The Ins and Outs of Opening a Door for a Woman

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 8, 2011 · 159 comments

in A Man's Life, Dating, Friendship, Marriage, On Etiquette, Relationships & Family

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.

Relationships: They're about natural reciprocity, not tit-for-tat score keeping.

Personally, I think preserving a few small differences in the expectations of male/female behavior, simply as symbols of our differences, keeps things fun. Rules and traditions give life texture and meaning, as opposed to living life in an entirely blah postmodern wasteland. Sameness is boring. Differences create attraction.

The Ins and Outs of Opening a Door for a Woman

There are two ways to mess up etiquette. One is too ignore it altogether. The other is to over-think it and overdo it, and thus make it weird and awkward. So keep that in mind as you read these guidelines; the most important thing to remember is simply to be natural and to use common sense! It’s definitely not too complicated; these guidelines are simply designed to allow you to be smooth, instead of standing there havy-cavy, wondering what to do.

Opening doors for women requires their cooperation. If you get to the door before a woman, opening the door is simple. Just open the door and hold it for her. Things get awkward when you and your gal arrive at the door at the same time or she gets there before you. In these types of situations, opening doors becomes much like a dance. Each sex has a role they need to fill for the operation to successfully work. If your lady arrives at the door before you or at the same time as you, she should step slightly to one side so that you can open the door without knocking her on her tuckus. If she opens the door for herself, that’s not a problem. See below.

If she starts opening the door for herself, just pull it further open. If your lady arrives at the door first and starts opening it on her own, all you need to do is to help pull the door open further. Don’t brush her hand off the door knob or door handle and don’t offer any sanctimonious ”I insist” or “allow me” entreaties. Basically, don’t make a big deal about it.

With double doors, open the first, but not the second. When there is a door, and then an entryway airlock area, and then another door, open the outside door, allow the woman to step inside the airlock, and then for the second door, do as indicated above and simply help the woman open the door as she goes through. She may wait inside the airlock for you to open the second door entirely, and that is fine of course.

Don’t knock her over to get to the door first. Some men, eager to show off their gallantry, will rush to the door to ensure they arrive before a woman does. Don’t do that. It just looks desperate and can make a date feel awkward. The key to a successful door opening (and good manners in general) is to make it look effortless.

If she doesn’t want the door opened for her, respect that. Some women will tell you straight up that they don’t like doors opened for them. Fair enough. Just respect that, let her open her own doors, and don’t make a federal case of it.

Don’t expect consistency. Your gal might open several doors for herself in an evening, but then out of the blue she’ll step aside indicating that she wants you to open the door for her. So watch for that and read her body language. Again, it’s like dancing.

If the door swings in, go through the door first and hold it for her. Doors that open inwards can prove tricky for any gentleman. The best way to go about them is to go through the door before your date does in order to hold the door open for her. If she arrives at the door first and begins pushing the door open, stand on the side where the door hinges are and simply extend your arm over her head to take the door’s weight from her as she passes through.

Try to avoid the situation where you’re standing in the doorway holding the door open with your back. You don’t want your date tripping over your feet or having to squeeze herself between you and the doorframe.

Also avoid the position where you’re standing at the door sill, on the side opposite the door’s hinges, holding the door open with your hand. This will force your lady to duck under your arm as she goes through the door.

Your duty is to your woman, not the public at large. I don’t know how many times I’ve opened a door for a date and then stood there holding the door for a gaggle of complete strangers. Consequently, my date was left standing in the lobby alone, waiting for me. After your woman has walked through the door, follow her through. I understand you want to be courteous to everyone, but your priority should be your date.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should just let a door slam shut in somebody’s face. As you pass through the door, look behind you to see if anybody is following close behind and hold the door open long enough for them to take control of the door. If you see somebody several steps away from the door, there’s no need to hold it open for them.

With revolving doors, reach out and slow it down so that she can step in. This rule is especially true for older revolving doors that lack the auto-revolving feature that many modern revolving doors have.

What About Opening Car Doors?

Open the car door for a lady these days, and this may be the kind of reaction you get. Shock! "This man has clearly been reading the Art of Manliness," she muses.

If you’re on a date with a woman, opening car doors is a gesture that will surely get her attention. But car doors pose some special problems. Here are a few guidelines on how to open car doors for women.

