Five tips for dating and finding love in France

Former dating coach Cynthia Spillman offers advice on how to find your soulmate now you live in France

You are unlikely to find love knocking on your door. Be brave and go looking for it

I am a former dating coach who used to run Dinner Dates, the UK’s largest social networking organisation for professional singletons.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I remember how difficult a time it can be for those who are unwillingly single. What follows is some advice on how best to navigate dating in France.

First, however, it is important to build up your self-esteem.

If you do not love yourself, then you cannot love another, so prioritise your own mind and body before anything else.

Read more: How to fight off expat isolation in France

Start as friends

It is common to start as ‘just friends’ in France, and to go out socially as part of a group. This makes the whole experience far more relaxed.

The most successful relationship I have ever had – my current, third marriage – started off as a friendship, which gradually developed over a period of months.

This was a first for me, but with hindsight, 21 years later, I know it was the best thing.

If you start off slowly, you get to know each other better before deciding if you are compatible.

In France, this phase can last for a while. Another advantage is that you are able to meet your partner’s friends.

If it is meant to be, things will soon progress to that delicious first kiss and beginning to spend time on your own together.

Where to look for love

Like it or loathe it, online dating can be good for you.

Most people now meet on a dating site or app, with platforms such as Meetic, Tinder, Happen and Meetup among the most popular.

In my book about mature dating, From Dinner Date to Soulmate, I explain that you are unlikely to find love knocking on your door. You have to go out there and look for it.

I am a great believer in networking for love. This means using your existing contacts and inquiring if they have any single friends.

You can also take up new hobbies to cast your net further.

Keeping safe while dating

In the interests of personal safety, meet in a public place for your first date alone.

Tell someone where you are going and, if necessary, have them message you during the date to check all is well.

I suggest meeting for coffee or at an art gallery. This way, you will not have to sit through a long dinner if you are not enjoying yourself.

If you click, then you can meet again for longer next time.

Remember, if at any time during the date you feel uncomfortable, you can simply get up and leave without owing an explanation.

Manage your expectations

I have discovered with clients that the biggest obstacle to developing a happy relationship is having unrealistic expectations.

I used to be guilty of this. I had a certain ‘look’ I went for. After two disastrous marriages, I realised that my type was not actually my type at all!

It is also important to avoid negative thinking.

Believing “there are no good men left” or “these women are all after my money” is unhelpful.

Read more: Six pieces of advice if you plan to grow old in France

On the date

Wear whatever feels comfortable and do not go for overkill.

If you feel your anxiety mounting, just breathe!

Focus on your date rather than wondering if your mascara is cascading down your face.

Ask open questions and be interested in his or her life.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol and remember that although the French may be more tactile than some other nationalities, there is a time and a place for getting physical.

Stay positive

Do not take yourself or dating too seriously.

You might be out of practice, but rusty skills can be brushed up. There are plenty of good men and women out there.

I have date-coached clients from all over the world. People are just people – no matter what nationality.

Focus on the similarities rather than the differences. We all have the same basic needs.

It can be helpful to seek the support of a friend who is already in a happy relationship. A mentor can boost you if you are flagging.

My five tips

  • Make the most of all your networks and resources

  • If you feel you need a professional to guide you, seek out the assistance of a dating coach or matchmaker

  • Your priority is to take care of yourself. You cannot give from an empty place

  • Manage your relationship expectations.

  • Like Robert the Bruce, if at first you don’t succeed – try, try again

  • If you have any comments, questions or personal experiences you would like to share, contact Cynthia on

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