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The Ins and Outs of Opening a Door for a Woman


Readers email us surprisingly often with questions about opening doors for women. AoM readers are interested in being gentlemen and obviously understand the basics of this traditional act of chivalry: when you get to a door before a lady, you should open it for her. But they wonder about scenarios where the set-up isn’t as cut and dry. What do you do with revolving doors? What about doors that push in instead of pull out? Do you keep holding the door for others after your date has gone through?

In today’s post, I’ll attempt to offer some guidelines to help a gentleman navigate a variety of door-opening situations.

A Word on Door-Opening and Other Acts of Old Fashioned Chivalry

Before we get to the ins and outs of door opening, let us take a moment to discuss its place in modern society, because not everyone feels its a tradition worth preserving. There are some women who are offended by it because they think it implies the inferior status of women–that women are too weak to open doors for themselves. Kate thinks that if you’re dating a woman who takes umbrage at having the door opened for her, that’s a red flag, because it signals that she does not understand that a woman can be smart and independent while still being playful about gender roles. I can’t really speak to that, so I’ll let the ladies duke it out. Then there are men who think you shouldn’t do things like open doors for women because if women want to be fully independent and equal these days, then they need to give up being treated with any special consideration. To me this is an entirely wrong-headed approach to relationships, because it’s premised on the idea that everything must be tit for tat. Yes, you open doors for a woman, but your woman probably does special things for you. If she doesn’t, then that’s the problem, not chivalry itself. It’s madness to think that equality must mean doing the exact same things for each other and constantly keeping score.

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