If you are the sort of man who spends too much time watching Hallmark Channel movies or reading books where the good guy always gets the girl, here’s some sage advice: the overly chivalrous gent is not a good look for most men. And, for some women, the man who is quick to open the car door and insists on paying the check comes off less than genuine.

As with many things in life, it’s a matter of finding a balance. There’s a line between being a modern-day Knight of the Round Table and a boorish, ill-mannered dolt. The best place to start is simple – just be yourself. Beyond that, you can use these suggestions to win over your date.

More Than Grand Gestures

Go into the date with the mindset of being a gentleman, but pick your spots. Opening a car door is good, but throwing your Hugo Boss jacket over a puddle is a bit much.

The places where women will expect a first date to be a gentleman translates into avoiding foul language, being polite to servers at a restaurant and ensuring your gets home safely. Even if the date goes poorly, only a man raised among a pack of wolves drops a woman off and burns rubber as he escapes.

Clues Along The Way

Pay attention during those introductory phone calls. If you listen attentively, you can pick up on some clues that will help determine what level of chivalry you should exhibit on date one.

For example, if your potential bashert mentions her parents have been married for 25 or 30 years, it’s a safe bet she grew up in a home with a strong and attentive father. Your match will expect the same from any man she meets. It’s a longshot, but perhaps your date may even mention a previous bad date where her suitor flirted with the waitress or peppered the conversation with dirty jokes. While you’re at it, give your match’s profile another read; it’s possible she may mention in her “things she’s looking for in a man” a line about wanting a real gentleman.

Asking The Right Questions

In the absence of any easily decipherable clues in those introductory phone calls or messages, use a little circumspection and politely ask, “What are you looking for in a man?” You may not get a lot of direct hits on issues like who should pay on a date or whether she insists a man open her car door, but even the tone of her answers can offer some guidance.

This piece of advice is what football players call an “audible,” which means don’t go into a pre-date call planning to slip this question in during polite conversation. Wait for the right time, and gently slip this line into the dialog.

It’s The Little Things

For many women, it might be the little things you do that matter most in terms of whether the date is a success. Some of the these gentlemanly acts might seem rudimentary, but they’ll go a long way in proving that you’re a real gentleman:

  • Leave your smartphone in your pocket. No act comes off more inattentive on a date than fiddling with your iPhone during that getting-to-know-you phase.
  • Unless your date asks (and my hunch is that will be rare), let her order her meal herself.
  • When the bill arrives, never bring up the subject of who should pay. If there is stone silence from across the table, politely pick up the check. If your date wants to contribute or pay half, I assure you, she will speak up.

Truth be told, anyone man who has to think about whether to be a gentleman or not will eventually be unmasked. If you’re trying to make a good impression, be genuinely thoughtful and attentive rather than trying to live out some stereotype of what the “chivalrous man” looks like in the movies.

You may also be interested in 9 Things A Man Does On A Great First Date

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