As a man who considers himself a gentleman, I do still believe in chivalry. I hold doors open and pull seats out for my dates. You won’t catch me looking at my phone, eating like a damn buffoon, yapping like a school boy or chewing with my mouth open. And if I have anything to say about it, my dates won’t be paying for their food or drinks.

I view those things as tenets of basic respect. I want to pay for your meal not because I don’t think you have the money to pay for your own (or because I’m expecting anything for my money *shudder*), but because I want to demonstrate how grateful I am for your company. I’ll pull your chair out for you or open your door for you not because I don’t think you can do it yourself, but because when you’re out with me, I want you to feel like you’re special and that I’m attentive.

That all makes sense.

But there’s one part of the gentleman’s bible that I’ve never really understood—the part where a man orders for the lady. I don’t see anything respectful about that. In fact, if I’m being honest, I see it as more of a superiority thing. A “You’re going to eat whatever I tell you to eat” thing.

So what should you do instead? Well, here are some alternatives:

1. Ask her what she likes and look for something good.
I know, I know… It’s crazy. If this is your first date, politely ask her what she’s into. If it’s chicken, look for chicken on the menu. Fish? See where they’re keeping all that seared salmon. If she’s a steak girl (and God bless her if she is), help her find her options and make some suggestions. If this isn’t your first date and you know what she likes, impress her with a suggestion or two from the menu. But, whatever you do, don’t not give her the option to choose.

2. Explore the menu together.
This one is especially good on first dates because, let’s face it, ice breakers never hurt. I’ve always found that menus can serve as a kind of conversation piece. “Oh wow, what the hell is that thing?” “Oh, have you ever tried this?” “Hmm, that definitely sounds interesting—and they steam it, too?!” Have a look at the menu with her, see what pops out at you and then talk about it. Just don’t talk too much.

3. Shut up and let her do her own damn thing.
Whether you believe me or not, that person sitting across the table from you has her own tastes and preferences, and I promise you that when left to her own devices, she’ll probably be able to come up with something she likes. You contemplate your order, she decides on hers, and you can regroup to talk about it later.

Either way you cut it, literally anything is better than being that guy. Don’t be that guy.

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