(Photo by momentummoonlight.com)
Dating a Frenchman
A question that many have asked out of curiosity, yet one that few non-French speaking people can answer. As an English native speaker, I can assure you that never did I ever expect to be dating someone who didn’t speak English as their first language.
Our romance started when I embarked on a French Exchange with my college. From a few awkward meals together with his family, we eventually had a few hours alone (in a nightclub of all places!) where the conversation was awkward at best. Aside from the obvious noise issues due to being in the nightclub, there were some problems with language. We spent the evening speaking about music and other things that we liked but the language barrier made it difficult to clearly communicate, because I was nervous and my French was limping, and his English as broken and a little “maladroit”. After I left France, we stayed in contact and the spark was still there.
The first few months were quite difficult because we were so far apart. Obviously with most relationships, the couple are together most of the time. It’s as simple as taking a bus and meeting them less than an hour later. But with Flo and I, it wasn’t as easy as that. We had to suffice with Facebook messages and Skype video chats. My sister and I went over to visit during Easter 2014, and I also went over and did some work experience with Flo’s mum in a primary school. These trips made it easier, but it was still tough sometimes.
(Emily & Flo)
A year and a half down the line and things are going strong. In August 2014 Flo moved over to England, got a job and found some accommodation. We’ve been on holiday together, we’ve been on lots of days out together and we plan to move in together next year in Paris, as I will be going to university in the city centre. I’m really excited to live with him, and I think it will be full of challenges and exciting adventures.
But, the relationship has had its pitfalls. There have been numerous instances where English idioms, sarcasm and tongue in cheek humour has failed Flo. There’ve also been some occasions where Flo hasn’t communicated his ideas properly, which meant that I completely misinterpreted what he wanted to say, which has caused several arguments.
However it’s not all been terrible and full of arguments. Many people say that French is the language of love, and they are absolutely correct. Flo has said some beautiful things to me in French which would not have had the same effect in English, and both of our second languages have improved to a near fluent level.
(Emily & Flo)
Moreover, since he moved to England, we have obviously been on several dates, which has been so much fun because we’ve been able to speak in French whilst surrounded by people who speak English. It’s been fun to giggle about things together and have nobody understand what we’re speaking about. I would definitely say that it has brought us closer together as a couple. It reminds me of when young siblings make up a secret language to speak so that their parents can’t understand them. Flo and I’s next challenge together will be learning ‘esperanto’, which is a language spoken by few (in comparison to French or English let’s say), meaning that we have another language in our arsenal with which we can communicate.
I have obviously had an advantage with this relationship because I speak French, but dating someone foreign has not been as daunting as it first seemed. Flo’s circumstances have evidently facilitated things, as he was able to move house and come to England. To anybody with concerns about dating someone who doesn’t speak your first language, I’d say 100% go for it, because it opens you up to another culture and the fun you’ll have learning about each other and learning about yourself too.
Emily Wade is an 18 year old student from the north of England. I will be studying French at university in Paris in the next few years, and I enjoy languages, art and philosophy. Follow her on Instagram at https://instagram.com/spookyplacenta/