You may see this and think: "Wait!  Did I read that right?  You're telling me you shouldn't be chivalrous?  I thought that's what you've been telling me to be!"
It's all about the should.  To practice chivalry is a choice.  A choice for the man whether to offer the gesture and a choice for the woman as to whether to accept.  When either feels that it should be done only because the other person demands it then the meaning behind the gesture has been lost.  If chivalry is done without sincerity, what good is it?
I choose to practice chivalry because I want to!  It's my choice.
If I offered acts of chivalry just because of some sense that I should, only because my wife or any woman asked me or expected it and made me feel bad if I didn't, what would it even mean to the woman?  Because it's not about the gesture as something a woman physically requires.  No woman I've met couldn't have opened that door herself.  Put on her coat.  Or pulled out her own chair at a restaurant.  To offer chivalry isn't implying that a woman needs a man's help to do something she'd be unable to on her own.  The whole point is the display of caring and respect that is the underpinning of the chivalrous gesture.
Finger pointing
You see, every time we're told we "should" do something, a part of us automatically wants to resist.  There's an innate feeling of resistance and rebellion against being compelled to do something, whether we might have had some interest in doing it anyway.  So when the "should" gets thrown in, the "I don't want to" automatically pops up.
My point is that it's better for men when they realize reasons to WANT to practice chivalry.  Not because they owe it to women but because of what it does for their relationships with women.  That goes for a close romantic relationship that can get warmer, more endearing and more enduring.  It can go for relationships that men want to find if they are single, of catching the eye of a woman who is looking for a man with depth and character.  It goes for relationships in other situations, allowing a bit more civility and gentility at an office where doors are held, and at dinner parties where men stand when a woman rises to leave the table.  Having a gentler and warmer response from the women to whom they offer chivalry will be beneficial for the man as well. 
Couple quarreling
If a man ends up doing it only because a woman demands it of him (whether that's the woman with whom he's in a relationship or women in general expecting it of men), then he may carry a smidgen  of resentment buried behind it.  That won't serve the man. 

And for the woman, if she knows the man is only doing a chivalrous deed because he was being forced, cajoled or nagged, wouldn't that obviate the elegant meaning of it?  I am sure women prefer it when it's being offered sincerely with respect and caring.

So should a man practice chivalry?  No, a gentleman wants to  practice chivalry.  In the process he reaps benefits from doing so:
      - feeling better about himself
      - getting the attention and appreciation of women with whom he's together
      - having a relationship in which he's invested that stays stronger and healthier
      - creating a better atmosphere with women he encounters in any situation
      - being a better role model for younger generations 

One of the most frequent comments I read on twitter as far as chivalry is women remarking that men who hold doors open for them are sexy and attractive.  What guy wouldn't want that adjective attached to them?  I sure do!
So guys, realize what chivalry can do for you.  The benefits give you a great reason to want to do it.  Just don't should on yourself!
 


Comments

Rich
02/20/2014 9:31pm

Just the other day an acquaintance wrote a FB post about how he was coming home on the train after work, tired and wanting to read his book, he did everything to ignore a woman who entered the train with a child in a stroller. He didn't give up his seat to her as he believed why should he, just because she has a kid? Upon leaving he noticed she was many months along in pregnancy, he felt terrible.

My first thought, and every subsequent one, was good, you deserve to feel like garbage.

A man should stand and offer his seat to a woman, pregnant, old, crippled, young, spry or whatever. I know the feminist belief (that many self absorbed males of my generation subscribe to in order to put themselves first) is that this is condescending, but as you say thats the females choice to make, i'll always stand up and give my seat, if she doesn't take it thats fine, but i'll never be that jerk.

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02/20/2014 10:37pm

Thanks, I can imagine he felt terrible when he realized and beat himself up. Hopefully that lets him view the next chance differently. We've probably all done some things we've regretted so I would suggest taking the high road and not passing judgment.

I am happy that among the many women I know (many very powerful entrepreneurs and business leaders who have accomplished much in their own right) there is a distinct feeling that we have moved past the competitiveness and recriminations that marred feminism to an extent. Getting back to a respected view of the differences between men and women may allow for better feelings on both sides.

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02/21/2014 9:57am

If we think about chivalry in terms of elevating our, and someone else's, experience in life, it's a win all the way around. A man may feel like a jerk if he isn't chivalrous, but I bet 99% of the time he'll feel the complete opposite if he IS chivalrous!

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02/21/2014 3:28pm

Thanks for the comment, Nicole. Between how much deeper my relationship has gotten with my wife as well as the attention I've gotten from women I know (I am part of a coaching program with about 10-15 men and about 180 women), it's hard not to feel better about yourself when you act chivalrously.

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05/11/2017 2:52am

Unfortunately, some of the men nowadays are after the gender equality more than practicing chivalry. They think that we are now living in the modern age, women should also the same things men usually do, also in the matters about love. I cannot blame them for that. As you have said, chivalry is a choice. But how I wish that men would be smarter to think that it's not only the women who benefit from an act of chivalry. They also get something from it!

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