviously sex is an important factor of any relationship. Sexual compatibility is very important in French dating culture and will be one of the first deciding factors in whether or not the relationship will work out. Here, if you don’t sleep with someone, they take that to mean that you’re not actually interested in them. Waiting to sleep with someone has the same effect. Wait a bit if you want to make sure he’ll stick around, but don’t wait too long or your Frenchman will assume a lack of compatibility and find someone else.
5. Pay attention to his friends
One thing I’ve found when dating in Paris is that if he’s even remotely serious about you, you’ll meet his friends early on. On one second date, we went to meet my date’s friends at a bar after dinner. Another time, we got a group of his friends and a group of my friend together for a night out. A French guy’s group of friends are his backbone, and lacking their approval is as much of a dealbreaker as sexual incompatibility.
6. Hookup culture is definitely a thing
Though most of the men I’ve met have been wonderful, the majority haven’t been looking for a relationship. Additionally, the younger they are, the less likely they are to be looking for something serious. Of course, this isn’t to say that good relationships can’t be found via Tinder, in fact, I have several friends who are in serious relationships with French men they met on Tinder. If you’re there temporarily or to study abroad you can certainly have a wonderful, whirlwind romance with a Frenchman, however, remember to manage your expectations and just know what you’re getting yourself into.
7. Know that communication is vital
The problems I have encountered have mainly stemmed from a lack of openness between me and my partner. Some French men I’ve dated have never been to the States and don’t understand American culture enough to understand where I’m coming from. When dating cross-culturally, not only do you have to get used to the norms of a new dating culture, but your partner must also adapt to the fact that they are dating a woman who has been raised to ascribe to a whole different set. Misunderstandings are bound to happen. This is why communication is absolutely the most important factor in the success of any relationship, especially one with a foreigner.