Gentlemen, let’s talk about a criminally underrated aspect of the dating game: chivalry.
Chivalry dates back to medieval times and refers to the code of conduct that a knight (“caballarius” means horseman) abided by. Behaviors. Actions. A moral framework. Rules. Chivalrous conduct largely revolved around war, church and the ladies. Courting a woman.
These days most people consider chivalry to include simple thoughtful tasks/duties like opening doors, pulling a seat for a lady and walking on the street side of a sidewalk (to “protect” the woman from the dangers of the road.) Routinely I will move a woman from the outer edge of a sidewalk by gently guiding her just above her hips. Then I’ll either hold her hand or place it inside my arm to escort her.
Escorting a woman through a crowd, making sure her order at dinner is correct and if anything is off, taking care of it. Altogether, these little actions add up—and are not ignored by your date.
In my experience on dates with friends and girlfriends, they like this stuff. They feel respected and protected. Cared for. And many tell me so. It’s a habit of mine, and most women appreciate it. Once you start doing the basics above, you start to “feel” what it means to be chivalrous and care for a lady.
But it helps a man to think about his lady, not just by anticipating the pot holes and guiding her around them, but keeping an eye on how she is doing throughout the evening. Escorting her through a crowd, making sure her order at dinner is correct and if anything is off, taking care of it. Altogether, these little actions add up—and are not ignored by your date.
What happens to the man who behaves this way? You get to feel like a protector, one of a man’s major roles. There is something that innately resonates here—it feels right, like what you are supposed to be. I sense it a lot more now as a father to my daughter. It feels good to take care of her and be a decent, considerate human being.
I’ve thought a lot about what’s going on at a deeper level. I think chivalry touches some of the deepest parts of a woman—her intrinsic value and dignity. We call that “beauty” and inner beauty. Her being and feeling important and valuable. Being chivalrous is a way of respecting this beauty, of taking care of her, of aligning your actions with your belief that she is worth it.
So the core of being a gentleman with chivalry is matching respectful actions with the belief in the beauty of your woman. And when women get this, that can be a very wonderful and powerful thing. Not only can attraction follow, but so can trust and the foundation for a real relationship.
As I write these words, I can think of ladies who did not believe they were beautiful or worthy of being treated this way. And indeed, there are some who prefer to be treated like shit, as beautiful on the outside as they may be. It can be hard to let them go, but it seems pretty clear to me that I could never be with someone that I wouldn’t respect and treat well. Adios, Amor. And to be fair—I can think of times when my own behavior has been less than that of a gentleman, and often these ladies left me in the dust. Good riddance, bro!
My grandma turned 90 recently, and I took her to brunch. She’s in great shape for her age, she exercises three times a week and still works at the hospital. And she needs help getting in and out of the car. When she comes over for dinner, my father always walks her to the car and makes sure she gets in OK (yes, granny still drives and lives alone). I can’t imagine him doing otherwise. He loves and respects her, just as he did my mother.
That deep respect for a woman you love is so incredibly powerful. And I think this conversation is more and more relevant today in a time when you can almost order up a Netflix-and-Chill girlfriend as conveniently as your UberEats dinner. Thank you, Tinder.
In the series of columns to follow, I want to make the argument that being a chivalrous gentleman is ultimately a more powerful, masculine and in the end, successful, way of being. You’ll have to tell me if you agree, or if you think it’s just another bullshit way of pleasing women…
As an ER doctor, national media personality and author, Dr. Larry Burchett’s candor and unique perspective have opened up a broader conversation on what it means to be a modern man. Dr. Larry is the author of The Gentleman’s Diet, a recurring men’s lifestyle contributor on NBC’s Today and FOX San Francisco’s medical expert. For more information, visit doctorlarry.com.