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.
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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.
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!