petite anglaise

June 19, 2006

in the company of men

Filed under: good time girl, single life — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:11 pm

I am meeting two old university friends at a pub by Hammersmith bridge, and I squint through my sunglasses at the swarms of drinkers soaking up the last lazy rays of the day by the riverside, fervently hoping it will not be too difficult to spot them. A little of my schoolgirl shyness tends to rear its timid head when I find myself scanning a crowd for familiar faces.

As it happens I needn’t have worried, there they are, pints of lager in hand, propping up a wall in front of me. I grin widely, enquire as to the whereabouts of their girlfriends, who are conspicuously absent, then deliberate about what to drink. The afternoon – spent with a handful of “friends I met on the internet” – has drifted by in a comfortable haze of Pimms and lemonade. Pacing myself has now become imperative.

We shoot the breeze while I pick at my pub food (fish, chips and mushy peas, my second platter of the weekend, which tasted all the better for being eaten outdoors), and I realise with a pang how much I have been missing platonic male company.

Back in my university days, with the exception of one special girlfriend, my closest friends were male. There was rarely any ambiguity in these relationships, as I was seeing someone for much of the time, as were they. The contents of our underwear were therefore refreshingly irrelevant. So many memories from that happy time make me smile when I replay them in my head. We were on the same wavelength. Our friendships were marvellously uncomplicated, yet rarely shallow or superficial. And in the case of present company, they proved to be enduring.

Arriving in France, and, in particular, falling in with a French crowd when I met Mr Frog, I realised that being “one of the lads” was no longer a very popular option. However well I might hit it off with his male friends, they remained his property. If there were girlfriends in tow, I was expected to gravitate naturally toward them, leaving the boys to their own conversations. On the rare occasions when I did allow myself to indulge in a little harmless banter with one of the boys present, his girlfriend was liable to frown and place an impeccably manicured, restraining hand on his arm, silently voicing her disapproval. Despite my own attached status, I was, in some way, perceived as a threat.

I do have a few male friends, these days. They are invariably expats. Or gay. Or gay expats. Which does little to dispel my theory. I resolve, hurtling back to France on my Eurostar, to seek them out more often.

Because for all her eleven years in France, this petite anglaise will never change her English ways. And she still yearns to be one of the lads. Sometimes.


  1. Tell me about it! Male/female friendships seem so hard to maintain. Im lucky enough to count as one of my best friends a fantastic lad but it has not always been easy – had to ignore in the first place his obvious “interest” in me for one thing. But now it’s perfect. Also I tend to get on well with my girl friends’ boyfriends.
    Still, there’s this guy at the moment with whom I’d love to be friends, for whom I care loads, and who will not have any of this just because we were together some time ago, not for very long at that. And I find that very sad to be always caught in either date-or-nothing-kinds of relationships with guys, and especially with him. I think that guys and girls alike would benefit from such relationships a lot if only they could be bothered to go beyond the “seduction” stage -oh well, “boys will be boys”, won’t they?!

    Comment by karen — June 19, 2006 @ 10:27 pm

  2. I hear you. It’s really unfortunate that the female romantic partner sometimes perceives friendly conversation as threatening. But like you pointed out, the attached men often do make the best friends, since any immediate sexual tension must be put at bay.

    Comment by BlondebutBright — June 19, 2006 @ 10:42 pm

  3. My best week-end of the year – till now – was, by far, the one I spend as the only girl among seven male friends. Games, jokes and alcohol… This could be a very pleasant hen night… if I wasn’t already married
    ^ ^

    Comment by Dingue Marmotte — June 19, 2006 @ 10:56 pm

  4. That is part of your charms, is it not ?

    Comment by Negrito — June 19, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

  5. i miss my uni brit blokes too! sadly most of them have since moved AWAY from the UK..

    Comment by piu piu — June 19, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

  6. Ah, I so understand! And I often enjoy hanging out with men more than women. Last monday I was out drinking with a new work friend and his girlfriend texted him, rather upset that he wasn’t home. I asked if he wanted to leave and he said that he was already in trouble so he might as well stay. . .

    It made me laugh that I was the drinking buddy, given the times my boyfriend has been the ass that hadn’t come home.

    It is a lot more fun being the drinking buddy,

    I love men friends. Gay, straight- it don’t matter. They’re fantasic. Although- I REALLY need a gay boyfriend in London. I’m just saying,

    Comment by Nicole — June 19, 2006 @ 11:51 pm

  7. I can almost see those pubs out of the window of my flat, where I type this – I WOULD be able to see them if I risked a 20 foot drop to crane dangerously far out over the sill. They are among my favourite places to drink, and what a lovely weekend for it too.

