I was headed into the post office the other day and a gentleman asked if he could open the door for me as we both approached. I said “Of course”, and as he opened the door for me, he proceeded to tell me that he found most women had a bad reaction to these types of gestures, including a girlfriend of his. He told me his girlfriend was offended by behaviors such as opening doors, pulling out chairs, etc. With a smile, I asked if she was still his girlfriend and with a smile back, he replied “No.” We went on to have a brief discussion about the dying art of chivalry, especially with the young boys and girls who are just entering the world of dating. I told him that I loved these old fashion gestures and wished more men and women engaged in these time-honored acts of courtesy and courtship. I suggested that our current culture of texts, tweets, hurriedness, and competition may have unfairly replaced important values such as courtesy, cooperation, and kindness. Some time passed, we wished each other a good day, and went on about our business.
I found myself feeling puzzled and somewhat sad that there were women out there that took offense to such gentlemanly gestures. I pondered on what their concerns could be and what I would want to tell all the men and women, girls and boys out there who shun the art of chivalry. Then I remembered my blog. So this week I dedicate my blog to all acts of chivalry. Here is my take on what chivalry is and what it is not.
Chivalry is not about
- Trying to control a woman or another man for that matter
- Assuming a woman is rendered helpless or powerless
- Inequality of pay, status, or career mobility
- Proving men are superior
- Money or power
- Keeping women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen
- Wanting to hold women back, progress back, or equal rights back
- Preserving an out-dated, old fashion way of approaching courtship
Chivalry is about
- Demonstrating courteous behaviors
- Appreciating women (and men)
- Celebrating the differences between the sexes (or similarities)
- Protecting the women (or men) that men (or women) love
- Learning certain rituals conducive for dating respectfully and establishing relationships
- Making another person feel cared for
- Preserving time-honored rituals that men and women can feel good about
- Creating an environment that celebrates kindness, patience, and cooperation
In truth, I know many, if not most of you, appreciate and live your lives with chivalry. But for any of you naysayers out there, I ask you to give it a chance. I ask you to encourage your sons and daughters to give it a try as they live their daily lives and embark on the world of dating. It simply feels good and makes the world a better place.
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com