A few of my dates have had impeccable manners. Most weren’t brought up in a house of privilege. Some were taught how to treat a woman by their mothers. However, if their mother didn’t teach them, at some point they decided it was important to learn and practice chivalry.
What do I mean? Holding doors, holding the chair and seating a woman at a restaurant, opening the car door, helping put on and take off her coat, walking on the outside of the sidewalk, making sure she orders first, walking together instead of ahead. These aren’t big behaviors to learn and practice. However, I’ve noticed few men — even educated, successful, accomplished men — do any of them at all or if they do, it’s happenstance, not consistent.
Am I expecting too much? My women friends don’t think so. Nor do those who practice chivalry regularly. I love a gay friend escorting me to important events when I’m in between beaus, as he is the epitome of chivalrous.
So why don’t more men practice them, even if they are not with a woman they are interested in? Holding a chair for a coworker or standing when a gal pal walks into a meeting is over the top. But opening doors isn’t.
Are these hard behaviors to learn? Hardly. Carolyn Millet teaches classes on manners to 12-year-old boys. And she teaches the girls how to respond graciously.
I know sometimes women respond poorly to well-meaning chivalry. They confuse respectful manners with demeaning behaviors. I don’t. In fact, I think chivalry shows respect for a woman.
So how do we awaken the hibernating manners in a man? I employ the “catch him doing something right” technique. I always thank him when he opens the door, helps with my coat, etc. If I want him to help with my coat and he hasn’t in the past, I’ll gently hand him my coat as we’re leaving. Unless he’s really obtuse, he’ll get it. I tell him “I love it when you do chivalrous things. It makes me feel cherished.” Some get it. Others continue to hibernate. When they do awaken, they’ll find mating season is over.