    Comment by The B — June 19, 2006 @ 11:57 pm

  8. I’ve never really wanted to be/felt like I was, one of the lads – even though I am a lad – am strange me.

    Comment by andre — June 20, 2006 @ 12:30 am

  9. Pimms, the company of non-threatning men, greasy pub food—what more could a girl ask for!! Enjoy your time in London Petite!

    Comment by Just Dazzle — June 20, 2006 @ 12:38 am

  10. I’m with you. I remember this: LJ and seven guys from my highschool, sitting around a huge farm table, drinking beer and playing Asshole. I miss those days sometimes.

    Comment by LJ — June 20, 2006 @ 1:14 am

  11. It’s refreshing to be in male company. It is funny how in different parts of the world you have different dynamics. In Canada all except one friend is female, and when I am in Buenos Aires all except one friend is male. Go figure?

    Comment by Holly — June 20, 2006 @ 1:48 am

  12. ” I realised that being “one of the lads” was no longer a very popular option.”

    For once Petite, I have to disagree here. It is not expecially difficult nor disapproved to be one of the lads in France. You may have been unlucky to be with girlfriends seeing you as a threat (or maybe a little paranoid?) but that is only one case, not a general statement.
    Many girls have male friends in France either, be they already involved with girlfriends.

    Comment by Miss Pink — June 20, 2006 @ 2:32 am

  13. Hang onto your male friends as long as you can. I used to have lots of male friends when I was in my teens, 20’s and 30’s, but as we all got older and my male friends started to get married, they literally disappeared off the face of the earth. Or so I am forced to assume based on their conspicuous absence in my life. I hope your male friends are better able than mine, to juggle having you as a friend even if they “get serious” with some woman… in my experience they’re just not able to do it most of the time.

    I really miss having male friends, too. I never had brothers and I just loved the friendly, occasionally and harmlessly flirtatious, and often off-color repartée I could have with my men friends. Like the time over a male coworker asked me, in all seriousness, if I would mind doing an informal survey of the married women who worked out with me in the gym because he had “read somewhere” that married women who have affairs are more likely to have affairs with other WOMEN than with men. After I got done shooting iced tea out through my nose in disbelief (that was a bit “out there” even for one of MY friends), I looked at him straight in the eye and said, “You are full of sh**; you never read that anywhere. It’s just another example of the fascination you men have with girl-on-girl action.”

    The way his face got beet-red was all the response I needed. And no, I never did do that “survey” for him.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — June 20, 2006 @ 4:19 am

  14. I’ve been thinking this same thing lately about male companionship. I too really enjoy the company of “the guys.” But it is so tricky. The attraction and girlfriend issues. Ugh. Anyway, I am happy to hear that you enjoyed a night with the lads. I guess we must enjoy it while we have it!

    Comment by Bernadette — June 20, 2006 @ 4:42 am

  15. I realised as I was writing this post, and reading some of the first comments, that maybe having male friends and hanging out with a large crowd of males was particular to school/university life rather than whether I lived in England or France.

    I can only speak from my own experience, and obviously the people I met will not be representative of everyone’s experience in France, but I’m standing by it. In my case, at least, making good male French friends has been very difficult.

    I’d be very interested to hear what some of my other long term French expat readers have to say on the subject.

    Comment by petite — June 20, 2006 @ 7:47 am

  16. I don’t know what its like in France but here in Italy I’ve found it quite easy to have good male friends. In fact all my oldest friendships are with men. I’ve also been lucky that they’ve all paired up with intelligent girls who don’t see me as a threat (and who I’m very friendly with as well).

    In England I didn’t have any particular male friends as I went to an all girls school and didn’t go to university so it was very refreshing to come here and make those kinds of friendships.

    Glad you had a great weekend!

    Comment by Hazy — June 20, 2006 @ 9:08 am

  17. Someone once said to me that the French relate everything to sex. This seems a little extreme, but….it is true that French girls are very “coquine” (transl. cute and flirty) and boys/men look you up and down and classify you in their own private eligibility file. This does mean that most French men are going to look at you and compliment you but also that they’ll probably try it on sooner or later. And woe betide the single girl who attempts to make friends. Most women are wary of female newcomer, especially those of the petite anglaise variety( the accent! the hair! the drinking!).
    Its just the way they are. I find that I do have very good male friends here now, and not all gay! They are men who are settled and happy with themselves and with their idea of me.
    And let’s admit it – admiration is good for the soul sometimes. In Northwich you have to wait until a man has downed 6 pints before he acknowledges your presence!

    Comment by Flighty — June 20, 2006 @ 9:11 am

  18. *sigh*: Petite, I know the feeling. */sigh*

    (And I lived and studied in Slovenia before moving to Germany.)
    I still (subconsciously) tend to avoid women and prefer talking to their men or my husband, though there are exceptions. I even proclaim from time to time “I don’t like women” and it often happens that I get “Neither do I” as an answer – from women.

    Comment by alcessa — June 20, 2006 @ 9:21 am

  19. Have to say that I disagree with Miss Pink, as my experiences are similar to Petite’s. Yes French women do have platonic male friends but the dynamic is different, and also changes as to when their, or more accurately their manfriend’s, partner is present. Playful flirtation seems to be seen as less ‘dangerous’ than meaningful conversations – intellectual/emotional intimacy perceived as a threat. In a similar vein; do French women perceive other women as more of a potential rival then their English counterparts? Or are the ‘perfides albionnes’ dissimilating their true ‘instincts’, as demonstrating their possessiveness (how many s’s?!) would show insecurity thence a sign of weakness. Would welcome feedback from French women living in UK/US re this example of cultural difference. Even further off down the tangent, in many cultures, a woman who is too friendly with men is despised by other women and by society in general, hence some rather amusing/embarassing misundertandings/faux pas for the men from these cultures on moving to the UK.
    Anyway, twirly for philosophising so will shut up now.

    Comment by J — June 20, 2006 @ 9:59 am

  20. Yes Flighty, and Frenchmen living in US/UK don’t halve learn quickly to stop doing it.
    On first moving to France some poor unsuspecting male nearly got his face slapped as us Brits do not like being given the onceover – well this one didn’t anyway!

    Petite: have you read ‘sacré français’?

    Comment by J — June 20, 2006 @ 10:04 am

  21. This post rings so true. When I was with my (French) ex I loved hanging out with his friends. When I dumped him, they all dumped me. And now I really miss hanging out with men. And when I do I am always worried they will bring their girlfriends – not that I have anything against them having girlfriends – it’s just that group dynamic in France changes so much when there are other women in the group. one girl and lots of boys OK. One girl, lots of boys and then another girl – weird competitive tense atmosphere springs up. Or am I imagining it?

    Not being very articulate I know, but that’s my take on the whole thing.

    Comment by Cheria — June 20, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  22. “I’d be very interested to hear what some of my other long term French expat readers have to say on the subject.”

    I’m home again now, but I did the ex-pat thing for eight years as you know.

    I think- as perhaps both sides of the channel, but particularly in France, where social norms are much more evident- it often depends on the conversation opener. In France men approach(ed) me in a way that let me know I could take it either way. Intellectual conversation, but quite flirtatious at times. It’s the frog way…(!)

    I used to take them up on the offer of good quality conversation more than the flirtation, except for the very special ones. If a man’s flirtation’s brave, personalised, it’s safe to respond…. but you know that.

    I’m pointing out that so much depends on the conversation opener and the first days. Let him know you want to cultivate a one to one friendship and that you value his emotional intelligence, ( not lacking in France) and his analysis in your life, rather than the jump into bed experience as readily available in Paris as the boulanger.
    I found alot of men were keen to be friends and soulmates. More than in emotionally clueless England in fact !

    Comment by fjl — June 20, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  23. Petite, I have been in France for years now and I think there is a difference in relations between the sexes in France and in “Anglo-Saxon” countries. It really is harder here. Everything pushes one toward a sexualization of relations between men and women.

    My first year here, in spite of my being gay and showing no interest in women (or perhaps because of it) I was locked in a bathroom with a woman at a party. I guess we couldn’t just be friends because she was being pushed to “couple up” with someone.

    Thanks for what you say about gay men and especially gay expats. Please know that we feel the same about women and appreciate their company.

    Comment by Lost in France — June 20, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

  24. Petite and Flighty, I beg to differ. I have had a different but maybe not typical experience.
    In fact if I didn’t have 2 young children, right now I would be in a camper van in Germany watching football with 6 male French friends (including my husband). They were his friends first, granted. But over the past 17 years, they have become mine too.
    And before everyone fled Paris for the suburbs, provinces and kids, I would go out and get drunk with them even if my husband wasn’t there.
    There has never been the slightest bit of flirtation between us.
    I was just seen as a bit of an exotic novelty by being
    a) English
    and b) a female who liked beer and could drink as much as them.

    Comment by Mancunian lass — June 20, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

  25. I know exactly what you mean Petite. I’ve been in Paris for 5 years, and France for 7, and I work in IT. When I came here first I had exclusively male friends, as we were all young and single and liked drinking in Bastille… and I couldn’t relate to the rare girls I worked with cause their idea of a night out as a meal in a restaurant and a glass of perrier… which bored me to tears cause you only talk to the people immediately beside or opposite you. At least in a bar you talk to everyone (cause we never sat down) and complete strangers too. Needless to say, I remained single a very very very long time, as men don’t tend to chat up the only girl in a crowd of 5 or 6 guys…

    Anyway, as time went by, the guys got girlfriends who invariably forbade them from seeing me, or staying over (which everyone did, platonically, cause I’d a huge flat in the 13th at the time). And the guys eventually split up with them and came back to the group.

