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What the French Can Teach Us About Love

For many, impressions of French people are formed by watching popular movies like “Amelie” or “Amour.” Or spending a few weeks in Paris. Or reading articles about French culture. Some of the impressions may be accurate and some not.

One thing is for sure: French people have a well-deserved reputation for being romantics, living with passion, and enjoying the finer things of life. For singles everywhere, French men and women have plenty to teach about love and dating, such as:

The French build relationships but don’t obsess about dating. 

French people do not engage in “dating” as singles in the U.S. typically do. In America, dating follows a predicable sequence and methodology: Two people are introduced, a first date is arranged, after which phone calls and texts are exchanged, a second date is set up . . . and so on. Certain expectations guide the process, with “rules” for what is proper and a timetable for milestones along the way.

The French don’t follow traditional dating rules. 

French people would find these predetermined protocols too formal and stifling. They prefer to socialize with groups of singles and married people alike. They meet up for casual get-togethers at cafes or parks. They emphasize having fun, engaging in conversation, and mingling with others over good food and drink. Only later do two people form a relationship and become exclusive in the American sense. There’s nothing wrong with carefully planning your dates and adhering to accepted protocols, but it’s also good to be spontaneous and unstructured.

The French take life – and love – slower.

French people linger over meals for hours rather than gulping down fast-food burgers. They sip their chardonnay rather than guzzling beer. They spend hours talking with friends at a café rather than “grabbing a coffee” and quickly hurrying off to the next appointment.

This approach to life applies to a French person’s romantic relationships as well. A get-together with a potential love is meant to be enjoyed, not endlessly evaluated. A budding relationship is meant to bring delight, not distress. In a fast-paced society like the U.S., it takes concerted effort to go against the frantic flow and allow life (and love) to unfold at an easy pace.

The French take ‘love’ seriously.

Avoid misusing the word “love.” French men and women take seriously the concept of love and the words used to express it. People in the U.S., on the other hand, are often casual and even careless with the word “love.” You hear people say, “I absolutely LOVE fajitas!” Or, “I’m in love with that guy on ‘The Bachelorette’.” In relationships, some people are quick to say “I love you” to a relatively new partner or to tell their friends they’ve fallen in love after a date or two.

Take an example from the French and regard the experience of love as something to be cherished and treasured. And when expressing love through words, be careful not to be nonchalant or frivolous. Regard amour as one of the most beautiful blessings of life.

The French know how to flirt.

Sharpen your flirting skills. For French people, flirting is an art form full of wit, charm, and playfulness. They also use their determination and resolve, not being easily dismissed or dissuaded. Conversely, sometimes flirting in the U.S. has a bad connotation because individuals go about it in a pushy, unsophisticated way. Corny pick-up lines are off-putting, not enticing.

As the French teach us, flirting is about expressing your interest in another person in a good-natured, alluring way. It’s worth the effort to brush up on your skills. Don’t be afraid to step forward, talk to new people, and make a lasting impression.

The French are brave when they’re interested.

Be bold in your pursuit of love. In the U.S., it is often difficult to tell if someone is interested in you. People can be hard to read and vague about their intentions. In matters of love, French people don’t make you guess what they’re thinking or feeling. They tend to be direct and up-front about their desires. Next time you feel strongly about someone, take a lesson from the French: Be clear and bold, letting the person know where you’re coming from. You might be pleasantly surprised that the other person feels the same way.

Want to learn more? Read How the French Invented Love by Marilyn Yalom or What French Women Know by Debra Ollivier.