Traditional Gendered Courtesies Hero Label

Traditional Gendered Courtesies

painting: middle ages, ladies at court look at a sleeping man in the garden

There was a time when men were expected to hold doors, chairs, and coats for women; to walk on the street side of the sidewalk when walking together; to pay for her meals or tickets; and to stand up whenever ladies arrived or left. Or something like that.

Are those days gone? Yes and no. It can vary widely around the country, by generation, or even within social circles. These gendered traditions certainly do still happen. Some women like to be shown these courtesies; while other chafe under them (especially in business). And feelings can run rather high on both sides about which is courteous today!

Poor men. In many cases they don't know which kind of woman they may be interacting with—especially early in dating when impressions matter. So, if you’re worried about what your date would prefer in a given situation, ask before you act:

  • "Can I hold your coat for you?"
  • "Can I get your chair for you?"
  • "That entrée does sound good; when the waiter comes over, would you like me to order that for you?"
  • "Do you want to wait here while I go get the car?"

These are perfectly polite questions, and it allows her to decide. Win, win!