    Then I got a boyfriend, and noticed exactly what you did. When I meet his friends who are mostly in couples, the girls are expected to talk to the girls and the boys to the boys. They all deny this, but it’s what happens. And i gravitate to the boys out of habit, and it seems to confuse them. My boyfriend even sent me away asking why was I being so clingy, it’s not like me! And the girls drink perrier and cook and clean, while the boys drink punch and ricard and have fun.

    Lately my boys have developed serious seeming girlfriends and I hardly ever see them. When they come out on their own, it’s just like before until they have to go home early cause they’ll be killed, and when they bring the little ladies, they behave like strangers, watching their behaviour, being careful not to talk to me too much… and theres no point in explaining to these girls how stupid it is being jealous of a 5 year friendship, or that since we were all single at the same time for a long time, had we wanted something to happen, it would have happened long ago, cause they don’t seem to understand.

    As i get older, I can’t handle the nights in bars the way I used to. I’m not really up to working the rest of the week. So I try to keep it to ends of weeks and the rest of the time I’m gravitating more to the restaurants, though I draw the line at the perrier, I still have my beers or glasses of wine. But I still resent that my male friends aren’t allowed be friends anymore, and that i’m expected to hang with girls.

    I think it’s probably more a problem due to our drinking culture which leads to behaviour patterns, than that I don’t like the girls. But I relate better to the guys. Funny, no? I had mixed friends at home. I miss that.

    Comment by C — June 20, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

  26. I can’t comment about French women in France, but most of my friends are male (mainly met through my boyfriend) and the French girlfriend of a particularly close friend shows no jealousy towards me. We’re all one big happy family and all the banter that I suppose the jealous types perceive as flirting just adds to the fun.

    I have lost only male friend to his partner. She was (is) a very needy and girly girl and felt threatened by my (and my other few girlfriends) confidence around men. So what am I trying to say? I like hanging out with people I find funny and that I have a lot in comon with, I don’t discriminate on sex. It’s just I tend to find this with men more than women.

    Comment by hmmm — June 20, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

  27. ooh and the pubs on the river at Hammersmith are lovely! They filmed Sliding Doors there I’ll have you know.

    Comment by hmmm — June 20, 2006 @ 12:56 pm

  28. So people have touched on it but no-one’s explained it yet. You have male friends: male friends get married: male friends disappear from your life. So what’s causing it? Male friends being so in love with new wife that they don’t have time for anyone else. Or. Male friends’ new wives “discouraging” the old relationships.

    Come on married people – spill your beans.

    Comment by Miss Nomer — June 20, 2006 @ 1:37 pm

  29. Since school the majority of my friends have always been men. At uni I was one of 2 girls living with 9 boys, and despite the squallor I loved it – we were like one big familly! However my current boyfriend finds it impossible to understand the relationship I have with these boys, firmly believing that boys can’t be friends with girls, that they all must have an alternative motive. Thank god he doesn’t know I’ve slept with any of them previously..

    Comment by Cara — June 20, 2006 @ 1:40 pm

  30. Last year I was in high school in France and found that most of my friends were girls, whereas in the US most of my friends were guys…

    Comment by Alessandra — June 20, 2006 @ 1:45 pm

  31. tell me one thing my friend why it is believed that maintaining the friendship between boy and girl is hard!

    Comment by Mary — June 20, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

  32. Just realised I may have been a bit confusing… In summary, I agree, french girls make it difficult to remain friends with French men, french girls aren’t as much fun so not a great substitute (though some of them are very nice) and I miss the mixed sex group of friends I had back home.

    And to simplify, I think it’s all down to french girls not getting pissed enough. Though i have mixed feeling about it cause I do get embarrased when I bring french friends home and they see how pissed we get… so im just a mass of contradictions and I really shouldn’t be commenting here.

    Comment by C — June 20, 2006 @ 2:51 pm

  33. Interesting, as my situation is similar in that I only have one or two male friends that I am close with, but have several female friends that I am closer to. My wife is generally not the jealous type, save for one of them. (Even though she lives over 400 miles away) I can understand that, as this particualr friend is drop dead gorgeous. We are just that though: friends. She is very easy to talk to, and is someone I can confide things in about issues that I simply can’t talk to my wife about. (Especially when they involve troubles between us.)

    I think that this allows me to be able to get a woman’s point of view, which when it comes to relationships, can be helpful at times.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — June 20, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

  34. Oh let me clairfy……..I only have one wife….it is the friend that lives 400 miles away…….;-)

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — June 20, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

  35. I too had mostly male friends at uni. I have also had mainly male friends whenever I have been single. It has only been once I have been in a relationship that I have found that invisible lines seem to be drawn, particularly amongst couples, encouraging the women to be friends with each other and the men with the other men. It’s such a waste, particularly as much of the time the men look like they’d be much more fun to hang out with…

    Comment by ella — June 20, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

  36. I have read and enjoyed this blog for a while now but never felt the need to comment before. Todays post, however, covers one of my pet hates, women who say they don’t like other women.

