Is Chivalry Dead, or Are We Just Too Angry to Care Anymore?

chivalryA male friend of mine asked me to write about Chivalry. “Is it really dead?” He asked me. ” Does a woman REALLY appreciate a man opening doors and pulling out chairs for her? Does she really appreciate when he shows up for a first date with a yellow rose? Opens car doors for her? I just wonder. What do you think?”

“Billy, all I can speak for is myself. I appreciate it,” I answered. “And, no, you are not the only one but they are rarer than they used to be.”

I looked up Chivalry on the internet to see what people were writing about. AskMen.com had written an article about Chivalry that was pretty balanced. I was disgusted when I read the comments, though. Angry, bitter, sexist comments that railed against women and their demands that they be treated with these “over the top” customs were posted alongside replies from women, angry and bitter, too, that they weren’t being respected. What are we doing these days? I don’t know if the question is so much about Chivalry, but it’s about mutual respect and consideration. There is so much anger on dating websites. They are full of angry women who are just trying to get a free meal or a free ride and angry men who are terrified of getting caught up with some domineering woman. There’s a bit of truth to both, I suppose, but I think those people are immature and selfish. And, I don’t mean that in an insensitive way. Immaturity can be caused by a host of issues from upbringing to disastrous relationships. These are really people who need to be somewhere building a value system rather than out looking for a partner. And, heaven forbid that they have more ungrateful, rude children that perpetuate the problem.

One of the reasons that I totally dig 12 Step programs is that they teach immature people (and yes, we can all be immature) to grow up and live by a value system that respects other people AND your own needs. Unfortunately, most people live most of their lives in an angry funk, unwilling to look at who they have become and what part they have had in their painful relationships. Instead, they blame “women” or “men” or “technology” or “society” or “media” or any other uncontrollable force. And, they live the rest of their lives proving that their philosophy is true bouncing from one bad, angry relationship to another. chivalry2

Chivalry, respect, courtesy and societal customs with meaning take discipline and a mind that focuses on whether or not I’m happy with my own behavior regardless of how the other person behaves. I talked to Billy today, and asked him what he thought about Chivalry. He said he saw his Dad treat his Mom that way, and he thinks that it is important to treat women with respect. He even opens car doors for his ex and treats her with Chivalry because she’s the mother of his children. They had problems or they wouldn’t be divorced, but he still respects her as a person. He’s not doing it to “get” something from her which is one of the things I read in the comments on AskMen.com. He’s doing it because he believes it’s the right thing to do.

Chivalry was a code developed in Medieval Times that described how to be a gentleman. Chivalrynow.net describes chivalry in this way:

Chivalry spells out certain ethical standards that foster the development of manhood. Men are called to be: truthful, loyal, courteous to others, helpmates to women, supporters of justice, and defenders of the weak. They are also expected to avoid scandal.

Nowhere does it say that men are to bow down and be subservient to women or to put them on a pedestal or kiss their ass (more comments from the forum). It was a male code of ethics. At work, we have a code of ethics in how you treat authority. It’s not put in place for us to bow down to them, it’s a standard of behaving which shows respect to leaders. And, you know what? They have a code of ethics on how to treat their team members, too. Respect goes both ways. And, maybe….just maybe….those disrespectful people on that forum have gotten disrespectful treatment because they get back what they dish out.

I don’t believe Chivalry is dead. I believe that mature, respectful people still practice it. But, I think there are far fewer people who submit themselves to the discipline of doing the right thing. And, that goes for women as well as men. I return phone calls when a man calls me. I’ll cook him dinner when the time is right. I say “Thank you” for a nice dinner, and when he opens a door or pulls out a chair for me. I even sent flowers to two men I dated on their birthdays. One was blown away by it, and the other was not very gracious at all. But, it doesn’t matter to me how they react. I do what I think is right, kind and respectful. I have my moments when I react in a bad way, but I suck it up and apologize because it’s the right thing to do. What I’ve learned over the years is that love is not something magical….it’s something you do. When I make someone else feel good, respected and loved, I get more back than I ever gave. If you want to read more on that subject, read the timeless wisdom of M. Scott Peck, M.D. in the The Road Less Traveled.

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My second husband was chivalrous when we were dating. He’d open car doors for me.  My friends laughed because he was so enthusiastic about it. He brought me flowers. He gave Mama flowers when he met her. He paid for everything. One morning, he cooked me a candlelit breakfast. He pulled out chairs for me and planned wonderful dates. I KNOW that he felt good about who he was when he made me feel special. And, I was swept off my feet, probably a little too much. But, the point is, it didn’t put me on a pedestal. It put him on one. And, he was a salesman – a good one. He acted to get results….and he wanted me. The problem is that I don’t think men really want a good woman that much these days, so they don’t think it’s worth the effort. I find that really sad. It seems to be more about getting sex than building something special.

In romance, it’s important to remember that masculine energy does and feminine energy receives. I’m not going into the whole energy discussion here because that’s a blog in itself, but women who are in their feminine energy are more attracted to a man who is comfortable in his masculine energy. That’s the way God made us. We can all be uni-sex if we want, but it will dampen our sexual attraction for each other. So think of it this way, if you are looking for a woman to get attracted to you viscerally from the inside in a breathless, powerful way, be a man. And, there’s a code of ethics for being a man. It’s called Chivalry.

10 thoughts on “Is Chivalry Dead, or Are We Just Too Angry to Care Anymore?

  1. This is excellent! I found a real difference in how men/women behave when we moved around the country. In the South, men seem to be more comfortable in their masculinity, and/or maybe the women are more receptive to it, and less threatened by being possibly perceived as “weak” for accepting the men’s chivalrous demonstrations. I appreciate having doors opened for me, etc. I often do that for men as well, if I am in a position to return the favor. It has nothing to do with being “waited on”, etc. Some women in the North resented this, and were very rude to men (including my husband) who opened doors for them, etc.

    • I’m glad you mentioned this. I meant to mention it in my blog. When I moved back to the South, I had “forgotten” what it was like to receive this treatment, and I have to say that I fell in love with it all over again. Our mutual friend, John, said when he was taking mass transit in D.C., he offered a seat to a pregnant lady on the train, and she snapped back at him that she could stand. It just seems to me that people are just waiting for something to get angry about if you’d get angry at somebody who was trying to do something kind for you even if you didn’t particularly care for the overture. I don’t particularly like being called Ma’am because it hits on my “getting old” button, but I know it is meant out of respect and good manners. Why would I resent it? And, especially, why would I be mean to somebody who offered it? My Yankee ex loved doing stuff like that. So, it’s not totally a cultural thing, but I wonder if he wasn’t excited about dating someone Southern so he could offer it without being snapped at. We certainly had enough laughs about it. I would forget, and he would run over and make a big production out of opening the door for me. It was one of my best and most delightful memories of him.

  2. I have always been drawn to the southern chivalrous way. I agree is about mutual respect and that invariably we get back what we give out. It may take time, but it is the law of the universe. I’m glad to be reminded of that today!

  3. I also like what you said that love is not something magical – it’s something you do. To me love is something that grows over time and is built on trust. Without trust there is nothing.

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