Is Chivalry Dead in Dating? Stop Settling for Less


The feminist movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries led to much more power for women in the workplace. But have we also gained more power in our private lives? Maybe not. And there’s one big problem — we may have killed off chivalry. All the old chivalry toward a woman – opening her door, paying for their dates – can now be met with hostility. Today, men must be careful because they could offend a woman by offering a helping hand. Not only can this cause confusion and frustration among men, but they naturally stop offering these nice gestures. Women believe they shouldn’t need a man. If a man helps, she may feel offended as if it implies, she is weak or helpless. Or ashamed because she shouldn’t need any help. The result is what Aprilla Beverly Jenkins observed, “Chivalry isn’t dead; you just started settling for a lot less.” What could be wrong with encouraging men to value honor, courtesy, and helpfulness? These are worthwhile virtues in a high-quality man. We all need help sometimes and there is no shame in it. Plus, a little chivalry can spark romantic feelings in us. It can feel good when a man makes you feel special. What’s wrong with more of that?

What’s the True Definition of Feminism?

The women’s movement was about fighting for equality. But does that mean we must be so fiercely independent that we can’t let a man help us with anything? Ask yourself if you are listening to your own unique feelings or conforming to politically correct attitudes when it comes to dating. Expecting women to ignore our feelings is denying our individuality—which is what the women’s movement was about. It was not about saying men and women are the same. Gloria Steinem said, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

Feminism isn’t the problem; it’s how we translate it. We don’t stop to ask what’s best for us as individuals; we’re too busy trying to fit in. What if that conformity is costing you?

Here’s how to stop settling for less and encourage a little chivalry in a relationship and dating:

1. Appreciate chivalry.

We must be clear about what we want to make it clear to men. We can say “yes” to what we want and “no” to what we don’t want.  Many men don’t know how to be chivalrous on a date. They aren’t raised that way and the women they date don’t require it. How would they learn to treat women with respect and deference since we’ve made it easy for them to get what they want without it? The more we settle, the worse modern dating gets. Men may offer to meet you halfway for a date, but you can say “no” if you’re clear that you want to see if he’s willing to go the extra mile to make you happy. Turning down a date lets you discover whether he’s into you or not. He can offer to meet you in your area if you won’t agree to meet hallway. And if a man offers to help you with a problem, acknowledge and appreciate his efforts. Just be pleased and thank him. A good man wants to make you happy. When he sees that he can make you happy, it can move your relationship forward. Why would he want another date with you if he can’t make you happy? In this way, chivalrous modern dating can help both partners to figure out if you’re truly compatible.

2. Be aware of your people-pleasing.

Although women have come a long way in gaining power and influence, many of us are still raised to be people-pleasers. We’re still told to be sweet and agreeable and not to make waves. In a relationship, you must think of your own wants and desires in order to get what you need. In healthy relationships, the partners maintain their individuality, but it can be a balancing act for both partners to get their needs met. When you conform to what your partner wants or needs, you can ignore or neglect what works for you. Not only do you end up with a relationship that doesn’t work, but you might feel resentful and bad about yourself in the process. Ideally, you’d be brave enough to do and say what’s best for you, even if your partner isn’t always happy about it.

3. Feel good enough for love.

Constant bombardment with unrealistic ideals of beauty takes its toll on all of us. We can all easily identify some imperfection in our appearance because our culture keeps telling us we need more makeup or beauty products to improve our looks. Get rid of those wrinkles! We should lose 10 pounds. None of these messages is a confidence booster. If you’re ashamed of your looks or age, you’re not alone. How do you get over the feeling that you don’t deserve chivalry in a relationship because you don’t feel good enough? Ideally, you’ll try to develop a sense that you’re just fine the way you are, whether our toxic culture approves or not.

4. Embrace the power of being feminine with men.

Many women are conflicted about feminism. We don’t want to be passive and wait for men to get in touch. We’re told we should go after what we want. We grill men on dates about their past relationships or plans for future relationships. We may plan dates or contact them to initiate.  This often creates a problematic dynamic for women. If he’s still deciding about you, but you plow ahead, it feels like you are chasing him. Of course, we don’t want to be totally passive, but we also don’t want men turned off that we are no longer feminine. And why would you push a relationship with a man who is still on the fence about you? You don’t yet know if there will be any chivalry in your relationship or if he can make you happy. How do you embrace your femininity in your love life while you present a strong presence at work? We don’t have to be more like men to have power. You can be an empowered woman who gets what she wants in feminine ways. You simply must be able to say “yes” to what you want and “no” to what you don’t want.

The Bottom Line

The way a man treats you determines whether he can make you happy in your relationship. Wanting to be treated well is not weak or anti-feminist. It’s about respect and the golden rule. When you are more concerned with being a good feminist and settle for less than you truly desire, you lose the spirit of humanity that feminism truly represents. Feminism is about a woman’s right to choose what she wants; not what others want for her.

What do you think about chivalry? Don’t be shy about telling me what you really think. I’m sure some of you don’t agree with me. Please leave me a comment.

Are you concerned about dating as a divorced woman over 40? Discover the advantages that give you an edge over your younger self. Grab my FREE report here.


Share This:


  • Angus says:

    How about non heterosexual people (like me). I like to practice kindnesd to all people regatdless of gender, but specifically for chivalry things I prefer to practice it to men (not all) that I am attract, and happy to receive from men. If chivalry is only heterosexual concept or even anti LGBT concept? Thank you.

    • Dr. Susan says:

      Hi Angus,

      Historically, chivalry was a man and a woman.

      We all need more kindness and courtesy these days.

      I suggest we not worry so much about labels.

      Seems like the world would be a happier place if we could feel good about being kind to people and let them be kind to us.


      Dr. Susan

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *