Thursday, August 5, 2010

If Bono Can Do It...

"I don't think there's a qualifier, but if there were, it would say that the attributes of 'young' and 'good-looking' are strictly optional. Any man who cares about his wife/girlfriend/s.o. and shows it in concrete ways, is a 'pearl of great price,' and will find that taking out the trash can drive her into a romantic frenzy." ~ EHC

One of the "rules of engagement" frequently overlooked by men in the attempt to relate to the opposite sex is the rule of consideration. There was a time, not too long ago, when men were a little uncertain in this regard, not wishing to diminish a woman's own power by doing for her what she could do for herself. Good intentions notwithstanding, I've rarely known a woman who was not appreciative of a man being genuinely and honestly considerate.

I realize this sounds old fashioned and it probably is, but that doesn't render it a fossilized entry in our behavioral vocabulary. I've witnessed numerous occasions where Mr. Got-It-Made-in-the-Shade has ended up looking like a fool in comparison to an ordinary guy who knew how to treat a woman like she was special. Being a gentleman sets you apart and it does so in a good way. Even if men don't happen to notice, women do.

So, how do you proceed? To begin with, when taking a woman out, open her door, both when she's entering and exiting the car. If Bono can do it (photo), well, you get the message. A woman might act a little confused or self-conscious at first, but don't worry, she's probably not be used to having someone do this for her. Most guys don't, especially after they've dated a while or they've moved in together and he's starting to act like he's dad and she's mom without even realizing it.

Hold the door for her anytime you're entering a room or building. Help her on and off with her coat before dealing with yours. Pull out her chair when dining out -- or even at the home of friends, for that matter. Walk on the street-side when strolling down the sidewalk together; it's a sign of respect. Resist the temptation to think you're ever passed the point where you need to be polite, because once you do, you're flirting with taking your partner for granted. If there's any no-no you want to avoid like the plague, this one's it.

Sure, there may come a time when she'll open her own car door out of convenience, in haste, or because she doesn't want you to feel like you always have to do it for her, but surprise her occasionally. Furthermore, being a gentleman ought not be limited to those times when a man is courting. He will go a long way toward creating positive regard for himself if he's polite with coworkers and women in general.

Now, the key thing to remember is, consideration has to be genuine. It should be the natural expression of who you are as a person. It's not something you do because you have to or to get something in return. I mean, yes, I think it's safe to say a guy's going to come a lot closer to a kiss on the first date if he's considerate, but we're talking about being a gentleman and gentlemen aren't polite for the sake of what they can obtain. Consideration is its own reward.

Finally, being a gentleman among women and men doesn't make one a stereotypically "nice guy." Niceness is fine but gentlemanliness flows from an inner strength. It reveals a quiet, confident self-possession and self-awareness that not only women, but also other men, find compelling. It shows up when you least expect it, like for example, when you take out the trash -- without being asked.

(Creative Commons image by dpnash via Flickr -- a word of thanks in acknowledgment to EHC, a loyal reader who offered the quote beginning this essay.)
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