Every week on Channel 4’s popular First Dates programme, the French maître d’ is on hand to advise the nervous couples. Here he gives his dating tips.
Cook for your date at home — don’t go out
In France, people stay home more and cook for each other. The French don’t go out as much as the English. The English love to go out for dinner — it’s as if it has become a national sport. Everybody eats out all the time.
It’s OK to have sex on the first date
No sex on the first date? Why not? You can have sex whenever you like. I don’t see why there should be a rule for when you first have sex with someone.
Men: wear three spritzes of cologne
I love a scent — when it’s discreet. But you can wear too much. For me, the perfect amount is two or three spritzes, then that’s it, you’re done.
Remember: ‘I love you’ could mean ‘I love you at the moment’
There are different ways to interpret these words. The way people say it can mean something that might not be the same for you. If I say it, it could mean you’re a great person, or I want to spend the rest of my life with you — or any nuances in between. It could mean: “I love you at the moment.”
Don’t be afraid to say ‘I’m nervous’
Even French people feel nervous before a first date — we are all human. I’ve seen people completely lost for words, which can come across as standoffish to your date. The best policy is honesty; if you’re feeling nervous, just say it. By naming the elephant in the room, you shrink it, and by the time your date is coming to an end, those feelings will have disappeared.
A drink (or two) can help
French people drink less on dates than the English — they are more careful, more discerning. That’s not necessarily a good thing, because at times it can feel as if they’re holding themselves back, and that can be boring and serious. After 25 years in the UK, I am now surprised when I go back to France and see people without a drink in their hand. No aperitif, no glass of wine, no nothing? I think “come on, man, just relax!”
So what if you smoke?
The French smoke more than the English. I don’t smoke, but when you’re on a date it’s quite nice to sit outside with a cigarette and a drink; life just makes sense. The act of smoking is very relaxing and it says: “I’ve got time.” And time is the greatest luxury you can have. The only problem is, when you want to kiss your date good night, you stink.
Be careful, Tinder can be addictive
I’ve never used it, but Tinder is a phenomenon; it has turned people into products. It’s as if you’re flicking through a catalogue. It means that you never find what you want because you’re always wondering what else is out there.
Are you wearing enough clothes on your date?
Some French women dress very conservatively, whereas women in the UK tend to undress quite a lot, which you wouldn’t see in France. It’s not just a reputation, it’s the culture here. It doesn’t mean that women are less respected here than in France. But when I see them I do think: “My God, aren’t you cold, girls?”
Don’t overshare on the first date Don’t put all your cards on the table on a first date — restrain yourself. You don’t have to confess to all the relationships you’ve had, what went wrong or what went well. You’re there to get to know someone, not to reveal everything about yourself at once.
If you’re dumping someone, get straight to the point
When you’re telling someone you don’t want to see them any more, it’s going to be painful. Just be kind, respectful and sweet, and say: “That’s it, it’s over.” Whether you’re French or English, it’s never going to be good. Nobody likes to be dumped.