connect!

Day 257: Missed Connections.

Illustrations by Cécile Mancion

Yesterday I spent a long day in the slushy, cold city. Freshly fallen snow when you have nowhere to go is lovely. Day old snow, after it's melted to black slush, and has been driven over by dozens of cars and trucks is the reason why winter really is my least favorite season. I wouldn't have trekked into Manhattan if I hadn't made an appointment last week for a facial at Mario Badescu, using the gift certificate given to me for Christmas by my cat, Charlotte (or rather, my mom who thinks that she's pulling the wool over my eyes by drawing Charlotte's paw print on the card.). 

Before getting my face exfoliated, extracted, massaged and being told by the Ukrainian esthetician that my skin was dry, broken out and not luminous, I spent the afternoon downtown to visit some of my stomping grounds in my hometown.

I had lunch at one of my favorite East Village spots, the eccentric Yaffa Cafe where I woofed down a sunshine burger with sprouts and tahini on a whole wheat pita while indulging in a Plum Sykes novel. I then stopped at the St. Mark's Bookshop to kill some time before my appointment uptown. While pursuing the autobiography section, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Startled, I turned around quickly where my coffee spit out of the spout of the to-go cup and on to my white coat and found Ben staring back at me. Oh God, no...not Ben. I can't stand this guy. Ben was my next door neighbor in Brooklyn whom I thought I was dating because every night for two months we'd go out to dinner, out for drinks on Bedford Avenue, go to see bands, have movie night and well, have sex. Isn't that dating?

Apparently not, at least not in America. It wasn't until one night he told me one night that he loved having a sex buddy as cool as me that I realized that we weren't dating. How disgusting. After escorting him out of my apartment, I stood up against the closed door and reflected on our past few months together. While I was certainly annoyed, I was more confused. Had I been delusional? Were we really not dating?

Ben was my last American "boyfriend"...and I'll tell you why.

Only in the States have I found dating to be so complicated where there are all these rules, games and unclear levels. There's "hanging out", "talking", "hooking up", "seeing", "going out", "sort of dating" and "being casual" where each stage means something completely different. It's ridiculous.

In France, and I assume the rest of the Europe, this method of courting (if you want to call it that) simply does not exist. Everywhere else, dating is pretty direct where there is no mystery as to what's going on between you and the person you have been rolling in the hay with for the past month.

My French guy friends who have lived in New York, confirm that they got away with acting like total jerks because men seem to call the shots where they can play it cool, date multiple women at a time, wait days for follow up communication, make last minute dates and relish over how this heinous behavior is tolerated. There's a reason why Sex and the City was a success because dating in New York is a nightmare.

I'd love to hear your opinions on this, especially from all my expat girls. Do you ladies find dating to be easier in Europe than in a major city in the U.S? I'd also like to hear from my French male readers who have lived in Manhattan, I invite you to share your experiences. Am I on target with my observations or did I just have terrible luck?

Back to Ben, after getting the rug pulled from underneath me when he referred to me as his sex buddy, I reacted really strangely and did something I had never done before...and I wasn't even drunk. 

To be continued.... 

28 comments:

  1. I've only dated one French guy, and then I married him, and I have to say, it was the easiest relationship ever. There were no games, no second guessing, no hidden meanings to be analyzed. I always assumed it was because with the language barrier we had to be as clear as possible when communicating with each other, but now I'm thinking maybe it was easy because he's French??!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it was "La Touche Française" and that you have a great man! Oh la la! I said this in 2008 and I'll say it again, once you go French you never go back.

      But yeah, as you said, no hidden meanings, no b.s. It's like "I like you, you like me, let's do this. Cool"

      C'est plus simple...à mon avis.

      Delete
  2. See, that's the kind of behaviour that just BURNS my ass... and no, that chicken dance is not typically New Yorker... I had a similar experience with a Finn... Back when I was willing to put up with appalling behaviour because I was young, lonely and had low self-esteem.

    I just don't get it. Call me old-fashioned, but once I start spending all my free time with someone and having exclusive sex with him, I consider myself in a relationship... and this whole business of "we never said we were exclusive" doesn't fly either... Unless it was otherwise specified from the get-go, when you start having sex with someone, YOU ARE DE FACTO EXCLUSIVE!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How infuriating is it?! I hate the "We never said it was exclusive part" !

      Half of the guys that pulled this shit weren't even that great. Most of these jerks were broke, ok looking and uncultured. I still shake my head thinking about some of these jerks that I wasted my time on.

      I'm glad those days are over. As you get older that behavior becomes easier to detect but when you're young, you just don't know...It's sad.

      Delete
  3. I agree 100% - my experience with French men is that they are so much more open about their feelings - if they like you, they like you and there is way less game playing. There's no "I have to wait three days before calling" or "The ball has to be in my court". You know where you stand and it's pretty damn refreshing.

