The definition of a true gentleman has evolved with time. While the answer may have been clear in the ’40s or ’50s, it’s a bit more complicated today.
Back then, a gentleman was expected to be chivalrous, courteous, and well-mannered. He was also expected to be strong, both physically and emotionally, and to have high standards when it came to personal honor and integrity.
Being a gentleman meant being a role model and a leader, not only to one’s family but to all those around him. A gentleman always dressed well, carried himself well, and showed respect toward the woman in his life.
A gentleman was the protector and defender of weaker members of society. It was standard practice for men to open doors for women, pull out their chairs at restaurants, and help them when it came time to put on their coats.
Think about how often you see these things today. When was the last time you saw a man pull out a chair for his date when the two went to a restaurant? When was the last time you pulled out a chair for your date?
In today’s society, “being a gentleman” isn’t as clearly defined as it was back then.
For one, the gender norms that helped define what it meant to be a gentleman no longer exist, and what was once considered polite and respectful can now be viewed as outdated or even sexist.
And with all the different preferences and expectations of the modern woman, it can be challenging to figure out what’s considered respectful and what could come off as offensive or demeaning.
In this article, I’ll be exploring seven ways you can adapt traditional standards of being a gentleman and use them effectively in the modern era to strengthen your relationship with the woman in your life.
1. Understand That What Women Consider to Be “Gentlemanly” Can Vary Greatly
As much as I’d love to sit here and give you a concrete list of “best practices,” like holding the door open or pulling out the chair for a woman, things are a bit more nuanced today than they were in the past.
That’s why your best option may be to take some time to assess the type of woman you’re in a relationship with.
All too often, I see guys make the mistake of doing something with the intent of being polite, only to have it completely blow up in their faces. Granted, this will probably happen only when you’re first getting to know the woman you’re dating, but it’s always a good idea to watch for certain clues.
For example, think back to your first date together. Did you go out for dinner or drinks? How did she act when it came time to pay the bill?
Did she automatically let you take care of it? Did she gesture to grab the check but ultimately allow you to get it instead? Did she insist on splitting it with you? Did she pay it all herself?
Something like this is a great way to gauge the types of things your partner would consider gentlemanly. If she lets you handle it, no question asked, she may be more aligned with traditional gentlemanly values.
Suppose she insisted on splitting the bill or paying for it herself. In that case, you want to be mindful that she might perceive traditional gentlemanly values as rude or patronizing.
Of course, no one is saying you should change how you act to cater to the woman you’re dating. If your partner does something that makes you feel uneasy, you should feel free to say so.
So, if you, as the man, feel like it’s your responsibility to pay, you should be allowed to pay. If you think you two should split the bill, that’s fine too. Ultimately, only you and you alone know what feels right.
The point is, if you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s in your best interest to understand the types of things that could create friction and either don’t do those things or level with yourself and find a woman who’s more in line with your values.
Of course, we understand that doing that is sometimes easier said than done. At some point in our lives, we’ve all been in relationships with someone we knew wasn’t suitable for us. Of course, this may not apply to you, and if it doesn’t, that’s fantastic…
But if it does… and something doesn’t feel right, a men’s coach has the experience to help you.
A large part of being a gentleman is being comfortable in your skin, and if your partner is inhibiting that in some regard, it’s something you owe yourself to explore.
2. Be Willing to Give What You Expect to Receive
Does this sound familiar? You had a rough day at work. You had to stay at the office for several hours, then suffered through another hour of gridlock traffic, only to return home to your girlfriend or wife, who proceeds to go on a detailed and complicated rant about some drama at her job.
And you, exhausted, can’t force yourself to focus on what she’s saying. There are too many different people and problems, and after about 10 minutes of trying to listen to her, your head hurts more than it did before.
Perhaps you decide to block her out, which will make you appear rude and insensitive. Alternatively, you might be angry and lash out, saying that she should be more sensitive to your needs. But this response, too, can also be problematic.
Think back for a moment to those gentlemanly standards of the ’40s and ’50s: strength, generosity, positivity, being well-mannered, and being a good communicator.
Yes, you’re tired and upset, but it would appear you aren’t the only one. Does ignoring your wife/girlfriend or lashing out at her seem to be in line with what an old-school gentleman would have done? Of course not.
Understandably, it can be challenging to keep your self-composure when a moment like this arises. Keeping yourself composed might make you feel weak or like you’re being walked on.
You need to challenge your preconceived notions of strength in difficult situations.
It might make you feel more manly to lash out and get angry, but what if being strong in this scenario was more about keeping your composure?
This is where a men’s coach comes in. A coach has been through these scenarios, and he has the wisdom to know the difference between appearing emotionally strong and being emotionally strong.
A gentleman should take pride in his strength and embrace his role as the pillar those around him can lean on. It’s your job to be supportive, caring, and respectful to your partner.
If you genuinely can’t focus on what’s being said, politely explain that it will have to be discussed tomorrow. If not, muster up the energy and give the same attention to your partner that you expect her to give to you
Of course, if your partner only wants to talk about herself and doesn’t ever want to hear about your day, that’s another problem entirely. Still, for the sake of this scenario, I’ll assume you have a healthy relationship with healthy communication.
If so, being the stronger person—being a gentleman in times like these—can only help strengthen it in the long run. After all, we are guilty of becoming self-absorbed occasionally; it’s part of what makes us human.
The key to being a gentleman is not taking it personally. Most people—and this is true of your partner, coworkers, friends, or family—don’t wake up and think to themselves, “You know what… I’m going to ruin someone’s day today.”
People act out of emotions, often without thinking. True strength comes from being able to control your emotions even when you are personally feeling tremendous stress levels.
3. Gentlemen Are Comfortable in Their Skin
“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval. There is nothing more satisfying than that sense of being completely “at home” in your own skin.” –Mark Twain
As the saying goes, “confidence is the key,” but what does that mean, exactly?
While most men will say they are confident, their actions often reveal that they are anything but.
For example, many men constantly brag about their accomplishments, dominate conversations, always need to be in the right, and build themselves up by putting others down. If you’re guilty of these things, you may want to reassess why you do them.
True confidence and an overinflated ego are very different things, and a gentleman knows the difference.
Of course, a seasoned men’s coach knows precisely what delineates these two groups and can help you figure it out. But in general, the mindset between a genuinely confident man and one that feigns confidence is night and day.
Have you ever heard accounts of state or federal agents who go undercover to infiltrate biker gangs or other organized crime syndicates? You’ll often hear stories of how calm, polite, and well-mannered these criminals are.
Why? Real tough guys don’t need to act tough because they are tough. For better or for worse, these guys have a quiet confidence that speaks louder than any actions.
Of course, the lifestyle that guys like this lead is not something you want to aspire to, but when it comes to confidence, they are a prime example of what it means to be truly confident.
For another example, look at the watches that many prominent people wear. Bill Gates, at the time I’m writing this, is worth 103 billion dollars. What watch does a man of this stature wear? A Rolex? Jaeger LeCoultre, Breguet, or Louis Moinet?
Nope. Not even close. Bill wears a Casio that costs roughly 50 bucks. Again, truly wealthy people don’t need to show off their money because everyone knows they’re rich.
Have you ever seen male celebrities decked out in an outfit that most people would otherwise consider ridiculous? Yet, somehow, on them, it works and looks entirely normal. Why?
Because they have the confidence to pull it off, that’s why. They don’t give a shit what others think of them because they’re so far ahead in life that nothing can damage their confidence.
If you’re truly confident in who you are, you can be yourself without worrying about what others—especially your significant other—think about you. If you find yourself dressing or acting unnaturally around your partner, you need to take a minute and seriously examine why that is.
A true man, and a true gentleman, owns his individuality in his way. If he wants to wear a suit on the weekends, he wears a suit. He wears just that if he’s more comfortable in Birkenstocks and a t-shirt.
The naysayers can talk all they want, but at the end of the day, you need to be the type of man who knows you and doesn’t conform to anyone.
To carry yourself well, you have to be yourself.
4. Be a Leader Who Inspires Others
If you act one way when you’re alone with your partner, but are an entirely different person in social situations, ask yourself why?
As I mentioned above, many insecure men like to build themselves up by putting others down. These are the types of guys who often make jokes at others’ expense.
Doing these things aren’t manly—let alone gentlemanly—they make you look like an insecure boy crying out for attention.
And acting like this completely turns women off. You could be the most attentive and caring partner at home, but if you act like an asshole to others in public, your partner will instantly pick up on it.
A gentleman isn’t only a gentleman when the situation warrants it; he embodies the gentlemanly persona throughout his life. He knows who he is, embraces it, and doesn’t cave under either his self-imposed pressures or the pressures of others.
When you are genuinely comfortable with who you are, you can inspire others to be the best versions of themselves. This could be about your friends, your family, or your partner.
Gentlemen lift others when times are tough. They exude a quiet confidence that allows them to lead. They are reliable, steadfast, and well-grounded.
A gentleman feels no need to compete with others or demean them because he knows who he is and what he stands for. That is the mark of a true leader.
The thing is, a lot of men find themselves in leadership roles throughout their lives without ever truly understanding what the role entails. Think about the guy recently promoted to senior manager at work and let it go entirely to his head.
This guy, who was once well-liked, has now turned into an officious jerk who goes around thinking he’s the savior of the company. He finds fault with everyone’s work and thinks that his way of doing things is the only way.
Is this how a true leader should act? Absolutely not.
A leader should make those around him better. He should make others’ lives easier so those people can become better versions of themselves.
Leaders are not there to “crack the whip,” “keep people in line,” or “be the disciplinarian.” These are more than misguided, egotistical notions that often arise when a man gets put in charge or something.
If you really want to be a gentleman, inspire confidence in those around you. That applies to your friends, family, coworkers, and especially your partner. Be supportive, encouraging, and insightful.
5. Be Honest With Others
The qualities that men and women appreciate in the opposite sex vary. For example, according to a poll by the dating site Cupid.com, men value certain things, such as a sense of humor and trust, more than women do.
Women, oppositely, are more interested in qualities like loyalty and that their man is a caring person.
But do you know the number one trait both men and women said they valued above all others? You guessed it: honesty.
Honesty is perhaps the most critical trait a gentleman can possess. A lack of honesty—aside from causing many problems with your life in general—can be highly detrimental to an otherwise healthy relationship.
For example, unless you’re dating a woman who has never been in a relationship, you will likely encounter some residual damage from her past partners.
If several other men cheated on your wife or girlfriend before she met you, she might be paranoid that you will do the same thing to her. While she is relatively self-aware and doesn’t often let on that she is feeling this way, you get the sense that sometimes she doesn’t trust you.
And while you might instinctually get defensive over this because you’ve done nothing wrong, keeping a level head about the situation is essential. Be honest and open with what you’re feeling right up front. Doing so can save you great turmoil in the long run.
Consider this scenario: you have a platonic friendship with a female coworker who you communicate with regularly. You text several each other times throughout the day and even chat while driving home from work to vent about your work-related frustrations.
Both of you know that there is, and never will be, anything romantic or sexual between you. Still, knowing your girlfriend’s or wife’s history of being cheated on, you decide it would be in everyone’s best interest if you just hid or deleted your text communications with your coworker.
Eventually, something happens, you slip up, and your partner finds out you’ve been secretly communicating with your coworker for months. She automatically assumes the worst.
And you immediately look guilty because you’ve been hiding the whole situation. An argument ensues with your partner, and while the two of you eventually reconcile, things are never quite the same between you.
And for what? Because you were too scared to be honest with her? You could easily blame your partner for being untrusting and quick to jump to conclusions, but the fact is that if you had the strength to be honest, none of this would have even happened in the first place.
To be a true gentleman, you must respect your partner’s needs, wants, and feelings. After all, you sensed something troubling her long ago, but you never addressed the issue head-on. Now, you created a serious problem due to your inaction.
Being honest and genuine in all aspects of life is also the key to being dependable, and dependability is one of the defining characteristics of gentlemen.
A gentleman gets what he gives to others; if you want your partner to be honest with you, it is vital to be honest with her.
6. Most of All, Be Honest With Yourself
It’s important to note that being honest with others starts with being honest with yourself. If you’re constantly lying to yourself about your career, aspirations, or the woman you’re with, it may be time to reassess your situation seriously.
