How to Be a Gentleman By Not Being a Gentleman

how to be a gentleman

Traditionally, men are taught by their elders how to be a gentleman. This brings to mind various nostalgic early 20th century ideas of opening doors, practicing some form of chivalry, and being a polite, well-rounded man.

There are many ways that “being a gentleman” is an adage that bothers me. It implies automatically that men are separated into two camps: the gentlemen and non-gentlemen; and that the latter are rude, dishonest, poor examples of men.

In reality, many of the worst men I’ve ever known have self-identified as gentlemen. This tells me that the advice as it’s traditionally passed on neither applies to the modern world, nor is it comprehensive enough to be a model of behavior.

That’s because gentlemen of this era are self developed men. If you follow the advice to open doors for your date, and this is your epiphany of social skills, you’re likely to find yourself stuck repeatedly in friend zone. Alternatively, acting aloof, cocky, and less clingy will contrast you from the endless parade of nice guys and their predictably bad behavior.

The reason this type of advice may have worked in 1935 is because before the age of rampant globalization, mass-communication, and sex as a pop-cultural weapon; men were born with an inherently grounded nature. There was an unspoken understanding of important values in life. There was no opportunity for men to spend half their lives in basements playing Warcraft, because at some point they would inevitably have to fight a real war. They knew life was short and precious.

Today, humans are raised by pop-culture. We are fed billboards and advertising that tell us to seek pussy as a standard of self-worth. Bad social skills are reinforced in schoolyards. Working as a community is downplayed in favor of convenience. Fresh off the factory floor, most men are fairly maladjusted.

Given this type of environment, to be a gentleman now means pushing against the grain with a different entire set of values. This includes:

  • Not putting women, or anyone, on pedestals
  • Being politically incorrect when necessary
  • Rejecting social roles and career roles
  • Developing a sense of humor and cockiness
  • Not taking everything so seriously
  • Not acting like an extremely self-conscious product of pop-culture
  • Being quick to call out bullshit when you see it
  • Knowing how to go out and have fun in an era when most prefer to sink into their couches and play video games / watch TV / stagnate on Facebook

All of this being said, you should still use the golden fucking rule. That’s what being a “good person” really involves–treating people with empathy. This includes employees, friends, lovers,  anyone. See people as your brothers and sisters–unless they do wrong to you. In that case, see such a person as an undeveloped soul who needs a few more life lessons

However, if all you do is try to take the traditional ideas of how to be a gentleman and mold it on-top of our modern lack of values, then you may appear hollow and vapid. You are opening doors, walking on the outside of the sidewalk for ladies, and bringing flowers on a date–all while showing no substance or character to speak of.

Meanwhile, based on behavioral patterning, women typically identify this type of “gentlemanly” behavior with low-quality, uninteresting men who were taught how to dress and act by their mothers. By contrast, the cocky guy who doesn’t seem to give two shits is identified as the actual “gentleman” who is far less likely to social media stalk her, annoy her, obsess over her, or various other low quality behaviors that (quite sadly) this type of behavior seems to precipitate.

Is being a traditional gentleman completely dead? Maybe not in some cultures. For instance, in some more conservative parts of the world, it still seems to be what women in particular desire in their men. However, at least in the West, it’s no longer a sophisticated type of behavior.

Instead, it’s wiser to learn how to be a rebel. In summary, if you had to choose between Luke or Han Solo, I think Han is the better role model in the 21st century.

(To learn the much more complex and in-depth answer to the question of modern male virtues, see my book How to Become a Powerful, Sexy Man).

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