“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”
—Robert A. Heinlein
Men, you are human beings too. You are imbued with a dignity that you can tap into if you recognize it. There has been a great deal of discussion about what makes up a contemporary “gentleman” and after polling numerous professional woman who are confident in their own dignity and their own professions, here are some suggestions for men today to keep in mind.
The points that follow aren’t exactly rocket science, and they aren’t science fiction. They are, for the most part, just a matter of what my late mother would have called “etiquette, respect and good manners.” Unfortunately for many men, good manners have been ignored out of what is often seen as laziness by the ladies who look for it. Personally, I think it is mostly a lack of education. For those men out there who desire to hold themselves to a higher standard, that standard already exists. It is the standard of “the gentleman.”
How about it? Would you like to be one of the men who labors to bring just a little bit of dignity back into dating…to life? If the answer is yes, read on and see some of what it takes. If the answer is no, then go back to your smartphone and have a great day.
Would you like to be one of the men who labors to
bring just a little bit of dignity back into dating?
Open doors for her. Always.
Really, she can open the door herself. Yet as far as a gentleman is concerned, all women and girls should be treated as ladies. Opening a door is never intended as a gesture of condescension, but rather a courtesy, a sign of dignity. As far as revolving doors go, modern manners dictate that a gentleman allow the woman to enter first. However over the years, the gentleman entered first so that the lady didn’t have to push the door. Car doors are no exception. It doesn’t matter who is driving. Even if a third party is driving, open the curbside door for her and ensure that she is safely in before closing the door. As one lady I know said, “Of course I can open the door, but why should I?”
Make eye contact with her.
Don’t freak out and forget to blink. Make some eye contact. If you don’t look her in the eye during dinner, she is going to think you are a psychopath. I am sure you have nicely polished shoes and clean fingernails, but don’t look at them all night; look at her. It also helps you listen more effectively. (More about that later.) Remember, she agreed to brave an evening with you, so she is likely a bit interested in you, so be interested in her.
The correct side of the sidewalk.
Ok, it is chivalrous, and it comes from the days of horse and buggies, the idea being, of course, to protect her from traffic, debris, puddles, and other 19th Century urban calamities. Yet even today, have you ever seen a car splash “water” up on the sidewalk? Here is the common sense rule: You are responsible for your date to always walk on the “protected side,”regardless of whether it is left or right. If the road is filled with water and sludge, walk on that side; if the sidewalk is filled with dangerous looking people, walk on that side.
You are responsible for your date
to always walk on the
regardless of whether it is left or right.
Listen up gentlemen….One woman mentioned, “I’ve found that when a man is chivalrous I relax more, knowing that I’m in the presence of someone else who notices where help can be offered.” So don’t overcomplicate it, just step on the dangerous side and keep smiling.
Make the reservations.
Don’t be lazy. Doing something as simple as making a reservation not only shows initiative—and thus concern for her—it also guarantees you won’t be sitting around for an hour drinking watered-down martinis, waiting for a giant purple beeper to go off. Besides, have you seen the people sitting at the bar lately? If you are really interested in the lady, don’t “wing” it. How much in your life worked out well without some planning?
Loan her your jacket.
You are a nice guy, right? Give her your jacket. Especially when it’s freezing. Especially when it’s snowing. Especially in the rain. Don’t tell me she has an umbrella or scarf; if she looks cold, she’s cold. It is your responsibility as long as she is with you, to ensure her comfort. If she was gracious enough to dress for the occasion and she finds herself cold, you take care of it. Loan her your jacket.
Give her your jacket.
Especially when it’s freezing.
Be on time…always.
If you’re not early, you’re late. You made the schedule, plan for traffic and other minor problems. There’s just no excuse for being late. Make sure you have gas in your car too. Does it smell like yesterday’s burgers? Did you wash it?
Give this some thought… Respect her time. And if she’s late, don’t draw attention to it. The correct answer to the question, “How long have you been waiting?” is “I just got here a few minutes ago.” Never ever keep a woman waiting. Making her wait is like saying she wasn’t important enough to keep your first commitment to her… to pick her up, or meet her on time.
Stand when she enters the room.
Again, this is a sign of respect and acknowledgement. I know these days, with all the crazy stuff we read about in the news that some ladies feel safer meeting you at the destination, rather than showing you where they live. It’s all good. Trust can be a hard thing to build.
That being said, get there early, as in first, and rise (stand) when she enters (or exits, in case you wondered). At a meal, you also stand when she excuses herself and again when she returns. Even a partial rising shows more than common manners, but don’t be a slob; instead, be a gentleman, stand up.
