Relationship Debate: ‘How Do I Teach My Man How to Treat Me?’

March 3, 2011  |  

Dear China,

I have just one question. How do I teach my boyfriend how I want to be treated (i.e. opening doors for me, pulling my chair out, e.t.c.)? I am anxious to hear your thoughts on this.

Gentleman School

Dear Gentleman School,

So, you want your man to pull out your chair before you sit, open up doors and so on, huh? Interesting. Now, I’m going to assume you’re describing an adult male here. And if you are, I’m sorry to say that–IN GENERAL–it’s pretty tough to teach an old dog new tricks. His mom, dad, or guardian figure would have had to teach him any habits that were going to come naturally to him. If he doesn’t already hold doors for you (which, I must say, is quite weird, because even the kind homeless people of New York City will hold the door for you), then I’m not sure that he’s all of a sudden going to “learn.”

Heck, you know what I really want to know? How the heck did he become your boyfriend in the first place, if he wasn’t meeting your standards? See–this is where women always go wrong. They think they can get into a relationship with someone after he has failed plenty of requirements for one, then they try to change that person–months into the relationship. Doesn’t work that way, cherie.

Still, if this issue bothers you–which it should–you can discuss with him the type of chivalry and civil behavior that you prefer to have in a relationship.

If it helps the discussion, maybe you can point out that, just as there are certain courtesies you would like for him to grant you as his woman, you too are willing to grant him certain courtesies: e.g. clearing his dishes, opening his door after he lets you in the car (depending on what kind of car he drives), and any other courtesies that are important to him.

Don’t turn the request into an argument or a festival of criticisms, but try this conversational approach and see if it works. Let me know how it goes!

À Bientôt…
Good Luck,
~ Madame C.

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