It is a very American concept, and in fact there is no one word in French that could be considered its true equivalent.
Americans only say “I love you” after months of dating. You might wonder how people get to know each other then.
This is how the French are groomed to think about love from an early age: not in the absolutes of total love or utter rejection, but in nuances and a range of possibilities.
It dawned on me at that moment that while we Americans are groomed to seek happy endings and closure, the French are more comfortable with emotional subtleties and ambiguity.
The man-meets-woman language in France represents a major cultural difference for Americans.
When a man asks a French woman out and she says no, he might recognize this as a form of coy flirting and the desire to be pursued.