Get there early, as in first, and
stand when she enters or exits
Help her with her coat.
Of course you ask, “May I?” Then position yourself behind her and gently grasp her coat near the collar and shoulder and allow her to slip free. Yes, you have seen it in the movies and it is just that easy. Either drape the coat over your arm, give it to the coat check person, or hang it up yourself.
To help her put the coat back on, hold the coat in the same way, only lower this time, to allow her to slip her arms in, then help lift the coat and straighten the collar as she adjusts. Don’t forget to smile.
Show some initiative….please.
If you’re asked which dress, which pair of jeans, or which pair of shoes looks better, have an actual opinion. She wanted your opinion or she would not have bothered to ask. “They both look the same” or “whatever you like” are not actual opinions.
In the same way, if you’re asking someone on a date, have a destination in mind. Have a plan made before you ask (see about making reservations above). Let her know your intentions so that she can make apparel decisions that are appropriate for the event.
Have a plan made
before you ask
Give compliments sincerely and often.
The first words out of your mouth when you meet a woman on a date should be something along the lines of “You look stunning.” A sincere compliment goes a long way, and if she isn’t dressed for the place you have in mind, then wordlessly change your plans. Say nothing—just make it right.
If you’re in a relationship, don’t fall into the trap of taking her for granted. Compliment her as if you were courting her all over again. You like compliments, don’t you? Besides, if you aren’t complimenting her, she will surely find someone who will.
Compliment her as if you were
courting her all over again.
Lead when you should.
I know, no one ever told you this, but when you are being seated at a restaurant, you let her walk first, following the host or waiter. If you are in a wildly crowded place, do the right thing; YOU walk first, clearing the way. And don’t be shy; stick out that freshly washed hand of yours and let her hold onto it as you make your way through the crowd. By the way, it is considered a good sign if she takes your hand.
Help her take her seat.
Have you ever imagined what it must be like navigating with one of those fancy dresses on and maintain any degree of grace? Of course she can do it without you… but here is what you should do to help.
First—Pull the chair out for her. She might look at you funny, but you can count on a smile once she realizes what’s up.
Second—As her knees bend to sit, gently push the chair in with both hands on the backrest—gently.
Never ever be rude to servers, bartenders…or anyone else for that matter.
If you aren’t nice to the waiter, you probably aren’t a nice person. There is nothing more stupidly offensive than someone who talks down to servers and treats them as if they were inferiors. That kind of snobbery has no place anywhere. It demonstrates poor manners, is appalling to everyone around you, and it makes you look like a savage. Always treat people as you would like to be treated. Don’t be kind just because of who they are or aren’t; demonstrate kindness because of who YOU are.
She always orders first.
If you are very old fashioned you would first find out what your date wanted for dinner and order it for her, but these days it is more common just to let her order for herself. Regardless, you never order first.
Put away your cell phone.
How about it slick, unless you are the president of the United States, or head of surgery for Johns Hopkins, it can all wait. You did invite her out, right? That goes for your fancy i-watch. Every time it buzzes and you look at it, she knows that something’s more important than your time with her. That’s not good.
Remember your basic table manners.
It is ok if you don’t know the “continental style” of using utensils. i.e., left hand, fork; right hand, knife, but it doesn’t take any training at all to not talk with your mouth full or chew with your mouth open. Oh, and by the way, please, please, please, don’t blow your nose at the table. Oh yes, and put the damn napkin in your lap. Don’t be a complete back-berth.
Listen, listen, listen.
If you want to get to know a person, don’t talk; ask them questions, and listen openly to their responses. Listening does not mean just waiting for your chance to talk or reply. It means being attentive, learning to read responses, understanding reactions, and navigating someone’s emotional landscape. It also means a willingness to actually “hear” another person. Right, we all want to be heard, now is your chance to hear someone else.
Gentlemen pay. Period.
Put away the calculator cheapskate. Pay for it, all of it, the whole bill. The term “going Dutch” was invented by the English as an insult. They regarded the Dutch as cheap. Don’t be cheap. I will say it again for emphasis, just pay; that includes drinks also, and by the way, don’t think that paying means you’ve bought anything more than dinner or drinks.
Only a jerk thinks that sort of thing. (There can never be expectations attached to an outing.) Let me make is simple… under no circumstances should she see the check or have any idea how much it is. A tight-lipped smile is your friend here, as always. One trick a friend has used for years is to excuse himself near the end of the meal and pass his credit or debit card to the waiter, then the issue never comes up.
Don’t be cheap; just pay.
