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While it may be a medieval term, chivalry is not in fact dead. It’s just had a bit of a hard time keeping up with us. (Ever tried holding a revolving door open?) But in a society in which acting like a gentleman is increasingly deprioritized, being chivalrous makes more of an impact than ever before.
“In today’s world, being nice is practically revolutionary,” says Annie Dean, etiquette expert and founder of anniedean.com. “A man with great manners is totally in control of himself and his environment. It’s very alpha; it’s very attractive.”
The benefits of familiarizing yourself with the dos and don’ts of chivalry extend beyond showcasing your gentlemanly demeanor; it’s a confidence booster, too. “It avoids a lot of the ‘should I’ or ‘shouldn’t I’ questions,” says Deborah King, president of Final Touch Finishing School, allowing you to focus more on your date.
But which actions are still considered gentlemanlike? Do you really need to lay your jacket down over a puddle so she doesn’t get her Manolos wet? Or what about getting up from your seat every time she leaves the table? The guys on Mad Men do it—should you? Learn which actions will ensure she’ll have a positive night to tell her girlfriends about and how to avoid coming off as an overeager butler.
Today’s Date: Paying the Entire Bill
If this wasn’t obvious, you’re a piece of work. While it may seem unjust, it is a very noticeable act of chivalry. “It says a lot about who he is,” says King. “Will he be a provider and protector?” You don’t have to go too fancy: Take her to a place that fits your financials. You may have to pay the first few times, but take note if she one day offers to split the bill or puts one on her. If she doesn’t, are you OK being in a relationship in which dates are always on your dime?
Outdated: Ordering Her Meal For Her
If she gives you the OK to let the waiter know what you’ll both be having, then by all means, order away. But she’s a big girl and she can speak for herself, and it could be taken very offensively that you’ve decided you know what she wants without asking her. “Make suggestions of things on the menu you’d recommend,” says King. “Not only does it show that you’re knowledgeable about the restaurant, it also discreetly sets a price limit.”
Today’s Date: Being Punctual
“Whatever she does, whether she decides to show up 10 or 15 minutes late, is up to her,” says King. “But you should be present when or a few minutes before the date is supposed to start.” If you know you’ll be running late, give her a heads-up before the meeting time. If she’s already there, call the location and ask the hostess to bring her a glass of wine or her favorite cocktail while she’s waiting for you. “This will let her know you are thinking about her,” says King.
Outdated: Laying Your Jacket Down
Want a woman who will walk all over you? Well then, you can start by letting her walk all over your stuff. Chances are, though, there are a bunch of other ways to avoid your date soil- ing her shoes. If you happen to pull into a parking spot that puts her in water’s way, simply pick a different place to leave your car. Likely the best idea, as King points out, you can always drop her off at the front door, then go park the car yourself.
Today’s Date: Meeting Her Outside or Right Inside the Door
Women hate even the act of going to the bathroom alone, so you can imagine how they’d feel having to search for you in a crowded bar or party. Post up near the front of the restaurant or bar and wait for her. “It’s a sign of respect,” says King. “You’re letting her know she’s important to you and that you value her.” It’s also a signal that the date is something you’re doing together—if she has to find you inside, she’ll feel uneasy.
Outdated: Standing Up Every Time She Leaves and Returns to The Table
If your date happens to get up from her seat a few times, your constant up and down may seem awkward and make her feel strange. “The way we socialize today is different and less ritualized than it used to be,” says Dean. So while it may be a sign of respect, you don’t want to take a chance making her uncomfortable. Just let her sit down before you do, and let her get up from her chair first when the night is over.