To Be Chivalrous or Not

Was invited to be a panelist on a TV Forum on Channel News Asia – “Maybe Baby” recently.

And one of the issues brought up was… our guys could be more chivalrous, or ‘gentlemanly’. One lady related that there was a time she was about to walk through these glass doors carrying heavy bags, and nobody offered to keep the doors open for her. I can relate to these incidents. When I am overseas, and I am standing in an elevator, chances are one of the guys will keep the doors open, and wait for me to walk out first. It rarely happens in Singapore or Malaysia for that matter.

Actually, I don’t think that our guys are less nice compared to their overseas counterparts. It is a lot more about awareness. Sometimes, they are just not aware of the social etiquette that is expected of them. Or maybe they grew up in a very MCP environment where the mother waits on the father. Or maybe they are confused. Since we women have been asking for sexual equality. I think our guys definitely will be more chivalrous if they made aware of what the ladies are looking out for.

Just to give you an example, my personal story. My dad has always made it a point to walk on the side of the road where the traffic is coming from. When I first started going out with my hubby, I realised that he does not do that all the time. I pointed it out to him, and ever since, he has always made the effort to switch sides with me. :)

During the forum, one of the other panelists voiced her opinion on this issue. I am paraphrasing her. I cannot remember her exact words. She said that what should really matter is not whether he opens the door for you, but whether he stays up with you through the night when your child is sick. All these so-called chivalrous acts like opening the door and pulling out the chair are just scratching the surface. I definitely understand where she is coming from.

But there is a big problem.

Nowadays, when people date, they do not have the opportunity to delve deeper to know whether the guy will stay up through the night to look after the baby. You probably only have the luxury if you get to know the guy from school/university where you can observe through various activities. Or maybe, if you have met through a charity activity.

Nowadays, ladies can only observe the things that the guys do OR don’t do during the date. And from them deduce whether they would like to meet him again for a second date. One of my clients used to wear slippers to his dates. He definitely is the type of guy that would stay up for the baby. But most ladies would already be put off by his sloppy dressing on the first date! Never mind wanting to get to know him better! Luckily, after our ‘coaching’, he dressed better for his dates, and he is now happily married.

Ladies, what do you think? Do chivalrous acts matter?

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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11 Comments

  1. Nice piece… :)

    You might want to correct a typo though – “…he is now happily married” Hehe

    [Reply]

  2. “and he is not happily married” Erh.. do you mean he is NOW happily married? :-p

    Personally, even with equality and whatnot, chivalry is still appreciated. I know I will get damn irritated if I was about to move past a glass door and the guy in front of me just closed it in my face when I was about to go through!

    Its true that impressions still do matter. The guy can be a good husband and provider, but if he’s not able to give a good impression to a girl because he turns her off with his actions, chances are it will be hard to look beyond his behaviour to give him another chance.

    I guess it also depends on the degree of chivalry. I have gone out with guys who pick me up from home and drive me back, pay for me whenever we go out, gave me a gift or flowers on the first date. And they do open the doors and let me go by first. All these gestures are highly appreciated and these are the ones who will score high.

    Even though they do not open the car doors nor pull out the chair for me, all those above are already more than enough, because at least it shows that local guys still do make the effort to please the girl while on a date!

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  3. Chickadoodle /

    Small stuffs are BIG for women. So, if a guy can’t even open the door for you after you telling him to do it, that’s not good.

    [Reply]

  4. Ridz & Celia,
    Thanks for telling me about the typo. :)

    [Reply]

  5. I think the small things do matter at the start of dating, and it’d be nice if the guy keeps it up during the relationship.

    Ladies are disappointed when guys have “double standards”, one during the dating/courting and couldn’t-care-less attitude during the relationship. But I think it’s hard to keep up all the nicety all the time.

    As the show “Maybe Baby” mentioned, it’s the important things in life that should matter after marriage, like staying up late when the baby cries, etc.

    [Reply]

  6. Indeed! guys could be and should be more chivalrous! but more importantly, to be chivalrous or gentlemanly, in my opinion, it is not a matter of wanting to be appreciated, social etiquette, or wanting to get another’s favour. By golly, it shouldn’t work like that.

    True acts of chivalry should be genuine and sincere and from the heart. Chivalrous acts should be because the guy show true concern and care for the other, even if its just a stranger on the street in need of aid. I just find it rather distasteful if “chivalrous acts” are mere tricks under the sleeve or pretence, in order to be liked

    Well, since these days the guys wouldn’t need to wrestle a terrorising beast or participate in knightly duels to win a lady’s heart :), so ladies don’t let the guys off easy, make them work for your favour and love, and make sure they know why they are doing it in the first place ~ out of love and care for you.

    Issit really true it is that bad in Malaysia or Singapore? my observations are that it is quite the opposite, at least from the perspective of my pals. In fact, its as bad as you’ve described “MCP(?)” overseas these days, based on my experiences here Down Under in Melbourne, or in the States. Europe is better. My guess is part if the Asian culture, at least recent popular culture is shifting into the “gentlemanly” or “nice guy” phase, while our Western counterparts are moving away from it.

    [Reply]

  7. Gouki /

    Women these days ask for too much.

    [Reply]

  8. After reading this…love is hard work…:-) must sincerely work hard on your “gentlemen style”

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  9. Nobody said life is easy…..we all must fret on the small stuffs….:-)

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  10. Hi I chanced upon your article while browsing around, and I decided to post my views.

    In my opinion, social etiquette is not confined to gender.. I mean 1 gender being more capable at it than the other. Say opening doors for others, it shouldn’t be about who should hold it for whom. I was thinking about those examples listed in your article and actually, I’ve encountered women doing those (negative examples) too, and it ain’t just ‘a few’. Not to start a gender war, but in my opinion, ideally, everyone should posess a certain understanding in social graces and etiquettes – I mean young, old, women, men…like I said, everyone.

    In a society (and also in a relationship), it should all be natural and dynamic, instead of stereotyping, having assumptions and whatnots. (e.g guys should be doing this or that, women should not be doing this or that) Of course that will only work if people are more understanding, more considerate, .. I mean if everyone really put some thought into it… perhaps I should say, it all boils down to common sense.

    Just my thoughts.

    [Reply]

  11. Bellis /

    Well it takes two hands to clap. If a guy opens or holds the door for a lady, the courtesy and lady thing would be to say a ‘thank you’. But sometimes I see some ladies can’t be bothered, so I guess our local guys will also become damn ‘bo chap’.

    [Reply]

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