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Guide to dating in France

Updated: Sep 10, 2022

Find out all you need to know about dating in France, from how to interpret that all-important first kiss to what to anticipate from your future French in-laws, right here.

It's a common misconception that all French women are high-maintenance fashionistas who are preoccupied with how they appear, but that's not always the case. It's also not true that all French guys are smooth-talking womanizers who would do or say anything to entice a woman into bed with them. Although it is always a good idea to take cultural stereotypes with a grain of salt and avoid generalizing about a whole country, no one can ignore the fact that certain characteristics are likely to come up for you while you are dating in France.

It is essential for an expat to understand these characteristics, as well as the mentality of French men and women, to date successfully in France. Because of this, people from various cultures across the globe place varying amounts of importance on the characteristics that make a potential partner appealing. Something that, in your culture, could be seen as romantic, appealing, or courteous might not be well accepted in another society. In light of this, the following data is included in this informative guide to assist you in any way possible:

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An overview of dating in France

When it comes to dating, the French prefer to follow their own set of standards, which are notably different from the norms used in other European nations. As an expat, you may find that it takes some time to get acclimated to this, but it may also be an interesting challenge. You won't believe it, but the French don't date in the traditional sense. Although cultural clichés would have you think that they are the experts when it comes to romance and seduction, the truth is very different. It's possible that French people, in general, exude an air of self-assurance and aren't hesitant to go for what they want, but this is by no means a universal truth. On the other hand, their attitude to the realm of dating is, in comparison to that of certain other cultures, possibly far less forceful.

To begin, the French have a general aversion to the idea of making a date seem too romantic, and they would much rather dating play a far lower part in their life. The French men and women chose to keep things informal and include finding love in their social life, in contrast to the practices of individuals in certain other nations, where people concentrate their efforts on seeking partners via one-to-one conversations in potentially romantic situations. This indicates that there is a possibility that there will be more than just the two of you on the date. The term "date" comes from the French phrase "rendez-vous," which translates to "meeting you." In this context, the singular pronoun "you" really refers to a group of individuals in the plural form. Therefore, you shouldn't get your hopes up too high for any nighttime strolls or passionate kisses down the Seine just yet.

How to meet people in France

While other European cultures place a greater emphasis on dating than the French do, how individuals meet is, for the most part, the same throughout the continent. Having said that, it's safe to say that the French have their unique tastes.

Dating within social circles

The majority of French people, in general, find their mates via their social circles or through friends. This continues to be the most common method of meeting individuals in France. On the weekends, both singles and those who are in relationships like coming to dinner parties together. At these gatherings, they engage in enjoyable cultural discourse with one another. If you were in another country and you went to an event like this and met a wonderful guy or woman and found that you had a lot in common with each other, you would probably expect to go on a date with them.

On the other hand, the way things are done in France is a little bit different. The French custom is to extend an invitation to go for a stroll or to get together with old acquaintances. Because this is likely to be a low-key event as well, you shouldn't be very startled if you get an invitation at the eleventh hour.

Dating apps and websites

It is uncommon for French men and women to embark on blind dates since they prefer to meet potential partners via their existing social networks. Instead, they prefer to get to know one another in person. Having said that, online dating services have gained a remarkable amount of popularity in France, both among men and women. 38% of French men and women asked for Statista's Global Consumer Survey in 2019 stated they have used online dating sites or apps to find a partner. In addition, 56% of males aged 25–34 years old & 68% of women from the same age group have previously had both romantic and sexual relationships with someone they met online. This statistic applies to both men and women. In addition, about half of those who participated in the survey held the belief that it is possible to find one's soulmate online. This would imply that not only is online dating a viable option for meeting a potential mate in France, but that it is also taken very seriously there.

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As a direct consequence of this, there are currently hundreds of different dating sites available on the Internet in France; all of these sites are intended to connect people who are looking for sexual or romantic relationships. Tinder, Bumble, and Happn all continue to be very well-liked among members of the millennial demographic. In the meanwhile, more and more middle-aged and senior citizens are using paid online dating services to locate romantic partners. The most popular of them are Badoo, which is used by 42 percent of responders, and Meetic.fr, which has 33 percent of users. This particular app also happens to be one of the top five dating applications that are downloaded the most in France.

Meetup groups

Participating in local events and joining local Meetup groups are two other ways to meet people in France. The whole of the United States is home to a plethora of organizations that bring together people who share the same passions and pursuits. A good number of them are geared explicitly for those who are single and interested in dating as well. These organizations provide an enjoyable and risk-free environment in which to meet new people and cultivate both friendships and romantic partnerships. They often cater to members of certain age groups as well as sexual inclinations, allowing members to meet others who have similar interests.

Dating etiquette in France

The French have a strong preference for operating under their own set of guidelines in many aspects of life, including dating protocol. For instance, the kind of dates that you could go on in the first phases of getting to know someone might be quite different from one another.

