Chivalry is not dead. It may have been beat up a little and taught a few important lessons along the way but there is no doubt it still has a place in modern society. Men want to treat women with respect and women want to be respected as equals.
Valentine's Day offers the opportunity for both genders to consider how they wish to be treated and what is considered appropriate behaviour in a world of confusing, confronting and contradictory stereotypes.
A well-intended gesture by a man can often be interpreted by the female as implying she belongs to the weaker sex. Actions that convey an attitude of gender based superiority are definitively not appropriate, however the context of the situation must be considered before a judgement can be made.
Women and men both have a role to play to celebrate our intellectual, spiritual and physical equality whilst ensuring our inherent differences sustain us as a species through attraction and desire.
A balanced approach is essential to acknowledge the disparate needs of each gender and to ensure the 'battle of the sexes' is a good natured skirmish rather than a combative, hostile crusade.
The following chivalrous actions offer some ideas for a gentlemen on how to behave in the presence of a lady without the risk of offending her sensibilities.
Buy her flowers....
....but don't overdo it.
Buying flowers is a very traditional approach to courtship and will almost always make a positive impression. Whether you choose to present them in person or have them delivered a floral arrangement will be received with a smile.
But, be warned. Sending flowers after a first date or on special occasions may earn you 'love points', however sending a dozen red roses every day for a week to her workplace will just become annoying, and is just plain creepy.
By all means, send flowers. But remember, sometimes less is more.
Open the door for her....
....but watch that it doesn't swing back and hit you in the face.
Opening the door for a lady is a gentlemanly gesture that is best done in a manner that does not convey a sense of male superiority. You are simply giving her the option to go first. Your method of delivery will be the difference between gracious acceptance or brash refusal.
There is no need to extend your arm out like an unfurling wing and exclaim, "Please, after you!". An understated nod of the head will suffice and is enough to show respect and avoid a potentially nasty confrontation.
By all means, open the door for her. But remember, a door can swing both ways.
Offer to pick up the bill for dinner....
....but don't make a big deal if she refuses.
A common offering, particularly early on in a relationship, is for the man to pay the bill for dinner. This has the potential to be very insulting to the woman who can feel that she is seen as not having the capacity to pay her own way. This is generally not the intent of the male who is simply out to impress.
The best approach is to offer to pay but do not be offended if you are refused. Providing her with the option is always a nice gesture however, if it turns into a power struggle then it can be counter productive. Split the bill instead or, as a cheeky approach to secure another date, say that you will pick up the tab this time and she can pay next time.
By all means, offer to pay for her dinner. But remember, sharing is caring.
Compliment her appearance....
....but don't be condescending.
Everyone loves to be complimented. There is a reason that we want to look our best when we are trying to impress someone of the opposite sex. The laws of attraction require us to be visually excited by a prospective partner. Of course, this is not the only element for a successful union so, although it is polite to acknowledge her appearance, it is crucial not to overplay its importance.
A simple, "You look amazing", or, "I love the way you look in that dress", is an acknowledgement that she has gone to some effort in preparing for your evening together. There is no need to overdo your reaction. A simple statement of appreciation is all that is needed to convey your feelings.
By all means, say how wonderful she looks. But remember, it's rude to salivate.
Get down on one knee to propose....
....but choose your moment carefully.
A romantic proposal is a true gentlemanly gesture that marks, potentially, the start of a life committed to each other. It is important to get it right. As you have gotten to know each other you should have become aware of her personality traits, likes and dislikes.
Choose the location of the proposal carefully. Would she appreciate a public proposal or would a private affair be more favourably received? The object here is to receive a positive response, not to make it a grand event where you are the centre of attention. Take some time to think about the type of person she is and how she would react to your chosen method of delivery.
By all means, propose marriage. But remember, perfect planning prevents potentially poor performance.