    I agree some women can be dull, only wanting to talk about their house, kids etc. and watching what they drink but I find them to be in the minority. Equally some men can be dull, only talking about stereotypical “male interests” so to say you have more fun with men is awful limited.

    I enjoy male company, going out, getting pissed and can drink most men I know under the table but my best friends are and always have female ( and have been the companions on some of the best nights out). I think you get something from a close friendship with someone of the same sex that you just can’t find in any other relationship. You never hear men say that they hate other men and prefer being with women, by saying the same you are implying that women are inferior in some way!

    I would suggect that all these women who prefer spending time with men to women have a look at how they relate to other women as most of the women who I have come across in real life who have this attitude are huge flirts who seem to resent the competition from another women. I don’t have a problem with another women flirting with my boyfriend, what annoys me is when someone flirts with your boyfriend while ignoring you completely.

    Lastly if all you women haters still disagree with what I say then you obviously hang around with the wrong sort of women, If I lived in Paris I would take you on a proper, drunken (or drugged, I too used to love clubbing before I got too old :( ) night out to show you what a real girls night out is like!
    Rant over :)

    Comment by L — June 20, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

  37. What are mushy peas? Are they like very thick pea soup?

    Comment by Passante — June 20, 2006 @ 3:21 pm

  38. “Needless to say, I remained single a very very very long time, as men don’t tend to chat up the only girl in a crowd of 5 or 6 guys…”

    How true C’s comment is. At the moment most of my friends are male. I just seem to get on better with them than I do with the girls who I meet. But I’m definitely always going to be a friend and never girlfriend material. My friends try their hardest – introducing me to as many potential boyfriends as they can. However being introduced as their friend, part of the group of guys, does seem to put guys off.

    Oh well.

    Comment by Une Fille — June 20, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

  39. Ha. As the (American) girlfriend of a Frenchman, I can tell you: it’s not the girlfriends who are the problem. It’s the Frenchmen. And their wandering ways. And an entire culture backing them up that tolerates (and esteems) cheating.

    that said, you can banter with n, petite, you’re ok :)

    Comment by maitresse — June 20, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

  40. L, I know it probably sounded like I was woman bashing but I’m not. I’m culture bashing.

    I think maitresse has a point, my male friends here are serious womanisers, the main reason why we have remained platonic friends, I know too much about them and the way they behave to ever be tempted into wanting more.

    And i love hanging out with girls. My best friends are girls. Unfortunately, we no longer live in the same country though, and I’ve never been able to replace them. French girls just aren’t the same. They’re nice. But ‘too nice’. I know its a dating term, but it goes for friends too. They’ve no sense of ‘divilment’…. so while i can hang out with them, I never feel like i get past the acquaintance stage.

    I don’t think i’m a flirt, at least no more than most. And i’m not drop-dead gorgeous. And I never feel threatened by girls at home. Only here when they forbid their boyfriends to hang out with me. Two of my friends in Spain said they had the same problem but worse. If you introduce yourself as single, the girls freeze you out, but if you’re part of a couple you’re safe and they’ll talk to you. But heaven forbid you break up!

    Comment by C — June 20, 2006 @ 4:51 pm

  41. L., you are of course right: “Lastly if all you women haters still disagree with what I say then you obviously hang around with the wrong sort of women”

    In my experience (I am 30ish), the majority of women will cling to traditional, stereotyped versions of… simply of everything, celebrating their own important position in the centre of…everything, through their words (“I did tell her not to..:!”), deeds and decisions. They will invariably find someone to gossip about in most annoying ways, always trying to reassure to themselves and to the rest of the world that they are getting everything absolutely right, becasue the majority does it so. The kind you know will tell your secrets to all the other “best friends”. The kind who goes shrieking when an innocent insect in a zoo decides to settle on their back.
    Then there are women one CAN REALLY DO THINGS WITH. Go somewhere, make a trip, go drinking… whatever, and they are able (even between the lines) to step aside and talk about other things than just me, myself and I. They won’t even ask me whether I’ve gained weight recently (I have), they don’t care whether I influence my husband’s wardrobe contents or not (I do not)… Well, they certainly are a minority and hard to find.
    And it does not make it easier for me that I am not able to spontaneously trust/enjoy any new female acquaintance.
    Similar bad experiences, anyone?

    Comment by alcessa — June 20, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

  42. Just noticed, I bore myself these days. Been here too long surrounded by French girls maybe. I’ve blended in despite myself. Though there is an element of being ‘in my 30s’ to it as well.

