Ooh La La! … Loving like the French

File:Jean-Honoré Fragonard - La lettre d'amour.jpg

I recently read an article that suggested American women would be much happier in relationships if they learned to love like French women. The reason for this, according to the author, is that French women enter into relationships, and love, without expectation.

We American women, apparently, are so goal-oriented in everything we do, that a businesslike approach has flowed over into our relationships. When we meet, and date, a new guy, we cut right to the chase, laying it all out on the table:  our expectations, our wants, our desires, our relationship failures, basically our life plan. Heck, all that’s left to share is our tax returns! By the time the first date is over, our potential partner knows everything we expect to gain from the relationship. Love, in the U.S., is hard work!File:Maud-Muller-Brown.jpeg

French women, apparently, are much more circumspect. They are less inclined to wonder if their date is going to be a good husband/lover/provider/father. They go with the flow, entering into relationships wholeheartedly, leaping in feet first, reveling in the experience, the mystery, the possibility, the excitement of it all. I liken this to the way I approached relationships when I was younger, and the way I see my teenager entering relationships. There was no fear that the relationship would end badly, that I would be hurt, that this person was anything but the guy I would spend the rest of my life with. Young love is nothing if not optimistic.

On the other hand, American women don’t like to be hurt, so we avoid it any way we can. That means making measured choices in love as well as in our work. French women may cry, rant, and scream, before they shrug and say “C’est la vie!” For the French, the possibility of heartbreak is all a part of the journey. You can’t experience such tragic lows if you haven’t allowed yourself to reach tremendous highs.

While I don’t necessarily agree one hundred per cent with the description of how American women approach love, I do see an element of truth in it. So it makes me think…how will my heroine approach love? Will she throw herself into it whole-heartedly, throwing caution to the wind, or will she carefully consider whether the hero measures up to her expectations of a life partner? Is she from a family of optimists, or an optimist in a family of pessimists? How does this approach to love inform the storyline? Will the hero love her in spite of her approach to love, or because of it?

As a reader, to which do you relate — the cautious heroine, or the devil-may-care heroine? Would you rather read about a heroine who allows the hero to break through her protective walls, or the heroine whose love scales the highest peaks, with no fear that she will come crashing down to earth?



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