In this age of equality of the sexes, men are often confused about the correct way to interact with women. They know that women can no longer be seen as the weaker sex, lacking intellectual and physical capabilities. But at the same time men are vaguely aware that women do not like to be backslapped and treated like a beer buddy. Fact is in the dating scenario, women expect to be treated with delicacy but also with respect – in other words – like a lady. So it is no wonder that the code of chivalrous behavior of times long gone by can still hold a tip or two on how to get far with a woman.
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Use the concept in the right spirit
Chivalry today is a much misunderstood term. Guys feel it is just another way women put pressure on them to behave in a certain way while many women rue the fact that the concept is often used by guys to get controlling and domineering. Then again many modernists associate the concept with older and oppressive systems like serfdom and class system while others reduce it to dandyism and foppery. Chivalry in the time of its origin actually implied an entire code of values which governed the behavior and duties of knights and the most important of these were courage, honor, courtesy, integrity, justice, and a readiness to help the weak. The last gave way to a popular image of a knight in shining armor rescuing a damsel in distress when in reality this parodic picture indicated only one of the aspects of the code of chivalry. Today – after going through a great deal of modification and stereotyping – chivalry encapsulates the essence of courteous behavior; while this is most often extended to women, it could just as equally be extended to the elderly of both sexes. Chivalry does not imply that the recipient of such behavior is incapable, infirm or physically weak to merit such attention but simply that he/she is held in high regard by the chivalrous person. Detractors of this concept may question that if chivalry is such a great concept why is it not extended by one man to another who may also be worthy of respect. the simple answer is that such examples of chivalrous behavior still exists only people recognize it by different words – deference, regard, graciousness and courtesy are all different manifestations of chivalrous behavior which a person can express in any aspect of daily living. It is only that the word chivalry is used more in context of behavior to ladies that hesitations still come up. So rid yourself of all negative or superfluous associations of the concept of chivalry and be prepared to use this worthy code in your personal and social life.
At its simplest, being chivalrous to a woman means treating her like a lady. There is still no substitute for good manners when it comes to making the right impression, the first time. Arriving on time to pick up your date, holding the door open for her and generally following the dictum ‘ladies first’ will not only mark you out as a gentleman in the best sense of the word but more importantly make her feel really special. When it is raining outside, you could simply hold the umbrella or go a little further and go get the car so she doesn’t have to brave the elements. Often being chivalrous is just a matter of saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Good manners never went out of fashion – they merely came under a little suspicion during the sexual revolution when women insisted that being chivalrous was no excuse for being chauvinistic. But in these times when equal opportunities and rights form the very core of a society, being a gentleman is once again fashionable and utterly irresistible.
However it is not only on a date that chivalry can work its charms. An essential part of the code in the bygone ages was to extend help to those who required it. Today with your girlfriend, you can do something like fixing her dishwasher. Or the microwave, the washing-machine or a plain leaky faucet and other such guy stuff. Even though most women living on their own know how to change a fuse or are aware of what lies beneath the car’s hood, they still love it when a guy offers to help them with these things. Perhaps it brings out the damsel-in-distress in them and makes them go all dizzy over their knight in shining armor who will change the flat tire and get them out of the dungeon of late evening traffic.
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As has been already observed, chivalry meant not just being gracious to a lady a knight of yore may have his sight on, but a larger system of service and integrity. So if you want to make the right impression on a smart and intelligent girl, it is not enough to treat her with respect. She will keenly watch your behavior with people around you like the valet, the waiter at a restaurant or the usher at a movie theater. Remember to treat all these people with kindness and consideration. Being rude or nasty towards them would make your come off as petty-minded and mean. Likewise she will also take into account the values you exhibit in your ordinary actions. Thus if you are in the habit of telling small lies to people around you and believe that they don’t really do any harm, be careful of doing so before a partner to whom integrity means something.
No matter what your particular philosophy in life is, if you have certain convictions and are willing to stand up for them, women will respect and love you the more for it. Values like sincerity, generosity, compassion and doing good by others which formed the code of chivalry in the Middle Ages still hold currency. Indeed as society becomes more self-centered and materialistic, these ideals will be valued even higher. So chivalry is not merely a matter of Pulling out a chair for ladies or helping the elderly to cross the road – these show that your heart’s in the right place. Women who are on the lookout for a meaningful relationship will closely observe their partner’s take on various aspects of life and love. If she finds that you have certain values which are non-negotiable and priorities over which you are not willing to compromise, she will respect and love you the more for it.