Many argue that the concept of being a true gentleman is archaic. Some may say that the rules of being a true gentleman have not and cannot change. Being a modern gentleman means being everything, but also nothing. I’m not saying you should throw your jacket over a mud puddle, or stand up just because a woman walks in to the room, but there are certain steps you can follow to stand out.
Make a good first impression
How often do you concider the way you act around acquaintances? You offer a firm handshake, but do you make eye contact? Do you introduce yourself, and if so, do you introduce yourself politely and clearly? Slapping hands and saying “sup, bro?”, isn’t being polite.
There is nothing wrong in waking up from a night out and throwing on yesterdays T-shirt, and last nights jeans to run down to Starbucks, however, those jeans ought to go over a fresh pair of underpants, and that T-shirt should have new antiperspirant underneath. There is no excuse leating the house with your teeth unbrushed, your nails untrimmed, and your hair unkempt. While the barista isn’t your most important greeting of the day, you never know who you might run into. Nothing can turn around a bad first impression, and making a bad second or third will most certainly erase a good first one.
We’ve all been there: Maybe you’re seeing someone casually, or have just begun a relationship, and you see a woman who makes you do a double-take. Assuming you don’t have your lady friend in tow, sooner or later events conspire to make it such that the two of you have struck up aconversation at the bar. Assuming you’ve made a good first impression and have some modicum of charm, inevitably the talk turns to relationship status. When the question comes up, what do you do? If you’re any kind of a gentleman, you come clean and be truthful about the fact that you’re seeing someone. That may end the conversation for her, but if she wants to carry on, so be it. Regardless, lying is unfair to your squeeze, unfair to your new acquaintance and generally unbecoming of a gentleman.
When You’re With A Woman
While some things have fallen out of fashion, other stalwarts of the gentleman’s code are just as applicable today as they ever were. Let’s take a look.
-Standing when women enter/leave the room: While it’s always a good idea to stand when being introduced, standing just because of a woman’s presence will come off as weird to most women. And, admit it, it kind of is.
-Offering your seat at a dinner table: If your host is expecting a party of a certain number, it’s up to the host or the restaurant to ensure there are enough seats. If an unexpected female guest shows up, well that probably means the host didn’t want her there anyway. Besides, you know what’s not gentlemanly? Awkwardly hovering over a table of seated guests after you gave up your chair to an uninvited diner.
-Helping her with her coat: This, on its own, is a fine idea. It’s a great gesture and it’s really adorable to see, say, a married couple doing this. However, if this is early in the dating game, she may not want you touching her stuff, and in all likelihood she won’t know what you’re trying to do. As important as it is to be gallant and kind, it’s even more important to make sure your date doesn’t feel like an idiot.
-Helping her with her chair: Again, nothing wrong with the gesture itself. It’s just another one of those things that women aren’t accustomed to anymore. Besides, at a decent place the host or waitstaff usually assists with this.
Etiquette She Appreciates
-Holding the door: Don’t worry about coming off as misogynistic or insensitive to her capabilities as a human being. Everyone appreciates a little hand. However, don’t make a show out of running ahead to reach the door before she does (unless she’s carrying something). In that case, simply reach over her and assist her with opening the door. Remember, she can open it herself. It’s the thought that counts.
Reaching for the check: This has been discussed ad nauseum here and elsewhere, and, yes, you should still do it. If she fights you or insists on splitting it, then let her have it. Otherwise, grab it, put your card in, and don’t say any more about it. Of course, if she’s arranged a date with the intention of taking you out on the town, by all means respect her gesture.
-Opening the car door: Provided you’re parked on the same side of the street as the place you’re leaving, this takes zero time or effort and reflects well on you as a gentleman. However, like with holding entry doors, don’t make a show of running around to the other side of the car if you’re parked in the other direction. If a gesture requires obvious effort and expense, it goes from being gallant to buffoonish.
-Entering a cab first: Counterintuitive, but if your lady friend is wearing a skirt or dress, it’s a lot easier for her to not have to scoot all the way over to the driver’s side.
-Walking on the curb-side of the street: Truthfully, if a runaway city bus careens over the curb and heads in your direction, it doesn’t matter much what side of the street you’re on. But, still, the gesture is of you putting yourself between wayward vehicles and splashed puddles. She may not even notice you’re doing it (my wife never does), but it costs you nothing.
-Offering her your arm: If you’re on a first date, this could be a little dicey, so play it by ear. Look at it this way — if you offer her your arm and she takes it, that means she likes you (at least to some degree). Otherwise, it’s a classy, understated alternative to holding hands, and I can’t think of a woman who doesn’t want to be seen walking arm-in-arm with her man.
Being a modern gentleman doesn’t have to be hard, and, in fact, it’s easier than ever. It’s all about self-awareness and consideration for those around you. Those never go out of style.