Dear Sharideth, Do women really dig chivalry?


Dear Sharideth,

Do women really dig chivalry? I hear they do, and I’m the sort to always have all kinds of fanciful ideas of knights and such running rampant in my head.

The follow up question is this: If women dig chivalry, what is the modern version? Obviously unless I’m part of the Renaissance Festival – which I’m not – most notions of knights and princesses go right out the window. More often than not, there’s no dragon to slay, no actual tower to rescue the princess from, and I have no horse with which to whisk her away into the sunset. If women do in fact, still dig chivalry, what does that mean they’re looking for in the modern day?


-Born A Few Hundred Years Late


First, phonetically your acronym says “baffle”. So let’s just assume this post is going to be amazing. Second, I hope your definition of “amazing” is “confusing” because if I have to guess, the comments you’re going to get are going to be all over the map. Especially since I’m going to invite some of my feminist friends over to have a say. Rachel Held Evan, Dianna Anderson and Joy Bennett, I’m looking at you.

In my never humble opinion, chivalry is not only alive and well, it is appreciated. Women appreciate courtesy. But they also appreciate respect. Open the door for her AND allow her to pay the check if she really wants to. Some women are going to want all the chivalry. All of it. Some are going to think you’re a chauvinist pig for pulling out their chair. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you don’t want to date the latter.

Hold the hate mail. I’m only saying he won’t want to date her because he’ll want a woman who appreciates his knightly tendencies instead of thinking he’s a tool for offering his arm. Call it a thing.

Most women understand that a man is not trying oppress them or think they are incapable by offering them a hand out of the car. If you do chivalrous things and find the moment becomes awkward, odds are it’s not because she is put off, she’s just surprised. We girls no longer expect that sort of thing so it takes us a second to a) process what just happened and z) react accordingly.

Chivalry can be shocking for a woman, but it can also be a wow moment for you. Point scored.

You’re beautiful. Don’t ever change.

Oh so sincerely,


Okay, ladies. Help our hero out. How can he slay your dragons and get you on his mighty steed without offending your independence?

Guys, any other questions about chivalry? Any stories of success? Stories of failure?

That mighty steed thing didn’t sound right, did it?


17 comments on “Dear Sharideth, Do women really dig chivalry?

  1. HAH, as my response has been personally requested, I suppose I should comment. I’m going to deviate from Sharideth here a little bit and say that if you’re being chivalrous as a gendered thing, you and I would probably not be a good romantic match. Chivalry can very quickly veer into infantalizing, which almost no woman wants. The best way to check is to ask her – “May I get the door for you?”

    Bottom line: treat her like a human being, not a child who can’t help herself, and you should be fine.

  2. Jennwith2ns says:

    So . . . I didn’t marry a guy who gets the door for me, in spite of having dated a few of those, but that’s because it turned out the guy I DID marry has a better character than the door-holders I’ve known. (It might also be because, on our first date, he got out of the car to GET the door for me, only to realise belatedly that it was still locked. It was embarrassing for him but charming to me, so the fact that never tried that again doesn’t really matter. Plus he had fresh strawberries tied up with a bow for me in the car.) He’s still chivalrous, just in less traditional ways.

    That being said, I LOVE chivalry, as long as it’s respectful, as both Sharideth and Dianna point out, and not condescending. It goes a long way; learning how to practice it so that it’s an outgrowth of your character instead of a way to get chicks makes it more likely that you’ll get chicks, because then it will seem less creepy or self-referential.

    One other observation: response to chivalry might differ depending on where you live. I suspect women in the northern regions of either coast in the US might be more resistant to traditional chivalry than those, say, in the south. I might be feeding into stereotypes here (for example, I live in the Northeast and I like being treated “like royalty” from time to time) but I also might be speaking from information I’ve gleaned by talking to my women friends across the country.

