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From ONS to JTM: Our guide to French online dating

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From ONS to JTM: Our guide to French online dating
Finding love online is not so easy. Photo konradbak/Depositphotos
11:44 CEST+02:00
French may be the language of love, but finding love in France is as difficult as finding love anywhere. Here's a simple guide to taking your first online dating steps in France.

Standing looking all doe-eyed underneath the Eiffel Tower is sadly more likely to produce a bunion than Cupid’s arrow. And, even if you did see an attractive stranger, chances are they will just take a selfie and then leave before you’d muster up the courage up to say “hello”.

This is an evolving human condition: we are becoming increasingly reluctant to start conversations with people we haven’t known our whole lives. We prefer to know what is their favourite colour and if they’re allergic to cats before we actually dare to speak.

So how to solve the dilemma? Where can you go to meet your future soulmate? Is online dating in France as much of a can of worms as elsewhere? Yes, of course it is. 

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Tinder is Tinder wherever you go in the world. It might be your cup of tea, and we have all heard of the friend of a friend of a friend who has met someone they married on Tinder. And there are still more members than any other dating app, so plenty to choose from. But there is no avoiding the fact that many people do still use it predominantly to find a one night stand (or ONS, if you want to catch up with the lingo).

So if you want something that will not involve a walk of shame the next morning, the good news is that there are plenty of choices for everyone in France.

One very popular international option that has a reputation of not just being about ONS (see how quickly we get down with the kids) is OkCupid. The method is simple, the site asks you lots of questions - do you want to settle down and have kids right now, is your ideal first date in a forest or a city, what do you think about the death penalty, do you like to eat Italian food… - and then finds your closest matches.

It will send you emails with likely lads and lasses, but you can also peruse the site and see who has messaged you. Annoyingly, it doesn’t tell you when they have messaged you. So, if you only discover their message a month later, they may have already moved on.

If you feel confident enough in your written French, one of the most successful online dating apps in France is Meetic. Like many dating sites, Meetic offers a free service and an upgraded paying one. Reviews on this site are quite mixed, it has so many members that obviously some of them are not exactly who they might appear to be in their pictures. But it will be a chance to meet actual French people and improve your French.

Another local site with a slightly odd name is AdopteunMec. What? Does anyone actually want to adopt a guy? Even fostering seems too much of a commitment when you haven’t even met them yet. The idea here is a twist on the tried and tested formula. Here the radical idea is that the women take the lead. And isn’t it about time? This applies specifically to heterosexual matches where the woman needs to make the first contact with their matched male. In same-sex matches, either person can make the first move.

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The truth is women still have it too easy when it comes to opening gambits in the tangled world of online dating (and, let’s admit it, offline dating), lazily relying on the suitor to come wooing. Well, enough of that, it is 2019, time for women to put their hearts on the line, to get creative and funny (but not too funny as that can make you seem weird) and - can you believe it - send the first message. The international equivalent of Adopte un Mec is is Bumble.

Of course, online dating problems begin even before you get to trying to impress someone with your wit. The abundance of choice is one of the surprising deterrents. Sometimes you open your app and there are just too many faces, too many unread messages and you feel weary at just the thought of all that swiping.

Well, one new French website is paring the whole process down with what they are intriguingly calling ‘slow dating’. Rather than deluge you with choice, Once will suggest one personally selected match for your every day at noon. Just one! You will both see each other’s profile at the same time and then you have 24 hours to make a move. If you don’t, that person will disappear forever - or unless you happen to live in the same neighbourhood and see each other at the supermarket the next day, which may indeed have happened to the journalist writing this article.

In March, Once branched out to tackle a very active dating market with their new app Once Again, dating for the over-50s. As Jean Meyer, founder of Once and Once Again, points out: "Meeting new people for people over 50 has so far been limited on the web. Slow dating is perfect for this population for whom the quality of encounters is more important than quantity. When you are over 50 years old, you don't ‘like’ 1,000 profiles and hope that one of them will agree to have a drink within the hour.”

There is also a more traditional website for the 50+s called Disons Demain. It is an offshoot of the aforementioned site Meetic and is hugely popular.

But what if you already fancy someone? What if you exchange glances with a handsome stranger every morning on the Metro on your daily commute, how do you develop that? Of course, you could take the old fashioned route and just start a conversation. But maybe he’s already involved with someone and is not actually looking at you admiringly but with a tinge of fear? The good news is that there is an app for this.

Developed in France, happn is one of many location-based dating apps. Its twist, however, is that it will tell you about people whose paths you actually cross in real life. If that man on the Metro is also using the app, then fate will get a little helping hand.

It’s true that this app does also have somewhat worrying potential to aid stalking and is probably more likely to lead to a hook-up rather than The Love of Your Life. But, who knows, it might also help you with that awkward first conversation.

Or you could just get a dog, they will love you forever.

French online dating vocabulary:

SLT: “Salut” or simply, “Hey.”

CC: Coucou, the most boring first line ever.

DISPO? Simply means “available?” This is not necessarily a hook-up term, but let’s be honest that’s normally the case.

T CHO? Literally, “tu est chaud,” or “are you horny?” A classic of the genre.

REEL? Are you looking for a real encounter or just to chat?

TES TRIPS? What are you into? What gets you going?

TU CH? Literally a shortening of “Tu cherches?” or “You’re looking?” this is a way to ask if someone is looking for anything in particular, namely, sex.

SSR: “Sex sans risque” = Safe sex. The opposite is "Sans capote" = without the little hat. ie no condom.

MDR: Not a specifically dating term, but one that you might need to lighten a heavy moment. It literally means “mort de rire”, “dead from laughing”, and is the equivalent of LOL.

JTM: If you get this, you’re on to a good thing. “Je t’aime” - he’s telling you he loves you!

PARTOUZE: Group fun. Orgy. This is not your future soulmate.

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