    It's funny, because after what happened with Fab, so many people were like "I bet you'll never date another Frenchman again", but as I'm pretty sure you'll agree, that thought hadn't even crossed my mind. Why cross off a whole nation of men just because of one bad egg right? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, many people thought that I was going to throw the towel in on French men after MF who was my 4th or 5th French boyfriend but I didn't. I agree with the French way of dating and couldn't even imagine dating an American man now.

      I love when I tell my American friends how much easier dating in Paris is they all ALWAYS try to justify it with "But French men also cheat." which is such an obsolete cliche!! American men cheat too (Scott Peterson, Drew Peterson, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse James..I can keep going). Cheating depends on the person not the nationality.

      Delete
  4. I can't speak for any European cities, but when I lived in Buenos Aires I learned real fast not to give my phone number out to just any cute JoeShmo that asked - because they would actually call! (over and over again until you picked up) There were no games;if a guy asked for your number he was interested and he would call you the next day. Much more direct and less complicated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! Yeah I dated a guy from South America once and he was very persistent. I was only 21 and was confused why he was calling my house three times a day! That was my last Latin lover...fun and simple but maybe a bit too overwhelming.

      Delete
  5. I always found US-style dating (from what I've seen on TV) kind of mystifying. Not saying that there aren't jerks in NZ or mind games or whatever, but pretty much yeah, if you're going out with someone you're going out with them - that concept of 'non-exclusive dating' isn't really a thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this Gwan. From an outsiders POV, dating in America does seem super strange, doesn't it?

      I find it so interesting that the cat and mouse game doesn't exist over in NZ. I figured maybe it was an Anglo-country thing...but perhaps it's not.

      Now I'm wondering about London, has anyone dated in London? If this non-exclusive thing doesn't exist over there, then I say that all women should flee the US because American men are crazy!

      Delete
  6. Dating in NYC is way funnier than in Paris... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Tom. I remember you in NYC..and you were annoying. :) Now you are happy and settled with your lovely lady in Paris...c'est mieux!

      xoxox.

      Delete
  7. "like to hear from my French male readers who have lived in Manhattan"
    so there are others? really? man you broke my heart :(
    Ok. Seriously, you are right on the part you developped, and I can tell that there is so many low self esteem girls in Manhattan who hadn't been treated well by their boyfriends, so most of them think it is normal the way
    the guys act like jerks and kind of accept it.
    But the most important factor that influences people (anywhere for that matter) is the dating market: in Manhattan, Women outnumber men, there is like 4 women for one man, actually it is the only city in the world where you have women making more money on average than men. There is a lot of successful pretty interesting single ladies!
    So my point is that when you have 4 women for one man, and that guys can be married (with the college sweet heart), gays (second largest gay city after SF), just fugly or fat, wearing a mickey mouse tie(I have seen it!), can't spell right, etc...the odds to date a guy who is not a player, nice and ready to commit are extremely low!
    So yes guys (no matter where they come from) in NYC can afford to date few girls at once, act like jerks and have fuck buddies who'd like to be something else because a lot of girls are desperate at this point.
    While in Paris it is still 50/50, eventhough it is getting more and more like NYC due to the local economy with more women coming (BTW thank you America for exporting an endless supply of cute girls to Paris ^^), the power between the two sexes is even. Finally, culturally
    France like Spain an Italy is a latin country where the tradition is that it is up to the guy to woo and initiate the date which put women in a more comfortable position (eventhough the downside is that guys can be annoying in the streets, public places, bars, etc...).
    Now about the love American Woman - French Man, c'est un autre débat!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for this incredible comment!

      First things first. I do have other male readers but they are silent male readers who don't step up to the plate with great comments and adds balance to the chick fest that is my blog. You're most appreciated! (Sorry Tom!) :)

      I was going to touch on the ratio bit and I'm glad you did. It is true, there are more women than there are men, so the competition to find a man is fierce where women will put up with just about anything in order to have the Saturday night date and to say that they are "seeing" someone. It's so sad. I remember preferring to be alone, cozy in my apartment with a glass of wine than going out "looking for a man". Unfortunately, NYC is crawling with these women (and as you said, successful, interesting and beautiful!) and it breaks my heart because no one should be treated like they're disposable.

      When you were in NYC, I know that you were with someone but did you get a taste at all for the dating scene?

      Delete
  8. Coucou Ella!

    This is great. We've had this discussion a million times in Paris so you know what I think about dating in NYC, but I won't go into detail otherwise your readers will attack me!

    Dating in NY is amazing!! Paris is full of princesses, NY women are much easier. I wish I was still there.

    Bises.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh geez...yes, Matt, I know your opinions on dating in NYC. You think that NY women are sluts. Yes, we have had the discussion (or argument) several times and now I laugh because you're back in Paris having to deal with said Parisiennes princesses! :) Tu le mérits!