    My twice or three times weekly piss-ups with the lads are now once every 3 to 6 months. I tend to be home with the last metro these days. And watch what I drink cause of work the next day. And I wouldn’t want to make a show of myself, would I… which is all well and good here in france, but my friends at home tell me I’m becoming a bit of a prig and I need to relax. Cool word prig, isn’t it. They also give out to me for not speaking to strangers who mean me no harm, and for passing comments and critisising people or things I see, and being obsessed with food….

    I really like this topic Petite. Hey, i have another one. After over 10 years in France, how do you feel it has changed you? (other than the obvious getting older and having a tadpole). Good and bad new caracter traits.

    Wow, for someone who never commented before, I’m really getting carried away today. I’m enjoying the company though. Oh, btw, I’ve been reading your blog for 2 years now and tell everyone i know about it, I check it religiously every morning to see if it’s been updated and have a feed into my yahoo. Thank you so much for making me feel less homesick.

    Comment by C — June 20, 2006 @ 5:40 pm

  43. I have on occasion duped myself into believing that I could remain just friends with certain women, but invariably, the dirty thoughts would get the better of me and I’d end up attempting to maul the poor lady in question. I do however remain by nature and by upbringing very much a lady’s man, you know when it comes being gracious and polite, the type that will open doors and all that in a tireless effort to make all ladies feel special, but God knows I have my limits. Restraining myself from manhandling a woman to whom I feel physically attracted I find thoroughly exhausting, hence I would rather remain aloof .
    That’s just me though, I’m sure Petite’s English male friends know how to behave themselves.

    Comment by Trevor — June 20, 2006 @ 7:09 pm

  44. Passante,
    You have clearly never been to Northwich

    Comment by Flighty — June 20, 2006 @ 7:32 pm

  45. Oh, and they’re quite sweet-tasting split peas all mushed (ie mashed) up. Dead nice, even when originating from the powder or a well-sized old-folks-home cateting tin. The oldies lov’em

    Comment by Flighty — June 20, 2006 @ 7:34 pm

  46. Speaking as a male who usually has a couple of close female friends, I don’t think its a sub culture thing, but it is an opportunity thing. In Uni, it was easy, as a wage slave its easy to have female friends “at the office”. At home, where most friends are couples, its difficult.

    Comment by TheBoy — June 20, 2006 @ 8:10 pm

  47. This isn’t exactly a very scientific contribution to the debate, but I have one French friend – a girl – who currently lives in Paris and who has a huge group of, mostly straight, platonic male friends – some in relationships and some not – that she has kept in regular contact with whether she has been single or attached. Admittedly, I’ve no way of knowing if she’s representative or not, and from the sounds of your post and some of the comments, she’s not, but I just wanted to point out that I’m not sure losing your male friends is to do with living in France per se.

    In contrast to my Parisien friend, my own experience of being a thirty something living in London is that platonic male friends, of whatever sexual persuasion, do tend to drift away as they enter serious, long-term relationships. This has happened with some girlfriends too. In the majority of cases I haven’t taken this personally, as I’m still in some sort of, albeit irregular, contact with most – I think its just the dynamics of living in a big city where there are constant pressures on people’s time, people tend to have a number of different social circles that don’t always overlap etc. For me it is a constant struggle to find time to spend with my boyfriend and also keep my relationships with my friends of whatever gender at the same level – especially because I met my boyfriend when we both already had completely different social networks built up over many years, and needed to find some way of incorporating each other into those. It is a constant balancing act, and in the case of platonic male friends I’ve found it easier with those who are still single, simply because – selfishly on my part, I’d admit – they have more time and flexibility as to when they see me. I don’t have children, but I’m presuming if I did, that would make juggling everything all the more difficult, and something would have to give.

    I wonder, Petite, if you had met a Mr Pomme and settled down to bring up a Tadpole in London, would things have been significantly different?

    Comment by Nikki — June 20, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

  48. I’m hearing you, I feel exactly the same. In recent years I’ve started to realise the value of solid female friendships but I sure as hell sometimes just miss my male ‘mates’.

    Comment by kirsty — June 20, 2006 @ 8:59 pm

  49. At my son’s track meet a few days ago, my FRENCH husband flipped out on me at home afterwards (I got the silent treatment for 2 whole days) because I spent 10 minutes talking to another father. This other father we have known for 10 years, and suddenly, he thinks I’m flirting?

    Comment by magillicuddy — June 21, 2006 @ 9:05 am

  50. I agree with you that male friends are a university thing to an extent. The male friends that I have now I made at university. What is odd is that it seems women can be friends with men more easily if they are in a relationship whereas if men have a girlfriend they often drift away…

    Comment by lilacstripe — June 21, 2006 @ 11:08 am

  51. Nikki has a good point.
    Drifting off just as if you and he were never friends in the first place, does Mr. Pomme, as soon as he’s in a relationship- which is why he ought to be renamed ‘Mr Plod’. No emotional intelligence or generosity atall. What’s actually offensive about Mr Pomme, though I can never be bothered to react (!) is that once he’s “in a relationship” he’s snooty with you about any type of friendship based dependancy- as though you were too stupid to see he’s “made it” and you ought to push off. Mr. Frog will never give you such ‘treatment’. He will wait until Madame Frog is outside , possibly, but he’s unlikely to dismiss your friendship or balk at the thought of giving you the interesting conversation you were asking for.
    It’s all about the talent imbalance, isn’t it?

