Forget witty one-liners or platinum abs – if there’s one thing that marks you out in a sea of copy and paste profiles today, it’s chivalry. And chivalry is more than manners. It’s about honoring other human beings as the way to love – that kind that transcends the monotony of work, the gym, boozed up weekends with friends we can’t always count on.
Sounds outmoded and old-fashioned? Believe me, chivalry is the answer to our modern dating woes. Why? Because ever since we got our digits on dating apps, we’ve gradually forgotten how to treat other online members as people with feelings – and portals to a higher sense of being.
It’s worth remembering that swiping dating apps were modelled on computer games; the things that are designed to get us hooked on the globule of dopamine we experience when we ‘score’. All too often, the profiles of real human beings we see are reduced to pawns in our quest for love and affection. The ‘gamification’ of dating, as experts call it, is affecting our access to the transcendent power of mutual respect and adoration. Which is why new-wave dating apps such as The Inner Circle aren’t modelled on this, but instead facilitate mutual messaging and, even better, meeting up at elegant parties where you can indulge in the ancient art of conversation. When you think about it, it’s incredible that we ever allowed Tinder and its ilk to persuade us that a system best used to entertain us in between our favourite TV show ending and our dinner order arriving would be a good medium for finding love, or at the very least, a good time with someone who respects us.
Chivalry today might have a bad rep. But that’s because we equate it with a patronising idyll of men holding women’s doors, drinks and conversations for them. In fact, it’s a centuries-old code of conduct established by medieval knights that honored women in the name of the Divine, and saw men upholding the highest standard of manners in order to become better humans – with a great success rate in delivering lasting amour.
Traditional chivalry emphasised being well-read and particularly loyal, eager to hold court with your contemporaries, but never enjoying yourself at the expense of your health, well-being or anyone else’s. In 2017, honour has become something of a dirty word, synonymous with religious murder and extreme social conservatism. Chivalric honour wasn’t used to publicly shame others, but to guide you to do your persona best. And let’s face it, people with no concept of honour can’t, at the end of the day, be expected to honour you.
Make no mistake – this isn’t about idolising the other person, but devoting yourself to them. And devotion isn’t about letting someone wipe the floor with you, but giving yourself up to the small daily acts of love – the cup of coffee that gets you to the shower, the wine chilling in the fridge when you finally make it home after a stressful day, the swallowing of small resentments and the dwelling on the loveliest qualities of your sweetheart – not the kind of ‘devotion’ you’ll find on gamified dating apps where there’s always a better option but a thumb-swell away.
Chivalry doesn’t care what religion you are, what job you do, how much you earn or where you went to school. It just cares that you care deeply about the potential influence – for good – you and your potential paramour can both have over one another’s lives. Because everything else is just kindling – right?