      Tu sais que je t'aime! :P

      Delete
  9. So True!! I will never forget when I was studying in Rome and Alessandro (whom I went on two dates with) showed up in the piazza of my building, honking the horn on his motorino, yelling my name in Italian to my window. The problem? I didn't return his call. From an hour earlier. LOL-needless to say this was a little too fast for me. But there is something to say about no games and being direct!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too funny!

      Italian men are a whole other breed that I have yet to experience (despite my Italian ancestry!). I have heard that they are very forward, even more so than French men.

      I hope you were able to let Alessandro down gently (or perhaps he's your husband now?)!

      Delete
  10. I find this interesting to know about American men as it is EXACTLY the same in Australia. The last 3 guys that I have 'dated' would take me to dinner, kiss me in public, introduce me to their friends, even parents, and most importantly sleep with me yet not call me their girlfriend as they were not 'ready to be in a relationship'. Um, hate to tell you buddy, but you are ALREADY IN ONE!! Over time it has made me seriously doubt myself and make me wonder whether it was me or not. Until I realised it was happening to almost all my single girl-friends aswell. I find it interesting that in a previous comment it was said that it's not the case in NZ. Well its well and truly alive across the Tasman in Aus.!! It's good to know French men seem different, it just confirms that I am making the right decision to move to Paris in May!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. +1 Em
      Only unfortunately, I'm not moving to Paris!

      Delete
    2. Thanks Em for sharing your experience with dating in Australia!

      How frustrating! Especially meeting the parents!! If that's not sending mixed messages, I don't know what is. Damn...

      You will enjoy dating in Paris, I'm sure of it...good luck with your move! :)

      Delete
  11. "there is no mystery as to what's going on between you and the person you have"

    That is so true, Ella. I am a fellow NYCer dating a Frenchman as well and in the beginning we definitely had a breakdown in communication because we didn't have "the talk" so I wasn't sure where we stood and he didn't see the point of having "the talk" because to him we were already together.

    He didn't/still doesn't understand why everything has to be so formal and full of processes and I try to explain to him how dating works in the US but it just doesn't work.

    One of the many things we blame on cultural differences. On another note, I totally agree, once you go French there is no turning back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How refreshing is it? It's so simple! But yes, I remember my first French boyfriend in NYC. After a week of dating, he called me his girlfriend and I was so confused.

      I was shocked that he wasn't dating someone else, shocked that he wanted to spend every weekend with me, shocked that he was acting like a boyfriend! How sick is that?

      Bravo to you and I wish you and you're Frenchie good luck!

      Delete
  12. Ahhh NYC post-snow slush and dating. Both are just a mess. The amount of time I've spent composing a text message...I would have a year of my life back. The amount of time I spent talking with girlfriends about all the silly boys I dated. Sir L isn't French but he's European and older than me. After dating older and non-American, I was like "see ya douchebag frat guy from Michigan who works in finance." Ugh. We call your "Ben," "American Jon" (Jon is short for Jonathan of course) and how frustrating/annoying they are with their spiked hair, baggy jeans and obsession with beer & sunday football (american that is).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! "see ya douchebag frat guy from Michigan who works in finance." Yeah, let that guy be someone else's problem...not yours!

      Dating should not be difficult, a game, or any of other b.s American women are programmed into thinking is normal!

      I remember honestly thinking I had a problem so I went to a Codependent Anonymous meeting at St. Vincent's hospital...I didn't relate to the "shares" and someone came up to me and told me that I was in the wrong place and that I was just dating losers.

      Crazy NYC...

      Delete
  13. Sorry to be late to the game on this one, but I can definitely confirm as an American expat living in Paris that the American dating "rules" are nothing less than chaotic. I found myself surprised that my French beau was calling me his girlfriend almost immediately after what others would call "hooking up," but it was a pleasant surprise. Didn't we have to wait months and jump through hoops and play games in order to figure this out? Wasn't there supposed to be some complications, some awkwardness, or at the very least... a moment where I doubted what was going on? Only in America, I think.

    On a related note, I just discovered your blog today and LOVE it. Thank you so much for sharing what you've been through. It's nice to find someone nearly the same age as myself (I feel like I'm "older" than everyone I meet in Paris - American or otherwise), who has a bit of gritty life experience under their belt. Although it sounds like 2011 was a traumatic year for you (that was my 2010), you sound like you're coming out on top of all of it. Congrats to you on all of your accomplishments, and may tons of happiness and good luck keep coming your way... :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I lived in the USA for 6 years, and after a while I totally gave up on dating american guys. The american rules for dating are really weird for anyone who isn´t american, I guess. A few years later I spent some time in Paris and for my relief realized that all my french friends had the same opinion about the american dating. Any guy with a Latin background (french, italians, spanish, brazilians and so on) will be much more direct on relationships

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aren't American dating rules bizarre? It's like it's some kind of "prize" if a guy decides that he wants you to be his girlfriend. I'm sorry but I think that's just insane. It should be a prize for everyone and a decision made within two weeks. It's not rocket science.

      I'm waiting on some American male feedback in regard to this story...prove me wrong guys!

      Delete