Chivalry is not dead, but it’s not exactly alive and well, either. Some time ago, women were given more civil freedoms – you may have heard of this – it happened in the 1960s, I think. After that, the dating landscape gradually evolved into the conundrum you experience today. There is confusion among men and women about what is appropriate chivalrous conduct and what is over-the-top male-chauvinism or controlling behaviour.
I’ve been a dating coach for thirteen years, and in that time I’ve been privileged enough to converse with hundreds of men and women about dating. Is chivalry dead? According to nearly every woman I’ve asked, the answer is a resounding “no.” Yet, many guys I have coached believe chivalry is dead. There is a great divide in man-woman relations. I will attempt with objectivity to clear things up in this blog posting.
When I worked for Rogers TV as the co-host of the show “Dating 201”, all the women I interviewed told me they expect, and appreciate, chivalry. I share their sentiment.
As women, we love our modern independence, but deep down we want guys to treat us like ladies. In other words, we do desire a chivalrous man. That being said, sometimes a guy’s attempt at chivalry goes wrong and the entire notion of its existence is called into question.
For example, I have a guy friend who is chivalrous in nature. He’s courteous, thus, sometimes wrongfully labeled an outdated traditional relic from a lost time when men earned the bread and women made the sandwiches. And, although the results of his gentlemanly behaviour are usually positive, his genuine gestures are sometimes mistaken for male-chauvinism.
This friend of mine, to be clear – he’s a normal guy. Although chivalrous, he doesn’t walk around town calling women “dames”, or question their ability to hold down a good job and drive a car. He’s merely a modern guy and a nice guy… He’s respectful, classy and polite.
My chivalrous guy friend once held the door open for a woman, as is in his nature to do, and her snarky response was: “you just did that to check out my butt.” And I must confirm, she did not say it playfully, but seriously, with an accusing tone. My friend was being nice, and as a result of his friendliness he was made to feel uncomfortable, as though his nice gesture was part of some hidden-agenda to sneak a peak. He was caught off guard by her accusation, but ultimately, was able to laugh it off.
After hearing about my friend’s experience, I chatted with one of my best girlfriends. I asked her about chivalry. We discussed the topic for awhile and it became quite complex as each layer was pealed. And in our conversation I realized that chivalry is not dead, but the lines are blurred; some acts of chivalrous behaviour are perfectly expressed, while others are misconceived or poorly executed.
I posed a hypothetical scenario for my girlfriend, who is a level-headed person. I asked her: Let’s say you’re on a first date and it’s coming to a close. Outside, it’s lightly snowing. You and your date leave the restaurant together. Your car is parked right outside the establishment’s front doors. On your windshield, there is a layer of snow. What should your date do?
She pondered… then said, “well, it depends.”
As my friend elaborated things became obvious and complicated, both.
She claimed: the guy can’t win in such a situation, unless he’s smooth with women. If he removed the snow from her windshield he ran the risk of coming on too strong; I mean, she could totally clear her own windshield – she’s not a frail and feeble helpless thing.
Yet, if he ignored the snow on her windshield he’d potentially sell himself as clueless or inconsiderate.
Even she – my friend – admitted, it was a tricky scenario for the guy. She went on to say that it wasn’t so much his choice that would validate the acceptability of his chivalry; it was the way in which he went about it that would leave a lasting impression, good or bad. She explained, a Prince Charming type would know how to handle her snowy windshield. He’d say, “it’s freezing; let me give you a hand. You warm up the car; I’ll brush off the snow.”
Good answer! But, not every guy is going to play it like that.
It’s tough out there, eh fellas?
Here is my advice: Men, don’t be chivalrous to a fault. Don’t go out of your way to treat every woman you meet like she would be helpless without your big muscles and manly grasp of the world. Ladies don’t want to be overly protected or made to feel like children incapable of putting on their own jacket.
Sure, as women, we relish the opportunity to be your boss and vote for mayor, but that doesn’t mean we wish to partake in businesslike courtship. At the office, treat us like the equals we are – we can crunch numbers, make decisions and be productive just like our male colleagues. However, while dating, treat us with respect, but also remember that we still long for a man with manly qualities; a guy who, without being controlling or demeaning, understands that his lady, is a lady, after all.
Ultimately, you should trust your gut instincts regarding chivalry. But, I feel I can help some fellas out with a few pointers. So, here are five examples of acceptable chivalry:
1 Hold The Door Open
It’s simple and courteous: While out on a date, hold the door open for your dinner partner. Not only is this an obvious nice gesture, it also shows that you can carry yourself like you’ve been on a date before – that you’re capable of doing the little things right.
2 Make Her Feel Safe
Women don’t need a knight in shining armour to protect them from the evil dragon at the top of the mountain, but they do appreciate a guy who displays an interest in their safety. If you’re dropping her off, walk her to her door. If she is driving herself, tell her you’d like to call her when she gets home to wish her a goodnight.
3 Offer Her Your Jacket.
If it’s raining, snowing, or cold outside, offer up your jacket. Such an action lets her know that you are not selfish. Conversely, by throwing your jacket over her shoulders you clearly state that you’re looking out for her, and that’s a turn-on.
4 Pay For Dinner (Especially At First).
Sure, once you and her have been dating for awhile and you can safely call your relationship a relationship, then there is no need to pay for everything. Most women don’t expect their boyfriend to pay all the time. But, in the initial stages of courtship, the man must pay for dinner; it’s common dating etiquette. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just that it is what it is. Watch Laura’s Advice Video on Who Pays for the Date.
5 Small Public Gestures Of Affection.
A woman appreciates it when a man holds her hand or throws his arm around her in public; it’s sweet – signifies togetherness. While at the mall or out on the town, a little bit of closeness is totally acceptable, and even encouraged. However, don’t treat her like a baby and only hold her hand right before you’re about to cross the street – that’s a turn off.
To conclude: fellas, chivalry’s place in today’s dating environment is confusing, without question, but it is very much prevalent, as well. Do not be discouraged by a bad experience or a minor mishap; a case of chivalry gone wrong. Continue to trust your instincts on your quest to find the right girl for you. Ultimately, if you remain chivalrous, and do the little things that a man is traditionally supposed to do during the courtship stage, I promise, it will pay off. The right girl will appreciate your gestures. Good luck!