A Discourse on Dating/ Shoot Me Now Chivalry is not dead. I saw it with my own eyes. A truck pulled up in front of my house. A 20-something man—in a hoodie, Timbs, and jeans got out and OPENED THE DOOR for his lady companion. In a fur-lined bubble jacket and jeans, she stepped out with all the grace of a 40s movie star, gave her gentleman a much-earned kiss good-bye and headed to her door. It was so romantic I almost teared up.
I can't remember the last time I saw something like that, much less experienced it for myself. I usually can get a door I'm approaching opened, but to actually help me out of the car? Not since high school when everyone was still getting regualr pointers on dating from Mama and Papa have I had a car door opened if I'm still sitting in the vehicle
I hear an equal number of men and women griping about the bleakness of the dating scene. There's a lot of confusion and animosity going on amongst the single public. If we could get back to basics somehow, start approaching each date for the event that it is and not just thinking of each one as another way to casually pass the time, we all might be a little more satisfied with what and who we encounter.
In this current culture of post-feminism, equality between the sexes, and technology-proficiency somehow most of us forgot our proper dating manners. Texting compulsively is not a sufficient replacement for actually calling a person of interest and having a conversation with them. (My friend Kisha has an excellent blog post about this.) Real dates are not made on keyboards. Long e-mailed letters cannot take the place of actually telling someone you miss them or even sending a generic Hallmark card or the act of writing a letter (my sophomore year college BF—a romantic if I've ever met one—was the last one to write me letters. *sigh*) Leaving a message on a Myspace page does not compare to hearing the voice of the person you care about right before you fall asleep or watching a person light up when you walk into a room. Opening a car door is still a fine gesture, it makes a woman feel like a lady and it makes the man opening the door a gentleman. A man paying the bill makes it an official date. Me paying or us going 'dutch' makes it an outing, NOT A DATE. It is still good manners to bring a gift when going to someone's house—especially if it's your first visit. It's not a bad thing for a man to walk on the outside when he is walking with a woman. It's the difference between walking with one of your boys and walking with your lady. A great date is not defined by how much you spend, but by how much you connect. (My greatest dates have always been just talking to someone for hours in a secluded spot— fountainside at Central Park, on a bench at Prospect Park or the Brooklyn waterfront, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial-- with a great view.) Even going to church together is a fine—and impressive-- date.
And before I get accused of harping on the men….
I've been dating again. And I'm finding that more I behave like a lady, the more my date behaves like a gentleman. It's like some weird cycle. I put my feminism aside and graciously let him sit in the man-seat at restaurants (the one facing the window and the door) and I start getting my chair pulled out and he rises when I leave the table. I make it a point to walk on the inside and I notice that my companion takes my elbow when I step off the curb. It's really quite amazing.
I think women might find we get more out of our experiences and a little more gentlemanly behavior if we got back to being ladies while still being empowered women (men who actually like women, not just p****, like women with an opinion.) A little lipstick, a fresh coiffed 'do, some make-up and yes, some heels and a skirt go a long way, further than I imagined. Unless the event calls for such, we should not dress for dates like we are lounging around the house. A man really seems to like it—and respond appreciatively-- when we pretty-up for him. (Whether it's for you or for him, just let the man think it's for him.) A nice scent, a few genuine smiles flashed for your partner, a call to thank your date for a pleasant evening works wonders too. We might also do better to talk like ladies as well—no swearing or harsh language. (Just watch, you don't curse, he won't either.)
As much as I hate to admit this and loathe the rersponsibility of the role, women really are the trendsetters and as Nina Simone called us, keepers of the flame. We set the standard. We act, men react. If we keep waiting around for men to suddenly behave like gentlemen while we continue to casually act like one of the boys instead of their female of interest, then I'm afraid we'll just keep on being dissatisfied with our encounters.
All thoughts are welcome…