Monday, April 6, 2009

Le Flirting is Tres Bon for Le Marriage

Saturday during my daughter's eye exam, I flipped through the April issue of Conde Nast Traveler and came across an article about the romantic people of Paris. This quote caught my eye:
"Long-standing couples in France labor to impress one another. Nothing is taken for granted, so everything is earned."
I'm part of a long-standing couple and I wouldn't say my man has been laboring to impress me lately. But then again, maybe I've been taking him for granted. What do the French know about spicing up relationships that we Americans don't?

Apparently, in France everyone flirts for the fun and intellectual challenge of it. And in contrast to the U.S., all women - regardless of age or marital status - are considered fair game. While this titillating interplay doesn't necessarily lead anywhere, there's always the implication that it might. The constant competition makes everyone try a little harder in the amour department, even married couples.

I think the French are onto something. I'm a happily married mother of two and I'm no ingenue, but I like the possibility of being a romantic target. And I really like the idea of my husband putting out some extra effort to woo me. So how does a 40-something cook up some French style flirtation around here?

We definitely aren't too old for it. The French have a long history of considering women of a "certain age" as desirable. French women expect to have lots of sex their whole lives, and statistics show that they do. The Washington Post reported that French women in their 50's and 60's are more sexually active than their American counterparts. The mature mesdames act the part - they buy luxurious lingerie, dress seductively, and flirt.

The purpose of flirting isn't to hook up, it's to enjoy the pure potential of the moment. And if we follow the example of our Frenchy friends we can flirt with anyone - waiters, college students, the guy sitting across from us on the bus. The whole point of it is to feel a bit more desirable, a part of the game. So shoot the bank teller a smoldering glance, lean in close and flatter your son's soccer coach. It's all in good fun. And maybe your long-standing partner will get in on the action as well.

For more on this topic, check out French Women Don't Sleep Alone by Jamie Cat Callan.


pebbles said...

That's what i miss about living in NYC! The streets are all about innocent flirting - maybe I'm just remembering fondly those days of my '20's and '30's?? But no, even at 42, I think that it gives this married woman a bit of a "lift" when I catch a handsome stranger's eye as we pass each other on the street. Nothing is said, nothing is pursued, but a little look and a smile - it's nice.

celticred63 said...

Flirting can be fun, but I've always felt that French (or other European) men and women can get away with it because they have a different understanding of it than we do here. I suspect if I engaged in even "innocent" flirting, it would be misinterpreted as a come-on and not friendly or playful. Plus, I'm a newlywed (for the second time) and wildly in love with my husband. I've got no inclination to flirt with anyone but him, and IN PUBLIC if nobody minds! I'm happy to keep practicing on him, and throw in a few PDA's while we're at it.

Marjie Killeen said...

If you and your husband are still flirting with each other you're in good shape. Rock on!