I believe that most North Americans will know exactly to what I am referring with this title: at the beginning of a new relationship, all is pretty much fair game until “the talk” actually takes place, meaning the moment when the ones involved agree to boundaries, and usually to be exclusive.
In France, it is actually the opposite. Once you “make out” with someone and unless there are some clear signs or understanding that what is going on is nothing more than a casual thing, you can take it for granted that you are officially in a relationship. It is awesome but a little weird too. After all, if you have met that person through a friend, you might be able to get some info about him or her and find out whether it is pretty safe to put your trust and vulnerability into the hands of a stranger who, sometimes in a matter of 2-3 days, just became your new significant other. On the other hand, if you just met that person a little more randomly, I find it a bit crazy to be ready to expect a total stranger to be faithful, and to do his (or her) best to take care of you and cause you no harm.
It makes you wonder whether trust is something that needs to be earned versus something that is simply given away to all, strangers included. In general, I like to go with “innocent until proven guilty.” Meaning I have no right to question someone’s good intentions until I am actually given a good reason to do so. But that’s pretty scary!
I was once fooled by someone I dated for a couple of months before finding out that he was actually a husband of 20 years and a father of three. Of course, with hindsight, I can pinpoint the couple of things he said or did that were total red flags; however, at the time, I had no problem simply trusting the people I encountered because I had always been a good judge of character and I had never been disappointed by the people I had chosen to let in.
Recovering from this story has left me with a few extra baggages and so I have to keep on doing my best to trust a little blindly and expect the best. It is hard! But I am also working on it real hard because I believe that life sends your way the challenges that you need to face in order to keep growing… So I am learning to make myself vulnerable in hope that it might bring even more happiness. I am working on balancing boundaries, taking leaps of faith, and letting go…
And I may not be ready yet to just skip the talk, but I am getting a bit more happy to just jump in.