October 25, 2012

Modern Day Chivalry: Does it Exist?

The chivalrous days might be gone but that doesn't mean you can't be a fine gentleman. (via elephantjournal.com)

Years ago, a well-mannered gentleman was automatically considered a heartthrob to women.

Those were the times when society was leaning more towards patriarchal values. Basically, the beliefs back then were that men should always pay for dinner, women should never have to lift a finger – not even to open and close the door, and that men should be the sole provider of the family while women should just stay at home. These archaic beliefs were established because of the industrial nature of the work force back then. In those years, most jobs didn’t require wearing formal wear for men such as suits and neckties. Instead, they involved operating heavy machinery and working in labor-intensive factories. Of course, we can also factor in things such as culture, religion, and tradition – but that’s another story altogether.

Times have changed recently, however. Opportunities have opened up for women which have led to an equality between men and women in terms of education, occupation, and household and societal responsibilities. Decades ago, people could have never imagined concepts such as stay at home dads, female bosses, or going dutch during romantic dates. Women gained more power over the years and as a result, have also gained more independence. Modern men have acknowledged this change – they no longer consider women to helpless, fragile beings and have established a new sense of chivalry.  However, older people may think that this younger generation has since ignored customs established by their predecessors. So all of this made me think: what is modern chivalry like? Here are some of the general rules to being a modern, chivalrous gentleman.

Say you’re on a train back from work.  You are quite tired and thankful that you found a seat even though it’s rush hour and the train is absolutely packed with commuters. You won’t give up your seat for anyone especially since it will still take about half an hour to arrive at your stop. All of a sudden you see a lady lugging five bags of groceries get on. She really looks tired, her feet are killing her, and she just wants to sit down. While it’s not necessarily a rule, it would be a nice gesture to offer your seat so she can sit down. The same gesture applies for pregnant women or those who are carrying children. While this is rather simple, more and more men don’t even blink an eye during situations like this.

Let’s move on to a topic I know most of you are more interested in – dating. What are the modern rules of dating? The simplest, and probably the most golden rule of being a chivalrous individual is to be on time. Note that this does not only apply to dating but to other functions as well. It doesn’t matter whether you get caught on traffic or something incredulous happens along the way – your date will still judge you primarily based on your punctuality. Of course, your appearance and table manners also matter. To avoid disasters such as being late for a romantic dinner date, start preparing two hours ahead of time. This will give you enough time to get a clean shave, dress up in a fine tux and fancy bow tie, and have a little bit of leeway for traffic jams and minor inconveniences along the way. The general rule is to be ten minutes early. Don’t be late because your date might become annoyed and the night will definitely go downhill because she has formed an opinion about you – an opinion which you believe is contrary to who you really are. Now if you really can’t avoid being late, do not forget to call or text her and let her know that you are caught up with something. This shows that you respect her time and that you are considerate enough to let her know that plans have slightly changed.

Now comes the bill: who will pay for this nice, expensive 5-star meal we’ve ordered? Some people believe that men should pay during the first date. Other think that the lady and the gentleman should split the bill. If you want to avoid awkwardness, I say you should just foot the bill on your first date, even if it was a dinner that was planned by the both of you together. If you were the one who asked her to go out, it is definitely a requirement that you pay the bill. Now, if your date insists that you split the bill, that’s when you know that the both of you should go dutch. Remember though,  the first date will set the precedence for the following ones.

Now, if the two of you have been dating for a while and so far you’re the only one who’s paying the tab – it might be time for some serious communication – unless you’re comfortable with this setup, of course. I know that this might be a difficult one to bring up, but there are a few ways to get around it. You can first bring it up as a joke and if she gets the hint, then you’re in luck. If she still doesn’t get it, bring it up to her in a nice, non-accusatory tone. “Hun, can we split the tab next time?” Most level-headed women would understand but if your lady throws a fit, then it might be time to re-think the relationship.

Post first date: what’s next? Regardless whether you had a good time or not, thank her for the night by sending her a text or an email. Don’t call as that may seem too aggressive. However, if you really like her and would like to setup a second meeting – definitely do it over the phone. Not only will this demonstrate confidence, this will also show genuine interest. If she doesn’t respond or if she says no – just let it go. Don’t turn into a hopeless romantic (aka crazy stalker) and pursue things further.

These are some general rules to being a well-mannered gentleman. Chivalry may not have the appeal that it did 50 or 60 years ago, but in some select cases, having the proper manners will definitely make you stand out. Some might think that a man showing chivalry is a sign of weakness or an insult to the opposite sex’s capabilities. However, that doesn’t mean that you should stop being a decent human being. Politeness and decency might sometimes seem to be lost in today’s society but there are still a lot of people who appreciate good values. I still believe chivalry is alive, and can make a comeback.

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