  3. h says:

    here’s the thing.

    i appreciate the chivalry, but it confuses me. maybe it’s because i’m a yankee-turned-southerner, and while it’s alive and well in the south, it doesn’t exist in the north, so i’m still trying to get used to it. i guess that’s a whole other issue i have – trying to figure out if a guy is being chivalrous because he’s trying to impress me, or because he’s a southern gentleman. either way, i’m a fan.

    • Jeremy says:

      As a born and bred Yankee, I would like to take a moment to point out that we do not need to be a southern gentleman to open doors nor have the secret intent of impressing women. I know plenty of men that open doors for women simply because it’s polite.

    • Ski Austin says:

      I’m also a transplant northerner (from the midwest). I was recently on a ski trip with a large group of folks. One night, as the men left the girl’s room after celebrating a birthday, I was the last one out and thought nothing of taking the garbage with me to be thrown out outside the building. I heard the next day from a good female friend that the girls were all very impressed.

      I didn’t do this act of service to impress. I did it because I was happy to help out some friends. I think the broader issue is serving others. I’m way out of practice opening car doors (I’m usually by myself), but occasionally open doors for men in addition to women.

      Ladies, if you appreciate these things, just comment when a guy does do one of them (don’t say anything when he forgets). He’ll most likely pick up on it and do it more often.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I have to say I’m a little confused as to why some women have such a problem with men opening doors for them. Sometimes people open doors for me and I have never once felt oppressed or thought that they thought I was incapable. I have never thought that a woman in incapable of opening her own door or paying for dinner. I open the door for my (male) room mates all the time and no one tells me to stop oppressing them. I buy my room mates drinks on occasion and no one tells me to stop belittling them.

    I’m not trying to be a dick, I just think “chivalry” is made a big deal of by some women when it’s simply being polite and considerate. Am I way off base? I just don’t think it’s a big deal. Open doors for people. Pick up the tab sometimes. Who gives a crap.

    • Kim says:

      I totally agree with you. If a guy is belittling you, treating you like a child–something like that, obviously I can see why a girl would be offended. But opening a door, and things like that? I think they are just being a gentleman. I never feel like someone opens a door for me b/c I’m too weak and womanly to open it myself–just that they are being nice.

      So yeah, I don’t get why women are offended by this. Unless, like I said, it comes with other distasteful behavior.

    • Anna says:

      As a woman, I only have a problem with men opening doors for me if they have a problem with me returning the favor. I take delight in those entryways with 2 sets of doors- a guy is more than welcome to open the first set for me but he’d better be ok with me opening the second set for him. It’s incredible how confused men are by this.

  5. All of my family members and mentors from my formative years made sure I knew how to be a gentleman. Now it’s all second nature to me to the point that I know no other way to act. In my experience, people appreciate it, too.

  6. It sometimes seems to me that if a woman expects men to think she’s inferior, she’ll take chivalry as such because she’s already on the lookout for anything that might be.

    I had to explain to a rampantly feminist California friend that her Southern boyfriend opening the door for her did not mean he thought her arms were too weak to open it for herself. It’s an act of deference, allowing the more important person to go first. The Queen of England doesn’t have to open her own doors either. :>

  7. Scotty says:

    Successful/appreciated examples of chivalry (coming from a Southern lady, since we seem to be talking a whole lot of geography):

    -Holding doors < opening doors < opening car doors
    -Offering to carry any heavy bags<Offering twice because reflex is to say "no, I'm fine"
    -Showing up in emergencies (though dragons may have expired, emergency hospital visits, bouts with the flu, and flat tires still exist)
    -Offering to normally be the driver
    -Giving your arm when the lady is in heels, especially stairs

    • Rachel says:

      Yes. well done! Several of those are things I would never have even thought of and they would be so appreciated and unexpected!

      For me, I richly appreciate any act of chivalry and am quick to say thank you. It shows thoughtfulness and care and respect for others, including the parents who may have taught you how to go above and beyond.