    Comment by fjl — June 21, 2006 @ 11:16 am

  52. Oh, now I’m confused. Who is Mr Pomme?

    Comment by petite — June 21, 2006 @ 11:23 am

  53. Pomme is Mr Brit.

    Comment by fjl — June 21, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

  54. It is harder in France than in England for women to have platonic male friends. Social interactions are much more conformist here than in the Anglo-Saxon world, and relationships between men and women are far more highly sexualised, and less supportive.

    I used to have lots of platonic male friends when I was single and childless. But now I have a family I have lost interest in most of them. But then, having a family changes many things and my priorities are quite different now. I’d rather be with my baby daughter and my partner than with anyone else.

    Comment by Anna — June 21, 2006 @ 1:08 pm

  55. yes, I just wondered if you were talking about one of my Mr Brit’s in particular, or just in general…

    I’m still friendly with my recent Brit exes, so just couldn’t see the connection?

    Comment by petite — June 21, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

  56. ah ok. Just making a (very) general comparison between the French and English , which you may have (doubtless) noticed.

    Comment by fjl — June 21, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

  57. Have to agree that French men are far less emotionally crippled than their English counterparts – not sure same true of German or US though. However, liking a quiet stable life, I prefer having girlfriends for emotional support to compensate for M.Pomme’s stuntedness, than wondering where mi hombre is de 5 à 7. Each to their own, I suppose.

    Comment by J — June 21, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

  58. J,
    fair enough. I think you are a rare brid tho’ as British guys go!

    Comment by fjl — June 21, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

  59. rare bird*

    Comment by fjl — June 21, 2006 @ 3:58 pm

  60. I don’t think this is a french/uk culture thing, rather an age thing. It was much easier at uni to have platonic male friends. I don’t dislike women but I do find it harder to relate to the women within our circle of friends than the men. My fiance thinks it is because I have more in common with the men than the women (education, career, interest in current affairs not babies, clothes, hair & nails). There is an assumption that the men should talk to the men and the women to the women. The worst was when we all went away for a weekend and it was assumed we would go shopping leaving the men in the pub. I WANTED TO BE IN THE PUB! I find groups of girls intimidating, competitive and bitchy (probably result of an all girls’ school) but my closest friends are female non-girly girls.

    Comment by Honey — June 21, 2006 @ 7:21 pm

  61. fjl, I reckon you’re ripe for a goog mauling.

    Comment by Trevor — June 21, 2006 @ 8:26 pm

  62. Petite it look as if Trevor’s attentions have been diverted. I can’t apologise enough. ;-)

    Comment by fjl — June 22, 2006 @ 12:59 am

  63. are French women really that bad about (not) liking beer? My mom and I frequented a particular cafe when we were in Paris two summers ago, and the waiter would single us out as ‘the beer-drinking women!’ every time he saw us (the cafe was between our hotel and the metro). We had assumed he remembered us because we were American, and not really so much because of our drinks, tho it looks like we were wrong . . . a woman who doesn’t enjoy a nice cold beer is not to be trusted!

    Comment by emily — June 22, 2006 @ 7:44 am

  64. see how sweet and nice she is fjl, with a good sense of humour to boot

    Comment by Trevor — June 22, 2006 @ 9:15 am

  65. I think it’s more to do with worrying about appearances than about not likeing beer. They will have one drink, though most of the girls I know prefer wine or cocktails or shandys. But they nearly all stop at one. Alcohol is fattening and drunkeness ugly. They are very obsessed with how they look and how other people look.

    I was apparantly the subject of serious gossip at work a couple of weeks ago (found out about it yesterday and it drove me nuts – a well meaning girl took it upon herself to warn me about my behaviour) cause at a recent work do, 3 of my best (male) friends were there that I havn’t seen together for a couple of months, and we spent the night dancing together. Apparantly my new workmates (i changed departments recently) were betting on who I’d go home with, and found my behaviour scandalous and assumed I was completely pissed and should be mortified. One of these guys is the most happy newlywed I know, another’s in a serious relationship and the third I just know too well, it’d be like incest. Actually, I know all three of them too well. My boyfriend was there and it didn’t bother him. Sometimes these narrow minded b*s really really get to me!

    Comment by C — June 22, 2006 @ 9:40 am

  66. C – I suppose it depends on how you were dancing.

    The funky chicken is not acceptable under any circumstances.

