Today, we ask writer Sam Davies, an Australian expat with an impressive / masochistic 8-year expat tenure in Paris, to share a much-needed male perspective on the Parisian dating scene.
Earlier this year, Time Out Magazine rated Paris as the best city for dating. Well, it certainly wasn’t going to win plaudits for business confidence, affordable rent, or its great burgers..
What constitutes as “dating” wasn’t clearly explained, which is just as well, as in France it doesn’t really exist. But let’s not let details get in the way of a good clickbait story.
For us Australians, dating usually means that three-month period when you go out with one/several people, before having the “The Conversation”. This will cover agenda items of “Are we exclusive?”, “Can you delete your Tinder profile? My friend still sees you on it”, and “When was the last time you got checked? Because itchy”.
Forget three months in Paris though – if you’re still talking by the first breakfast, chances are you’re already an exclusive item. (And, if one of you made a quick getaway, there’s always the possibility of a second-chance draw when you run into them in six months on the metro.)
As French sex columnist Maya Mazaurette put it when asked whether she had sex on the first date: “Absolutely! But it’s not even an issue because there is no date. There is just first sex. You think someone is attractive, you give it a try.” It might sound arse about tit to the way it’s supposed to work in Anglo countries, but I understand the reasoning too. Do you really want to sacrifice a series of evenings to find out you’re incompatible in the sack? For Parisians, the Time Out survey says non.
Dating isn’t entirely defunct however. In fact, for my Australian wingman in Paris it became part of an oft-repeated process: “It’s where I like the look of someone/they like the look of me then we snog/shag/get the number of, but then we need the date to see if I/they was/were too drunk to be seeing/thinking straight on the first occasion”. Which, according to Time Out, is a decision made within 2-3 minutes by 41% of the world.
I was once having an apero on a terrace with a French sleaze David (though the name’s not important as he could be just any French guy), who watched a girl walk past and into the apartment next door. Up he jumped and buzzed every intercom until someone answered. After 10 minutes of talking himself up (literally), the door swung open. So, while Good ol’ Dave didn’t pay for our beers that day, he did leave me with a tip: when it comes to relationships in France, don’t make a date, make her day.
And, speaking of tips, whether you define regularly sleeping with someone as dating or not, there are some pratfalls to avoid in your early relationship with a Parisienne…
1. Think you can see all your mates and the girl on the same night? Nope, you can’t, not yet anyway.
2. Having large circles of platonic female friends you may or may not have slept with once may well be an Anglo concept, but it doesn’t translate very well into French.
3. You can go from receiving one message a week when flirting to 20 a day when dating. You will need to respond to each.
4. Your life on Facebook will be scrutinized and monitored, so delete recent compromising photos (or expect questions later).
5. If you’re not au fait with public displays of affection, get over that.
6. If all you can be arsed doing one night is watching a movie together, make it a Woody Allen one; for some reason the French still love him.
7. Sex might initially be the bedrock of your relationship, but at least pretend that it’s not.
8. On that note, Paris has a particularly resistant strain of super-chlamydia that’s been doing the rounds for at least 8 years, or however long it is I’ve been here since year, so, get yourself checked out regularly.
9. And one last thing: if you’re going to write a list of dickish stereotypical tips for surviving new relationships with French girls, take my advice and don’t accidentally send it to your new girlfriend before you’ve had a chance to heavily edit it.