Let’s face it, the last few weeks have been tough. Instead of boring you guys with my well-informed inside views of what is going on in my home country and over here, I thought I should write something a bit more light-hearted today, and tell you how to love like a French woman. Yep, you read that right, the cat is out of the bag, you’ve got no excuses now. So, here we go…
It’s not over until it’s over
French women can love and be in love at any age. We never stop being and feeling loveable. Let me explain: over here, in London, it sometimes feel like women shut it down the second they become moms. There is a strong pressure, after becoming a mother, to become an all-sacrificing maternal figure. And if you don’t, shame on you, because you will be considered a narcissistic MILF. We French women don’t fall in such stereotypes. We don’t make our children the center of our universe. Truth be told, we get a lot of help from the state: childcare is virtually free (or very cheap) and we even get offered perineal reeducation sessions. In short, we have no excuse but to get our pre-baby mojo as fast as possible, so we do.
Just relax and go with the flow
Why does everybody need so much certainty these days? Seriously, we need to learn to relax and accept a certain level of ambiguity. If there is one thing I have learned over time (in case you are wondering, my official age feels a lot older than how I feel), it is that nothing is ever black or white. We need to think of romance in nuances. Here is a newsflash for you: there is no such thing as perfect love. So stop being so desperate about your happy ending and just enjoy the journey! And seriously, when did we start setting well-defined goals for relationships? It’s such a turn-off! When did we stop enjoying the present just for what it is? It’s time to settle for reality and stop craving perfection. Good grief, I do sound like an old fart.
Defuse sexism with humour
Don’t get me wrong, we French women don’t have a magic recipe to stop all sexist comments in a jiffy. But this much I know: there is no major war of the sexes going on in my home country. And if/when we get a comment that would be considered sexist, we often try to defuse it with humour, if at all possible of course. I used to work in a very male environment (that’s an understatement, I was the only woman for a couple of years). I remember the laughs of my male colleagues when they were showing me posters of nude women in their offices, thinking I would be shocked (between you and me, I grew up with boys, it’s going to take a lot more to shock me). I used to answer ‘It lacks balls, doesn’t it?’ Little by little, the posters disappeared. We need to learn to appreciate men for what they are, and make peace with (at least some of) their masculine quirks. I am always surprised to see how much segregation there is this side of the Channel: most of the time, men and women don’t really mingle. What a shame!
Don’t over share
We have all had to deal with over sharers. Some love to share all the graphic details of their latest stomach bug. This is actually quite helpful if it is done over lunch, as you are sure not to be hungry for a while. Others will give you all the details of their latest surgical operation. You will have a full explanation of their treatment, how the procedure went, how long it took them to recover, their state of mind, who visited at the hospital, and so on, and so forth. The thing is, I wouldn’t share such details with my close family, and I really don’t know what they are trying to achieve by sharing everything with everyone.
That said, being French seems to induce a different type of over sharing. For some reason, people love to share their sex and relationship issues with me. It is quite funny really. I remember having a morning coffee with colleagues and one of them, out of the blue, told me that she was having an affair with a married man. She was asking for my advice. I didn’t know what to say. I muttered that, as long as it wasn’t with my husband, well, I didn’t care. I brushed it off. Frankly, I didn’t want to talk about it. She praise my non-judgemental attitude and I felt like running a mile away.
So repeat after me: we French women value discretion and privacy. Why is it so difficult to understand?
A few weeks ago, a male colleague of mine, who has just had a baby, complained that he didn’t have any time to read with his wife in the evening, ‘let alone do anything else’. I almost choked on my chocolate croissant, muttered ‘give it some time’. I made my excuses and left.
So what’s my point? Please don’t over share. Yes, keep it under wraps and deal with your own issues.
Ditch the granny nighties and the socks before going to bed
I am not saying that we women should be perfectly groomed all the time. Frankly, it would be a full-time job (at least for me). I am just saying this: I don’t know how some British blokes manage to still fancy their partner when their wear granny nighties, socks, and sometimes hair rollers. If I were a man, it would put me off sex for a year. It’s not a sexist comment, it’s just that if you are going to invite yourself into the life of your partner, then you need to make an effort. If in doubt, better to sleep naked (especially with the heatwave).
On this note, I wish you a good weekend.