Flirting: American And French Ways

As you read in my previous articles, I am struggling quite a bit with the whole flirting process here in America compared to France. After few weeks of living here, I started to come up with some individual assumptions, and I was really starting to wonder if I was right or wrong. In order to be sure, I made a form asking American and French people their thoughts. Today, I am really happy to share the results with you!

I stopped the form as soon as I got an equal number of answers from both sides. So, after two weeks, I ended up with 24 participants, half French and half American. Which is fair enough to give us a nice hint on flirting differences!

So, let’s see what people said:

1. The first kiss
My first assumption was that you don’t kiss very early here in America, when we don’t really care back in France. Indeed, I even heard about a “third date rule” here.

So, I asked the question: “When do you think is an appropriate time to first kiss a person you like?”, by giving three answers options :

  1. On the third date
  2. Usually after a sufficient little small talk
  3. Whenever ‘we’ feel like it

Here are the results:

How interesting, right?!

Actually, French people who answered this form are a little bit more “strict” about kissing than I thought. However, maybe I should have put an explanation blank spot for people to really explain what “whenever” means to them.

Anyway, let’s move on to the next step.

2. Intimacy
My second assumption was along the same lines: French people are less “structured” than American people when it comes to intimacy. At least, in my opinion.

So my next question was “When do you think is an appropriate time to get intimate with a person you like?” And I gave the following answer options:

  1. On the sixth date
  2. Usually after one or two meet-ups
  3. Whenever “we” feel like it”

Here are the results:

How interesting again! Here, we can see that French people actually do not think as much as Americans before getting intimate with someone. But again, the “whenever” definition on an individual level changes everything, so maybe this result would have been greater by being further explained.

So, I think it depends on the context.

3. The first move
My third assumption was that here, in America, making the first move for a girl is very badly perceived. Thus, I asked the question “Who should make the ‘first move?’”, again with three answer options :

  1. The man
  2. The woman
  3. Either one works

Here are the results:

Oh my! When I saw this result, I was both surprised and not surprised.
Why? Well, first I was surprised for the USA results, because I thought you were more on a “traditional” framework. And I was wrong.

Second, I thought that France was not that macho, and I was incorrect. Almost half of the respondents answered that the man should do the first move!

So actually, the assumption I made was based on my own framework. Also, I’m glad I made this form, because now we have a proof that French men are way more forward, and/or are expected to be way more forward.

4. Flirting

My next assumption was that it was way more difficult to know if someone was flirting with you here in the USA than back in France. Because you are all so nice!

So, I asked the question: “When do you know a person is flirting with you?” I gave two choices only for this one:

  1. It’s quite obvious
  2. It’s quite confusing to be sure

Here are the results:

And I got … exactly the contrary of my assumption. Furthermore, look how it’s the exact opposite among France and USA … how great is that?

Well, I let myself think about those surprising results for a moment. And I came up with this theory: Back in France, we have a really flirty and libidinous humor. Which can easily be tricky when you actually expect interest from another person. Then, you overthink and try to guess if this is flirting or not.

I guess that, in the USA, the humor is way more graphic and coarse than it is lustful.
Then, when someone is actually talking flirty, you are sure of what’s happening.

What do you think?

5. Date outfit
Here, my assumption was based on an intuition I had. As I told you in my former articles, I feel like people here are way less picky regarding their clothes. So, I was wondering: do people dress up a bit here, at least for dating?

Do I really stereotype my own country in regards to clothes?

So, I asked the question “How do you dress for a date?” And gave two answer choices:

  1. I just wear the usual.
  2. I usually wear my best outfit and spend time taking care of my look before the date.

Here are the results:

Well, nothing is really relevant here. We are all shiny pennies when meeting our suitors.

Again, I was wrong, and it seems like everybody enjoys to dress up for their mates! That is actually really sweet and I am glad I got those results!

6. Officializing
Here was my assumption: I felt like, here in the USA, you like to put labels on what’s going on within budding relationships. When, in France, it seems a lot more blurred for some time.

For instance, I was telling my friends here that in France, we usually do not really know what is going on until few months in. We just go with the flow. Here, it has to be “labelled” really early in the relationship stage. I even heard about a “sixth date” rule, that I never heard of before.

So, I asked the very last question: “After how many dates do you usually decide if a person is a good match for becoming your girlfriend/boyfriend?” with the following choices:

  1. Before the sixth date
  2. After we have gotten intimate
  3. After few months of being intimate

Here are the results:

At last!! One of my assumption was true! Well, as you can see, Americans are really structured when it comes to relationships. When, in France, we actually take time and do not think too far ahead.

This is a major difference, right? I got so excited when I saw this graph.

What do you think about this?

To sum up this “personal research” for which I had been very passionate, I would say that differences in between France and USA definitely exist when it comes to dating and flirting.

Americans are way more open-minded when it comes to the first move, but very structured when it comes to intimacy and officializing a relationship; French people do not really care about relationship labels but the men are expected to make the first move.

In both France and the USA though, nobody really cares about kissing and does it without really thinking about it. We also all really enjoy to dress up for our suitors.

And finally, our cultural differences make flirting way more different in France than in the USA. Actually, as this is what my research was about, I am quite glad that I came up with such interesting differences! We have so much to learn about each other still…

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

Stay tuned for more French talk!

Floriane Simondet is a graduate exchange student from France, majoring in business administration.

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