Chivalry: What Makes a Gentleman?

It used to be that a nice gentleman would pick a lady up for a date, open her car door for her when she gets in and again when she gets out, treating her to a nice dinner, and finally walking her all the way to her door when he drops her off, seeing her safely inside. He opened the doors for her, picked up the tab and let her walk in ahead of him, if only so he could discreetly check out her ass. I have been informed that it is now foolish to expect any of these things from a man. Nowadays, it seems you are lucky enough to have a man buy you dinner, much less wait for you to get in your car before he peels out. Well… I think I’d rather be single than date so inconsiderate as that.

So what makes a man a gentleman? What does he have to do to earn that title? Frankly, I don’t think they have to do much anymore. Hey, he bought you dinner. Sure, he opened the door for himself. He ordered first, he talked about himself, he harrumphed over the total, he gets up and walks out without you, leaving you to rush after him and doesn’t even walk you to your car before going in for that kiss. But girl, he bought you dinner and dammit he’s a chivalrous gentleman that you should be grateful for!

My biggest pet peeve, when I’m out with anyone, is when they just rush away from the table without you. Be it a good first date, a bad first date, three years into a relationship, a friend, a colleague, you get the idea. Half the time, I feel like most men I’ve dated are halfway to the door before I’ve even stood up all the way. I feel like that’s rude and honestly, selfish. Whether I like you or not, I will wait for you to gather your things and walk out beside you. My good male friend told me that’s my problem, my expectations are too high and it’s totally okay for someone to do that. Really? So I should just be okay with someone treating me poorly? He basically said I have no right to be upset about anything like that. I should not expect any kind of polite, courteous, or chivalrous behavior unless he is seriously interested in me and obviously this date had gone very poorly and he wasn’t interested in me at all.

So let me get this straight. You have to be seriously interested in someone to be courteous, in even the most common manner. Huh. See, all this time I have been nice to pretty much anyone and everyone because I have no reason not to be. I cannot imagine treating someone like that. So what if you’re on a date and it’s not going well and you don’t want to see each other again? Do we really live in a world where that person straight up doesn’t deserve for you to be respectful? This friend of mine said he is very careful about his body language [i.e. walking away before your date is ready to leave] so no one gets confused. Well darling, I’m pretty sure I won’t consider you waiting for me to put my coat on and grab my purse a marriage proposal.

Then on the other hand, I have another very good male friend. I told him my frustration with this walking out thing and my disappointment with my other friend’s response. This friend told me he has never felt my expectations were too high and I deserve a man that will treat me like an equal and not so inferior that I have to rush about just to keep up and like I belong behind him. Sure, being picked up for a date is impractical and potentially dangerous, online dating being as popular as it is. Likewise, rushing around to open the car door when I go to get out is also a little absurd. But is it too much to expect a man to let you walk in ahead of him? Is it too much to want him to wait for me to at least stand up before he leaves? Now, I don’t really expect a man to wait and make sure I drive away first, although I’d be pleasantly surprised if he did, but I do expect him to see me to my car. If I don’t hear from him, I don’t hear from him. Incompatibility is perfectly acceptable, but being rude for no other reason than being rude is not.

I do not feel my expectations are too high in the slightest. I don’t care how tall the man is, I don’t care if he is a blond or a brunette, if he works in an office or with his hands, and I don’t need him to be a millionaire. I want a polite man who is engaging and interested, who wants to do those little things that add up to so much. He should have a car, a job and a sense of humor. Compassion is also pretty important. Selfishness is unattractive and I will never settle for that. When I am dating a man, I have no problem buying or making him dinner, we can take turns picking the movie or activity, I’ll boost your ego and you can boost mine. I would much rather buy my own dinner and be treated with politeness and respect than have a free meal from an inconsiderate man.

My long and roundabout point is that, while maybe not quite dead, chivalry is mostly in the past. Most men will call themselves an old-fashioned gentleman, but few of them really know what that means. We live in a world where we are only polite when it is convenient to us. We treat most of the people around us poorly and continue to allow it. You have to earn the niceties that should just be common courtesy. And very rarely will you find yourself across the table from a true gentleman, but we ALL deserve one.


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