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Over the past four years, I have practically made a (pro-bono) career of analyzing the French and their laissez-faire stance on everything, dating included. And so I thought it would only be fair to finally give la parole to one of their representatives—a Frenchman who has spent the past nine years acclimating himself to l’amour à l’Americain.
Since he refused to pen down his observations (French people are SO stubborn), I had no choice but to stick a tape recorder under his nose and allowed myself some “creative liberties.”
The First Date
The first thing you learn when you start dating in America is that it truly is a "Land of Opportunity." No, not because you can make anything out of yourself, nor because hard work will take you far in life.
Rather, because, no matter who you are or where you hail from, YOU WILL GO ON MULTIPLE FIRST DATES. You can have the vocabulary of Donald Trump or look like Steve Bannon and Quasimodo’s love child—it doesn’t matter.
You are, above all, a dinner provider, destined to routinely nourish the female population of this country with overpriced sushi. And so, nourish them you will.
The other virtue of America is that, no matter who you are or when your last dental visit was, YOU WILL KISS A LOT. Why? Because, here in America, there is an unspoken rule that two people must kiss at the end of the date to “test out the chemistry.”
Call me crazy, but, where I come from, if you feel like you need to “test” the chemistry, this means that there probably is no chemistry. If there was, wouldn’t you just want to kiss the person?!
Ok, so let’s say you went on a great dinner date and scored an 8.5 score on the chemistry scale. (With room for improvement, of course! Because, there is always “room for improvement” in America!) You would think that the next logical step would be to ask her on a second date, right? Lo and behold—there’s a hitch!
In this country, if you like a girl, you have to wait FOUR DAYS TO TEXT HER. Apparently, it has something to do with “making her wait.”
Please don’t ask me what you are supposed to do in these four days—date other girls? Sit at home with your dog? Eat pizza and imagine her having sex with somebody else? I will never know. Plus, let’s be honest—I’m French, I never wait four days. I just can’t.
The Second Date
The second date is what I like to call the Bernie Sanders of dates. You can’t really take it seriously because you know it will never get elected, and yet you know that you have to get through it to get to the next level. Why?
Because it appears that the entire female population of America has collectively decided that they will not, under any circumstances, “give it up” on the second date.
Before you besiege me with death threats, let me point out that WE (MEN) ARE NOT JUST TRYING TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU. And yet, we would like to know that there is at least a possibility of it happening, rather than being preemptively deprived of all hope.
Oh, and if this fruitless prognosis wasn’t enough, here’s another kicker: The second date also demands your CREATIVITY. That’s right—you can’t just take a girl to dinner, that would be far too boring!
No, in America, you have to plan an “activity.” You have to show her your sweat, your muscles and your endurance. You have to take her on an “adventure”—but not too much of an adventure, please!
In fact, in LA, all adventures MUST be limited to the West Hollywood or Santa Monica areas, which basically just means a whole lot of hikes. The only winner on the second date? My dog.
The Third Date
If the second date is the Bernie of dates, then the third date is the Tax Return of dates. According to the laws written by the fingers of Hollywood, the third date is when you officially reap the rewards of all your dining/waiting/hiking and “get lucky.”
(In LA, this has recently shifted to the fourth date, yet I will stick to number three as I cannot bear two hikes.) Here, I highly recommend cooking for your girl.
One pasta dinner; multiple benefits:
To you: “You’re so cute, you cooked for me!”
To her friends: “He’s so romantic, he cooked for me!”
In her head: “He could be a good husband, he cooks for me!”
For you, there is only one benefit: “She’s at my place.” Be warned that this date is rarely fun—since everything is premeditated and you both know what’s going to happen once the last sip of Beaujolais is gone, awkward tension is unavoidable.
Now that all the “steps” are out of the way, you would think you can just relax and enjoy yourself, right? Not so fast! There’s another hoop to jump through—literally. Now, you have the “pressure to perform.”
You see, every time I have sex with an American girl, I feel like I have voluntarily enrolled myself in some sort of bedroom Olympics, in which I need to be hanging upside-down, blindfolded, with one hand behind my head and one toe pointing to the ceiling.
I really don’t want to launch into a French ode to lovemaking here, but I’m not sure if you necessarily need all of these maneuvers to experience sexual pleasure. Unless you’re in America. In America, you need to be a Cirque du Soleil performer!
Ok, so let’s say your gymnastics duet takes off and you continue seeing each other. You have more sex and go on more hikes and eat more overpriced sushi and you think it’s all going pretty well, until, one day…
“Are we exclusive?” she asks you, completely out of nowhere.
You are shocked. Not because you are “scared of commitment,” but because, in France, you’re exclusive pretty much from the first kiss. So when a girl you have installed a sex swing in your house for suddenly asks if the two of you are exclusive, you can’t help but feel utterly confused. Like, WHAT WERE WE BEFORE?
“But we didn’t have 'the talk!'” she responds, making you feel like your life in the past months has been nothing but a giant lie. And so, you have 'the talk,' in which it is established that she will now refer to you as her boyfriend and refrain from sleeping with other dudes.
To any man who intends to expedite 'the talk,' do yourself a favor and hold off on that urge. Once you have 'the talk,' all bets are off. She is officially allowed to get started on the 'the plan,' which includes vacations, parental introductions, holiday plans, move-in schedules, engagement deadlines and, possibly, a wedding date.
That’s right—it may take American girls months to “become exclusive,” but it takes them DAYS to start planning the wedding. And then they wonder why American men are so “reluctant to commit.”
In case you are a fellow expat, don’t give up your green card application quite yet. There is a bright side to dating in America—two, in fact.
It’s not as complex as it seems. Once you learn the rules, this system can be applied to virtually every person you date in this country, because American people date everybody in the exact same way.
Unlike their European counterparts, American women are perfectly poised, dig a French accent, and will make you feel special—at least for a couple of hours. And, sometimes, that’s all a guy needs for happiness.