A DATE? DO YOU KNOW THAT FRENCH DON'T DATE?
How are relationships in Melbourne made between men and women?
When I came to Australia I was single, ready to explore the Australian world of singles and let me be very honest with you to enjoy this period of my life. So I used this time of my life as a period of research and investigation to understand the complexity of a relationship. However, my life is much more simple now. I found my perfect Man and as a French woman, I totally needed to have a man with a European background to simplify my life. Let me tell you that my single life in Australia on my arrival was far from being simple yet it was definitely funny sometimes. Now, I listen the stories of my French single friends and I was quite relieved to hear that I was not the only one to be intrigued by a relationship between a man and a woman in Australia.
I couldn’t stop thinking can a relationship turn into a relation(shit)? (a universal question I guess)
The word "relationship" in English intrigues me. In it we find the word "ship”, is it the sign of a cruise on quiet waters or a bumpy crossing? In brief it will certainly depend on the current, which will be made between two people.
First of all let’s be clear about the French relationships in France. WE-DO-NOT-DATE! Important point. But I will come back to this point later… First let’s see what happens in Australia, the 3-steps…
1. The “rencontre” (meeting somebody)
As in France, you go out with friends, start to drink a glass of wine, laugh and as a single person you start to put out your antennas to take the temperature of the hotness in the room.
In France, you will start by looking at a man, playing with eyes… but it’s another story in Australia.
Indeed, once you see a man, as a French woman you hope to send a message with your eyes, but I noticed sadly that the men here do not look at you (certainly by respect and to not be pushy but whatever) but once you turn the head they look (according to my Aussie friends)… But hang on guys, how can I know that you are looking at me and when can we start playing the game of seduction?
Fortunately, Australian men have a very easy way to communicate… well especially after few beers, feeling at ease and speaking with you like you’re one of their mates (for some Frenchwomen it may be confusing (?), very confusing, horribly confusing, asking ourselves if he is into me or if he sees me as his mate?). I desperately try to use body language but it seems we are speaking a different language.
My first thought walking in the streets of Melbourne was “What the hell, no one is looking at me!!!!” calling my best male friend in France, almost crying, confiding in him that I didn’t have any chance to seduce a man: no cheeky eyes, no playful seduction, no compliments… OMG Am I invisible? I need attention. Catastrophe. It’s the end of my world. “Caroline don’t you exaggerate a little bit?” well my dramatic side is certainly French but my confusion was real.
I was trying to explain to an Aussie girlfriend that in France, women are used to getting compliments in the street and being ogled. We need this, of course when it’s with elegance and gentleman-like manners. I-NEED-THIS. It’s also what makes me feel like a confident Woman, playing with my feminine side, and please this is nothing to do with flirtation (or not the way you see it), I have heard this so many times. Well let’s go back to this point a bit later because I understand from an Australian point of view it can be maybe a bit difficult to get the point.
So you meet this man thanks to your antennas. For me I was pretty lucky on my first night in Melbourne I was already sharing a conversation with a cute Aussie. He certainly understands nothing of my words with the loud music, my strong accent and a very poor English at my early days in Australia and I do not understand our conversation either but let’s be polite, smile, nod and clink a glass sometimes. And success, no understanding but we both exchange our phone numbers. Winner! (him of course – wink).
It’s the following step that starts to be a bit more complicated. As a French woman you expect a phone call, with a real conversation after MAXIMUM 3 days, this call is normally a call to invite you somewhere and try to know more about each other, what you Aussies will call a date. And perhaps if the man is gallant he can send you a message the same day to say to you how he appreciated meeting you. Well… apparently the “3 days waiting” doesn’t apply here. Indeed, men text you or call you after… one even 2 weeks. Are you for real? Meanwhile, I have started to think after the third day that this man is definitely an idiot who doesn’t know what he wants. See you never!
Well, let’s give him a chance… we finally chat… by message… (no call)… ok Caroline keep cool, things are different here, let’s be open. And one day, he finally asked to meet (so a date?). Let’s start my Aussie research.
2. The date. A date? Seriously I do not date!
“OMG you have a date!!!!” Here is the exciting intonation of my Aussie girlfriend. But hang on - can you repeat? A what? A date? What is this? Yes for a French woman, the word is totally unknown. We go for a rendez-vous. And funny part of this word it can also be used for a rendez-vous with your friend, doctor or even professional so as you can see we do not really have a term for date but let me continue hoping you will understand the French point of view. After all, do we really need to put a word on this natural attraction between a man and a woman that can be so romantic?
