Ladies Love a Gentleman: A New Age of Modern Chivalry
“How do we know who likes it and who doesn’t?” says Michael Sullivan, who lives in Halifax.
“Once I held the door open for a date on the way to dinner, only to be told that she was quite capable of opening doors herself. Which totally ruined the evening, I felt like she had me pegged as a sexist pig.”
Although there are those who do not appreciate a guy taking the masculine role, plenty of women just love it. Vancouverite Lynne Williams swoons at gentlemanly behaviour.
“A man opening doors, walking on the outside of the sidewalk, ordering for me. Just wow.”
This feminist-leaning girl veers hard for that kind of guy!” Jennifer Aikman, who is also from Vancouver, puts it like this: “I’m a dead sucker for gentlemanly behavior. I shave my legs and wear lipstick, the least a guy can do is stand up when I enter the room.”
Jason Tesauro, co-author of The Modern Lover: A Playbook for Suitors, Spouses, and Ringless Carousers and teacher of manners for modern men says that the problem for men is partly generational.
“If you go back to our grandparents, men were ingrained with the gender specific roles of social behavior and a man knew what a man was and women accepted certain roles as well,” says Tesauro.
“As women’s lives have expanded men have been left going, ‘Well wait a minute, I’m no longer defined as the breadwinner, my wife makes more money than I do, I’m no longer defined as a caretaker, and I’m not even necessary for procreation.’ Today’s men are floating a bit and wondering how to deal with having both machismo and sensitivity.”
Striking a Balance
These days, gentlemanly acts are not only in danger of being misinterpreted as being sexist. So rare is such bbehaviourthat, by displaying it, you may not be thought of as strictly straight. Tesauro says it is key to integrate the manners, the savvy and the vice of being a gentleman in to your life when dating.
“If you just have the manners, and you are just being chivalrous, you’ll certainly be invited over for strolls on Saturday afternoons but you’re not exactly going to get the hall pass or a call on the nights that she’s on a buzz and feels like smooching,” says Tesauro.
“If all you offer is vice then she’s got a party pal, but you’re still unlikely to be taken seriously as a suitor. You’ve got to pull something out of each one of those playbooks.”
Basically, a man needs to act like a man in order to pull off the whole manners thing and still be seen as decent breeding material. Having confidence in your actions, and not being afraid to be a man is vital.
Beyond Opening Doors for a Lady
Tesauro says that being a modern gentleman means being proficient in the language of courtship and being able to keep that going as the relationship matures. Of course standing up when a lady arrives or alights from the table is very charming, but being gentlemanly should extend beyond just old fashioned manners and show your date respect, creativity and good taste.
“For example, should you be running late, don’t leave your date strumming her fingers at the bar wondering if she’s been stood up again. Call the hostess and tell her ‘I’m meeting a brunette with glasses, please send over a glass of bubbly and a note to say I’m running late,'” says Tesauro. “Then she might not know where the date is going but she’ll already be thinking ‘I dig this guy.'”
Because many women these days are fed up with the pool of men out there, and resigned to doing without rather than settling, men have to work harder to catch the women of their dreams.
“It used to be that you just needed to land a woman. Now we live with someone for five years before we drop to one knee, you sleep with someone first before we decide if you want to be in a relationship because you don’t want to waste all that time only to find out they aren’t any good in the sack,” he says.
“So your skill set needs to be more vast in order to market yourself as a suitor.”
According to Tesauro, a modern gentleman needs to know how to handle himself around food, wine and spirits because this is such a big part of the dating world.
He should have the confidence to order a drink for a lady without it being sexist (no ordering Fuzzy Navels; instead, thoughtful drinks that she likes and that match her personality), expect his date to be smart, and not be afraid of taking a leading role in the dance of courtship. “You know in dancing someone’s got to take the lead and do the dipping, right? It’s historically the boy, so don’t be afraid to step up,” he says.
Sexist or Sexy?
Tesauro says that he doesn’t “run into too many women complaining anymore that their men are too hard. I’m hearing that they are too soft and they are playing it too safe. Let’s not be feckless just because we are trying to be politically correct. Let’s still be men.”
He doesn’t see kind, thoughtful or considerate actions as being sexist. “If it’s a courtesy that you would show a friend, cousin or business colleague then it’s probably going to fly with her,” he advises.
There are, of course, women who don’t respond to men taking the lead, and Tesauro says that this is because they are so caught up in a gender power play that they suspect gentlemanly men of being fake.
Pretty quick into the rendezvous you’re going to find out if this is the way your date is taking your actions, and if they aren’t being appreciated, perhaps she just isn’t the girl for you (you need to find a lady who thinks manly men with manners are hot).
There is no way that Jo Greene considers herself as anything less than her husband’s equal, but there are old-fashioned ways he treats her that make her melt. “I like my husband to be getting me drinks when we are out, even if the money is from our joint account,” says Greene, who resides in Hamilton, ON. “He knows that I love him playing that masculine role. It’s this, and many other unspoken gestures, that I truly appreciate.”