Eduardo García discusses how respect and understanding are the most important aspects of a relationship between men and women, no matter how opposite their views might be.
He is a Gentleman, and I am a Gentleman’s Daughter. So far we are equal. ~Jane Austen
You might think that we had a similar discussion before, on how I have yet to be confronted by a hardcore feminist that would be so insulted by my chivalrous ways that a confrontation would ensue and my own personal safety would be threatened. I have openly expressed my personal opinion about the obligations a gentleman should have with the ladies and with society in general. I have also discussed how my own feminist ideals are a direct result of my personal code of chivalry and gallantry as a man. From reading some of my articles, you might think I live in a magical world were men walk around with capes, women curtsy, and everyone openly encourages my cavaliering ways, a land were hand kissing and impromptu Waltz’s happen every day.
Nothing is further for the truth.
I live in the same world as you; deal with the same kind of people you might deal with, the good and the bad, and I do it every day just as you do. I won’t deny I have met my share of strong-minded women. Men, you know the kind of woman I mean, the ones with strong tempers, fierce determination, and unyielding character. The kind of women that cause sparks to fly of their high heels with every step they take, the kind that break the spirit of lesser men without having to speak a single word; just by raising a single eyebrow and giving a judgmental look. We have all met these ladies, the kind of women that as soon as her feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil himself says “Oh crap, she’s up!”
Before my detractors go on a rant on how I have omitted these ladies on my debates of chivalry, do note one very important thing. These women aren’t offended by gallantry, they just refuse it. Her refusing to accept something and your being insulted because of her refusal are two completely different things. Now if you view it as insulting that she refused to applaud your actions, I would be more inclined to question your intentions, and not her refusal.
Now, let’s get back to the topic. You would probably think a pairing between these two archetypes, the Old-School Gentleman and the Modern-Independent Woman, would be a recipe for disaster. Both of these people tend to be strong-willed, maybe even stubborn in their ways. Both of these personalities are usually a result of a fighting spirit towards the way society is set up. And neither of these is known for their flexibility when it comes to their character and integrity. In a way they are polar opposites in the social spectrum. The gentleman is guided by a moral compass to help others, based on old traditions, while the modern woman is guided by a need to break with established social structures and achieve true independence. I would have agreed with you if I had not seen this work out surprisingly well first-hand.
I have actually found some articles online, mostly written from a woman’s perspective, on how to make a relationship like this work. Although I respect and agree with some of the recommendations posted, there was a repetitive theme in all of them. “Ladies, tone it down and let the man feel like a man.” Apparently the only way to make a relationship like this work, from a woman’s perspective, is to try and not offend a man’s EGO. As a man and as a gentleman, I find this mentality offensive and saddening. It still promotes to women the idea of dumbing down because men are so insecure of their own manhood. Why would a man want to break the very spirit that attracted him to a lady?
By now it should be clear than neither the gentleman nor the modern woman will change to suit the other person. He will not give up the integrity and ideals that make him a gentleman, nor will she change her independent spirit and fierce nature that had allowed her to survive in this world. If either thinks that the other will change to please the other, they are forging a guarantee for the relationship to fail. The trick here is a respect for each other’s core ideals. What both have to do is change the way they interpret their core ideals when handling the other person and reinterpreting the traditional views on what a relationships is.
Way too many relationships are based around the ideal of finding someone to “complete” you, creating codependency, or settling with someone just to be in a relationship, thinking it will avoid loneliness. Both of these reasons are a disaster just waiting to happen. We find the first situation with a lot of gentlemen who willingly seek a princess to save. They need to be needed, validating a lot of their chivalrous behavior. We find the second situation more common with the modern women, settling for men who “accept” their independent nature and strong character. They will get involved in an unfulfilling relationship, even after a while realize they settled for less than they deserved.
The irony of the entire situation is just how similar these two kinds of people are and how much they actually complement each other. They just have to overcome the social stigmas and personal preconception they carry against the other. The gentleman must stop viewing the modern woman as a princess who he must save, but rather view her as a queen willing to fight at his side as his equal. The modern woman must stop viewing the gentleman as someone wanting to steal her identity as a person, and view him as an equal to her in character and confidence.
Gone must be the ideal of a leader and a follower, of a giver and a taker, and of the alpha and the omega. Both of these people tend to have strong “take-charge” personalities, and have successes in life mostly by being inflexible in their integrity and character. They must view each other as accomplices to each other’s life. If they are going to be together, it must not because they “need” one another, but because they “want” each other. Both the old-school gentleman and the modern women, are confident enough with whom they are as an individual, that they don’t “need” another person and neither are not afraid to simply walk away from the relationship. If both are able to reach this stage, they will realize that their relationship is nothing more than two independent people who have agreed to help the each other find a better version of themselves.
Gone will be the social blackmail or the economic ties that force so many bad relationships to stay together. Gone are the insecurities or the lack of confidence that drive so many spouses into competing with each other or abandoning the relationship emotionally. What is left is a partnership with enough character, integrity, and confidence that they can stand up to almost anything life throws at them. And trust me, there are very few things in life that a couple like that cannot overcome.
This is an expanded article from what originally appeared in Being Caballero
Photo: Jan Fidler/Flickr