Ambiguous Gestures

Thu, 05/10/2012 - 08:43 -- jcartwright

It’s true. The age of chivalry is gone. Some say it never was, though I’m inclined to think otherwise. In any case, its passing has left us with a dilemma. In the age of Gangsters and Hollywood musicals, it didn’t exist. You opened the door for a lady; you picked up the tab and pulled out her chair, no questions. But that’s not how it goes anymore.

These days we have to put in some thought and it’s not as simple as it used to be. There’s no absolutely right or absolutely wrong answer in the situations that I am going to talk about. These days, what you do could be right, or it could be wrong, depending on how often you do it, how you do it and to whom you do it. So without further ado, here are a few words of advice on navigating modern courtesy.

Wrong Time and Too Much

There’s nothing wrong with opening the door for a lady once in a while. In fact, it’s a good thing. Same goes for pulling out her chair to sit in, in most cases, or always making sure she’s on the right side of the walk. These and other little courtesies usually don’t do any harm. But like I said, it depends. For example, if you’re out to dinner, by all means pull out your lady’s chair for her, but if you’re at a work meeting it’s probably better to refrain. If you do it at dinner, it makes you seem polite and friendly; if you do it at work, it makes you seem patronizing. This is a move that it’s okay to pull, but only at the right time. In another way, men go wrong opening the door. It’s nice to open the door for her sometimes, no matter he context. But if you are always opening the door for her it might get a little on her nerves. She does have hands of her own you know.

Picking up the Cheque

Some of you may not think there’s a question about this. This is a time honoured tradition. Broadly speaking, there won’t be a problem if you feel like picking up the cheque: women like saving money as much as anyone. But there’s the matter of honour too… This will differ for different women, but at some point it is likely that it would be best for you to either let her pick up the check, or at least split it. The rules of thumb are simple: if she says she’d like to split it, it’s ok to tell her that you’ll get it this time. If she insists that she help out, don’t refuse her. This makes you seem old-fashioned and just a little stubborn. Likewise, if you’ve gone out a few times before and this time she says it’s on her, let her pay. Sure, politely offer to get the tip, but don’t turn it into a macho struggle. Don’t be such a big man that you can’t afford to let a lady pay for your meal once in a while.

Offering Your Chair

This is the most difficult one so far, and personally I just stay in my chair. But some men disagree with me. When a woman walks into a room where all the chairs are occupied, it’s a man’s duty to offer her his chair, they say. In any case, this courtesy is so old fashioned that it’s almost extinct. Reactions, if you should choose to try offering your chair, will range from surprised acceptance to satirical quips depending on the woman in question. I would say, generally speaking, if you’re going to do this do it in a non-formal setting and preferably with someone you know, who won’t take you for someone with ideas about women that are 40 years out of fashion.

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James Cartwright

Just like to write about sex and relationships!