A few weeks ago, there was a debate over on TFM about chivalry, being a gentleman, and what it all means. Frankly, when it comes to dating, I think it’s kind of a moot point, because it’s important to some girls and less so to others. Each of us has a threshold of what we will tolerate when it comes to that stuff. Would it be nice if a guy opened my car door? Sure. Is it the reason he isn’t going to get a blow job from me tonight? Probably not. The more likely reason is that he told me he doesn’t like football. Not pulling out my chair for me, I can live with, but a dude who doesn’t spend his Sundays worshipping at the altar of the NFL? Get your un-American penis away from me.
It seems, though, while we’re so focused on whether or not “chivalry is dead,” we’re leaving out the most important thing: honesty. One of the hardest situations we come across in the dating world is telling someone you aren’t interested in them. Most of the time, being truthful is pushed to the side. Instead, we want to try to send that message through a series of signals we pray the other person will pick up on so we can avoid having an actual conversation. No one wants to hurt someone’s feelings by saying “Hey, you’re cool, but I’m just not interested,” particularly if it’s someone we genuinely like, but just not that way. So instead, we all say and do things in hopes that they will get the hint. In other words, honesty gets disregarded for some kind of misguided idea of chivalry.
To be clear, I am not saying that guys are the only guilty party — far from it, actually. I’ve certainly used my insane travel schedule an excuse to put off (hopefully forever) a date that I wasn’t interested in going on. I’ve pulled the “I’m getting over someone right now, so I’m not looking for anything” card more times than I’d like to admit. But more often than not, your little “hints” are way worse than that conversation could ever be.
Snapping a picture of yourself with another dude and the caption “me and bae,” doesn’t read as a polite way to say “I like someone else.” Throwing a photo of you sucking face in someone else’s face only proves to feel like some kind of back-stabbing and betrayal. Telling someone “I’m not ready for a commitment right now, but if I was, I’d commit to you,” doesn’t soften the blow. It leaves them dangling on a string, patiently waiting for you to change your mind and be “ready.” Bailing on an adult sleepover, because you’re “too tired” isn’t a subtle letdown. It’s a clear message that Netflix is more fun to you than sex with this person who will just never be your priority.
Because the fact of the matter is, when those things are more “chivalrous,” maybe, than the truth is, but when they happen to you, they hurt. They hurt way more than the truth ever could. This isn’t some girl power song where the guy’s a jerk so we ditch his ass, keying his car as we go. It’s real life, and it’s messy and complicated. The truth is always kinder than the subtle rejection that a guy thinks will spare your feelings, because, well, girls have this thing about hope, especially when we really like a guy. Unless we have an explicit conversation about the state of our relationship, we hope that no matter how many signs he gives us to let us know he isn’t interested, he still is. It’s not logical, but matters of the heart never are.
So as you’re out there in the dating world, stop insisting that you need the guy who will open the door for you or pull out your chair. While that’s lovely, you’re a big girl and you can do those things yourself. Instead, look for the guy who will tell you that you have a lipstick on your teeth or a smudge of salad dressing on your chin. Because he’s the guy who’s going to be honest with you, whether it’s to tell you that you’re not the one five dates in, or to tell you that you absolutely are a year from now..