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In my Twitter feed, I have a tweet that I use regularly:

Guys: chivalry is an easy, cost-free way to impress a woman.

When this tweet posts, I usually get a retweet or two, but not much traffic. But recently, I got a couple of responses from men, one of whom offers dating advice:

NO!!!! THIS IS WRONG!!! DON’T DO THIS!!!! (advice giver, retweeted to his following)

Chivalry is what women SAY they respond to. But don’t. (another user)

I’m used to getting occasional interesting comments from PUAs and other men who practice less conventional methods to attract women. But this was the first time I’ve had anyone rebel against the idea of basic chivalry. I asked them both why they felt this way, but neither answered me. So I got to thinking about chivalry: what it is, what role it plays in dating and courtship, and why some don’t like it.

What is Chivalry?

From Wikipedia:

Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is the traditional code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood. It was originally conceived of as an aristocratic warrior code — the term derives from the French term chevalerie, meaning horse soldiery — involving, gallantry, and individual training and service to others. Over time its meaning has been refined to emphasize more ideals such as the knightly virtues of honour, courtly love, courtesy, and less martial aspects of the tradition.

The Knight’s Code of Chivalry was a moral system that stated all knights should protect others who can not protect themselves, such as widows, children, and elders. All knights needed to have the strength and skills to fight wars in the Middle Ages; they not only had to be strong but they were also extremely disciplined and were expected to use their power to protect the weak and defenseless.Knights vowed to be loyal, generous, and “of noble bearing”. Knights were required to tell the truth at all times and always respect the honour of women. Knights not only vowed to protect the weak but also vowed to guard the honor of all fellow knights.

From the Urban Dictionary:

something that’s dead and should stay dead.
Son: Daddy, why do I have to let her go first? she’s a creep to everybody.

Dad: Because, when somebody has a certain chemical called estrogen in their body, they automatically deserve more respect than you. It’s called chauvinism, I mean chivalry.

 

As you can see, there’s a pretty vast gap between the original and historical meaning behind chivalry, and how certain men view chivalry today. The original intent of chivalry was noble in nature, where strong men serve and protect others, including women. In modern times, including in dating, it’s a remnant of the past, a recognition that men are different from women and that a little knightly behavior can be helpful in dating and relationships.

Today, in a society where men and women share social and economic power, some feel that chivalry is unnecessary, even unfair. I’ve had women not trust it, feeling like it doesn’t acknowledge their independence. I’ve had men feel like their acts of chivalry are taken for granted by women. I’ve also had women who love it, and men who feel it should be a part of every man’s repertoire. And of course, people differ in opinion on what chivalry is and whether it’s required, just a nice touch, or simply stupid and pointless.

My view on chivalry is that it should be something a man chooses to do, when he wants to do it. Expecting a man to automatically open a door, pay for a date, or say “ladies first” simply because he’s male doesn’t really serve anyone. As the (genius) Dale Carnegie says in How To Win Friends and Influence People, the best way to get someone to do something is for them to WANT to do it. At the same time, throwing out the entire idea of chivalry because you think it’s unfair or because it doesn’t guarantee a girl will like you is defensive and defeatist.

At the right times, an act of chivalry (e.g. opening a door for a woman, helping her carry a heavy box) makes a man feel masculine (and a woman feel feminine). You don’t act chivalrous because you should or have to, you do it because it feels good to do things for others, including women, and it can pay dividends. Will it get the girl? Not always. But the pleasure of chivalry comes from how it makes you feel, not what it can get you. And if a woman doesn’t appreciate it? I say, find one who does.

What do you all think of chivalry? What is it, and do you find it useful?

 

Resources

Christie’s books

Dating and Relationships article archive

Men’s Corner