Say “please” and “thank you.”
I know, you say that no one says it anymore. Well, it doesn’t matter if it is regularly overlooked, a simple “please” and “thank you” can go a very long way. If it isn’t part of your current vocabulary then you should start incorporating these words today. Besides, if it is actually as rare as you think, simply saying it will help to make you stand out from the crowd. That’s a good thing.
Pay attention to the details.
Try and remember what you see and hear. Her likes. Her dislikes. Her shoe size. Her ring size (nearly all jewelry stores display a standard ring size of 6 for women). What’s her favorite color? It pays to know. This information will prove useful, and when it does, say when you show up with a bundle of tulips because you know it reminds her of her grandmother, it shows you care.
Besides, being attentive never hurts; it is an important sign of caring. If you pay close enough attention, you will begin to pick up on the “non-verbal” cues, i.e., the body language that tells you what you should and should not do. It will help you to be one of those people who never rushes their date. Pressure is not good.
Besides, being attentive never hurts;
it is an important sign of caring.
Get her safely to her door.
You know the kind of world we live in these days, assuming you watch the news. Her safety, comfort, and well-being are your first and principal priority. After a date, meeting, dinner, it doesn’t matter what, make sure that she gets home safely and thank her for the pleasure of her company. If you didn’t have the time of your life, she probably didn’t either, but you can still deliver her safely to her door and offer a polite goodnight, knowing you have done your best.
Keep your word as well as you keep a secret.
Don’t commit yourself to any obligation in which you are not willing to brave, be it fire, famine, or flood. Don’t think I am kidding. The list of problems is endless for people who casually commit to activities and then fail to perform. In the same light, if you are entrusted with a secret, guard it as closely as you protect your own secrets. This is an absolute rule: There is no breakup, no fight, no argument, no falling out that releases you from this singular responsibility. You live and die with the secrets entrusted to you. If you can’t keep them locked away in your heart, you put them in a box and forget them. You never tell anyone what you were told in secret—ever.
If you are entrusted with a
secret, guard it as closely
as you protect your own secrets.
Never strike a woman. Ever.
I don’t care what the TV taught you… or what you learned from your friends or down on the corner. No matter what: you never hit a woman. There’s no excuse. There’s no possible argument to the contrary. There’s no “what if?” and there’s no cultural qualifier. None. Gentlemen don’t hit women. Ever. If she strikes you, walk away and don’t come back. Neither of you has the right to raise your hand to each other. Just remember men, it goes double for you. Ever.
Gentlemen don’t hit women. Ever.
Her family’s blessing.
This contemporary departure from asking just her father for permission to marry acknowledges the importance of her whole family: mom, dad, brothers, sisters, grandparents. It shows respect for her family; you are, after all, asking to join them as she will join yours. If you are old school, or dealing with some specific cultures, you can stick with her dad, but it has become more common to ask the whole family.
A gentleman is a jack of all trades.
A gentleman knows how to do things, lots of things. Learn to be the guy people ask for in an emergency, whether it’s a natural disaster or a social one. A gentleman is prepared to answer questions and if he doesn’t know the answer, he says so, but that he knows where to find it, then does so. Learn to be confident and socially accomplished. In short, be able to handle the situations life throws your way.
Learn to be confident and
Give up your seat.
Yes, do it on the bus. Yes, on the train or subway too. Yes, do it in the waiting room at the DMV, any waiting room. It doesn’t matter where. It costs you nothing. And if a pregnant woman or elderly lady steps anywhere near you and you are seated, your first instinct should be to immediately stand and offer your seat. Period.
Go out of your way to let her know you care. Every. Single. Day.
Flowers. Affectionate post-it notes. Little words written on the top of a coffee cup. Spa days. Little compliments. Whatever makes your lady feel important. All of those things add up. So if you feel it, don’t fail to show your affection every day. If you give up that spot, there are surely other gentlemen who would love to replace you.
Remember—good manners aren’t something that should feel forced or affected. Rather, they should become natural to you and make the people around you feel better about being around you. It really is no more complicated than that. If you take on the task of becoming a gentleman, you will notice that these guidelines are overlooked more often than not, by most men. The truth is that it has always been that way.
Gentlemen have always been few and far between, so if you want to separate yourself from the other males in the crowd, put in the effort and I can guarantee that it will be appreciated.
Gentlemen, women are actually looking for you. Truly.
So, what do you think? Ready to take on the responsibilities of being a gentleman? You really should…Don’t you think?
If you you aren’t sure what to do first, give me a call and lets see where it goes… Schedule a time for a free call and tell me your story.
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