The debate is out on chivalry: have women killed it, lowering their expectations to such distressing lows that no man will bother opening a door for a lady again? Or has society progressed in the way of utopia, thus men and women are inherently equal so no man dare offer a woman a coat? The third argument, of which I most abhor, is that women have lost their ladylike and deserve only the bare minimum. Whichever it is, I don’t care; to me, chivalry is just the dirty word for behaving respectfully, and the man I desire is far more than merely chivalrous – there are billions of people capable of opening doors, I’d say just as many as are capable of saying “thank you” (ahem).
I believe all women should have a certain standard for men – and by all means, men, have standards for us; a woman can handle it – and that in lowering our standards, chivalry has dissolved to history. I do not care about your money, only that you make it yourself, legally. I do not care about your car, or your watch (people own watches?), or the number of suits suspending from your mismatched hangers. I do care that you have a home, but so long as there are clean sheets and room for two, the marble counter tops will not impress me.
These are 10 dating commandments for the modern man, written by a modern woman. Should you rise to the occasion, I have faith you will attract what you are.
1. Thou shall practice integrity, seek knowledge and have ambition.
I would almost argue that these stand alone as what differentiates men from boys, and women from girls, certainly more than any paycheck or status, more than any act of chivalry. It is as simple as speaking honestly, chasing goals, braving challenges, and taking responsibility for your actions. Do the things you say you will. So often we, men and women alike, have more excuses than we do goals, more fabricated friendships than true relationships. Nothing is so attractive as a human who knows what he or she wants, and attains it, honestly and unapologetically. Be that person, and be with that person, period, for the sake of your relationships and otherwise. A woman deserves a man who is certain of his future, of himself, and of her.
2. Thou shall not text (for the first time that day) after 10 p.m. and anticipate a response.
I’m not sleeping. I am probably on my second bourbon neat, or in bed with my six pillows and Walter White (OK, really, Jesse Pinkman). While I may be thinking of you, willing you to contact me, I won’t answer. I know what the 10 p.m. text means, and I know it is only more eager as evening gets darker. A man will show a woman the respect and courtesy of holding her hand, in public, in broad daylight, to hundreds of strangers.
3. Thou shall take a woman on proper dates, and plan said dates in advance.
It was real cute when you asked me shirt shopping, but I imagine you five minutes pre-invite staring at your closet, disappointed. We aren’t in high school – television at your place does not a date make. Not to say I don’t enjoy these Wednesday nights sprawled across your sofa with American Horror Story, but there are art galleries and live bands to fuss over. Women want to know you thought long-term (or, I don’t know, 48 hours in advance) of us. A man does not fear commitment. I would never require nightly dinners at five-star Italian restaurants nor sunset cruises ripe with romantic banality. But I am good at sharing popcorn in a movie theatre and I own some real nice shirts. Let a lady dress up for you, just a little, just sometimes – throughout the entirety of the relationship.
4. Thou shall be somewhat domesticated.
I let my dirty clothes escape the hamper and I forget to sweep under the bed – I get it. But how long have you lived on your own and you cannot cook a meal? A real meal, a meal that doesn’t require you just add water or one that happens entirely between two slices of whole wheat bread (unless you’re into gourmet grilled cheese, in which case, I’m yours). I’m no Next Top Chef, but these enchiladas baking prove I am taking some initiative. A man should take care of his appetite and his home, if only so a woman does not leave after you serve burnt chicken off a dirty plate.
5. Thou shall speak to (and about) women with respect.
This goes for how you speak to and about your mom, your sister, your great aunt Nancy, those kind ladies shaking their assets in a Beyonce video, the apathetic waitress at the café, and me. The way in which a human regards others speaks vastly on their own character, substantially more than of the person he or she speaks of. A man never puts down a woman – not even his “crazy ex-girlfriend who parked outside his apartment all through June” – or else we assume you are only saying the same of us.
6. Thou shall compliment a woman on something other than appearance.
We just meet: you approach me and say my smile is beautiful. We become Facebook friends: you like my bikini photo circa 2009, back when I was 20, and now you’re a creep. I want you to love my smile, I do, and my bikini body circa now, but a man will also love a woman’s sense of humor or her fervor when debating some otherwise mundane social issue. Believe me this, I love your eyes when you talk directors you admire, the way you discuss government motives with abandon, throwing out talking points you didn’t merely overhear on the train ride over. What you acknowledge of me is the difference between something casual I end tonight, and something intimate that ends three afternoons from now with a date planned for the following evening.
7. Thou shall lift, bro. I do not care about biceps on biceps on triceps, and I never need to hear how much weight you curl.
I am a late-adopter of my sister’s critique that abs resemble tortoise shells. But I do care that you care about your health, enough to see the inside of a gym four days a week or frequent the running trails of Central Park. A man shows regard for his body, not for only the shallow wink from the lady across the bar, but because this is what he is promised for the long haul. A man invests in his health.
8. Thou shall not discuss one’s previous sex life.
A boy brags about his conquests; a man respects those in his past. Maybe one day we can laugh over that time some college girl threw up on your lap during a blow job but this story has no place in charming a woman. (Side note: the same goes for bathroom bodily functions – discretion is key, and fart jokes aren’t cute. Or handsome. I am better off ignorant.)
9. Thou shall drop the other girls.
A man commits to a woman. A man is honest to his woman. I promise I am yours and yours alone, as I date only one man at a time, no matter how frivolous the whole thing ends up. I am working diligently to be a woman deserving of no less than this list, but if you find I am not enough, let me free. The games and lies and indiscretion should be left with your little-boyhood.
10. Thou shall be proud to call your woman yours.
I am talking Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch kind of proud. I am talking take me to your childhood home and let me taste your mother’s cooking. A man knows what he has when he has it.