The world works in funny ways. I blame it on mankind’s zealous oversimplification of complex problems. When we discover that a part of our culture is flawed, if we find that the way things are is not ideal, we label it as wrong, making a 180-degree turn in the opposite direction.
Take, for example, the concept of being a gentleman, being chivalrous and whatnot. It’s no secret that many individuals – women and men included – feel that any blatant differentiation between men and women constitutes as sexist. For good reason, many people (hopefully, soon to be all) believe that men and women should be treated equally.
Back in the day, we had widespread sexism sprinkled with learned chivalry. And while the two weren’t one and the same, when we had the initial uprising against sexism, being a gentleman began being perceived as yet another way for men to hold their superiority over women – helping them because they can’t help themselves.
The problem is that reason behind such chivalrous actions often came from a good place and not some chauvinistic beliefs. Being a gentleman is something that every man should strive to be. Not because women need men, but because those special women in men’s lives deserve to be treated especially well. Men should be gentlemen because there is no good reason to be anything else.
1. Be honest and open with your intentions.
Not really looking to date? Then tell her that. If you’re looking for one thing and she’s looking for another then you’ll clearly not work out. Not filling her in is deceiving her and, therefore, wrong.
Women are not objects, but individuals. They aren’t for you to use and toss away. If you are going to engage in any social interaction, even if it be coitus, then you should both be clear on where you stand. If you’re looking for a one-night stand then you don’t need to lie to get it – there are plenty of women out there who are more than down for a simple no-strings-attached romp in the sheets.
2. If you know it won’t work out, then don’t lead her on.
Sometimes we think that something can work and is going to work only to later have to accept that, in reality, it can’t and won’t. It sucks. We can even be convinced that we’re in love with someone only to get disillusioned down the road – it happens to the best of us.
If that’s the case, then man up and do what needs to be done. Don’t waste your time and, more importantly, don’t waste hers. You have the right to waste your time, but you don’t have the right to waste hers.
3. Actually listen when she talks.
This means being interested in the things she says. If you find no interest in whatever it is that she enjoys talking about, then be polite and listen for as long as you can. If she’s the woman that you’re dating then you may need to think if the relationship can work in the long run, but nevertheless if you’re going to be having a conversation with anyone, man or woman, listen to him or her when he or she talks to you.
Don’t just wait until it’s finally your turn to talk, but actually listen to the words that she is speaking. People just want to be heard; women are no exception.
4. Respect her as an individual.
She is not an object. She is a person. An individual. Somebody that is separate from you and, although you may be in love with her, she is not a part of you. You cannot treat her like you own her, but respect her as a person.
This means giving value to her thoughts and opinions. This means giving her space when she asks for it and respecting her wishes even when they don’t align with yours. Respecting her means never forcing your own thoughts, wants or beliefs onto her when they aren’t in her best interest.
5. Respect her privacy.
If you are dating then you should trust her enough not to feel the need to go nosing around through her things. Many men often think that it’s okay to go digging through their girlfriend’s cellphone when they believe she’s sneaking around behind their back.
The problem with this is that they already believe that she is sneaking around behind their back. This is an issue unto itself that needs to be addressed. If you can’t trust her then you can’t really love her. If you do love her and believe that she loves you, then respect her privacy.
6. Support her dreams and goals with positive reinforcement.
Being a gentleman isn’t about opening doors and paying the tab – although I don’t see any reason not to if you’re able to. Your girlfriend deserves to be treated special because she is special – she’s your girl. Nevertheless, being a gentleman is really about being kind, caring and supportive. We’re not here to judge her.
We’re here to support her, to help her be the best person that she can be. As a man, you are your woman’s teammate. Always support her dreams and keep a positive outlook on her future. If you don’t believe in her then she’ll be less likely to believe in herself.
7. Avoid lying to her.
I’m not the type of person who believes all lies to be bad. However, lying is dishonest. Whether that dishonesty leads to good or bad varies. Honesty is the foundation, which every relationship rests on. We need to know that we can trust those who are closest to us because we don’t want to have to always have to keep our guard up.
Being in love greatly depends on pushing our guard down. Lies ruin the trust and often force our partners to question the relationship's longevity. You shouldn’t have to lie to the woman you love. If you do, then you’re doing something wrong with your life.
8. Make her feel special.
Everyone wants to feel special – men included. What being a gentleman is truly about is making the woman understand how incredible she is. We’re not trying to feed her stories or make her believe something that doesn’t actually exist. Our only job is to make sure that she understands and never forgets how amazing she really is. It’s really not that difficult. Nor is it much to ask. We all need a reminder from time to time.
9. Make her feel safe and secure.
The need for security is something that came about from evolution. We are intelligent creatures who understand the concepts of danger and safety – we understand how important it is to keep danger out of our lives.
As a man, it isn’t your job to protect your woman, but if you love her, why wouldn’t you? Sure, she can protect herself. But if you’re both protecting her then, chances are, she’ll stay safe for longer. It’s not always about keeping her safe as much as it’s about making her feel that she is safe and secure. Be her rock when she needs one.
10. Don’t abandon her.
Life can be tough. The way that life influences us and the way we react to certain instances are greatly the result of circumstance. Sometimes we make mistakes and do things that we regret. Why we chose to do so is what really matters. It’s one thing to break things off when they need to be broken off and it’s another to abandon your lover prematurely.
Guys have a knack for commitment issues – not all, but a good number do. Don’t allow your fears to get in the way of her and your happiness. Don’t abandon her when she needs you most because, by the time you realize the mistake you’ve made, it’ll be too late.
Photo credit: Vanity Fair