“I'd like to take you on a date. Can I pick you up at 7?”
Did I really just hear that right?
“Really?” I asked, you know, just to verify that he was indeed asking me on a date and not merely suggesting we hang out at his place or meet up at the party on Friday.
This wasn't safe for him. He could quite possibly be seen out in public with me by one of his teammates.
He chuckled, “Yes, really. Is that okay?”
“Uh, I mean, uh, yeah, I mean, totally.”
I fumbled over my words just trying to accept the invitation like a normal human. And at 7 o'clock, he didn't text me to let me know he was there.
He knocked on the door.
Then, he opened the passenger door of his orange Honda Element so I could crawl in.
He made small talk as we drove, and to this day, I don't remember a thing he said because the entire car ride I found myself asking…
Is this real life?
He parked, told me to hang on, walked around the car, opened my door, and offered me a hand to help me out.
Yep. Totally real life.
Okay, I get it. It's not THAT huge of a deal, but I hadn't experienced that kind of chivalry since my dad took me to a father-daughter dance in 7th grade… So you can imagine my surprise.
The more I got to know him, the more I realized that chivalry wasn't an act he was putting on to woo me. It was simply how he was raised. It was who he was.
I began to wonder why more young guys weren't racing to hold the door for a girl, why dating seems to have died, why girls like me fumble over their words in surprise when we're asked on a date.
And I think, sometimes, we like to throw our hands up in surrender and submit to the realities we speak about the guys out there.
They're just lazy…
All they care about is getting in our pants…
They only want one thing…
And to some degree, that's true. There is definitely truth in those statements for many men. But I think in the face of disappointment in dating, we've made those blanket statements and therefore shifted the culture and expectations for men.
I recently asked my brother, who's in college, what he thinks about chivalry:
“I've tried holding the door for girls. But I've noticed that sometimes, they get offended and afraid that I'm infringing on their ability to be a strong independent woman or something. I've asked girls on real dates. But sometimes they get all weirded out as if I were proposing. I don't know, I get that guys have a part to play but it's becoming more difficult to keep chivalry alive because a lot of young men haven't been taught how to be gentlemen or because when they are, some women seem put off by it. It's like they don't believe in their own worth enough to let a man wait on them and treat them like they should be treated.”
Hear me when I say that women are not completely responsible for a loss of chivalry in our culture. The guys have a responsibility, too.
But I do think we women have a lot of influence. And the way in which we both respond to men's behavior toward us and the way in which we respect ourselves will be big determinants of whether or not chivalry takes its last breath altogether.
So to the guys:
It's not uncool to be a gentleman, to respect a woman, or to pursue her. And if you've lost motivation to keep chivalry alive, I want you to know the majority of women want you to exist even if what you've experienced so far has told you otherwise.
And to the ladies:
I get it, it's frustrating and confusing. There's a blurry line between what's kind and acceptable and what's too forward. In college, there's a notion that holding hands is more of a commitment than two people having sex on a Friday night.
But you are precious. And it's not a sign of weakness to let a man wait on or serve you. It's actually brave to stand for something the culture doesn't. And you have the right to hold him to that standard.
So don't cheat yourself. The more we say that chivalry is dead, the more we settle for less because the world has told us it's the only way, and the more we let disappointment lower our standards, the more that chivalry will die.
Your standards and expectations are NOT too high. Please hold onto to them in a world that doesn't. If you do, it might just change the world.
Because I believe that we have the power to change the culture one moment at a time. We have a major part to play in reversing the slow death of and reviving the art of chivalry.
So roll up your sleeves with me. This is a change worth fighting for.