    Comment by hmmm — June 22, 2006 @ 12:16 pm

  67. How about the hokey pokey?

    Comment by C — June 22, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

  68. I know what you mean. My frog has basically forbidden any male friends…sigh…he just doesn’t understand that us anglos are capable of having “friends” of the opposite sex without anything physical going on. I guess that will never change.

    Comment by tara — June 22, 2006 @ 2:05 pm

  69. Oh that’s classy – I read somewhere the hokey pokey was Charles and Camillas first dance at the wedding reception (obviously to Hi Ho Silving Lining).

    Comment by hmmm — June 22, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

  70. I read somwhere that tall women have more male hormones than the less tall ones – maybe those of us over, I don’t know, 168 cm (can’t do English measures, sorry) can’t really help (insert your personal expression of frequency here) preferring men for company?

    Comment by alcessa — June 22, 2006 @ 3:32 pm

  71. must confess first that I haven’t read all of the comments – too many of them! I think it may be an age thing more than a cultural thing. I asked the very same question at my 30th birthday party (5 years ago) and all my male friends (mostly British, some Spanish, some German) said that they never were nor would never be pals with a woman. They would always have other motives. I was adamant that back in Germany, and Ireland, at school and uni, my best pals were men, while here in Scotland it seems to be difficult to be best pals with men. They didn’t believe that the men I was friends with were just friends, and that either I or they would have had other motives. They were so convinced that I was flabbergasted and really shocked. I too often get on better with my partners best pals than with their girlfriends/wives. I have seen the odd look too when I had a really long and interesting exchange, and I’m in Britain, and attached. As far as the height argument is concerned, yes I am tall, but I have as many best friends who are women. It’s just a shame that platonic friendship with men seems to be frowned upon these days, and that this way you lose out on the company of very nice people, and are expected to just chat with the girls, which at times can be a pain (I don’t talk shopping, cosmetics, soaps etc – and while not every woman I meet does, too many do unfortunately).

    Comment by cartside — June 22, 2006 @ 6:47 pm

  72. fjl is five foot eight and probably one of the most feminine bloggers on the list at the moment! And what about Lady Di, whom the French called “ambassadrice de charme”?

    Sadly the ex pats have the correct observation. A french belle is reserved, restrained,.. never visibly ‘indulges in excess’…

    Whereas Mr Pomme’s redeeming feature is he clearly doesn’t mind if you’ve had it up to your ar*e with ‘sedate’ from time to time !

    Comment by fjl — June 22, 2006 @ 6:54 pm

  73. perhaps i should have remembered to take off my prescription swimming goggles before going to see the psychiatrist today, but it never occured to me. Perhaps, I should never have mentioned to him that I had been round to the pool just beforehand and that I had found it more exhausting restraining myself from mauling the woman in the lane next to me than swimming my fifty lengths I had set out for myself . Either way, I have been clinically diagnosed a borderline manic depressive, and as of today am to be put on a mood stabilizer. If I do post here anymore, it will be as a lobotomized version of myselfr, of the person I am capable of being. My only hope is that the medication the lunatic has prescribed for me will stabilize me in happy mood, but then again knowing my luck, i might end up permanently in the horrors.

    just as a postscript to you women who so easily criticize the ways of men.Try knocking back a half-pint of testosterone, that will soon knock the smirk orf your faces.

    Remember me

    Comment by Trevor — June 22, 2006 @ 11:15 pm

  74. Age may be the cause for some, but for me I went from almost all girlfriends in the US to nearly all guy friends in France… granted, they are my boyfriend’s friends, which changes things. Who knows, it could just be the circumstances, but I find it easier to talk to French men somehow *because* they seem more interested in me than American men, if this makes any sense. Probably has to do with my personality, too… but in any case, I find most French women uptight, boring and conventional, and it takes way to long to get into serious conversation with most of them (or for them to drop their guard). Don’t mean to insult les françaises reading, but if they’re reading they probably aren’t any of the above adjectives! My French girlfriends here have all travelled or speak other languages or something.

    But my girlfriends here are mostly expats. My closest are the ones who are known for their drinking/partying capacities. I guess it has something to do with being laid-back, letting yourself go. But even most of my guy friends here (including my boyfriend) just don’t get blitheringly drunk, they don’t see the point to it. I was so disappointed at my first New Years’ celebration (especially since a snitty girl told us “not to waste the wine”). It sucks to not be able to really let yourself go–appearances, appearances, as C says…

    Comment by O. — June 23, 2006 @ 12:06 am

  75. Surely, Trevor, you are not thinking of leaving.

    Comment by fjl — June 23, 2006 @ 12:34 am

  76. Very interesting comments.
    By the way, how non-frogs understand the concept of “marivaudage”? :)

    Comment by Dan Dx — June 25, 2006 @ 1:17 am

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