Is chivalry still relevant today?

I’m often asked in my presentations if chivalrous acts are still appropriate for men today, such as standing when a woman walks into a room or allowing her to get on the elevator first. Older men especially seem concerned about this question since they were raised in an era when chivalry was expected and the rules were very different 30 plus years ago.

What is chivalry? An online dictionary states chivalry is “the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.” The  word is associated with the medieval institution of knighthood” when “knights’ and gentlewomen’s behaviors were governed by chivalrous social codes,” according to Wikipedia. Chivalry is most thought of as courtesy and gentleness to women.

Chivalry has changed quite a bit since it appeared in the middle ages. So, what is the current thinking on chivalry? Because women make up over 50% of the workforce and hold more than just support roles chivalry no longer applies in the workplace. The rule is if a man wouldn’t do the act for another man he shouldn’t do it for a woman. However, there is one exception in the workplace and that is a man should let a woman get on the elevator first. I don’t know why it’s an exception, but it seems rude when a man boards or disembarks the elevator ahead of a woman. That said, a man should not hold up traffic to let a woman get on or off first.

In social situations, chivalry is still acceptable. That said, I think it comes down to men and women being courteous to each other rather than men being the only ones practicing courteous acts. A woman should hold the door open for men and women.  And, a woman should not be insulted if a man holds the door open for her. It is not meant as a put down or suggestion that a woman is weak, it’s simply an act of courtesy. Be thankful.

Here are other chivalrous acts that I think are still appreciated and should be practiced socially with women, or really with anyone because they are nice things to do:

  • Helping her with her coat
  • Sharing your umbrella when she forgot hers
  • Waiting for her to sit first before you do
  • Letting her order first at a restaurant
  • Standing up for a woman if she is harassed
  • Letting her go through a door first

Some chivalrous acts that seem to be going away and appear somewhat antiquated in social situations include:

  • Ordering for a woman at a restaurant
  • A man standing when a woman leaves the table or enters a room
  • Opening the car door for her if it means having to run around the car to do so
  • Lifting your hat when you greet a woman. But do take that hat off when you’re indoors
  • Paying the bill if she invited you. The rule is whoever invited is who pays

What do you think of chivalry? Men, do you practice any chivalrous acts? Women, do you like it when men practice courteous acts with you? Are you ever offended? Why? Would you add anything to the list?

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Richard Hulbert on October 9, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    We agreed with your Chivalry blog except for one point. Many women would prefer the option of not getting into the elevator first which could limit the option of leaving the elevator or not getting in at all depending upon the situation.

  2. Arden on October 9, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Good point Richard. Thanks for weighing in.

  3. Rachel on October 11, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you very much for this post. I am an old fashioned girl and always have been. I love polite acts of kindness and I agree that it is appreciated by both women and men.

  4. Kay on October 19, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    I still think it is courteous and makes a woman feel important when a man stands when she leaves the table or helps me with my seat. At least I appreciate it when my husband does that …. and we had daughters so I know they appreciate that and if I have a grandson he will practice that trait no mater how old school it is!!!

  5. Arden on October 24, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for commenting Kay. It is a nice gesture socially.

  6. Arden on October 24, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks for commenting Rachel. Courtesy and kindness never go out of style.

  7. Denise on September 5, 2019 at 5:47 am

    I’m totally into men being gentleman. It makes me feel girly especially these days when women carry a large role in the household and workforce. I like when my favorite drink is sitting there when I arrive. I like the check being picked up by him immediately when it hits the table. I think it’s very nice to make sure your lady is in the car before you.

  8. Jeff on December 27, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    I find this topic fascinating in today’s modern age. As someone who is a male Gen Xer I was taught to be chivalrous towards women. However, in today’s world, and adding my perspective of being a gay man, I find these acts of chivalry belong to the legacy of a more sexist and chauvinistic and antiquated society. I ask myself all the time why am I waiting for a woman to get on an elevator or holding the door open for them? It’s because I was taught to do this from a very younger age and I feel shame if I do not. On the hand I feel the elderly to deserve treatment. Interesting topic and I’m glad people are talking about it

  9. Arden on January 1, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jeff.

  10. adam r darkin on September 26, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    What is chivalry?
    Chivalry for me is my honor, my compassion for all who stand before me.
    Its what I think of myself as in self-respect and respect of others.
    You my not have the respect of the person you are showing chivalry or compassion for at the time but it’s a picture you are painting to them of what you think of yourself.
    Chivalry, compassion and self-respect is not misogynistic, yes, it’s from the old world but, these are lessons learned from Father’s to Son’s and from Mothers to Daters.

  11. Arden on October 7, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts Adam. I agree with you. Chivalry is showing respect to others.

  12. Julie ann on February 22, 2021 at 7:12 pm


  13. Last of the boomers on April 30, 2021 at 11:36 am

    Gentleman or Lady – one who seeks to make those in their company feel more comfortable.
    As I self identify as a gentleman I will endeavor to make all in my company feel more comfortable by holding elevators sharing umbrellas rising from my seat to great them or opening doors if possible .
    If they are made uncomfortable by these or any behaviors I will modify my behavior to suit.

    I will show courage when needed but mercy and kindness will be my objectives. I will seek the Devine in all things but especially in my fellow beings.
    I always speak the truth (though on occasion this has cost me much).

    Old fashioned? Perhaps but it seems possible to aspire to the code , especially when I recognize I’ve been rescued on many occasions by both Ladies and Gentlemen who recognized my own distress.

  14. Arden on May 24, 2021 at 7:37 am

    A lovely way to live, Last of the boomers. Good for you.

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