The purpose of this series is to highlight what I find a serious issue in our society. That is the problem of guys acting like “gentlemen,” or what they perceive a gentleman to act like. They act kind and sincere but all too often they turn out to be impatient, rude, or they inevitably can’t keep up the guise. Many women prefer a guy who is honest, considerate, patient, supportive, understanding, and an equal partner. However, to be those things, one must understand a little bit of psychology; have self-awareness.
You must be in tune with your emotions and feelings. This is an incredibly important skill to have not only for your own well-being but also for entering any romantic relationship. Of course, you can be the things listed above without any knowledge of your own internal thoughts, feelings, or emotions (TFE), but you’ll only be scratching the surface. You will most likely not be able to experience true empathy and understanding of another if you cannot first understand yourself. To be genuinely understanding, empathetic, and caring, does not always require more than just being someone to vent to. However, to fully be understanding and present, you should know how to analyze a situation emotionally. Doing so is a characteristic of a true man.
Since I’ve just mentioned a characteristic of a man, and because this series is about being a gentleman, let’s define these terms. The term “man” is also something that is misconstrued these days. People seem to think of someone who is aggressive, “sucks things up,” doesn’t cry or feel emotions, independent, takes what he wants, doesn’t take no for an answer as a “Man.” Those are all things I have heard as descriptors for defining what a man or masculinity is.
Unfortunately, none of those are characteristic of a true man. The reason those aren’t characteristics of a man is that most of those are selfish or inconsiderate and societally taught traits. Being aggressive is immature, not admitting to yourself what you’re feeling is dangerous, being independent is fine in some cases, but not when you’re in a relationship or when you want to have real friends. There is a term, interdependency, that is healthy in relationships. True friends can depend on each other when it’s necessary, and you must be a team in a relationship. Taking what you want and not taking no for an answer is just plain selfish. Men aren’t selfish. In fact, they are exactly the opposite, they are selfless.
These days, guys get stuck trying to live up to these ridiculous stereotypes of what men are “supposed to be like.” I personally know guys that would call themselves gentleman, or gentlemanly, but whose actions contradict those statements. They say they act like a gentleman and at the same time, will objectify and judge every woman that walks by, and say very misogynistic jokes and comments that are very disrespectful. That’s just pretending to be a gentleman and a justification for the disrespectful behavior. Society today is full of justifications for all kinds of horrific behaviors that become socially acceptable. Being a real man and a true gentleman can change this.
We now have an idea of what a true man should act like, so what’s the difference between a man, and a gentleman? Well, they differ in significant ways and can be mutually exclusive. You can be a man but not a gentleman and vice versa. Although they can be mutually exclusive, they have very similar traits. A Man and a Gentleman are both considerate, selfless, kind and they can both analyze their feelings and express their emotions. The difference here is in the application. Being a man is applying these characteristics in everyday life with all interactions with others. A Gentleman is someone who acts with the characteristics listed above, within interpersonal and romantic relationships and friendships. The traits of a real gentleman are ones that are ever so scarce in guys these days. There are many reasons why this is, most of which are because society justifies and applauds guys for acting in such disrespectful and immature ways. I sincerely hope that this series can shine some light on these issues and help inspire you to become a more respectful caring person; to spread the truth about the culture not just in the U.S. but many other countries.
Let’s make the world a better place for everyone. That’s easy to say, but how do we start to achieve that? By being aware of the problems and finding solutions on how to change them. Let’s quickly go over some key problems in our society.
Problem 1: Media = Disconnection Not Genuine Connection
Our culture reinforces the idea that holding in emotions and being closed off is a “manly” trait, which ends up causing a huge barrier to genuine human connection. Lacking connection makes it easier to be selfish because without it, you’re prone to treat people as less than human.
This disconnection manifests itself in social media, relationships, TV shows and movies, and the stereotypical “college guy.” These aren’t the only areas where this problem exists, but they are incredibly prevalent in those areas. Here are a few examples- social media everywhere has comments, posts, pictures of showing disrespect towards women, specific races or ethnicities, or guys that pretend to be a gentleman to achieve an ulterior motive. Being a real gentleman has many forms, but they all have a commonality; genuine sympathy, empathy and care for others emotionally and physically. The fact that there are guys that are so disingenuous makes it incredibly hard to find true gentleman. But there are some ways that can help you figure out someone’s true nature.
Problem 2: Guys Will Be Guys Attitude or
There is an epidemic of ass****ism (and maybe some Peter-Pan syndrome), mostly affecting men. It can infect male children as soon as they develop basic cognitive functions, memories and peer relations. From a young age, boys are taught to play with cars, trucks and guns and are socially conditioned to the definition of a “man” mentioned earlier. With these attitudes, these boys learn entitlement through our societal norms.