      Something else that I have appreciated is a man taking the side nearest the street when we are walking next to a road. I am probably not going to fall in front of a car, but it shows that he is trying to be protective of me. And sometimes this should come in a man protecting me from himself: being determined before a date to be respectful of me physically and leave me at my door, without pressuring me into anything.

  8. Catherine says:

    I’m a longtime lurker and while I find the woodwork to be a comfy and homey place to be, this post was just too much temptation for me to stay silent.

    Yes, we appreciate chivalry very much. And before my fellow women jump up in arms at this wide-sweeping generalization, let me just say this…America, actually, is a very egalitarian place compared to much of the world, and those who say they don’t want chivalry have often never experienced the extreme on the other side. I, a single American woman, live and work overseas in a location where women are not only second-class citizens, but we are often rated at the level of pigs, and it affects everything from how I walk on a street to what and when I can eat to my clothes, my job, where I live, transportation, and lots of issues of security. After several years here, I’ve found that on those precious occasions when I receive chivalry, it’s an honor, and it saddens me when women can callously reject something that took such courage and isn’t necessarily widespread around the world.

    If it’s chivalry, then by its very definition, it is coming from noble, considerate and gracious intentions that do not belittle the woman, but instead honor her. So ladies, here’s my challenge: if a woman refuses to accept a gift handed to her in this way, then she’s not “exerting her independence;” she’s merely being foolishly prideful, and she has a few more personal challenges to work through that aren’t the man’s fault. A truly self-confident, self-assured, independent woman isn’t threatened by someone choosing to serve her (I mean, don’t we have an example of washing feet that is supposed to be prescriptive?). Now, if a man is doing actions that would often be considered chivalrous (which, btw, I think are up to the individual, not a set of rules), but with an attitude of currying favor, chauvinism, or what have you, then he’s the jerk and she gets to figure out how to graciously remain a lady without bowing to his methods.

    Now, I will be the first to admit that sometimes ladies will unintentionally thwart a guy’s most valiant efforts in doing chivalrous acts, not because we don’t want them, but because alas we can have blinders on and don’t expect to see them or need to respond to them. I had to be trained by a very patient set of guy friends how to wait for them to open doors, and now, I imagine that the cultural limitations that I have had to adopt will affect me significantly when I head back to the States and now feel uncomfortable having eye contact with a guy during conversation! Thanks for your patience and your courage, gentlemen, in continuing to strive to be chivalrous, even when we don’t always respond in the ways that we should. The fact that you do continue to try is chivalrous in and of itself!

  9. I enjoy being chivalrous. It makes me feel like it’s points scored easily. No wait, it makes me feel as if I’m really caring for her. It´s an easy way of showing how I feel about her. While the target of this chivalry says to enjoy it, one of my friends is really bugged by it (even when I’m casually around girls, in this case my friend’s girlfriend, I will maintain a level of what I think of as respect). She feels as if I´m faking, as if I’m constantly trying to please her. We would never have dated, but I’m still surprised by her disgust of what appears to her as a conscious mannerism.

  10. This is one of my favorite subjects!! I have a blog about love, which I have posted about this on. To me, chivalry is as others have mentioned, but also includes things (if you’re dating/in some sort of relationship with a women, or just a SUPER great friend) such as buying flowers. To add to the geographical perspective, I live in the Northwest, specifically Portland. I assume you know what that implies. So I have only been given flowers by ONE guy. Not all girls love flowers, but it’s pretty much always a safe bet. That aside, I’m pretty darn anti-feminist at times, and while I’m very career-minded and happen to have a degree in math and think women are just as smart as men, men are still stronger (for the most part), I’m still a princess, and I still want them to treat me like one. So, I will let men do for me whatever they want to do, and I will appreciate all of it. Even if I can do it myself. And I will do my best to dote on them and look pretty and make them feel strong and manly. Feminists, hate me if you want, but I think my way is more fun for everyone. 🙂

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