Chivalry should not become a lost art and we, as women, ought to step up to the plate a bit more and encourage men to treat us as women, thereby respecting them as men. Do you have tips, ideas, or stories to encourage men to be… men?! Open doors for us, initiate dates, honor us as women, etc? Let’s chat! (Thanks to Sarah Thérèse!)
My most memorable read on chivalry came from a Catholic mommy blogger who wrote that to help her daughters encourage and expect respectful, honoring behaviors like door-opening, she instructed them to passively demand it through their actions. As in, don’t get out of the car when you park. Just sit there and wait until he gets the message he should open it for you. Don’t open the door to the restaurant if you happen to get there first or at the same time. Stand there and wait.I read that and thought that if I did that to the majority of men I’ve dated–especially on the first couple of dates–they would not even know what I was doing for a long, increasingly awkward number of seconds—definitely more than 30. And I believe that they would find it, well, annoying. My personal belief is that such passive, non-verbal cues are not the right approach for the majority of young men today. Why? Lack of formation. And clear communication is always better.
I don’t believe lack of chivalry is a deliberate state and the fault of conscious actions on the part of men. Rather, I think it is more a lack of awareness that chivalrous behaviors are things that should be done. Men aren’t being taught to honor women in these small ways. And I also do not think that the burden of teaching them should fall too much on the shoulders of us young women. The biggest idea I have is to get older men more involved in the lives of the younger. I have heard men learn best by example and by doing it themselves. How much better it would be for them to model chivalry than to witness their fathers, brothers, uncles, priests, fellow Knights of Columbus council members?
I also believe when it comes to such matters involving men to simply ask them. So I asked Mr. Sweet.
Q. What would you think if I on our first dates just sat in the car or stood at a closed door?
A. I could see doing that once or twice to set the expectation. But I also wouldn’t want you to do that.
[Ed. note: this side-tracked into a conversation about what would be the passive equivalent on part of the woman. The one thing I came up with is if a man wants to encourage our femininity, a “wait” action would be to just stand and look our jeans and sweater once over, as if we’re supposed to “get” we should be in a skirt or dress. Mr. Sweet came up with the situation in which you are solidly together and hanging out at someone’s place, and when dinner is mentioned, the guy just “waits” on the couch for you to get up and make the dinner. But those are extreme cases. Probably more like the “wait” if he does something like open the door or pay for the meal and you don’t say thank you. In any of the above or in a similar situation the guy did the “wait” for you (and it can come with an aggressive or condescending tone, too), would you like it?
Q. Well, how can young women encourage men?
A. For example, don’t rush for the door. Give a slight pause. Let us lead.
[Ed. note: I think if a man has been formed, all it takes is a subtle nudge for the chivalry gene to kick in. I don’t believe it’s conscious rudeness or fear that the woman is one of those emasculators who hates when men do things, but more “oh yeah,” absent-mindedness.
A. Or, if you are cold and your date has a jacket, simply and clearly indicate that you are cold.
A. Have self-respect: dress modestly. Be considerate of the whole person that you are and the whole person that he is. Know that if a man is distracted by a revealing outfit, it might not register to him to take the chivalrous action.
A. You can subtly encourage him to ask you out on a date. Just don’t be creepy. If you’ve been talking online and on the phone for a little while, you can cutely hint that meeting in person might be a good idea. But don’t do this if he just sent you the first emotigram or message.
[Ed. note: I believe hinting is okay. In college, a guy told me that only if a guy is nearly 100% certain of his success will he approach/ask out a girl. This notion has been confirmed in the past by a couple other guys. For the record, Mr. Sweet didn't mind that I teased meeting together. But it was up to him to take the lead on everything else. So if you go this route, do nothing else. Leave it to him to say "yeah, great idea. How's this Thursday? Dinner? Movie?]
Thus endeth this little interview. My final thoughts on this subject are on communication. Guys (and I’ve read this in general marriage and relationship advice books and seen it work in action) like when you plainly tell them stuff. They are not mind readers. They may have a lower emotional intelligence than you. Before you go out, communicate in your lovely feminine tone how you feel about chivalry. “I’m the kinda girl who likes a door held open for her,” she said sweetly. If you meet up at a place for a first date (please do this if you’ve never met him/met online; get there yourself, get home yourself), make it a fun topic to discuss “What do you think makes a true gentleman?” she asked with glints of interest in her eye. His answers will give you insights into who he is and how he feels and what he believes. Perhaps your conversation will help you see he hates passive aggressive approaches and prefers a simple “Would you mind getting the door?” Or he dated a woman who believed chivalry was chauvinism and he was afraid to ever be considerate again.
Because that’s what chivalry really is: consideration. He considers you a valuable person worthy of respect and kindness. You, too, can be chivalrous. If his hands are full, open the door. It’s okay. Always say thank you. Offer to treat him once in a while. And chivalry extends beyond romantic relationships. Open doors for everyone, especially the aged and new moms with strollers and college kids with crutches, male and female alike. Simply honor one another.
*If you liked this little interview, come back tomorrow to meet Nicole Lataif, friend and award-winning authoress, as I host a Back to School Blog Tour for Pauline Books and Media! Thank you!