There are countless guys that post on social media or talk with their guy friends about “conquests,” how “hot” or “sexy” a girl is or how much they want to have sex with someone, as if that’s all women are good for. Social media is filled with the “guys will be guys” attitude. This attitude is what helps justify and normalize unacceptable behavior. Behavior that is horribly insensitive, offensive, and lacking any sense of treating people as people. There are racist jokes, rape jokes, sexual assault jokes, murder jokes, gender stereotypes, etc. that are all offensive to people who are victims of those acts.
A lot of guys I know display characteristics of the stereotypical college guy. This is the guy that objectifies women, makes inconsiderate jokes, acts incredibly immature, mostly keeping their friend groups to guys only, and you won’t see them act the same way in other social settings as they do with their main group of guys. In any situation where this kind of group approaches a woman or one guy from this kind of group approaches a woman, it’s best to avoid them at all costs because they are most likely acting on peer pressure or with the intent of some sexual end and not in the interest of the woman they are engaging with.
These guys may not act the same individually, but when they are together they are the most dangerous not just to women but to anyone else. It is the kind of company that boasts trouble and encourages each other to do stupid and illegal things that they would not normally engage in on their own. There is a sense of confidence that they give each other to do things that are generally frowned upon.
Problem 3: Guys in Disguise
A big problem with guys, is when they use gentlemanly traits disingenuously. They act like gentleman but are just putting up a false front. Women generally prefer nice guys, who wouldn’t? The problem is knowing whether someone is genuine, or just faking it. Is it easy to act like a gentleman on the surface? Yes, especially when you’re just getting to know someone. People can be very hard to read if you’ve only known them for a little while. However, there are ways that may give away their façade if they aren’t being their honest selves.
One way is to look for inconsistencies in their behavior. Perhaps they are very sweet and kind in public and less so when you two are alone or in a more private setting. Maybe he compliments you and says the nicest things to you one on one, but with his friends he either doesn’t say the same things, or doesn’t pay as much attention to you. The difference in the way someone acts with their friends and with a partner or anyone they have a more romantic relationship with, can tell a lot about their true character.
Watch them when they are with their friends. A true gentleman will stand up to his friends if they conflict with his beliefs. Someone who isn’t really a gentleman will most likely let things go even if they disagree when it comes to their friends. Maybe one on one they’ll say something, but in a group of their friends they generally won’t have the confidence to openly disagree in the fear that their opinion will be ganged up on. These kinds of guys don’t want that sort of negative attention from their group. A true gentleman and good guy will not care what their friends think over voicing what they perceive as right vs. wrong.
Pay attention to their behaviors. Not only when they are or aren’t acting like a gentleman, but the specific ways in which they are acting like a gentleman. Maybe they are doing the stereotypical things, holding doors, complimenting, paying for meals etc. but aren’t applying a gentlemanly attitude to everything they do. Maybe they won’t be emotionally available or open, they won’t have meaningful or intimate conversations. They may even seem uninterested in conversation or one-on-one time. Don’t take this advice to mean that any little inconsistencies mean that they are not being true. These tips are just to be applied generally in their overall demeanor.
Guys can be very hard to read, though. They are generally a lot less emotional than women. By that I mean they tend to show less overall emotion unless they’re showing anger. Guys have trouble showing any other kind of emotion so they can hide their true nature easier. However, they can fake emotional connections. By pushing away their emotions, guys can put on a more believable face. The worst part about guys that are pretending to be a gentlemen, is that they know that women like gentlemen and may use this façade to get something they want out of it. Whether that be sex, revenge, power, reassurance that they can be liked, or just to not be alone, they use it to achieve their own selfish goals. This kind of behavior is shown in TV and movies, books and other kinds of storytelling mediums. That dynamic is popular to use for entertainment purposes.
What Can We Do? We Can Be Aware and Change
These aren’t all the ways to weed out the fake gentleman, but they will hopefully help you in finding the guys who just want something from you versus the real men and gentlemen who want a genuine connection with you. For all the guys that may be reading this, use this as a starting point to try and become a more genuine thoughtful person. Think before you speak or act, consider others’ feelings, and try making decisions that line up with your values and morals. Even things that seem harmless when you’re in your main group of guys may not be so harmless depending on who’s listening. Take that and think of what someone hearing you may think. American culture is incredibly selfish, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s help make this society a much more selfless place.