15 Acts Of Chivalry For The 21st Century

Times change, and along with them – social norms change. Technology changes. Acceptable behavior changes (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse), and basically, well, everything changes.

For this reason, we cannot always simply ‘bring back’ certain concepts that were once widely accepted or appreciated, and for good reason. But what we can do is glance back at the past and pull the frosting off the top, so to speak. Particularly when it comes to dating and relationships, there have been noticeable changes in the way we approach and treat each other.

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The origins of chivalry may be ancient, and not all considered appropriate for modern society. But, we can take the parts we want that we feel will make the dating process better, and leave the rest to lay where it is. Here are a few practices that I feel are the ‘frosting off the top’ of the way things were, but often are no longer. We can learn, adjust, and mold them to fit current trends.

Understand etiquette of who leads who.

Proper etiquette dictates that in situations such as being seated by a host/hostess at a restaurant, theater, or places of the like – the woman is to lead. In more crowded places that may require a push or two to get through, the man is to lead the woman. Bonus points for reaching back and holding her hand behind you to keep her close.

Furthermore, she is to lead walking up stairs, and he is to lead going down stairs. These may seem like small details, but in a world where etiquette is often brushed aside, those who pay attention to the details are those who stand out from the crowd.

Actually take the time to plan a date.

One of the most common complaints I hear from women is that men expect a casual text invitation to ‘hang out’ to pass as a date, and to send the same message. It most definitely does not – the effort you put into planning a date sends a woman the message of how much you are [or aren’t] truly interested in her.

In the age of technology, you are likely texting or chatting for awhile before you actually see each other. Use this time to discover some of her interests and plan something accordingly. In an age of apathy, your efforts will be well received.

Put your hand on the small of her back when introducing her to someone.

This is something I read a long time ago and it stuck with me for some reason. This is a passive sign of affection and isn’t inappropriate in a public setting, but it bonds the two of you together and helps her feel more comfortable.

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Call, don’t text a date invitation.

Just the fact that you would take the time to actually call a woman to ask her out on a date will put you lightyears ahead of your competition (of which there is a lot). Plus, you’ll be able to tell how excited or enthusiastic she is (or isn’t) about accepting your offer by actually hearing her voice.

Pick her up for the date.

Rather than suggesting a meeting place, always offer to pick her up from wherever she may be. It doesn’t matter if it’s extra driving than just going straight to the destination, these are the times when the extra effort matters. If you don’t know each other very well and she politely declines because she is more comfortable meeting at your destination, of course you should graciously accept the alternative suggestion – the important part is that you offered in the first place.

Open the door for her.

The door to the restaurant, the car door, the door to the car picking you up. Whatever door is relevant to you both walking through, please do not lose sight of this simple but often overlooked act of kindness.

Have her go first.

This is a general statement because it applies to many facets of the evening. Proper etiquette states that she is to sit first (remember the first point where she is leading you to the table), she is to order first, and even to take the first bite of the appetizer, bread, or whatever is on the table before the entrees arrive.

If you have a hard time remembering any of these, simply think of the old adage throughout the night: Ladies first.

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Dress appropriately.

How can the way you dress be considered an act of chivalry? Well, because the way you dress not only speaks to the respect you have for yourself, but also for the respect you have for the people you are dressing to be around. The more effort you put into how you look, the more it shows you value how the other person is going to perceive you and act towards you in return.

As a general rule of thumb, do your best to wear a blazer or sports jacket. Not yet convinced? It will help to make your shoulders look broader and your waist look trimmer. Both attractive qualities to women. As Tom Ford says: You should always keep your jacket buttoned, it will make you look ten pounds lighter.

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Pay the bill.

All of it.

No cell phones.

This point is a bit cringe-worthy because it certainly should be the stuff of common sense – not of perceived chivalry or exceptional courtesy. Unfortunately, though, it is necessary.

Do not touch your cell phone during your date. Leave it in your pocket. Glance at it when you use the restroom if you must. If you are expecting an emergency call or text, inform your date at the beginning of the evening.

If you are constantly tempted to use your cell phone, perhaps you should take it as a sign that you are not out with someone who is a great match for you, anyway. But regardless – keep it away as a sign of respect. She will notice.

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Walk on the street side of the sidewalk.

The purpose of this lost art is to show your willingness to be splashed instead of a woman should a passing car run through a puddle. Furthermore, in some countries people would throw trash out of windows, and the person walking closer to the building, was less likely to be hit. While the origins, again, are from a time not like today – the idea is the same: Protection.

It’s an effortless way to show her that you care.

Stand up from the table when she leaves or arrives.

You may be saying to yourself: Come on, nobody does that anymore.

Exactly.

If she orders something and doesn’t end up enjoying it…

Offer to trade plates with her.

Good morning texts.

A good morning text first thing doesn’t just say “good morning” – it says “you’re the first person I thought of when I woke up today.”

Small romantic acts aren’t just for the “honeymoon phase” of your relationship. Consistency is key.

Hint: This includes goodnight texts, too.

Walking her to her door.

