I was watching a reality TV dating show recently, when something struck me about some of the guys that appeared on the show.
It seems the concept of being a 'gentleman' ¨C opening doors, paying for dinner, standing when a woman stands, that sort of thing ¨C is still alive and well, even among the millennials.
And it made me wonder: is this something I want to be teaching my own sons?
My first memory of dating someone who cared about being a gentleman is from my late teens.
I had a boyfriend who always insisted on walking on the traffic side when we were ever on a footpath together. He also bought me flowers and was incredibly polite to my mother.
Oh, and for the six months that we dated, he was cheating on me with one of our mutual friends.?Quite the gentleman.
And I noticed something peculiar in this dating show about those guys who waxed lyrical about the importance of being a gentleman.
They were almost always the guys who turned out to have no idea how to have a genuine relationship with a real human person.
They were the ones who thought of their dates as a prize to be won, or a mountain to conquer. It was like they used the idea of acting like a gentleman just to 'win'.
It was heartening to see that the women these guys were paired up with were usually unimpressed by the act, but it made me wonder if the concept of being a gentleman might be ready for another look.
What's the protocol these days anyway? Should men still open doors and offer to pay for dinner on a date? And does it matter if the other party on the date is a man or a woman?
Of my two sons, one is gay and one is straight. But I'm raising both of my sons to respect women and to believe in gender equality across all aspects of society, so my advice will be the same to both.
If you ask someone out, it's nice to offer to pay, but it's also respectful to allow them to pay, or to go halves. Don't make a show of it or insist that, for some inexplicable reason, it's your role to get the bill. And never ever assume that paying for dinner means you deserve anything in return.
Hold a door open if you're there first, for your date, or for anyone else in the vicinity. Say please and thank you. Listen when your date is speaking and ask questions. Be honest. Be gracious. Be kind. None of those things are about being a gentleman, they're about being a decent person and having good manners.
It is not your job to 'take care' of a partner, but rather to connect, get to know them, and act as each other's cheerleaders as you each work towards your goals in life.?
So I won't be teaching my sons to be gentlemen.
Being a gentleman seems to be a tactic to achieve an end result, which strikes me as being strategic and calculating, rather than decent.
Instead, I'll be teaching my sons to be good people, and to expect to be treated the same way in return.?
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