| || || | The high value attributed to being a gentleman has been diminished in recent times, with the need to balance good gentlemanly conduct with respecting a woman’s equality. Many men shy away from traditional "chivalric" gestures, for fear of being labeled a misogynist. The lack of suitable role models to show us how to behave has made true gentlemen increasingly rare. Today, we will attempt to redress that balance, by showing you 10 of the most important gentlemanly gestures to use when you are on a date. These are sometimes subtle, but always significant, ways of showing a woman that you are attentive, respectful and well-mannered. Of course, many of them are habits which can be cultivated in any situation -- we should all strive to be gentlemen at all times -- but they are particularly important when you are in the company of a lady. Performing these top 10 gentlemanly gestures will go a very long way to ensuring that your first date won’t be your last.
No.1 - Hold the door
When surveyed, around 90% of women regard this as the No. 1 gentlemanly gesture. It is a very simple one, but makes a woman feel respected. Generally speaking, you should always hold the door for someone entering behind you. Once again, it shows respect for other people, which reflects well on you as a person. An important note to remember is that you should not race your date to get to the door first; this appears try-hard and condescending. As with all these gestures, making them a natural part of your behavior is essential to ensure that your date receives it positively.
No.2 - Introduce her
Much like taking a call and ignoring her, if you fail to introduce her to someone you bump into, she is left feeling isolated and uncomfortable. A gentleman will always make sure that his date is feeling comfortable, and an important part of this is having the social awareness to introduce her to your friend or acquaintance. All you need do is pause briefly to say her name, and position your body so she is included in the conversation. Even if she says nothing, she will feel more involved and more comfortable.
No.3 - At the table, turn off your phone
It is consistently amazing just how many men will interrupt their date in order to take a phone call. This is among the very rudest things you can do to someone, date or not. When you are on a date, your date should be made to feel like she is the most important person in the world to you at that moment. A phone call means that your date cannot interact in the conversation, and is left sitting uncomfortably, waiting for you to finish. As a gentlemanly gesture, switch your phone off, and reply to any missed calls later when you have the time.
No.4 - Offer your seat
Everyone who has a sense of decency would not fail to offer their seat on a bus or train to an elderly person, or a pregnant lady. However, you can go one step further by offering your seat to your date. This is a good one because it shows that you are putting her welfare ahead of your own. The best way to do this is to stand up before offering your seat, rather than making the offer and then standing up. Try not to be too ostentatious, as she may feel uncomfortable if you inadvertently draw attention to her.
No.5 - Offer your jacket
When a woman makes the considerable effort of getting dressed for a date, practicality is not always her first consideration. There are occasions when that dress, while dazzling, simply does not provide adequate protection from inclement climactic conditions. If you notice that it is a cold or wet evening, as a gentleman you should immediately offer her your jacket. She may refuse, but be attentive to the fact that she may get colder, and do not be afraid to repeat your offer should the weather worsen. Again, as a gentleman, if you are feeling the cold, grin and bear it. The comfort of your lady is your first priority.
No.6 - Walk her home
Walking a lady home is an extremely important component of gentlemanly conduct. It may take you out of your way, but ensuring she gets home safely is your first priority. She will feel safer at the end of the evening if she knows she will be accompanied right to her front door, which will score you big points. You can risk losing those points, however, if you make the terrible mistake of expecting a reward for your efforts. It is her prerogative to decide whether anything happens at the doorstep. If she lingers, that may be an invitation to go for a kiss, but never expect anything to happen.
No.7 - Carry the umbrella
Another excellent gentlemanly gesture: Holding the umbrella to keep a lady dry is a great way to demonstrate your excellent conduct. A gentleman should always be prepared for inclement weather, and a good quality umbrella is an essential tool in your armory. If there is a chance of rain, take the umbrella. If the heavens open, you demonstrate forethought and planning, and show an ability to take care of others. Hold the umbrella above her head, and make sure that she does not get wet. If you are getting wet, you must sacrifice your own comfort as part of your gentlemanly gesture.
No.8 - Watch your language
A very important point which is increasingly overlooked in the modern world, inappropriate language is not acceptable on a date. A gentleman should pride himself on being erudite and articulate, and be capable of expressing himself without resorting to crude vocabulary. Not only does this demonstrate intelligence, but it also indicates that you have high standards for yourself and for the people you are around. This rule can be extended to include using overly long words that you don’t even understand. Nothing will make you look more foolish than using a malapropism in an attempt to show off.
No.9 - Let her sit down first
In days gone by, it was considered appropriate for a gentleman to pull out a chair for his lady. Nowadays, this is considered a little bit too formal. As a gentlemanly gesture, you should instead ensure that your lady sits down before you do. Remaining standing for that fraction longer is a mark of respect and good manners, even if she doesn’t consciously notice it. Again, this should be done in a non-ostentatious way. Don’t make it too obvious that you are waiting for her to sit down. If you need to buy time, try hanging your coats up while she sits down.
No.10 - Walk outside on the sidewalk
The origins of this classic yet underused sign of being a gentleman are fascinating. By keeping her on the inside in earlier times, she would remain under the overhanging second floor balcony, which would prevent a chamber pot from being emptied on her head. It also kept her away from the traffic, while ensuring that any effluent in the open sewers would not be thrown onto her dress by a passing carriage. While sewage is less of an issue today, it is still good form to protect a woman from puddles and traffic. Intelligent women may even understand the chivalry in this gesture. Now that you know, there is no excuse for missing this. You can even impress her with some esoteric trivia if she does mention it.
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA