Chivalry Is Dead Except When It’s Done Right

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man and woman in rainA few weeks ago I was at a coffee shop on a date. I got up to get a straw for my meal-in-a-cup-coffee-drink when my date scolded me for acting of my own accord. "My lady doesn't get a straw," he told me. "I get it for her." Being ever so capable, I was turned off.

Two weeks ago, I was on a different date. As we approached the Italian restaurant, I mentioned how much I loved eggplant parmigiana. I even said I hoped it was on the menu. It wasn't on the menu, but my date was persistent and persuaded the chef to make me my own special dish. He said that "the lady deserves what she wants." I was slightly embarrassed, but felt like a queen. I ate my eggplant and enjoyed every bite.  

I know, it doesn't compute. I found the latter situation sweet, while the former left me sour. It all depends on the guy, his attitude, and my emotions. The sad truth is, chivalry is a mixed bag baby

When gender studies professor Hugo Schwyzer wrote about the contradictions around chivalry, I got to thinking about how tough it really is to be a guy. I brought this up last night to my friend, and sex therapist, Hernando Chaves. He agreed and said he assesses his chivalry on a date-by-date basis. 

When it comes to chivalry, it's like choosing between an Almond Joy and a Mounds. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. Back in the day, I was a do-it-myself kind of girl. Split the bill or pay if I asked a man out. Walk him to his car. Now I like when he pays the check at a restaurant, or at least when he offers. And I'm less inclined to give him a second chance if he doesn't walk me to the car or hold the door for me. 

Maybe it's an age thing, but there's something about being treated like a lady that I like, and that something is being treated like a lady. For example, I'm more attracted to a man who knows that men walk closer to the street and women walk on the inside. It doesn't matter the reason (back in the day, a horse and buggy could really make a mess), what matters most is that he does it. There's something honorable about him knowing and doing. Enough said. 

Sometimes a guy doesn't want to act like a guy because then he's perceived to be too much man, but sometimes too much of a man is exactly what I want. I don't think there's anything wrong with giving in to the roles we feel comfortable in. It feels like a relief to let men be men, when men want to be men. And I enjoy being a woman when I want to be a woman. But not when it comes to getting my own straw. 

Do you like when a man acts like "a man"?


Image via duncanh1/Flickr

turn-offs, turn-ons, dating

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mommix4 mommix4

My husband has been opening doors,pulling out chairs, and every other chivalrous thing since we were 17! We are now 31. Our boys do the same ages 13and 7. But we do teach the girls that when a boy does those things you should always thank them and not take it for granted.

CyraEm CyraEm

It's so personal. I walk on the outside with my husband, because when I was a kid my dad used to do that so that if a car popped the curb it would hit him instead of us kids. So I do it to because I want to protect my husband. I don't like when people open doors for me, I made sure when we dated that money was even, but I like when my husband calls me his "woman" (so long as he's joking) and makes alpha-male jokes. Like, "Honey, you mind getting me socks out of the dryer?" *I go to do it.* "...woman."

Melis... Melissa042807

I do like when a man is a gentleman, but you're right, there is a good way and a bad way to do it.


For example, I had a boyfriend once who was a complete utter and total gentleman. To a fault. He always opened my doors, always pulled out my chair, always helped me put on my coat, always paid the bill...but when he did it, there was always this air that he was sort of putting on a big show, and it never quite sat right with me.


My husband, now, does all the same things. Has since our first date. But with him, it just felt totally natural and comfortable. I feel like a lady. Not like a prop a guy is using to show himself off.

nonmember avatar Liz

It's all in the pronouns (and articles). The first date referred to you as "my lady", which, besides being presumtuous, implies that you're a possession, and is a comment that's really designed to make him look good. The second date, on the other hand, used the term "a lady", showing he feels all women are deserving of respect (and eggplant parmigiana). He wasn't trying to control your behavior, he simply wanted you to be happy. A subtle but significant difference, for sure. (Hope you get a second with him.)

Nancy Wolak Gross

It may not be the norm anymore for a man to act chivalrous, but I sure appreciate it when he does. It shows me he has manners and that he respects me. I like being treated like a lady and I, in turn, will treat him like a man. It is a good thing.

Sinat... SinatrasKitten

I love it when men are chivalrous! I've always been able to take care of myself, but it's nice to know that he wants to take care of me too. It makes me feel safe and loved.

nonmember avatar Christine

Gentlemen are far and few between these days! My Grandpa was a true gentlemen. If I had to sum his amazing life in one word, gentleman, would be that word. My husband is one of the few gentlemen I see out there. He thinks of me and our daughter before he thinks of himself, he opens the door for me, he carries the heavy things, he is polite to ALL, he will let a car out into the flow of traffic when no one else will. My husband is not the kind of man that makes sure everyone around him sees or hears him being "galant", he is the man that a mom with kids remembers as helping her open the store door when she had her hands full.....he is a gentleman.

nonmember avatar shinn

You said: "I'm more attracted to a man who knows that men walk closer to the street and women walk on the inside."

Sadly, that rule is now reversed in this urban warfare environment today; the male should be the one closer to the buildings and doorways.

Water... Water_geM

My husband is a gentlemen,he makes me walk on te inside and carries things so i don't have too..its much harder for him to be now since we have small kids..so we are both tackling everything so our outing run smoother..maybe that is chivalry and not telling me its my job to deal with the kids.

Dontribi Dontribi

"Gentlemen are far and few between these days!"  That is true.  And women killed them.  I consider myself very chivalrous.  After 20 years with my wife I still open doors, walk on the outside for the same reason pointed out above, etc but when I was dating the hardest thing was trying to read a woman. 


Some women would be offended if you paid for dinner, other couldn't stand it opening their doors or pulling out their chairs.  Telling me they're self sufficient and they can do it themselves.  That isn't the point.  Its a gesture that we see as being masculine (caretaker, provider, etc), I also think it makes a woman feel more feminine (the ones that like it anyway).  Its not that women aren't capable of doing things for themselves, it's that we enjoy doing it for them (makes us feel better).  But after getting told you can do this, you can't do that, you just give up and do what you want.


Thankfully I found a woman who enjoys being spoiled and I like spoiling her so it works for us.  Then there are others who are still paying dutch, pulling out their own chair, opening their own door, and have separate bank accounts because they want to maintain their ability to do things for themselves.  Ultimately.....To each his/her own!

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