I would like to preface this post by saying I'm so grateful that throughout much of my life I have been surrounded by men who have shown me over and over what a gentleman is and does. But there was one experience that has stood out to me that I was reminded of this morning and I would like to share with you all. I think we can always learn and grow more (I know I sure can and need to!) and some of the following were things I had no clue of. So if you ladies have experienced them, awesome. If you guys do them, awesome. If these are a major learning curve--awesome; you're in good company!
I was at Mass this morning and as I stood up to go to join the communion line, the older gentleman sitting on the end, stepped back, smiled and motioned for me to go as he then followed behind.
I smiled to myself as I gratefully remembered years ago a younger gentleman whom I had become friends with, explaining proper gentleman etiquette he had learned from his dad and grandfather.
My new friend and I were training for a race and I had noticed whenever we would run he would always run on the busy side of the road. If i was by the lane closest to the cars within seconds he would position himself on the outside again.
Finally one day I asked him about it. And on that run I learned so many things about gentleman etiquette! Some I knew and had seen and experienced growing up within my family, friends and previous dating experiences and some were new.
Even now, when men do these things without expecting anything in return, simply because they are great men, it absolutely melts my heart. Not because us ladies can't take care of ourselves, but because these are loving, kind, caring gestures of a gentleman.
So I present to you what was presented to me by my gentleman friend, "20 rules of gentleman etiquette that still apply today!" Enjoy!
1. He stands when she walks in the room (Cue Pride and Prejudice!)
In the old days, men stood out of respect when a lady, dignitary, or elderly person walked in the room. It was a sign of respect and humility. Today, men stand out of courtesy when a guest visits a meeting. A gentleman will stand from his table when he’s introduced to a guest. Who stays seated when a friend walks into a restaurant, bar, or their place anyhow? Standing shows you are attentive and you care.
2. He walks by her on the outside, closest to the street
Why is the top coat symbolic of the gentleman? Before our drainage systems, a man stood on the outside of the sidewalk in a long coat to protect her from the dust and sewage that could splash up as horse carriages passed by. Sewage was common in the streets. The picture of the man laying his coat over a puddle for her to walk over meant he was protecting her feet from fecal material more than rain water.
Today, a gentleman might stand in the way of puddles splashing up from buses, or in the event a car veers onto the sidewalk. Symbolically it might mean he’ll always be by her side, through thick and thin, and will protect her from anything
3. He opens the door for her
A gentleman would help her up into the carriage as a sign of his protection and strength. Women would hold their dresses up as they were often long and heavy. The gentleman opened the door for her so she wouldn’t have to drop her dress in the dirt.
The modern gentleman helps her in and out of the car to stand in the way of creepy gawkers. Opening a door for her is not a sign she is weak, but a gesture of affection.
4. He never criticizes a home-made meal
An out-loud criticism of a meal as a guest was considered disrespectful to the host. If anyone takes the time and effort to make a dinner, they are your host. Honor them. Smile and chew.
5. He pulls out her chair
It was common for the gentleman to pull out her chair and allow her to face the open room. Today, the gentleman pulls out her seat, and sits facing away from the crowd and the TV because he doesn’t want to be distracted from his priority.
6. He sits after she sits
“…and at the table wait until she is seated, indeed wait until every lady is seated, before taking your own place” The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness (1860). Talk show hosts continue this tradition today by waiting to sit until after their guest has taken their seat. If Oprah does it, so can you. She’s your guest. Allow her to sit first.
7. He helps her put on/take off her coat
8. He doesn’t walk ahead of her, except to lead the way through crowds, or to a pew in Church, at which point when they get to the pew he steps back to let her in.
Because ladies wore long dresses and could trip on them, the gentleman walked behind her when climbing a staircase. Tumbling down a flight of stairs isn’t a good way to end a date. Today, the gentleman follows this etiquette rule because she might be wearing long heels or a long dress. This is another sign of him protecting her. However, she may want him to walk up stairs first if she’s wearing a short skirt.
9. He gives up his seat to her if there is only standing room
A gentleman offers his seat to a lady if there are no other seats on the bus/train.
10. He carries her bags
A gentleman will help her carry her bags today, and when flying, will assist others in putting their luggage in the overhead compartments.
11. He picks up the check
An English gentleman never split the meal with his date. The English used the term “go dutch” in “derisive application,” as they stereotyped the Dutch as being cheap, or “stingy.” Today, the gentleman generally picks up the tab, especially on the first date, and with no expectations.
12. He holds an umbrella over her when it rains
It was common for a younger person to hold an umbrella for an older person. When it rains, the gentleman holds an umbrella over her and doesn’t mind getting a little wet.
13. He gives her his jacket
A gentleman pays attention, and if he notices her shivering, he gives her his jacket to wear.
14. He keeps her secrets
A gentleman will always keep a secret, especially the one entrusted to him by the woman of his dreams. Should a break-up happen, the gentleman can still be trusted.
15. He walks her home or to safety
A true gentleman will walk her to her car or home to this day because he’s concerned for her safety.
16. He listens to her and holds eye contact
“To be a good listener is as indispensable as to be a good talker…” The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness (1860). A gentleman always listens because he wants to deeply get to know her. He's not eyeing other women, his attention is on the woman he is speaking with.
17. He’s on time
A gentleman is his word. Traffic is not an excuse for being late to a date. A good man plans in advance. Don’t keep her waiting.
18. He compliments her
She spent a lot of time getting ready, so a gentleman always compliments. He doesn’t play on her insecurities.
19. He would never dream of hitting ANY woman
“…the greatest man would justly be reckoned a brute if he were not civil to the meanest woman” Martine’s Handbook (1866). The same rules apply today. It doesn’t matter if you are Chris Brown or Ray Rice, a gentleman finds no excuse to hit a woman…no matter what.
20. When at a gathering where there is food and drink he always offers to get a drink or a plate for his lady.
A gentleman is thoughtful, attentive and anticipates the needs of the woman he's with.