OK, is it just me or is this weird? I cannot figure French Guy out. I know he seems to like me - he keeps asking me out - and when he's with me he seems to enjoy my company.
And yet he hasn't... uh... made a move. Nothing. Not a kiss, other than the Frenchie-2-cheek-bise. Not an arm around my shoulders. Not even an attempt to hold my hand. What's up with that?
On top of this... he never pays for anything (well, barely). We're in France, but we are apparently "going Dutch". Is that normal? I know I work and earn my own money and I have no trouble sharing some of the finances in a relationship, but we are not yet IN a relationship and therefore I believe it is customary for the man to pick up the tab, at least some of the time, during the early dates? So far the only thing he's paid for was the one drink I had with him the first night we met. Since then... rien.
Last Sunday night, we talked on the phone for quite a while, and agreed we would do something together on Saturday or Sunday, and he was supposed to call me later in the week to talk about the what, when and where. He called at 6:05pm on Saturday evening as I was getting ready to meet some friends since, by that late hour, I'd basically written French Guy off for the evening. But he called and suggested we could go to see the sunset view from the top of Tour Montparnasse, if I had not already seen it. I hadn't, and thought that sounded great. He said he thought he could be in my neighborhood to meet me at around 8:15pm (he lives in the 'burbs so it's a bit of a commute). Shortly before 8pm my phone rings, and I think it's going to be him saying he's just down the street at the metro station. Yes, it's him, but he says he won't be there for another NINETY MINUTES. Which means around 9:30pm. [sigh]
Talk about keeping a girl hanging (around). Not cool, and he didn't offer an explanation.
He arrived at just before 9:30, and we hopped the bus to Montparnasse. There, we stood in line for a long time (as usual, lines move slowly in France), and by the time we got to the top it was 10:15. (Note: I paid for my own ticket. He went to pay first and only gave the ticket girl enough money for ONE. So there you go. That was the first thing he's done I didn't really care for. And another mixed signal that is perhaps NOT so mixed.) I will say, the view is worth the wait, though, especially at night. We missed the sunset, of course, because he was so late. But we enjoyed seeing the 360-degree view from the open-air roof, and the weather was truly perfect for such an outing. The Eiffel looks even prettier from that vantage point, when it sparkles at the top of the hour, too.
Now... call me old-fashioned but I would have thought that having a girl in such a romantic place as this, with all Paris at one's feet, that one would have made some sort of romantic gesture if one were interested in said girl. ANYTHING... I mean, stand shoulder-to-shoulder as you're gazing out over the city identifying famous landmarks. Hold a girl's hand while you are admiring the stars while standing smack dab in the center of the helicopter landing pad. Do SOMETHING.
But... nothing. I'm thinking... well, maybe he's not so interested now. I mean, I wore the right shoes this time, but maybe the right shoes aren't enough to sweep a boy off his feet these days (hah).
Then he asked me, if I wasn't doing anything Sunday, perhaps I would care for a walk in the Parc de Saint Cloud (advising me, with a laugh, to wear very good walking shoes - seems my footwear has become our little private joke). So I'm thinking, OK, he MUST like me... maybe he's just a little shy and maybe spending a little more time together will give him (and me, too) more to go on, to decide if there is perhaps "something there".
Sometimes, I think there is; other times, I am clearly unclear.
We agree to meet at 1pm at a particular spot in Saint Cloud, a short walk for me from the bus stop. By now it is around 11:30pm and we have descended from the tower, and I'm thinking we will go to get a drink or a late bite to eat as we had talked about having dinner when we made our plans. But he is looking anxiously at his watch and I realize he has to leave in order to avoid being stranded in Paris if he misses his last train home. So... I walk him to the metro, and we bise-bise goodbye until tomorrow.
Am I imagining it, or are the bise-bises getting a little softer, a little closer to the lips, and lingering just a fraction of a second longer than necessary if you're "just friends"?
I get to the bus stop in Saint Cloud and as I am checking the local map to see where this street is that I need to meet him at, I hear a scooter behind me, turn around, and it's French Guy. Surprised, laughing, he parks and locks up the bike and off we walk (the bise-bise much the same as last night, I might add... just a hair more intimate than usual. I notice he smells really good, just a touch of cologne of some kind, and I can detect a whiff of minty freshness on his breath. Ideas run a-muck through my head...)
The Parc is very grand, and I mean that in both the French and English senses of the word - both large and spectacular in its way. I'm sure we only saw a fraction of it, and it would have been even better had all of the amazing fountains been running, but much like they only run the fountains at Versailles on Sundays, I'm sure it's a water conservation tactic.
Walking in this park was definitely more of a hike - it's very hilly and to get to the two best vantage points where you have a great view over Paris, you have to work at it (unless you came by car). He got to see a less attractive side of me, that's for sure - it was hot, clear, sunny day, we climbed some very steep slopes, and I'm not in the best shape. But he seemed to take it in stride, having to stop once in a while to catch my breath or watch me wipe sweat off my face. In a totally feminine, lady-like way of course. And I did not whine about any of it, either. It was good exercise.
So we're walking, and talking in both French and English, stopping occasionally so he can look up a word in the dictionary he brought with him. We admired the great views. Eventually around 2:30 we stopped for a light lunch in one of the two restaurants located within the park. I deliberately choose something very inexpensive, thinking if he was going to pay for lunch, and I know he might have a limited budget, I didn't want to make it difficult for him.
We enjoyed our lunch, with a side order of a lovely view over the park's many terraces. When I excuse myself for a moment, and then return, his face lights up when he sees me again -- I have noticed he always looks pleased to see me in that way. So, he likes me, right? Then the bill is presented by our serveuse, to Monsieur, of course. Because apparently in France the waitresses also assume the man is going to pay. Especially if he is happy to see the woman.
