Chivalry – Is it dead, or can it be resuscitated?
I have become painfully aware lately at the lack of chivalry in our culture. Men doing basic gentlemanly things was something I so rarely witnessed, the few times it happened it threw me off. I had gotten so accustomed to doing things for myself, I had developed the mindset of “just because I don’t have a penis, doesn’t mean I can’t open a door myself”. Now don’t get me wrong, I love knowing that I can be independent and do things myself. But I have come to realize how nice it is when men do those little gestures.
I am not a very romantic person. I don’t need flowers, jewelry or gifts to feel loved. I think one of the sweetest things a man can do is hold my hand in public or put his hand on the small of my back when I walk in front of him. But it wasn’t until my guy friends started pointing it out to me, that I realized I actually push away a lot of acts of chivalry, simply because I am not used to it. I am very blessed to have some truly incredible men in my life who have been amazing examples to me of what a real man is, and because of them, I am trying to be a better woman.
Let me also be clear though, just because you do some of these basic acts, I may still think you are a d-bag. I know too many guys that think because they opened the car door for their girlfriend, that makes it ok to flirt with the waitress because they are a “good guy” and it’s just for fun. I have said it over and over again, I am looking for a guy who does the right thing because he knows it’s what he should do, not just because he is trying to make an impression on someone.
So I decided in this post I would go over a few things guys should start doing to step up their game J
Holding the Door Open for a Woman – And Not Just the Hot Ones
When I was heavier, I had gotten very used to the fact that men didn’t usually hold the door open for me. To save myself the embarrassment, when I was walking to a door, I found myself start to speed up my walk so that it would put me in front of anyone else there so I could open the door. This had become such a habit that I didn’t realize I was doing it until a few months ago I was out with a friend. He literally pulled on my arm to slow me down so he could open the door for me. He then scolded me for not giving him the chance to do this nice gesture. That was an eye opener for me. I had gotten so used to not having it done, that I didn’t give anyone the chance to try.
I have started slowing down my walk now to see what happens. Half of the time, the man will open the door and stand to the side and let me walk in front of him. The other half of the time (if they open the door at all, there are still plenty of times they don’t) they open it for themselves and lean back to keep a hand on the door to prop it open until I can hold it myself. I am really surprised at how different I feel with each of these scenarios. The first makes me feel appreciated and gives me a boost of self confidence, while the second makes me feel like an after thought, and just a step up from being ignored completely.
What I really hate to see is the guys who only open for the girls they are interested in, or the “hot” ones. If you are going to be a gentleman, do it all the time, not just when it might benefit you in some way.
Opening Her Car Door
This is one that is actually not a requirement for me, but it is nice when it happens. The reason this isn’t a requirement for me, is I always think when will it stop happening? Will he only do it while we are dating? Just the first date? Forever? Should I be offended when it stops? My friend Cameron went with me to my work Christmas party in December and he made a point to open my car door every time. Because this is something I am not used to, I pushed it away. He scolded me for not letting me, and then told me that I need to let guys do it. For some reason this really stuck with me. Why was I pushing it away? Did I feel like I didn’t deserve to have it done? Honestly, for a long time, I really didn’t feel like I deserved it. I had dated nothing bust scum bags my whole life, being treated well was an adjustment I had to mentally prepare for.
So now when it happens, I let it happen, and I actually enjoy it. It makes me feel feminine and taken care of. But again, it isn’t a requirement. I don’t feel let down if he doesn’t do it. I still see some couples who have been married for twenty plus years and he opens the car door her every single time. Guys need to know it really is the small gestures that we remember.
Carrying Things for Her
This is kind of an old school thing to do, but something that I would like to see make a comeback. And granted, this is the kind of thing you see when the guy is interested in her, which in this case is ok. Example – you know in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (don’t even lie, most of you guys have seen it. And if you haven’t, you need to. I love that freaking movie) and they go to the barn raising? And all the girls get there so the guys go and help them carry their stuff? And really, does a girl need help carrying a pie? No, I think our little bitty muscles can handle that, but to have a guy offer is incredibly sweet.
Unfortunately this can also backfire. I know a lot of girls who are still in the overly independent mindset and get offended if you try. But ask anyway. In this case, the thought totally counts.
There are times that you should offer whether you are interested in her or not. A friend of mine signed up to make a turkey for an activity our ward did last year. When she went to drop it off at the church she had to carry the twenty pound cooked turkey in a tray, and try to open the door herself (two guys watched, but didn’t get up to open the door for her). She wasn’t sure where to take it, so she asked someone and he said “I guess the kitchen would be ok”, then he walked away! Hey dumbass, the correct thing would have been to say “let me hold that for you and we can find someone who knows where it should go”. She also passed three other guys, not one of which offered to help. I’m willing to guess these are the same kinds of guys that sit at home (meaning their parents basements) and play lots of video games, but that’s a subject for another blog…
Setting Up/Taking Down Tables and Chairs
Yep, I’m bringing it up yet again. I still stand by my theory that the guys who always stay after and clean up tables and chairs are the guys we girls should be paying attention to. In family wards, most guys help clean up. In singles wards, you get one or two. In fact, most of the time, there are more girls cleaning up than guys.
A few months ago at a linger longer, my friend started cleaning up. She was in her church dress and heels and was picking up a table to put away. The executive secretary came over and started to take it out of her hands saying “What are you doing? Let us put this away”. She told him no, and pointed out it was a test for the guys. He then looked around and realized that not one guy was helping clean up. They were all sitting and talking while the girls put away the tables and chairs. I recently visited a different ward and went to their linger longer after church. At the end, I noticed one guy putting away the tables and chairs. That seemed silly to me, so I went to help him. Again, no one else came to help. I have even been to help people move, where twice as many people from the relief society showed up compared to elders quorum.
A friend of mine has a theory he calls “STP”. Basically in every ward you are in, the Same Ten People do most of the work. They are always there for building clean up, when people move, organizing activities etc. So what has happened that this is the norm for everything? This especially troubles me in the singles wards where I see maybe 3 people do everything. Not to go back to 1950’s stereotypes, but what happened to the girls doing the dishes, and the guys picking up the heavy stuff?
One of the things I have always respected about the church the most is that no one gets paid to do anything. A ward acts as its own small community, and we all should share in the cleaning and upkeep to keep things going. Why is it now that people come for the food, then if there isn’t anyone there worth their time to talk to, they leave without a second thought?
There are some good guys out there –
I just want to take a minute to point out some of the people that keep me having faith that there are good guys out there. My brother in law is one of the best guys I know, which I funny because I hated him for the first few years they were married. Their old neighbor lost her husband last year to cancer and has a toddler age son. I found out that when it snows, he drives over to her house with my nephew and shovels, every time. No one is asking him to do it. He isn’t looking for recognition. He does it because he knows it is a small thing that will help her.
This last weekend I took some people to a BBQ at a friends house in Arvada. On the drive back, the other car got a flat tire and the tools they had didn’t fit her new wheels. I called my friend who was throwing the BBQ to see if anyone could help. He left his own party to help a girl he had met only an hour ago. When his tools wouldn’t work either, they went to Walmart, bought the parts and fixed it. He would not accept anything for thanks and ended up missing the festivities that night. The worst part? The girl with a flat tire had another guy with her who didn’t do any of that.
Guys, you know I love you. Hopefully you all step up your game a bit to show us what real men look like J