Sunday, March 13, 2011

Finding Love in France? Probably Not.

For a francophile and begrudgingly hopeless romantic like me, what could be more romantic than going out to a café while a gallant Frenchman whispers sweet nothings into my ear in that most romantic of all languages? Or, even better, hearing that charming French lisp gracefully expel seductive lines in my native tongue?

Ah, wait. I teach English in France. Halting and repeatedly correcting French high schoolers from phonetically butchering my native tongue has rendered me immune to any "cuteness" and "turn on" qualities that would have swept me off my feet. A miniscule part of my soul dies every time a necessary aspirated H is left unsaid.

Nevertheless, a Frenchman speaks French and that should be enough of a selling point to attract me automatically, right?

Um, right?

*crickets chirp*

Well, French-speaking or not, my hypothetical future mate needs to at least have some courtesy and know how to treat a lady right.

I was seeing a guy on and off again for the past month. We had been chatting online and our real-life meetings would determine whether or not we would officially start dating. First time I saw him, I did not feel a spark. It was just a gut feeling: nothing was there.

He seems like a nice guy. Maybe something is wrong with me, I thought. I should at least give him a chance...

I could not help but notice that every time I met him after that, I did not feel any genuine excitement stir in my being. We went to the movies. We went out for walks. We had great discussions about our lives, our interests, our life goals. He wants to be a policeman someday. He loves to eat McDonald's after he runs marathons. He has a sister who lives in Lyon. He asked me if I liked him or juste comme ça, just as a friend.

"Juste comme ça," I said. "I don't feel much for you. Besides, I may or may not leave the country in a few months' time. I don't want to risk getting attached to you." That was my excuse, anyway.

Still, he insisted that I should give him a chance because he really, really likes me. I agreed to seeing him again. I mean, why not? He seems like a nice guy. He seems polite enough. Sure, he doesn't open the door for me, but I can't expect too much chivalry from today's generation, now can I? I'll take what I can get...perhaps he'll even grow on me and I'll learn to love him.

Yet deep down inside, something fought me.

He's not the guy for you, stupid. You deserve better than this. You don't even vaguely like him. You need to give yourself some self-worth and you shouldn't be afraid to just say "no" to someone. You need to find your own damn voice and admit you don't like him.

These thoughts eventually manifested themselves into emotions. When he would send me a text message, rather than squealing like a 13-year-old who had just won tickets to see a Justin Bieber concert with backstage passes, I would roll my eyes and internally mutter "oh, what do you want NOW?"

God, your writing is so annoying. Don't you know how to spell properly in your own damn language? You make it so hard for me to suppress my contempt for you. Then, I would feel shame because he really has done nothing wrong to me.

He asked me again. "Have your feelings changed for me?" Oh, they have in a way; now I am more than certain that I really, really don't like you much. I didn't say that, though. I'm way too scared of hurting someone's feelings.

"I only really see you as a friend." Still, he insisted that I give "us" a chance. Maybe, just maybe, if I do go back to Miami, he will have the strength to wait for me.

Like a swimmer going against a rip current, I agreed to go against my sentiments and give "us" a chance.

He would invite me to dinner, he said. He would meet me up at 7, he said.

He was 35 minutes late. He apologized but didn't seem sorry about it. That just fueled the kindling of my dislike for him. You idiot, I thought. Oh, well. We would soon have a nice dinner together. This would, in my mind, officially determine whether or not "us" would exist.

The check came. He looked at it. He showed it to me. He laughed and said "Thanks, Barbara!"

W...T...F? Who does that? Is this a joke? Are you just trying to make me feel like a guilty, fat pig because you now have to pay for the meal?

"Um, do you need help in paying the bill?"

"Yes, I would not mind that. Thanks for that!"

And thanks for finally showing me a concrete reason as to why I should not be with you. I had taken out some money prior to meeting up with you just in case you pulled a stunt like this. I was hoping you wouldn't have, but now I'm glad that I paid for my half of the meal. At least that was my excuse to never see you again. Sadly enough, I feel relief.

I should follow the advice I learned during my D.A.R.E. program years and just learn how to say "no." No, I don't like you. No, I'm not interested in you. No, I don't feel anything for you.

I've been able to do it before in the past. I was shopping in a supermarket when a guy suddenly had an outright burst of admiration for me:

Makes me wonder if he had even looked at my left hand to confirm this. I was able to lie about my marital status. Why was it so hard for me to just say "I'm not interested?"