He looks at the check. I do not reach for my wallet. He pulls out... some money. Then, he slides the check over to me so I can calculate MY portion of the meal. He does not appear in the least embarrassed by this.
OK, now this is not only confusing to me, but it is pissing me off a little bit. I say nothing, of course, because I am now going on the assumption that maybe he just enjoys my company as a friend, or a language-exchange buddy... although we DID meet on a dating web site.
As we are continuing our walk through the park, stopping at a little bookstore where I bought a postcard of the Grande Cascade, French Guy confuses me further by asking if I would like to come over for dinner one night during the coming week.
At his mother's house. We could enjoy dinner in the gardens there, he says.
I momentarily panic thinking, "He wants me to meet his MOTHER? What the hell?" until I remembered that he told me his mother had left that morning for two weeks at a seaside spa (lucky lady!)
Then I really did not know what to make of that invitation. Had there been any physical contact between us by this point, I would not think it so odd, but he had me alone in the park all day (where we observed -- and he commented on -- several couples clearly lounging on the grass in various intimate poses) and he never touched me, other than once or twice to touch my shoulder, checking for sunburn. Is this strange invitation his way of leading up to finally "making a move"? And if so, just how MUCH of a move are we talking about here? (I should state that he does not live with his mother, or so he says. He says he has an apartment not far from where she lives, in Saint Cloud also.)
But is it not strange that he should invite me to a secluded dinner alone at his mother's house when up until now there has been no strong indication of any romantic interest, other than the occasional "vibe" I seem to get from him (yet another reason I'm confused). I sincerely do not know what to make of all of this, and as I left the park and we said our goodbyes at the bus stop (I had plans to see a movie with a friend later which was my "escape hatch", and by this time I had too much sun and too much French Guy confusion, and NO "sweet lovin'" as one Frenchie I know would call it. Not so much as a foot massage in sight. I'm happy he's not the kind of guy who would just try and climb all over me, but at this point I have no idea WHAT to think anymore. It's not very flattering, not having him try anything.
So I think what I am dealing with is one of several realities here:
(a) He is interested, but he is just plain cheap. Even when he likes a girl he expects her to pay her own way. Because even a guy on a limited budget could afford to buy his date a 9.50 ticket to the observation deck of a tall building when he made the invitation in the first place. This is two dates now where he's paid for NOTHING despite being the one to do the inviting. (Yes, if I invited him somewhere special I would expect to pay his way, too. I'm not a total diva, you know.)
(b) There is some strange French cultural thing going on here that I do not understand, where not only will a French guy not kiss you unless he really likes you and wants it to be serious (as has been suggested to me previously) but he also won't start paying for things the two of you do together until you are officially "a couple". Whatever that means. If this is true then someone better tell me now because clearly I am then literally in Gallic no-man's land without a translator. (FWaB , where are you when I need you? I know, I know... off taking photos of phallic symbols found randomly in nature...) I somehow doubt this is the case however -- that there is some odd French dating custom where men won't pick up the tab -- because I have some single non-French friends here dating French guys who pay for EVERYTHING.
(c) He really does just want to be friends and language-exchange buddies. That would be OK if I understood that was what he wanted and no more, but like I said there are these vibes, these looks, these comments. Very strange.
(d) He does like me and he does want to be more than friends, but he is totally clueless when it comes to women and dating protocol, and none of this has anything whatsoever to do with cultural differences (language barrier between us notwithstanding). He is a nice guy, I can still vouch for that, and a gentleman in every other respect so far. But if it's none of the above, then it's this. And if this is HIS idea of a great, promising relationship, that's not so great either because it is certainly NOT mine. I shouldn't have to teach a nearly 35-year old man how to treat a lady he likes. Maybe there is a good reason why he's 35 and unattached. Cluelessness will do that to a guy, every time.
Cast your vote and feel free to write in your alternate suggestions. Let's see what we come up with.
Having said that, I am 75% of the way to deciding that as cute as he is and as nice as he is, and even while I do enjoy his company, he is going to be too much work and I'm not sure there's enough of a pay-off in it for me. The language barrier is work, although it's fun to a point. But while I am all for emotional growth as a byproduct of a relationship, I don't think educational growth is all that romantic. The fact that he lives at a distance and rarely comes into the city, and his job schedule is such that we would not see each other very often, makes this feel like a lot of work. There's the fact that, whatever the reason, after three encounters I am no closer to having any idea of what he is looking for from me, if anything at all. And I have no idea how to bring up the subject, either. Bottom line: I had been very intrigued by French Guy, felt that there was some attraction there between us, or at least on my part, but this is starting to be less and less attractive of an arrangement. The "magic" is wearing off already. I suspect that we are not very compatible after all. Maybe we want different things, have different expectations, are at different places in our lives. As nice as he is as a person, if this is going to be something where I am in the position of being the teacher, the leader, the adult, the mommy, or whatever it is that happens to a woman when the man she's with isn't at the same level in most respects... that's not what I want or need in my life.
So that's where it stands right now. I don't know if I'm going to bother going to this suggested "dinner at Chez Maman" because that kind of feels not right to me. Not that I don't trust him or can't handle him, but it doesn't feel right that he would have guests at his mother's house when she's out of town; it sort of feels like when you were 17 and your mom and dad went away, and how you'd want to plan some bitchin' party that the entire school would be talking about for weeks afterward. And he's not 17, and neither am I.
You know, men are confusing enough sometimes, even when you speak the same language. This is giving me a headache, all these mixed signals. Of course, HJNTIY lore would tell us that there ARE no "mixed signals" - either a guy is really into you and is going to let you know it, in no uncertain terms, so that you are never left hanging, left dangling, left wondering how he feels about you -- or he's not, in which case he's really not that into you.
The problem is, have these French Guys read that book?