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When You Should Act Like a Gentleman

Written by Francesca, Monday, July 27th, 2015 in Culture, Featured, Manners

bow-tie-businessman-fashion-manIn this age of strong women, modern feminism, and traditional-role breaking, it can be confusing for you men to know how to treat a lady. You want to be sweet, but you’re scared of offending her. Should you open the door or let her do it? Should you be chivalrous with all women or just those you are dating? I asked a variety of women aged 18–44 to take a survey about when and how men should act gentlemanly, and I learned some surprising information:

Women still prefer gentlemanly behavior.

Even those who claimed to be definite feminists still want to receive basic courtesies from men. Here’s the low down on when and how women want you to be a gentleman.

When & Where

The majority of women surveyed (65 percent) revealed they like gentlemanly behavior all the time. The remainder said they only desire it when on a date or when it is not inconvenient for the man (ex: you are already at the door first). Nobody said she never likes it.


To my surprise, 80 percent said they prefer gentlemanly behavior from all men. The rest only want it to come from men they know or are involved with. However, no one said she doesn’t want it from any male.


Half of the women replied that they like all gentlemanly gestures, whereas the rest only like some of them. Since the questions on what specific actions are acceptable and unacceptable were open ended, not all possible scenarios were addressed. Based on the answers, all women appreciate when men open doors for them. These other actions are also appreciated:

  • Respectfully complimenting her.
  • Helping carry heavy items.
  • Paying the bill if you asked her out and offering to pay fully or partially if she asked you out.
  • Offering your coat when it’s cold.
  • Walking her to her car or front door.
  • Doing random acts of kindness or service.
  • Using polite language and being generally well mannered.

The following behaviors you should generally avoid unless you know your date’s preferences:

  • Helping too much, as it can imply weakness.
  • Assisting her up and down stairs.
  • Opening the car door upon arrival at your destination. (The women shared that it’s awkward waiting for you. They said it’s okay to open the car door when they first get in, but they don’t expect it.)
  • Pulling out her chair unless at a fancy restaurant.
  • Ordering for her or speaking on her behalf.
  • Doing any very old-fashioned gesture, like standing until she sits down.

Your intent makes a difference as well. All agreed you should never give any woman—date or stranger—an inappropriate compliment or act insincerely due to ulterior motives. No one likes a creep.


Finally, I asked the women how a guy can tell if she likes chivalry or not. The most common answer was that a woman will show appreciation through a smile or thank you. Many suggested you simply ask first and most said they would tell the guy on their own if they don’t like it. You can also read her body language for clues. If she seems standoffish or uncomfortable, she does not like what you did. If she is standing around waiting for you to open the door, pay attention and do it.

The Bottom Line

When in doubt, err on the side of politeness. Even feminists (70 percent of the respondents considered themselves somewhat or definitely feminist) still appreciated gracious treatment from men. It’s something all humans desire from each other, regardless of gender. And if a woman you encounter has a problem with your well-meaning act of kindness, then she is probably not worth your time anyway. So don’t give up on being a gentleman, because most of us women are grateful for it.

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