A few days ago, as an American friend of mine was telling me all about her new boyfriend and how he had asked her out with flowers, I realized how different courtship and dating is for teens in France and the US. Americans go on formal dates; we keep things secret. The word “date” has no equivalent in French, and it’s simply because we don’t go on them.Americans only say “I love you” after months of dating. You might wonder how people get to know each other then.Well, we usually go out in groups and meet within this social group. If you are already friends with the guy, you just spend more time together, get a coffee after school or share a meal at your apartment, and flirt a little bit.If you just met at a party, well, you kiss, and things evolve naturally.
I tried to brush this off—preconceptions are always dangerous when entering any sort of relationship.
American men will rush to get you in bed as quick as possible, while European men don’t appear to have the same rush (or desperation). European men don’t ‘date’ – in the formal way that Americans are used to.
The types of dates seen in movies – the formal ask, the fancy dinner and the entire dance that ensues simply doesn’t exist in the European mindset, in fact, the word “dating” isn’t even a part of their lexicon. Unlike American culture, where there’s almost a rite of passage which takes two people from “hooking up” to “seeing each other” to “dating” to “exclusive”, these labels just aren’t a focus or concern for European men. Rather, the mentality is, “I like you, I want to see you, and if it’s enjoyable, let’s keep seeing each other”.
They weren't all obsessed with fame and fortune, were they?
Was American culture really as shallow as my friends had warned? She was a down-to-earth Midwesterner with ambitions in New York City theater.