A typical dating situation in France

In many western societies, the standard format for a date consists of the two people getting together for a drink, going out to dinner, and then going to see a movie at the theatre. On the other hand, dating might take quite varied forms in France. For example, the act of having a meal with another person does not have any romantic connotations in French culture. Even if one person is single and the other is married or in a relationship, it is regarded as natural for two persons of the opposite sex to enjoy eating together. It is considered normal.

When getting to know someone for the first time, the French prefer to keep things informal out of respect for the other person's privacy. This indicates that dates will most likely consist of going for a walk in the afternoon or meeting up with a group of friends to have a few drinks in a relaxed setting. On the other hand, one shouldn't see this as a hint that the person in question isn't interested in establishing a romantic connection with another person. Simply said, it indicates that before becoming connected with someone, they place a greater emphasis on getting to know that person. And if they do desire a relationship, they will make sure that their current partner is aware of this fact. After all, the French have a well-deserved reputation for being forthright when it comes to issues that concern the heart.

Dating behavior in France

When it comes to dating in France, there are some personality quirks that you should be prepared for, even though it may be unfair to generalize about a whole country. In addition to this, they might be rather distinct from those in other European nations.

Flirting and body language

Even if the French likes to keep things non-romantic, this does not imply that there is no place for flirtation, and there is plenty of it. Regardless of whether or not you are married, you should be prepared to see a lot of sexually suggestive conduct from others around you, whether or not you are single. One might argue that flirting is an art form in this country known for its lighthearted spirit; this is true for people of both sexes. For example, French women are supposed to embrace their femininity and get admiration for their attractiveness and wit. This is the case in France. They could fiddle with their hair while laughing excessively at your jokes, blushing excessively, and smiling excessively, all while smiling excessively. Even though they are fully aware that it won't result in anything meaningful, French men nevertheless consider flirting to be a fun and harmless pastime. It's interesting to see that many people place a higher value on the competition than on the catch.

As an expat, it is essential to be mindful of this propensity for flirting since it often gives the impression of inappropriate behavior. It is not always the case that a person's flirtatious behavior indicates that they are interested in or open to a romantic relationship with the other person. It is preferable to simply ask them straight so that there is no room for misunderstanding.

Playing it cool

When it comes to getting to know a possible romantic partner, the French have a surprising preference for maintaining a cool distance and not seeming to be too eager. This generally entails arriving "fashionably late" to a date with the person you are seeing. The French even have a phrase for being late called "le quart d'heure de politesse," which translates to "the quarter hour of politeness." This expression directly translates to the kind greeting given every quarter of an hour. Do not, then, interpret this as an indication that they are not interested; on the contrary, the situation is just the reverse of what you would expect. Simply ensure that you remain in the area for a sufficient amount of time to see their arrival. And don't hold your breath that he'll show up with a bouquet either. A move of this kind might be seen as being unduly romantic and as a sign that the two of you are dating on a more serious level, which is something that the French do not do.

The first kiss

On a first date, French men often do not make the initial move to make any kind of physical contact with the woman they are dating. And when they do ultimately do it, it is customary for them to ask for permission first. This is primarily attributable to the fact that the custom of giving the first kiss on the lips in France holds a great deal more significance than it does in some other nations. It is often seen as a kind of unspoken contract that you are beginning an exclusive connection with a certain person when you make such a statement. Since of this, it is not a good idea to kiss someone if you do not want to be in a relationship with that person because it might send the incorrect signal and lead to misunderstanding. As a result of this characteristic of French society, it is not difficult to see why the rate at which a relationship could progress in France is often considerably more leisurely than in other nations.

General Discussion

When dating a French person, it is reasonable to anticipate a certain degree of intellect and culture on their part. As a result, the concept of consuming a café au lait by the Seine while engaging in political discourse is not completely out of the question. Politics is a prevalent subject of discussion in France, and the subject is surely going to come up at some time. Therefore, if you want to be informed about what's going on in the world, it's not a terrible idea to read a newspaper from time to time.

Splitting the bill

It is typically considered rude among French people to discuss anything about money. As a direct consequence of this, dividing the bill equally after a dinner is not a typical occurrence. On a first date, it is customary for the male to foot the bill for dinner. On subsequent dates, the woman may offer to pay for the meal; nevertheless, it is considered rude to share the bill. If you respect your autonomy and want to experience dating on an equal footing with your partner, this is excellent news for you.

Acts of chivalry

To the relief of women everywhere, chivalry is most definitely not extinct in France. The general population of France takes great pleasure in their refined manners and warm friendliness. When it comes to dating, males will often open doors for women, check to make sure they get home safely and do other such kind gestures. In addition to having proper etiquette, there is another reason for this. Women in France are more likely to determine whether or not they are dating a person, which implies that males are required to put in significant effort to gain the woman's favor. The foundation is pretty important because it may take her many dates before she chooses whether or not she wants to have a romantic connection with the person she is dating, who is him. This may be the reason French guys have a reputation for being charming and determined when it comes to women.

