You hold the door for her. Period. Whether it’s a car door, hotel door, restaurant door, or train door, and even — brace yourself — whether she’s cute or gross, young or old, single or taken, model or troll. It’s not about scoring points. It’s about chivalry.

Other required acts of chivalry:

Light her cigarette.
I’m not a smoker. I don’t have any philosophical problems with cigarettes — any industry that creates jobs, keeps our doctors busy, and gives something to the kiddos is okay by me — but I’ve never enjoyed the taste. Many years ago, back in my embarrassing early days of flirting, I leaned in to light a girl’s cigarette. I had two problems. First, I couldn’t operate the lighter. Literally — I didn’t know how to make it work. (It was my first time.) Second, and even more humiliating, I lit the wrong end of her cigarette. It’s very, very difficult to come off as a suave lothario when she’s laughing at your incompetence.

Hail her a cab.
No, you don’t have to do one of those freakily high-pitched cab whistles, but you must follow one principle: be bold. You should actively put your body in the street (leaving the sidewalk) and aggressively stare down a cab. Decisiveness matters. Of course, helplessly watching fifty-eight occupied cabs zip past isn’t quite Cary Grant, either, so keep a car service number in your cell as backup.

Help her with her coat. If it’s one of those fitted little “girl sweaters” that’s smaller than your boxers, forget it. But if it’s an actual coat-coat, the kind of thing she wears when cold? Help her in; help her out.

Carry her heavy objects. If she’s lugging anything more burdensome than a dictionary, ask if you can carry it. You’re not implying she’s a weakling; you’re just being a gentleman.

Advanced move: Pull out her chair.
This one can be tricky. It’s not, always welcome, it’s not always feasible, and it just might lead to you ramming her breasts into the table. Which is less sexy than it sounds.


It’s a cliché: everyone moans that “chivalry is dead.” Fine. The question, though, is when? Take this quote:

“The age of chivalry has gone; the age of humanity has come.”

Post-feminist rants in 2008? Nope, Charles Sumner in the nineteenth century. Or:

“But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophists, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory Europe is extinguished forever.”

Courtesy of Edmund Burke, 1790. Or this one:

“The age of chivalry is past. Bores have succeeded to dragons.”

From Charles Dickens. The point? Ninety years from now, people will sigh and say, “Oh, chivalry is dead! It’s not like it was back in the good old 2010s.” Chivalry isn’t an era that lives or dies. It starts with you and ends with you. Make of it what you will.


This old debate bores me, and I suspect it bores you, too, so we’ll keep this brief. Is there a sinister, underlying presumption in chivalry that women need help from men — implying they’re weaker, incapable of helping themselves — which therefore makes it sexist? It’s a fair question. You shouldn’t be condescending or overbearing. Assuming you’re neither, the next time she brings this up, just ask her to get the door and carry your suitcase.

Excerpt from Maxims of Manhood: 100 Rules Every Real Man Must Live By Copyright © 2009 Jeff Wilser, author.

The above is an excerpt from the book Maxims of Manhood: 100 Rules Every Real Man Must Live By by Jeff Wilser. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.