At the end of your date, especially early on in the relationship, walk her safely to her door. This is especially important if she lives in a city. It shows you’re willing to put effort into protecting her and makes her feel safe – two important aspects of building her trust and comfort.

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Chivalry has evolved, as it should. It is not reasonable to expect to read articles telling us to lay our jackets across a puddle so that our date may walk across it, but it is reasonable to understand that common courtesy and respect never go out of style.

While many of today’s men have lost sight of these simple acts, or perhaps never learned them in the first place – the gentleman who holds himself to higher standards will always work to keep them alive.

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Click here to get my new e-book, The Modern Man’s Guide To Chivalry And Courtship!

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35 thoughts on “15 Acts Of Chivalry For The 21st Century

  1. I just want to add that guys, you WILL encounter women who will be offended by one or more of these. Don’t take it personally. Whether you want to continue on with a woman after she rips you a new one for holding the door for her is, of course, your decision.

    On the other hand, you will also encounter women who will politely decline one or more of these. Be sensitive to this, and do NOT take it personally. Take into account that she politely declined rather than tore you a new one. Some women have had bad experiences with guys who used their chivalry as a club. For example, he paid for dinner and then feels entitled to attempt to coerce her into sleeping with him; so next time she goes on a first date she is going to insist on splitting the check.

  2. I pride myself on the chivalry I’ve always had. I’ve found myself in many arguments with people about death (or lack thereof) of chivalry.

    My wife and I have been together for 7+ years.

    Many of these in the article I do, but there are great tips for things that I never thought of, or have let slide by the wayside (trading plates = genius; standing at her arrival and departure: archaic yet unique).

    As far as those that have slipped, actually planning dates, and dressing appropriately. I appreciate the reminder.

    In response to AthenaRCarson, outside of being the one to pay, I’ve encountered few women don’t appreciate chivalry. Even if they seem nonplussed, they will tell their girlfriends and you truly will come across as the white knight.

    Thanks for the validation, James. Before stumbling on your blog, I really thought I was the last one.

  3. Reblogged this on Berna's Vibe~The Way I See IT…. and commented:
    RE-blogged by Berna because JMS you’re so right@ common courtesy and respect will always be in style ! I took to heart teaching/showing ( as did my co- parenting partner ) our sons how to treat women with respect .. These are things that should rightfully be taught at home … I can fully testify that chivalry is NOT dead .. And always , always it’s appreciated and returned tenfold ! Once again JMS outstanding write ….

  4. Thank you for writing this. As a woman I do still appreciate these gestures. I may have a higher degree and a sense of independence in terms of my career, but I still love being treated like a woman. The equality I seek is in the decisions made in a relationship not just chores around the home.

  5. Love your articles. Just to let you know, in New Orleans (where I am), it is customary for the man to walk on street side (as you suggested) UNLESS in the French Quarter. In the old days, “ladies of the evening” would hang out windows and hassle passing women – it was appropriate to keep these “ladies” away from your date! Thought you would appreciate how a “local” custom can alter things from time to time.

  6. Every. Single. Day, for 4 years, I’ve done these very things. 13 of 15 to be precise. I’ve grown up, taught by my father, to treat a lady like she is the best thing to walk this earth. But here I am, sitting at night, alone, as the girl I gave everything to walks the street as if she has lost nothing. To her, a big F%#& You. And to the author and readers of this article, every girl doesn’t deserve a man of stature, who respects this list, but deserves someone exactly like they are…inconsiderate.

      • no it won’t. the worst thing to teach a son is that “women are special” they are nothing. they are as worthless as any thing. teach the boy that and he wont be alone. teach him they are special and he will grow up to be alone and bitter. arrogance is now confidance. kindness is now weak and pitiful

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  8. I have always stood when a lady has arrived at or leaves a table.

    Upon standing, I have often been asked (incredulously), “what are you doing?”

  9. after being in a relationship for 25 years where chivalry was not top on the list, I’ve found myself being extremely independent and unsure how to allow a man to do these things. It does not offend me in any way, rather, I welcome someone doing and treating me this way. My problem is trying to not feel guilty for allowing a man to treat me this way. For example, when I walk up to a door (building or car), I feel awkward just standing there waiting for the door to be opened. Another example is allowing him to take care of the check when we go out. How do women learn to be comfortable being taken care of? Also, when does it become ok or expected for the woman to treat?

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  21. One comment on walking on the street side of the sidewalk for those who don’t know. You should smoothly transition to the inside, likely with your hand at the lower part of her back, when passing by an alley or any people who may appear to pose any sort of danger.

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  23. Very enjoyable read James, and as a highly independent woman, I am grateful for what I see as courtesy and manners. I just would like to reciprocate the kindness, but am uncertain how. And I’ve been duped by a couple of narcissists so I’m rather wary these days & do insist on paying half. I just wish narcs weren’t the most practiced when it comes to impeccable manners. If we saw it more often, I think the fakes would be easier to spot.
    As usual, beautifully written article.

  24. You know I love reading stuff like this because like you mentioned, there are some people who lost sight or simply never knew about chivalry, or just respect in general, and spreading these positive vibes will hopefully help.

    Thanks man!

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