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Gentlemen Speak: Just Because I’m Old-Fashioned Doesn’t Mean I’m Sexist

Here’s why you should give more 'old-fashioned' guys a chance.
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When it comes to my dating style and partner preferences, I sometimes find myself in hot water. Turns out, I tend to lean to the old-fashioned side of things, both in what I’m looking for in a woman and in how I prefer to relate to them. This has raised an eyebrow or two because, as I now understand, when some people hear old-fashioned, they think outdated—or worse.

In response to one of my articles, a Verily reader offered what seemed to be some kindly advice for finding what I am looking for. “I feel like I just went back in time,” she exclaimed. “Sometimes I think you should be dating in the South. In fact, that might just be your spot! They all get dolled up and will bake you cookies and shit.”

This got me thinking. Sure, it might be uncommon nowadays, but is it wrong for a man to look at dating through a more traditional lens?

This comment seemed to imply that going “back in time” is a bad thing, presumably because our culture has made many gains in terms of gender equality. There are even some who might go so far as to say that a man looking for a traditional, old-fashioned dating relationship is not just misguided but worse—he’s sexist.

When it comes to dating women, yeah, I’m a little old-fashioned. I like to ask a girl out on a date with my voice. (You know, like, in real life?) I like to go on dates with women rather than “hang out” with them. I try not to kiss on a first date, even when I really want to.

I think there are plenty of things about dating in times past that were better before than they are now. There was more romance. More adventure. More intention. More mystery. Less superficiality.

I don’t expect everybody to date like me or agree with the way I date or even understand it. But the way I date certainly isn’t because I think any less of women. In fact, it’s the opposite. Here’s why you should give more “old-fashioned” guys a chance.

My desire to lead in a relationship plays to my strengths.

I like to lead in a relationship. I’ve already written about this, so I’ll be brief here: In a relationship, it seems to work best if there’s a leader, just like in a dance, and I prefer to be the one leading.

My desire to lead is not based on any sort of notion that I’m better than her or that she’s incapable of leading simply because she’s a woman. It’s just part of my personality. It’s also what I’ve seen work, whether in my own previous relationships or in others’ relationships.

I’m at my best when I’m initiating tasks and conversations, when I’m taking responsibility for things big and small, and when I tackle challenges head on. I’m often at my worst when I’m not being assertive and when I’m not intentional about my words and actions. That’s what leading in the relationship means to me as a man.

What this doesn’t mean is that I call all the shots, and she concedes. My ego is big enough as it is—I don’t need (nor do I want) a woman to stroke it. On the contrary, I can’t have confidence in my own leadership unless I know she’ll object if I’m off base.

While leading doesn’t develop automatically, I do think that it comes naturally to a lot of men. They excel at it, enjoy it, and feel most comfortable in that role. And I’ve found that many of the women I meet want to be wooed, pursued, and “taken care of” sometimes—even when they’re more than capable of taking care of themselves. There’s nothing wrong with wanting that.

I like it when she gets all dolled up.

Perhaps using the figure of speech “dolled up” has some condescending connotations. And I get it, there are men who give the impression that ladies somehow owe it to them to look good all the time—or worse, that looking pretty is all that women are good for. Of course, both sentiments are patently false.

Nonetheless, I am attracted to women who like to primp a little. Why? It’s simply that it’s fun to get dressed up, and, well, I think women look especially beautiful when they do. I like to take the time and effort to stay well-groomed and wear decent clothes, and I like a lady to be interested in those things as well. So, yeah, when we are talking compatibility and what sort of woman I would want to meet, it would be a woman who likes to fix herself up—just like I do!

I’m looking for a woman who wants to be a mother (maybe even a stay-at-home one).

What am I looking for in a relationship? Marriage, to be a parent, and, ideally, a woman who wants those things, too. And while I’m being honest . . . I would like to marry a woman who is open to staying at home with our kids, even if that means we will have to keep a tight budget and not necessarily have the nicest house on the block.

Now before you raise the red flag, let me explain.

I was raised in a home where my dad was the breadwinner, and my mom stayed at home with the four kids. I had a happy childhood. I loved when my mom was home with me during the day and had a meal ready for all of us when my dad came home for dinner. I respect my dad immensely for his sacrifices in a job he didn’t love and the effort he made to spend time with us after a hard day at work. It’s pretty natural to want your future children to have the good things you had when you were a kid.

This doesn’t mean that I consider homemaking the only role suitable for women (that is ridiculous). My goal has always been to make enough money in my profession to give my future wife the opportunity to stay at home with the kids, if she so desires. If she wants to pursue a career? I would be all for it and would be happy to consider any arrangements that would best accommodate that, including the possibility of me being a stay-at-home dad. And I would be one badass dad.

I like to open doors, pull out chairs, and give up my seat.

It might be a lost art, but chivalry ain’t dead. And when I say chivalry, I mean treating a woman like a gentleman does—anticipating her needs and making thoughtful gestures of deference, such as holding doors and whatnot. I was raised to show respect for women and the feminine genius. I want to show respect for the gifts that women offer. And some simple ways I like to do that are opening doors and letting ladies go first.

Simply put, acts of chivalry are small acts of love done out of kindness and deference to the other person, never expecting to get anything in return. Unfortunately, there are old-fashioned relationship approaches that are built off a false notion that women are inferior to men and exist in a relationship only to please us. That couldn’t be further from how I view women and relationships, and plenty of my more traditionally minded friends feel the same. When done with the right intentions, a chivalrous gesture is a far cry from perpetuating an antiquated, male-dominated society. Instead, it can be a refreshing counter to the lack of tenderheartedness found in many relationships today.

It’s worth saying that we all need to balance our relationship expectations against what we’re willing to bring to the union. I know there’s more to dating than finding someone who fits whatever mold I’ve created in my mind and to whom I’m attracted in every way. But there’s also no denying that I have preferences, as I think we all do. And if mine just so happen to take you back in time, that’s fine by me.