If you're into sports, you've likely heard the term "short-arming the ball." If not, what it means is not using a full extension of your arm when you are making a pitch, throwing a football etc. The reason athletes want to avoid "short-arming" the ball is that it causes a loss in distance and velocity. It's less effective. Coaches will work with those athletes to help them get more extension and a greater range of motion in their throwing attempts, so they attain more speed and accuracy.
There's an equivalent to short-arming when it comes to chivalry. For some guys there's a degree of uncertainty. Do they really want to do it? Does she really want it? Do I look too formal or out-of-place? What ends up happening for some men is that they pull back and offer something that looks chivalrous but isn't fully extended. That results in a gesture that looks awkward or not elegant, and it renders the act less effective.
I've witnessed this happening at restaurants as I've watched a man "sort of" hold out a chair for his date. Instead of standing fully behind the chair, pulling it out for the woman to step in and then pushing it in as she sat, the man stood at the side of the chair and with one hand pulled it at an angle and then tried to straighten it as she sat. It looked somewhat awkward and gave the impression he wasn't sure whether or how to hold out the chair. It was as if he was caught in limbo. So instead of looking confident and proud, he looked unsure. It lost the positive edge the gesture can convey.
It was the chivalry equivalent of short-arming the ball.
And by the way, ladies, there's something you may be doing in this regard as well. I have often seen women respond to having the chair held out for them with a move that is less than elegantly feminine. I'm not talking about rejecting the gesture. What I've seen many women do as that as they step in between the chair and table they will start to crouch as if they are waiting to be sure the chair is in place for them to finish sitting. What this does is leave the woman in an awkward position of looking frozen in a position that may seem like a frog's. It isn't the most graceful way, and it comes across as awkward uncertainty.
So what's the elegant way of doing it, off getting that full extension and delivering a pitch that's effective? Choose to play it full out. The gentleman stands fully behind the chair and pulls it back from the table to allow the woman space to stand between it and the table. Once she is standing there, gently push the chair in, allowing it to softly tap the back of her leg. Ladies, that is your signal to sit down gracefully. One the woman is seated, the gentleman gently pushes the chair in closer to the table so that the woman is at the right distance to enjoy her meal. Depending on the chair and floor, a lady may need to lighten her pressure sitting on the chair for the man to be able to push it in.
If you want to add the flourish of taking her napkin (especially if it's been folded and sits inside one of the glasses), that can add even more flair if you like. But whether you do that or not, allow the chair-holding "dance" between the man and the woman to happen in a way that fits the atmosphere you want to enhance.
An attraction of chivalry is the genteel elegance of it and the way it takes a routine moment and dresses it up. Rather than "short-arming" it, go all the way!
© 2014, John Rasiej, Bring Chivalry Back
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John Rasiej is a Chivalry and Relationship Expert who founded Bring Chivalry Back™ for the purpose of enhancing the quality and enjoyment of relationships by men and women. He rediscovered the value of chivalry several years ago and has been practicing it both in his marriage of 23 years as well as when he's been among groups made up largely of women. Chivalry and similar gestures resulted in a more satisfying marital relationship and life, and also helped him stand out to many women in those group.He now shares the value of chivalry with more men and couples so they too can have happier results. You can follow him and get a special report how to deepen relationships and attract a woman's admiration at BringChivalryBack.com. You can follow him on twitter at @YesToChivalry.