Who knows if love may or may not be just around the corner? The more I walk down the streets, the more I seem to get glances from the guys over here. Maybe I'll have to say "no" to them as well.

On another note, I think I spotted my Octogenarian Creepy Codger this past week. Thankfully, I was riding away on a bus and he didn't see me.

I guess Love isn't meant to be sought. I should just let it come whenever it deems itself appropriate for me. You just can't force fate...

Barb the French Bean


  1. Agreed. Just let it come. I found love when I told myself I wasn't going to date anyone for a whole year. Ironic? Yeah...

  2. Gla dyou really seemed to dodge a bullet there. It is times like these I am glad I am married, so I don't have to date in this day and time. I mean, it's not like I am 50 or anything, but shit just seemed easier 18+ years ago.

    Or maybe I am just old.

    Damnit, I am. Because only an old fart would have said something like that.

  3. I don't want to make a sweeping cultural generalization. But with most of the French men I dated, we always ended going "dutch". I am beginning to think that they all believe that is the proper practice unless there is a promise of further commitment.
    Otherwise, that guy is just your regular douche bag. :)

  4. Amoutoujou: That only gives me hope that Love will eventually come someday, and when I least expect it. :-P

    Amber: Old fart or not, you are very lucky to have Sweet Joshua in your life. It just seems to me that dating in general was easier 50 something years ago. According to my grandmother, she fell in love with my grandfather when she was 18, married him and then had my mother when she was 19. I'm almost 24 (GASP) and I can't even imagine having gone through such a grown up aspect of life at the age she did!

    Knowing my luck, I'll probably get hitched when I'm 57.

    PBB: I've only had experience with about 3 French guys now, one of them being my first real boyfriend and 2 others were just friends. With this latest guy, he was aiming to have a commitment but didn't really show it. Ugh.

    -Barb the French Bean

  5. Ugh.

    In my experience, either the butterflies are there from the beginning - or they NEVER come.

    Hang in there, B - your man (French or not) is coming.

  6. This made me laugh XD I know what you mean about gut feelings, except with me they're consistently wrong :-| Quite unfortunate. But WOW, he acted like a complete jerk at dinner. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned chivalry??

    Or, you know, at least introductory good manners.


  7. At least you know for sure know that you were right not to be interested in him. He sounds like an idiot to me. Dam him... giving the rest of us a bad name *waves fist*

  8. Trust yourself!

    Remember that Shel Silverstein poem about the voice?

    “"There Is A Voice Inside Of You
    That Whispers All Day Long,
    "I Feel That This Is Right For Me,
    I Know That This Is Wrong."
    No Teacher, Preacher, Parent, Friend
    Or Wise Man Can Decide
    What's Right For You- Just Listen To
    The Voice That Speaks Inside."”

    It's there, you just have to listen.

    I know, I'm in the same position now!

    Long live the romantics!


  9. Warning, sociohistorical analysis ahead!

    The first thing that struck me was your comparison of your grandmother's love life and your own. Aaaand being the history buff I am...

    Although I can't guess your grandmother's age, my guess is that she came from a time frame in which marriage was a woman's prerogative. Though women already had the right to vote, other things didn't become available to them for a long time. Dating itself (not courtship, two different things!) only became really big in the 1950s. Also, if I remember correctly, your family is Hispanic, right? And last time I checked, family was (and still is?) a big part of someone's identity in your culture, as it was for many people at the time since the family was the main labor force for a household and especially for those who farmed (though I don't know if your grandmother lived in a rural area).

    Since birth control didn't become widespread until the second half of the twentieth century, and family was most likely big to your grandmother, not to mention the reputation at the time of being an unwed mother, she likely wanted to get married early so that she could have a family. She didn't suffer from contemporary ideas of 'the grass is greener'. So that's why she was able to get married and start having kids early.

    Now, I'm not saying you should settle on the first guy who comes along and shows a focus on commitment from the get-go. It can be a bad sign, actually. But definitely look for a guy who shows basic manners, this date of yours sounds like a lazy bum to me...It is definitely difficult to find a guy with basic manners nowadays because they've all been spoiled rotten by their parents and haven't been taught basic courtesy because 'boys will be boys'.

    Okay...that was long, but I hope you take the time to read it anyway. :)

  10. Heh. Sometimes my grandmother criticizes my lack of a relationship with the ol' "when I was your age, I was already married with kids," to which I kindly retort that times have indeed changed. :-)

    Long live romance indeed!



Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb