Being a gentleman is about being considerate of other people, within reason. That’s it. There is nothing else to it. It’s not a bunch of fancy rules involving handkerchiefs, umbrellas, and calling cards. And it does not involve treating women like they’re helpless.
A lot of people think that being a gentleman involves grand gestures of kindness or generosity. Examples:
- Offering a woman you don’t know your umbrella – Would you take an umbrella from a stranger? How would you get it back to them?
- Holding a door open for anyone who’s more than five feet away from it. You’re insinuating that they’re too weak to open it themselves, and obligating them to run to spare you from having to hold it open for so long.
- Taking “Ladies First” to absurd extremes – If you’re at the front of an elevator and a woman is at the back, you’re not doing her any favors by moving around so she can squeeze past you. Just get out of the damn elevator and make everyone’s life easier, please.
- Anything that would make you uncomfortable if someone did it for you, especially if you suspected that they had ulterior (read: sexual) motives.
Basic politeness and common courtesy, on the other hand, are always welcome. Some easy ways to demonstrate it are:
- Listening intently, showing an interest in other people and their interests
- Hold the door for the person behind you, if they’re right behind you, regardless of their age or gender.
- Saying “Please” and “Thank you”.
- Call people you don’t know “Sir” or “Ma’am”.
Do these things every day with everyone, male or female. Then when you open a door for an attractive female, it won’t seem awkward or forced.
And don’t expect a thank-you or a woman’s phone number when you do any of these things. It’s called common courtesy for a reason.