So here we go… The date night! Ok let’s dress up a bit but it doesn’t need to put too much effect after all he has to be seduced by my personality. Less is more and I prefer to be dressed by my confidence and femininity. When you’re French in Australia, men have this funny habit to try to impress you with food. My best funny memory was when I had a sparkling red wine (I wanted to cry... “sparkling” red wine? Please no don’t do it) and American cheese (ok this man is definitely not the right one).
But well, the date is not so bad and even if you know is not the Mister Right, you kiss, and for him you “French kiss”. I don’t understand what is this thing with the legendary French kiss? Do you seriously believe that French people have created the “kiss with the tongue”?
Actually the origin of French kiss was called before the “Florentine” kiss.
When the English and American soldiers came back home after the Second War and defined French women as passionate and sensual women. Here was born the legendary French kiss. But I guess the kiss with the tongue was there even before.
So you give your best Freeeench kiss, come back home happy. But you discover quickly that when a man dates, it doesn’t mean he is exclusive with you. Come on… really? Indeed, when you date someone you can date also other people until you have the TALK (the what????) to know if you are in a relationship. The date is just a test period. To summarise you are tested, your potential love is just testing and inspecting to know if you can match.
So no no no no no no no… It’s too much for me. In France we don’t date, we go with the flow and let’s say the things be natural, we definitely want to play with the magic. If you meet a man once, you get along very well with him, you even have sex at one of your first rendez-vous, you can be already in a relationship.
We expect the man to be exclusive. Indeed let’s see where we’re going and if it’s not working next and you can go to “date” again.
3. The talk. Really?
So let’s guess I went to this point. You have dated this man few times and you finally have this talk to know if you are in a relationship. That reminds me my beginning with my husband. For me I was totally in a relationship even at the beginning and one day he invited me to a beautiful restaurant. He started a serious conversation to finally admit he was in love with me and wanted to be with me. I wanted to say to him “I know this” but imagine his face if I did, the French arrogance out of me. After few dates in Australia, I understood that I needed a European background for my intimate life. My husband is Italian but even at this moment of our life, he was Aussie and this was quite normal as he grew up here.
Is the French woman too much in the expectative, not leaving enough room for flexibility? (Flexibility, quality that I appreciate with Aussies). I don’t know. I guess as most of women we expect attention, romance and love. We just express it differently.
Since I have been living in Australia I have learnt a lot about pragmatism, the way people think and do business and during my single time of my life, I noticed that this pragmatism was also applied in relationships. You maybe deal with your dates as you manage your business, checking the strengths and the weaknesses, thinking about what are the advantages to be involved and committed in a future collaboration (oops I mean relationship). When French people are sometimes losing our mind because of love, living 100% the moment sometimes without thinking about the consequences.
I totally noticed it when one day I went to watch a French movie with my husband. The movie called “3 hearts” with the gorgeous Charlotte Gainsbourg and Benoit Poelvoorde. It was the story of a man after missing his train in a provincial city in France met a woman. Both speak all night until the morning and fall in love. They decide to meet again in Paris but unfortunately the man misses the rendez-vous and finds someone else later, the sister of his mysterious lover. As you can guess, in this triangle love story the man’s heart is very sensitive. I found this movie superb and I could perfectly understand every character in this movie. When my husband looked at me and said to me “Come on can you seriously fall in love in one night?”… Well oui mon chéri I totally can. It took me back to my memories in Paris, during another single period of my life, dancing at 4am on the Champs Elysées with a man that I met once. We danced for almost an hour and we never met again. I think at this moment I fell in love with him and I think he did too.
There is not a magic recipe when you meet someone. Everyone needs to go with his/her feelings, trying to find what are the best ingredients, the best cuisine to make the magic. Personally, I definitely need romance, unconditional love and surprises. I have been raised like this and I guess it’s my recipe.
So relationship or relation(shit)? I made my choice.
Ok for THE Relationship… Definitely, the promise of a beautiful cruise.
And for the Relationshit… no way!
After all it will all depend on the crew on the cruise of love! And don’t forget you are the captain of your life.
It’s already difficult to meet someone and it can be more challenging when you live in a country with a different culture. But there is definitely something universal that we all have in common, it is this huge need to love and be loved.
So whatever the codes, the culture, the date or the rendez-vous, once you find the one, you know it.
Thank you NHM Translation for the correction