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cheating in France?

(18 Posts)
LeBFG Wed 26-Sep-12 19:42:30

Just read a Times article about relationship cheaters in France vs UK. Basically, they quote the old chestnut about people being more accepting of affairs in France. They cultivate their 'jardin secret' and cheating even adds spice to a relationship whereas the equivalent event would precipitate a divorce in the UK. I can't find a link unfortunately. The nub is, I don't recognise this where I live (very rural SW France). I don't see couples living like this, accepting the other is off with his/her bit-on-the-side. So I was wondering, is this a phenomenon limited to big cities? Or perhaps just a particular class of French people? <sticks neck out of the barn yard to see what's going on in the rest of France>

tb Wed 26-Sep-12 20:25:47

Don't know. I live in a village in SW France, where my gp married his mistress after he and his first wife divorced. His first wife is one of the district nurses, and has the same first name as his mistress/second wife.

There were quite a lot of jokes about the fact he'd picked a mistress with the same name as his wife to avoid any embarrassing mistakes!

However, I do know someone else that also divorced after an affair.

bodemiller Wed 26-Sep-12 20:31:07

I don't see it round here at all - we're 60km west of paris. I don't know anyone who's having an affair, but I know lots of couples who have divorced...

LeBFG Thu 27-Sep-12 07:44:33

I was just wondering if was one of those stereotypes that the anglosaxons love. You know, horny, liberal French. Another stereotype that was blasted after coming here was an idea I had that the French were more accepting of other cultures/races. Not sure where I got that from but I encounter more racism here than I ever did in the UK (mind you, I'm not comparing like with like: city, uni educated society compared with rural backwater types)

sommewhereelse Thu 27-Sep-12 07:51:32

It's not something I've encountered but I've heard about it. Affairs seem to lead to relationship breakdown amongst our friends and aquaintances.

I think it with to older and wealthier more 'bourgeois' circles there is more acceptance (eg Miterrand and Pingeot). The press certainly don't treat policiticans who have extra-marital affairs in the way the British press do!

I wonder Catholicism has anything to do with it, a good Catholic spouse would be encouraged to pretend nothing was going on or put up with it to avoid the shame of divorce?

sommewhereelse Thu 27-Sep-12 07:52:30

I think within

sagelynodding Thu 27-Sep-12 08:10:38

I am on the Cote d'Azur, and off the top of my head I can think of 2 men in their 50s who have long standing mistresses and wives. By long standing I mean over ten years! And my dentist had just done a runner with his bit on the side...

Also a good number of divorces, and a very high level of ingrained racism sad (Here, towards Arabs and travellers, and now also towards eastern Europeans)

I don't think that a cheating woman would be treated with the same understanding and leniency as a man, but I would like to be proved wrong!

sagelynodding Thu 27-Sep-12 08:12:36

Sorry, that makes it sound as if I think it is ok to cheat-it really isn't!

Bonsoir Thu 27-Sep-12 08:38:43

While I think that adultery was traditionally accepted among the bourgeoisie as part and parcel of married life, I think those attitudes (along with many other retrograde ideas) are gradually dying out. I think that the younger generation of French bourgeoisie are morally more upright and have "better" (= more globalisedly normative) manners than their parents and grandparents. There is, gradually, less overt (ostentatious, even) exploitation of the weak/poor by the strong/rich.

LeBFG Thu 27-Sep-12 16:36:50

It reminds me of the food in France vs UK. My foreign friends in the UK were always shocked we did nice puddings (they always put on weight and blamed the cakes) and didn't eat full cooked breakfasts every morning. The poor cuisine and big breakfast stereotype was once more true than it is today. In fact, here in the SW, I frequently find the tradition of 'gormet' food a big let down. Where would you have to go in the UK to get served up tinned veg in a restaurants nowadays? This is common in our local eateries. Plus, when you've had one (or twenty) confit de canard, you probably don't need any more for the rest of your life (I do like the foie gras though).

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 27-Sep-12 22:56:11

Well, a few months ago, the metro was plastered with posters advertising a "dating" agency (online) for married people.

A friend of mine is internet dating at the moment and has said there is no end of married men hoping for a quick no strings shag, or even a long term mistress.

sagelynodding Fri 28-Sep-12 00:28:24

Yes, I saw a documentary about that MrsS there are a few different agencies and they are doing really well sad I am sure they have them in the UK too though.

But that said, prostitution (from v high class to girls in laybys) doesn't seem to be in crisis either over here...

LeBFG Fri 28-Sep-12 08:23:44

Yeah, I thought those dating things for married people were en vogue in the UK too. Round my parts, it's fairly common, so I'm told, that older generation couples will live together under the same roof but have separate bedrooms rather than divorce. Perhaps a catholic hangover as someone else mentioned. I can't imagine any of the younger couples I know would put up with this arrangement.

I suppose I'm suspicious that married couples have affairs to spice up their marriage and to be in some way encouraged and thought of as normal (as this article was making out). Infidelity in any culture is rife - humans aren't like lobsters which form life-long completely loyal couples. Isn't it about half of marriages in the UK that end in divorce now? A good lot of them must involve infidelity.

Mama1980 Fri 28-Sep-12 08:28:34

I lived in Paris for years and knew 2 men in their 50 s who had both wives and long standing mistresses it was very accepted. However I think it's different for the younger generation who prescribe more to the global norm if you like.

LeBFG Fri 28-Sep-12 08:40:26

Did their wives know and accept the situation mama? When I think about it, I also knew a man in the UK, now in his late 60s, who kept a women whilst his wife had five kids, he eventually divorced the wife, kept the mistress, but lived in his own house. All the family apart from the ex-wife knew about it. And another couple, same sort of age, the husband worked in the middle east a lot so wive just had a permenant partner in the UK. Not sure if the husband ever knew though.

Feckbox Fri 28-Sep-12 08:47:54

Interesting. I've always wondered whether the French turn a blind eye to affairs thing was true

twostraightlines Fri 28-Sep-12 18:30:43

My 41 year old, married, father-of-two, French boss admitted to me a while ago that he was a terrible womaniser, just like his father. He had tried it on with me a few years back before he married (but with his future wife) so it wasn't a complete surprise! He wasn't particularly ashamed, he just did the gallic shrug and laughed it off. His wife knew what he was like and occasionally policed his mobile, and that, as far as I could tell, was it. He went right down in my estimation.

I'd like to think that him having seen at first hand my clearly visible state of distress when my (also French) husband turned out to have his own (also married) bit on the side might have made him think twice. Doubt it though.

That said, he is the only French person I know to have that attitude to infidelity. All my other French friends/family who know were genuinely horrified.

eslteacher Wed 03-Oct-12 09:22:37

Well a theme seems to be emerging...I know a successful, 50+, RELIGIOUS guy (Paris area) with a long standing mistress. Don't know if his wife knows but I'd imagine so.

Since living here I have got the idea that infidelity is theoretically more accepted than in the UK...doesn't pretty much every French president have a history of infidelity? And people don't think much of it (even DSK still has quite a lot of supporters). I was once chatting to a lady who told me she thought it was a sign of 'power and virility' for men to have affairs. But when I asked if that would apply to her own husband, she had a different view...

Overall I'd say a lot of French seem to pride themselves on being less 'naive' than the 'Anglo-Saxons' and that could extend as far as accepting infidelity often happens and not seeing it as neccessarily the be all and end all of a relationship or a person's worth. But I think its one thingto hold that general idea and other to actually believe in it when it happens to you...

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