It is so funny to see how some social behaviors are exactly the same between France and the US, and others are completely different. Well, this was a big shock to me when I arrived in the US. I understood of course a man and a woman could be interested in each other in a romantic way, let me reassure you.
One of the very obvious difference is the dating game. But I was not aware that accepting to go out to dinner with a man alone gave the signal that I was possibly romantically interested in him.
I guess it’s much more accepted in France for men and women to be friends.
However, if a woman is dining with a man, you can bet he will pick up the check. I usually trick them by asking to be excused (as if I was going to the lady’s room, grab the waiter and give him my credit card).
Sex is not taboo in France as it is in the US, and it is much more present in humor, art, tv and everyday life than in the US…
and so is nudity: children are often naked on the beach, women can go topless (although it’s less frequent now than when I was young)… I wrote an article about French Sex Vocabulary if you are curious – watch out, it is explicit and written for an adult audience.
Many of my French friends – men and women alike – have waited to meet someone special for their first time, didn’t just want to get rid of their virginity, and have never had one night stand.
If sex between consenting adults is very much socially accepted, most French people won’t rush into it, and get to know each other before jumping into bed.
The game is the main point, it’s relatively innocent and usually no-one gets hurt, just a little blushed :-) With kissing hi and goodbye being the standard and French women being more “flirtatious”, it can be difficult for foreigners to correctly read a French woman’s body language.
I guess since there is no set protocol, French women are pretty obvious, and often more direct than other women. It’s unlikely they’ll refuse to take it further, but not unheard of.
But I would never do that to my Dad who would be very upset if I did. When I meet a man and I am without my husband, I’ll place within the first minutes of the conversation that “my husband blablabla… That usually is enough to make my state of mind really clear.