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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Photos courtesy of EASPHOTOGRAPHY.