This evening I had a chat with my 8 year old son, after he’d been picking on his sisters, about what it means to be a gentleman. Lately he has been volunteering to open the car door for me, to help carry in groceries, etc. But when it comes to treating his sisters with courtesy, that’s another situation entirely. I asked him to tell me how he thinks a gentleman should behave. He wasn’t too interested in divulging.
I explained that most women these days have come to believe that the existence of a gentleman is a myth, like Big Foot or The Knight in Shining Armor. Along with many others of my sex, I too used to wonder, “Is gentlemanly chivalry something to be experienced only in far-fetched romance fairy tales or BBC recreations of Jane Austin novels? Is it simply the naiive fancy of girlhood dreams? Are there real men who still do things like open doors and stand when a lady enters the room?”
As I explained to my son that gentlemen are a very rare breed these days, his eyes grew wide in unbelief, shocked that all men are not gentlemen simply because they are men. And because his sisters were smugly listening to this lecture he was receiving, I mentioned that girls are not ladies just because they are girls either.
There has always been a longing deep inside me, and let’s face it, for most women I know, to be cared for, treasured and truly cherished. But it had never occurred to me that there might be gentlemen out there wondering if the existence of a lady is a myth, longing to meet a woman who would ALLOW him to honor her by waiting on her. With the rise of women’s rights and the demand for equality, being ladies and gentlemen for the sake of honoring ourselves and each other, seems to be a lost art.
I’m sure you’ve heard sentiments such as, “I don’t need a man to open the door for me. I’m strong enough to open my own damn door!” While this is true, I promise, there are a select few who long to show a woman how much he cares for her, respects and honors her like an officer would honor the queen. I found this difficult to believe too…until about 6 months ago when I met an honest to goodness, real life gentleman! And no, he doesn’t look like Hugh Grant or speak with a British accent. He does however, do his best to follow what he considers to be the behavior of a true, chivalrous gentleman and he is definitely making a lasting impression in the best way possible!
Ladies, let me tell you, after a long history of being demeaned and belittled, and looked down upon because I’m “just a woman,” I am super sensitive to any kind of treatment that causes me to feel inferior in any way. Being treated like a cherished treasure has made me feel more honored, loved and respected than I ever thought possible. It has been a wonderfully pleasant change of pace. Recently, this living, breathing gentleman of mine (yes, sometimes I do have to pinch myself to make sure he isn’t just a dream!) rushed around the car and opened my door. He teased me a little with a big smile, saying that I was getting so good at being patient enough to give him time to open my door. I had to laugh because it has taken me a while to get used to being treated like royalty. I have struggled with conflicting feelings of strong independence on one hand, and like I didn’t deserve it on the other. Later, he surprised me by sharing how much it meant to him to be in a relationship with a woman who is gracious enough to let him be the kind of gentleman he’s always wanted to be.
So, in efforts to explain these things to my own would-be gentleman son, I read him the following article that I found online. After discussing all 23 behaviours of a gentleman in detail, my little man (who usually delights in annoying his sisters as much as he possibly can) agreed to pick one of the 23 behaviors to try. Well, make that two, because he made a gentleman’s promise to do his best to practice on me AND on his sisters this week.
Follow the link to see what the 23 behaviours of a gentleman are: