When it comes to dating and relationships, in a broader cultural aspect, very few topics are dicey. Chivalry is one of those few. With proponents and those against it, it's easy to get lost in the mayhem.
The question of chivalry has left both men and women confused. Men don't know if they should be chivalrous, and women aren't able to understand if they should expect or accept chivalrous behavior from men.
Somewhere along the line, there's been some misunderstanding. That's not surprising since the concept of chivalry dates back for years. Chivalry originated as a synonym for knightly, that is, to describe a knight's behavior. From there, it evolved into a code for how knights should behave.
Over many years and cultures, it has come to be understood as courtesy and politeness. Today, chivalry refers to good behavior and respecting others, which is what makes it a laudable quality.
As a society, we agree that certain types of behavior are better than others. Chivalry is the epitome of good behavior. It's often been labeled as sexist, but if done in the right way, it's actually pro-women.
Chivalry teaches people to behave better.
Chivalrous people, in general, are more respectful, helpful and confident. Chivalry forms the basis of resilience and inner strength by emphasizing self control and restraint.
Studies conducted at the University of Florida have found that the presence of chivalry is associated with better mental health, longer lives and a higher level of life satisfaction and self confidence. Chivalrous couples are happier and are more likely to have better and longer-term relationships. Children in chivalrous households also grow up to be more equipped and considerate.
Contrary to what most people think, chivalry is not just restricted to men. Women can be chivalrous, too, albeit in a different way. Being gracious, offering to help men in trouble, setting them at ease and allowing them to express their vulnerability are various ways in which women can display chivalrous behavior.
Chivalry has gotten quite a bit of backlash. It's considered to be archaic, sexist and old fashioned. However, chivalry in itself isn't actually bad. Certain kinds of toxic behaviors using chivalry as a façade are bad. A lot of people don't know the meaning of bad chivalry or fully understand its forms, but it's time they did before the name of actual chivalry is ruined.
Bad chivalry can be observed in the form of pressuring, guilting and coercion. Arrogance and entitlement also fit this bill. It's nice to open a door or pay the bill, but if the other person doesn't want it, then pressuring them to accept it is bad chivalry.
Chivalry isn't an excuse to act condescending or superior.
Being chivalrous makes you courteous, but it doesn't automatically allow you to guilt or coerce others into actions they're uncomfortable with. Pressuring for sex, demanding huge favors, probing into personal lives and then using chivalry as a justification is simply not OK.
Many times, people feel that they're owed something for behaving chivalrously and will constantly try to brag or draw attention to it. They can also feel that superficial chivalry allows them to manipulate or gaslight others. Such behavior is toxic, not chivalrous.
It's also worth noting that the difference between good and bad chivalry is often determined by the person's body language and manner of speaking. Excess eye contact, leaning in too close, being crossed or closed off are examples of bad body language. Passive aggression, condescension, cussing excessively and being too loud are bad tones. Your conduct may be chivalrous, but if your body language, tone and intentions aren't, then that's bad chivalry.
Real chivalry is good chivalry.
What separates good chivalry from bad chivalry is the intent. Chivalry for its own sake without the expectation of return is good chivalry. Politeness, courtesy and decency are all facets of good chivalry. Good chivalry consists of wanting to help the other person and respecting them.
Good chivalry isn't just restricted to dates or strangers. It extends to one's family members, friends, colleagues and spouse as well. Contributing to the household chores, providing for your family, being there for others in times of need/trouble and doing your share of the work are all included in this. These are basic things that go a long way in showing people that you care.
In many situations, an individual is required to put somebody else's needs before his/her own desires. In good chivalry, the relationships are based on mutual esteem and civility, which forms the basis of etiquette and respect. In a world filled with chaos and cruelty, we could all do with the compassion and regard that good chivalry has to bestow upon us.
Despite what many think, chivalry isn't dead yet. It's dwindling on life support. If we give up on chivalry, we lose the very basis of generosity and heroism. We all want to live in a world in which both men and women protect and honor each other to the best of their abilities. To do that, we need to bring back chivalry, good chivalry.