Dating in France

As fate would have it, I have recently found myself in France. Not just for vacation, but for the next two years. And, in true Tina style, I threw myself into this with as little preparation as possible. No French? No problem. I got this… I had a grand plan. I would move to France, take 5 or 6 lovers, and learn all the essential phrases while making passionate love in a foreign land. My plan was perfect, except for one detail that I failed to take into account: I don’t like French men.

Now, as an American, I have long heard the stories of French men. They are passionate, romantic, and will sweep you off your feet with grand gestures, poetry and incredible sex. Personally, poetry makes me want to gag, but so does deep throating and I’ll do that for the right man. I got this…

But, I didn’t “Got this.” I still don’t have this. I’ve been here for almost three months now, and while my French is improving my taste for French men is not. I was hoping it would be like the white wine from Jura – a bit peculiar at first, but quite enjoyable once you get used to the nutty flavor. Sadly, this is not the case. In my limited research, I have found the men here fall into the following categories:

  1. Stale White Bread: Boring to begin with and only gets worse with time. Absolutely zero flavor or nutritional value, but you’ll eat it at 3am when you’ve had 10 G&Ts and forgot to ask the Uber driver to stop by McDonald’s on the way home.
  2. Shower Drain Hair: Just the thought of it makes you cringe. Looking at it makes you feel dirty all over. If you have to touch it, it’s best to use gloves, but even then the memory will haunt you for months.
  3. Mr. Moody: Always dramatic, everything is the end of the world. This guy makes man babies look like pro adulters. Actually, this guy might be closest to the stereotype, but only because he vehemently expresses how miserable life is with his poetry about catching colds, losing socks in the dryer and traffic jams.
  4. The Tour Guide: Possibly also quite French, this guy knows everything about the city, the region, the history and the culture, and he likes to talk about it… a lot. It’s not actually possible to connect with this guy because he’s too busy trying to impress you with his infinite knowledge of everything. Like the wine? He doesn’t care why, he just seizes the opportunity to tell you the longitude and latitude of where each grape was picked and what the winemaker was wearing during harvest. Like the cheese? He’ll tell you the story about how his great-aunt’s cousin’s wife’s sister had a cow that was neighbors with the horse that was owned by the farmer that sold a goat to the couple whose daughter’s sheep grazed on the property next to where this cheese was produced.
  5. Mr. Casual: I’m pretty sure these guys are universal. They’re in it for one thing and one thing only. This is totally ok with me as long as the expectations are clear and it’s good for both of us. What surprised me about Mr. Casual French Edition was he was offended when I said “No problem, but can we skip dinner and keep it to weeknights?” Oh, and he forgot that last bit about good for both of us.

So there you have it. Dating in France. Actually, the first thing in two years that has managed to get me off Tinder. I never thought it would be contempt rather than love that would finally pull me away from swipe life, but here I am, swipe-free for almost three weeks now.

I will confess, I’m not being 100% fair to French men with this description.  There was, in fact, one French man who doesn’t fall into any of the above categories. He was an anomaly.  He was able to not only stir my desires but crack open the locks on my bitter heart.  I’m inclined to say he probably isn’t French, but apparently his Frenchness dates back to the Cretaceous period.  Of course, having felt something potentially real for the first time since my disastrous heartbreak, I dramatically threw a scarf over my eyes and ran from his apartment at 6am only to go home to cuddle a baguette in regret.    But, that’s a story for another day.

Commitment Issues 101

As a single girl in her 30s, I have to constantly battle the internal and external pressures to settle down and commit to a life of misery. Oops! I mean stability. My bad….

It’s not that I don’t want to get married. I do, someday, to the right person. But here’s the thing about me. The right person for me is not the person who wants a relationship. My dude, if he exists, is not going to send me a “Good morning beautiful” text every single day. He’s not going to dote on me. He’s not going to try to impress or please me. And, he’s certainly not the person who’s looking to settle down. No, no. My guy, wherever he is, if he even exists, he’s the guy who does his thing. He’s the guy who loves me passionately but not possessively. He’s the guy that doesn’t care if I leave for a month or two. He’s the guy who doesn’t want a wedding but will marry me on a cliff in the mist because it’s not about proving anything to the world, it’s about our little secret and the passion and love that we share. My guy knows that the number one thing he can do to make me leave, is to let me know he needs me to stay.

When I was a kid, my favorite moment of the day was when my dad would come home. Yes, I realize this is two for two posts that mention my dad. I will analyze my daddy issues later on…. Anyways, the story is, in the evenings I would hear his car and go run to the door to give him a big hug. When I gave him this hug, I would always put my feet up against his stomach so I maintained my ability to push away. This is the thing about me. I will love so hard and so completely, with all of my heart, as long as I know I can push away when I need to. But commitment has a tendency to kill that freedom. There’s this expectation that once committed, the feet go down. I can’t do that. I need my feet. I need them up and I need them strong. I need to leave sometimes and do me. It doesn’t mean I don’t love the person, it just means I love myself more. And the right person, is the one where we love and trust each other enough to be apart and still together.

I feel like people don’t understand this type of commitment. People think there’s something wrong when you’re in a couple and tell them about what “I” did over the weekend rather than what “we” did. Realistically, if someone was to be in a relationship with me, they would have to have a lot of “I” moments or they would just be bored. They’re going to need something to do while I’m jogging, or at my yoga class, or meeting a friend for lunch, or making earrings, or going to Trader Joe’s alone because I actually want to go grocery shop by myself, and sometimes they’re even going to have to sit out out on an all day hike because I just want to be by myself with my own thoughts in nature. I want to listen to music in the car with out talking to another person. I want to have private Industrial Dance parties in my underwear and I don’t want share that with anyone, because nobody needs to see that! I want to get wine drunk on Tuesdays and play Tekken (stay tuned for that story). And sometimes, I just want to sit at home on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and a book and not be bothered. So my Mr. Right better either like to sleep late or have his own things he likes spending time with more than he likes spending time with me.

The truth is I am already in a committed relationship. I’m committed to myself. Maybe you could say I’m in an open relationship with myself as the primary partner. I’m open to having another person enter the relationship as long as they understand that I come first for me, and I hope that they have same standard for themselves. I do not want to be a we, but a me and (if you’re lucky) a you. Together but autonomous. Each purposefully pursuing our own independent passions and bringing them home to a life filled with love and lust. That is something I might let my feet down for, because when I trust that I can run, I can also relax and I just might stay awhile.