Moving into a relationship in France

It is essentially up to the people who are in the relationship, or more specifically the woman, to choose how things will go in a normal French relationship. And even when a couple has publicly acknowledged their relationship as exclusive and cemented their commitment with the all-important first kiss, there are no hard and fast guidelines on when it is appropriate to be intimate or introduce each other's families.

Getting intimate

In a similar vein as the first time two people kiss, the first time two people sleep together in France is considered to be more significant. It's true that the French are experts at flirting, but when it comes to showing genuine emotion, they're not as outgoing as you may think they are. This is due to the fact that individuals are placing a greater emphasis on getting to know one another; as a result, sleeping together is perceived as displaying a more profound type of attachment. The good news is that because the French believe in being honest and open when it comes to dating, there is no guilt in contemplating being intimate first. This is because the French believe in being honest and open in all aspects of life, including dating.

Meeting friends and family

Because the French prefer, on average, to preserve their sense of autonomy, it may be some time before you are introduced to their family and friends. However, you shouldn't consider this as a hint that they are unhappy with the situation. The primary reason for this is because both men and women want to keep their dating life private, particularly in the early stages of a new relationship. On the other hand, once they ask you to meet their family and friends, you can safely conclude that the relationship has progressed to a more serious level. After all, French families are known for maintaining a high level of privacy, and only the closest of their friends often attend events.

Living together and getting married

It's interesting to note that not everything about dating in France is done the same old way. For instance, the percentage of married couples in the nation has been on a steady downward trend since the middle of the 2000s. According to data obtained from the website Statista, the number of marriages in 2018 was 235,000, which is much lower than the number of weddings in 2004, which was over 278,000. This suggested that the French do not seem to view marriage as the ideal means of forming a bond.

In point of fact, a growing number of couples are deciding against getting married or forming a civil partnership and instead opting to simply live together as a pair. In point of fact, studies have shown that more than a half a million couples in France begin living together for an extended period of time every single year. In comparison, just 240,000 couples choose to be married, and 164,000 choose for a civil partnership. In a similar vein, the proportion of cohabiting couples who are not married has climbed by a factor of 10 during the 1960s, going from a mere 2.9% in 1962 to 26% in 2015. This provides evidence that mentalities are evolving into more contemporary forms.

It's interesting to note that the number of same-sex weddings in France is progressively falling as well; the figure dropped from 10,000 in 2014 (a year after it was allowed in France) to barely 6,000 in 2018 (a year after it was legalised in France). Instead of getting married, an increasing number of couples are opting to form civil partnerships; in 2017, there were 7,000 of these agreements formed. In spite of all of these tendencies, Germany had 41,000 weddings in 2016, making it the country with the greatest number of marriages in Europe, followed by France with 39,000. You may thus claim that France maintains a certain amount of its traditional values in comparison to the nations that are its neighbours.

The role of the family in dating

The concept of family has a significant amount of weight in French cultural norms. As a result, if you are going to be the partner of a French guy or woman, you should anticipate spending a considerable amount of time with your in-laws who are French. Even as they become older, members of the same family often maintain tight connections with one another. Relatives often reside within a short driving distance of one another and get together on a weekly basis for meals and other activities.

Raising children in France

When compared to parents in other cultures, French men and women have a reputation for being more authoritarian in their approach to parenting. They do not coddle their children but instead help them develop into upstanding members of society by instilling a sense of order in the household and instructing them on appropriate conduct. They also put a larger premium on sticking to attitudes and beliefs that correspond to societal standards rather than individualism. This is in contrast to the Western culture, which places a stronger emphasis on uniqueness.

This continues to be the standard despite the substantial changes that have taken place in society, including as the growth in the number of households with just one parent, the rise in the number of children born outside of marriage, and the rise in the number of moms who are employed outside the home. If you are an expat and come from a society that takes a more relaxed approach to parenting than the one in which you are currently living, this may take some getting used to.

Gender roles in the family home

It may surprise you to learn that France isn't as progressive as you may think when it comes to gender roles in the house. Research demonstrates that women continue to do the majority of unpaid work in the home and in child care, despite the fact that this nation has one of the greatest percentages of women participating in the labour force.

In addition, about half of individuals in France believe that mothers are more equipped to fulfil the requirements and requirements of their children than their children's dads. And despite the fact that almost all French women participate in paid work, many of them are still expected to perform gender-stereotypical duties such as being the primary caregiver for their children, the chef in the family, or the housekeeper. These kinds of expectations put a great deal of stress on women. When it comes to the place of women in modern society, France continues to have a number of opposing views, which may be seen in this regard.


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