Dishonesty is a slippery slope, and it’s far too easy for men to find themselves enveloped in a sea of lies they created. Don’t let yourself be one of these men. Have the courage to stand up for what you want and go out there and get it.
Ask yourself the hard questions that are tough to answer…
Am I happy with my career?
Am I making enough money to support myself, my partner, or my family?
Am I satisfied with my relationship?
Am I satisfied with my life?
Am I happy?
Whatever your answers are, remember that you have the power to change your destiny. Despite what society has conditioned you to believe and life’s direction in the past, your path is not set in stone.
Do you want to be a gentleman? Do you want to be a better man to the woman in your life? Start today—level with yourself. Acknowledge what’s making you unhappy, then go out there and fix it.
Far too many guys go through life lonely and miserable, and rather than work to change their destiny, they take out their frustrations on others… On their friends, family, or partner…
Don’t do this. Ground yourself. Be stronger. Take control of your life.
Otherwise, you will never be happy. You’ll always be angry, thinking of what could have been or should have been, constantly kicking yourself for your inability to take action.
But when you align yourself with a band of like-minded brothers, you’ll never have to worry about not taking action. My team and I can give you the support you need to get yourself out of your trapped cycle.
We all need support, and owning up to that fact is nothing to be ashamed of.
7. Learn to be a Better Man
When I described the gentleman of the ’40s and ’50s, did a certain image come to mind? A man in a tailored suit, with a fresh haircut and shave, who is well-spoken and can instantly grab the attention of anyone in the room?
And when you think about most men of today, can you (with the help of a slight wardrobe adjustment) envision those same men filling the shoes of men from the past?
Can you envision yourself filling those roles?
Go on, be honest with yourself…
If the answer to either of these questions is no, let’s examine the cause of that for a moment.
Men from past generations often seem more manly than today’s crowd because their culture was entirely different. Today, the notion of what it means to “be a man” has been constantly scrutinized by the PC culture. Most of today’s men don’t know how to be a gentleman because they don’t understand how to be a man in the first place.
You can see this over and over again with the way men are depicted in pop culture. More often than not, chic, well-dressed, masculine men who carry themselves well are portrayed by more seasoned actors in film and television.
Think of actors like Jason Statham, Keanu Reeves, or Brad Pitt, who often occupy these roles and are all in their late 50s. Today, a man’s man is generally older.
But it wasn’t like this back in the day. Young guys had a maturity and sense of experience that today’s generation completely lacks.
How old do you think Sean Connery was the first time he donned a bowtie to play the role of James Bond? Late 30’s? 40s?
Nope, not even close. This is what a 31-year-old man looked like in 1962.
See, all men, regardless of age, knew how to be gentlemen back then, and they knew how to be gentlemen because they knew how to be men.
Unfortunately, today, the direction isn’t quite as clear…
Today young male actors often play the roles of immature boys—think Step Brothers or The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Men don’t have the same role models to look up to as they did in past generations.
Fortunately, an experienced men’s coach can provide you with the guidance you need…
Allow me to extend you an invitation to join my brotherhood.
At Knowledge For Men, we provide an elite coaching system that will teach you how to be a better man and a gentleman and unlock the innate power trapped inside you. Together, we can spark a profound, lasting change in your life.
Do you want to unleash that strong, generous, optimistic, confident, well-mannered man buried inside you?
Yes? Then take action!
Of course, you could do nothing… you could continue to perpetuate the same cycles of failure you have for your entire life…
But I think you’re better than that…
I think you’re ready to put in the work, find the courage, and accept the challenges in your life. I think you’re ready to change, once and for all, and finally, unlock your untapped potential.
What we offer isn’t some cheap coaching program… It isn’t going to provide you with abstract advice and then leave you to figure out the rest… We’ll give you actionable steps to help you truly transform your life.
But you have to put in the work.
If that’s too much for you, if you’re reading this and already thinking that this may be too much for you, then do us both a favor, and close out this window.
But if you’re ready to rise to the challenge and join hundreds of other men inside our elite community, there is no better time to start than now.
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