I’m an 18-year-old woman, recently asked out by a handsome, charming 34-year-old guy from France. He took me out to a nice restaurant, and everything was wonderful until he admitted that he has a girlfriend, though he explained that they always fight and break up. He said he isn’t ready to leave or cheat on her, but he is very attracted to me and wants to keep seeing me platonically to see where our “relationship” goes. I believe him but feel like some second option. After dinner, we ended up making out in his car. Things were going WAY too far, so I had him take me home. I really like him, but I don’t want to waste my time wanting someone who already has someone, even if he is “confused” about her. –Disturbed
Some men take their monogamy very seriously: “I’m not ready to cheat on my girlfriend. But I might be ready after dessert.”
Yes, the guy reeled you in like a dazed trout, but you shouldn’t feel too bad about that. In addition to his being an experienced 34 to your inexperienced 18, he’s also French. If there’s a French national sport, it’s probably seduction. (Note that nobody calls making out “North Korean kissing.”) French seducers are particularly good at romantic spin, like how this guy told you he wants to “keep seeing you platonically,” which, it seems, is French for “grope you behind the restaurant in a car.”
The French also tend to be more relaxed about the boundaries of monogamy. In a Pew Research Center poll, when asked whether an affair is “morally unacceptable,” only 47 percent of French people said it is, compared with 87 percent of Americans. Former French President Francois Mitterrand’s wife even invited his mistress to his funeral, where they stood together over his coffin. Still, even in France, there are lines you just don’t cross. In the words of actor Yves Montand: “I think a man can have two, maybe three affairs while he is married. But three is the absolute maximum. After that, you are cheating.”
Unfortunately, you missed your cue to activate the ejection seat – the point at which the guy mentioned having a girlfriend. A guy with a girlfriend is a guy who is not available. Not even if he says they’re on-and-off and suggests sampling you as a way of deciding whether they should be off-and-off. The problem is, there’s a time when this sort of clarity comes more easily, and it isn’t when you’re in the heat of the moment, having your culottes charmed off by Jean-Claude the Seducer.
You need to go into a date with a set of standards – standards you come up with ahead of time for what you will and won’t accept. If, for example, one of these is “Never become somebody’s backup sex,” it won’t matter that the man in question is very attracted to you and says so with a French accent. As France’s big gift to the United States, the Statue of Liberty, says on its base: “Give me your tired,” not your “tired of their girlfriends.”
©2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon. Order Amy Alkon’s new book, Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck (St. Martin’s Press, June 3, 2014).