The first time I followed my now fiancé to her side of the car to open her door, she looked at me as if to say, “Uh, you get in over there.” She wasn’t used to guys opening doors for her. She wasn’t used to going first. The more I did these simple gestures, though, the more she appreciated them. Even though she wasn’t used to it, she had always wanted a guy to treat her this way. I realized then that most girls aren’t used to being treated like that. Most girls wouldn’t recognize a gentleman if he was sitting right next to them, thumbing through the morning paper. But it’s not their fault. They simply haven’t seen a gentleman in so long, the entire idea has become a fairytale, a myth.
So, guys, this is where we come in. It’s time to bring chivalry back, except this time with a face-lift. I am not talking about being a dork or a pushover. I am talking about having the style and class of Jimmy Stewart while keeping the spirit of James Dean. But how? What does the modern gentleman look like? Here are five old techniques that will help us re-shape the modern gentleman:
Bring manners back
You can never go wrong with the good old-fashioned table manners your mother taught you. Let her go first when you are waiting in a line, even if you are hungry enough to eat your arm off. Make sure she is taken care of before you go slopping up your food trough-style.
Remember to open her door. The keyless entry feature on most cars has absolutely made us guys lazy. It used to be we had to open her door because we had to unlock it, but now with the push of a button, a boop boop, the door is unlocked, and we kiss manners goodbye. Opening the door for someone is not a sign of dominance or control but one of care and attention. You are telling her you care about her each time you grab the handle first.
Be yourself. You don’t have to be stiff to have manners. You can be relaxed without being lazy. Sure it takes more work to be a gentleman, but come on, you know she’s worth it.
Write it down
Nothing beats the written word. It has a feeling of permanence. With email and text messaging, this should be the easiest one. Tell her how much you care about her, tell her how pretty she is, tell her thank you, tell her anything—just write it down. Writing is special because it takes thought, and thought shows sincerity.
If you are really serious about your relationship, make your intentions known in writing. Maybe even write a letter to her parents letting them know how you feel about their daughter. (Note: This is only for those with very serious intentions!)
Never underestimate what fresh flowers can do for you
A fresh bouquet on the kitchen table, in her car or delivered to her work is priceless. Don’t just buy the cheapest bunch in the store either. Take your time selecting healthy buds. She will notice, believe me. Learn an interesting fact about the flowers from the florist: what the colors mean, the history, etc.
Surprise her with them. You don’t have to wait for your anniversary or a birthday. Just pick a plain old Monday, and you will change the week’s outlook in an instant.
Here it is. The big pink elephant in the room that no one wants to think about: self-control. Why is it that it always seems to be the girl putting the brakes on when things get heated physically? As gentlemen, this should be our responsibility. As gentlemen, we should want to respect women in this way. If you start respecting her in this area, you will see her come alive. She will trust you. She will feel respected and will respect you more in return.
Guys, I know we get a bad rap with this issue. We are portrayed as uncontrolled animals that can barely make it through the day, let alone restrain ourselves. Sometimes we ourselves use this stereotype as a cop out, but I’m tired of this excuse. We can control ourselves with a combination of respect and grace. If she is really special to us, self-control is the only option.
Being a gentleman doesn’t mean you hover over her trying to help her in every way, in a sense treating her like a helpless creature. A true gentleman knows when assistance is needed and when space is better. Provide for her. Protect her. Open the door for her, but remember to give her enough room to be herself. Give her enough room to grow and blossom.
If she is frustrated, angry or just restless, be sensitive to this. Don’t try to fix everything or answer every question. She will appreciate the space and come back to you in her time.
Now that you’ve got some idea of what the modern gentleman looks like, what are you waiting for? But before you go out, remember the five ways briefly described here are not absolute rules of the game. I am not saying that if you try them out you will always be perceived as a gentleman. I simply see them as techniques of a lost art. Sure it takes a little more time and money to be a gentleman. It takes thought and practice, but it’s worth it just to make her smile. In a moment you can wash away the frustrations of the day and open the door to her heart. It’s time for the modern gentleman to step up.
[Mark Moore is a graduate student at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif., working on a Masters in Spiritual Formation. He works in the Student Ministries Department of Skyline Church and is getting married this summer.]
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