Sometimes things hit you between the eyes. That happened for me recently when I attended an event at the Stamford Yacht Club. The observation happened as I was going to the restroom!
At first it was just something I noticed. But then I realized how this one thing could have big repercussions.
What I saw on the door struck me. The sign read 'Gentlemen.' That's not the word you typically see on a restroom door nowadays. Usually there's just the plain word "men." Or in other cases the iconic avatar of an amorphous male figure so that words aren't even needed. No, the word here was 'gentlemen.'
Every so often on my twitter feed I read items from women with a strident tone demanding chivalry, and complaining when it’s missing. To women who feel that way, my advice is to change your perspective so you start attracting more.
The very element of demanding it creates a dynamic that demeans the whole meaning behind it. Chivalry brings with it a statement of a man considering women special and worthy of caring. If all women want is the grunt work of having someone open the door for them or carry their bags or give up the seat on the subway, they are robbing it of the graciousness behind chivalry. Just about any woman I know if fully capable of opening her own door, carrying her own bags and standing on a moving bus or train. So it isn’t the physical need of having that door opened that a lady would want, it’s the meaning behind it.
When I read my twitter feed or search for tweets on #Chivalry, there are a steady stream of complaints. Not just from women. From men too.
Some women tweet about how rare chivalry is and how disappointed they are in men nowadays. How no man stood up on the bus or train to offer a seat to a woman. How someone let a door hit them rather than hold it for her. How men have become so disinterested in offering these gestures.
Men will jump in with a perspective that women will say they want chivalry and affection but that it's not the truth. They will say that when push comes to shove women will want "bad boys" or will choose looks over good character. And they will cite that a an excuse to not offer chivalry to any woman, saying it's not deserved or reciprocated.
Of course, judging an entire gender by the actions of some subset is unfair to all. It's true that there are men who will offer chivalry and others who will not. There are women who will appreciate it and gravitate toward men who offer it and others who are just looking for a hot date with a slick-dressed man in a fast car.
Fairly regularly I read items (sometimes in tweets directed at me, other times they're opinion pieces in blogs) ridiculing the idea of chivalry at a time of gender equality. How DARE I promote something that carries the message of male superiority and female inferiority? The way I see chivalry, as you may surmise, is not based on any such notion.
The offering of chivalry and the notion of equal rights for women can co-exist quite easily. The dividing line becomes something that’s more nuanced. It’s a recognition that there are differences in how people get treated in a professional/ workplace environment and how they are treated when in a social situation.
When it comes to the workplace, women and men have the same rights to compete for jobs, to receive fair treatment, to get paid the same if they do the same work in the same circumstances etc. Both men and women benefit when companies hire the best qualified people to do whatever needs to be done. I also would say that there is a space for what would be common professional courtesy in a workplace whereas gestures of chivalry would not be apropos.
The date. You have a lot riding on it. Maybe it’s early in a new relationship and you want to really stand out and impress her, let her know you’re not a run-of-the mill guy. Or maybe you’re a couple, always busy between work, kids, the house, and it’s one of those all too rare nights out to enjoy together. Whatever your personal case it matters for the date to go well.
Think of how many dates you go on during your life. If it’s just 10 a year, that’s anywhere from 400 to 600 dates. Hopefully more. Let’s say each one costs $100 on average, some more, some less. That’s $40,000! Of course, if some of those dates turn into "the real thing" they can become priceless.
Realize that if you're married the dating doesn't stop. Great dates can keep the relationship better and make you both a touch happier so you stay together. So those dates become worth however much a breakup and divorce could cost you.
Among all those dates, how many of them turn into simply another 'fine' but quickly forgotten time? How many leave her feeling like the place was nice, the food was good but nothing stood out as memorable?
If the date isn’t memorable, how will you be?
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Single men are always wondering how to get the attention of women they'd like to meet. Many sites offer all sorts of "magic" pick-up lines or "secret" seduction techniques. They prey on the hopes of young guys (well, not always just young ones) who are often a bit shy and/or not necessarily blessed with model looks or a bodybuilder's physique. What if the answer were simpler?
Last night I took my wife out for a drink after we'd had dinner with some friends. I felt like going to The Tilted Kilt to check it out. It was a lively and loud Irish pub filled largely with young people. Many men and some groups of women too. The waitresses are dressed in kilts and tops that accentuate their figures (busboys wear kilts too). We were treated by a very pretty and young waitress named Melissa who had a sweet smile and a great attitude.
As we were leaving I helped my wife off her chair (we were sitting at a high-top) and then helped her on with her coat. Melissa walked back over to us to tell us we looked "adorable." She said it's so rare to see couples treating each other the way my wife and I did.
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It's always nice to get some reassurance that you're being noticed and appreciated. I am happily married for more than 23 years and plan for many more; yet it's still a great feeling when you can place a smile on the face of any woman. I've consistently seen this happen when practicing chivalry toward women I meet as well as when they see me being chivalrous with my wife.
Afterward I thought to myself 'how many of the young single men in this place would like to capture the attention of this young woman?' Or some other woman they'd like to meet?
You may see this and think: "Wait! Did I read that right? You're telling me you shouldn't be chivalrous? I thought that's what you've been telling me to be!"
It's all about the should. To practice chivalry is a choice. A choice for the man whether to offer the gesture and a choice for the woman as to whether to accept. When either feels that it should be done only because the other person demands it then the meaning behind the gesture has been lost. If chivalry is done without sincerity, what good is it?
I choose to practice chivalry because I want to! It's my choice.
If I offered acts of chivalry just because of some sense that I should, only because my wife or any woman asked me or expected it and made me feel bad if I didn't, what would it even mean to the woman? Because it's not about the gesture as something a woman physically requires. No woman I've met couldn't have opened that door herself. Put on her coat. Or pulled out her own chair at a restaurant. To offer chivalry isn't implying that a woman needs a man's help to do something she'd be unable to on her own. The whole point is the display of caring and respect that is the underpinning of the chivalrous gesture.
I've been reading lots of the blog posts, articles and some of the books that are written as guides for the gentleman of today. So many of the pieces published seek to somehow remake chivalry into something different, or deny that it has a value or purpose in modern society.
There are viewpoints expressed that chivalry should be redefined as common courtesy and that it should be extended to everyone of either gender. Of course we want to encourage politeness and courtesy to everyone (certainly our society can do with more of that). However, eliminating the concept of chivalry in an attempt to fit into a bland same thing for everyone approach minimizes the value that it can have in the dealings between women and men. It's as if in an effort to modernize, everything from the past is supposed to be discarded.
Valentine's Day is around the corner. And with it come all sorts of reminders to display affection, buy flowers, candy or other gifts. So much effort seems to go into thinking about it. And while it's a special day, cramming all your attention into that one day can make the rest of the time feel a bit flat.
Well, it's what you do the other 364 days that decides the strength of the foundation for your relationship with her. That goes whether you're married 23 years as I am, or you've been together just a few months. It even affects how women may notice you standing out from the vast crowd of men if you are searching for that special someone.