Always try to open the door for a date when she enters the vehicle. If you don’t have anything obstructing you, always open the door for your date when entering the vehicle. You should have cleaned your car before the date, but if you have any crumbs or other gunk in the passenger side seat, sweep it off before she sits down.

Offer your hand as she gets in and out. The added support a hand can provide a woman in a dress and heels as she gets in and out of car will be appreciated. A helping hand is especially important if your car is a pick-up truck that’s jacked a few feet off the ground or a sports car that rides low to the ground.

Before shutting a car door, make sure all appendages, skirt bottoms, and purse straps are inside the vehicle. You don’t want to ruin your date by slamming her foot in the door or tearing a dress. Give a quick check to make sure everything is safely inside. I’ll even ask Kate, “Everything in?” before shutting the door just to make sure.

If there’s not much room between your car and the car parked next to you, let her open her own door. Don’t force the gesture if it’s just not possible to perform.

Don’t feel obligated to open the car door for her when exiting the vehicle. Most people get out of a car as soon as it parks. Successfully opening a car door for a woman so she can exit will probably require you to say, “Hey, don’t get out. I want to open the car door for you.” She’ll then have to sit there and wait as you exit the driver’s side door and circle around to the passenger’s side so you can open it. You’ll just create a spectacle and may make your date feel like she’s being chauffeured instead of courted.

Holding Doors Regardless of Gender

Holding doors open isn’t something you need to do just for women. It’s an act of common courtesy that you can show to any person whether they be man or woman. If you get to the door first before a dude, holding the door open for him is completely fine.

A gentleman should always hold the door open for someone who is more physically burdened than him. If you see an older person, a person with an obvious physical aliment, or a person holding a crap load of packages, hold the door open for them no matter if they’re a man or a woman.

And if someone opens a door for you, always smile and say, “Thank you!”

Any other tips and advice on opening doors for women? Share them with us in the comments.

{ 159 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Spense June 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Here’s one:
When i was dating my wife, I opened the car door for her, waited until she was situated, closed the door and proceeded to the driver’s side of the vehicle. She then reached over to unlock my door for me from the inside of the car! The common courtesy was reciprocated by her and I knew I had found a special lady indeed!

102 Spense June 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Ah, one more thing. I have noticed a unique trend. Perhaps it is just something that happens here in the south, but I have noticed that women born from the late Generation X (circa 1965-1980) seem to be the demographic that are offended by the act of opening a door. Women from the earlier Gen X (closer to the ’65 year) don’t seem to mind so much. Further, many of the women from the Generation Y (1980-2000) seem to really appreciate the gesture. I wonder if this is because of the civil rights movement in the 60s (to include feminism). Now that the men vs women drama has settled somewhat, maybe these younger women see it truly as a sign of conventional courtesy and not a way of treating women as a weaker population that “need” special attention.

103 Sydney Matthews June 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm

A gentleman should always hold the door open for someone who is more physically burdened than him. If you see an older person, a person with an obvious physical aliment, or a person holding a crap load of packages, hold the door open for them no matter if they’re a man or a woman.


104 Winston June 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Spense your taking that from once upon a time in Brooklyn Arent you? LOL

105 Rick June 18, 2011 at 5:55 am

Great article! I’ve never seen a lady offended when I opened a door for her. Often, I receive a kind comment and smile. I regularly job on an indoor track at a local college, and I find that college age girls are typically both shocked and flattered when a gentleman does this for them. I hate seeing college age men breeze through a door, allowing it to slam in a lady’s face.

106 Brian Schorr June 18, 2011 at 10:54 pm

As a Gen X member I have only met one woman who did not care or want me to open doors for her. I’m happy to report that every single time I open the car door for my GF other women notice and act in a positive way. As for stairs, my understanding is that when going upstairs the man should let the woman go first and when going downstairs the man should go first. Anyone agree?

107 Carolyn Haywood June 19, 2011 at 8:41 am

I love it when men open the door for me. I consider it a sign of politeness, respect and the mark of a gentleman. It always makes me feel good and brings a smile to my face and I always thank the gentleman for his efforts.

I’m a old fashioned southern girl and I expect men to behave like gentlemen.

Thanks for the great article.

108 Carolyn Haywood June 19, 2011 at 8:48 am

Brian Schorr

I don’t know what the rules are about going up and down stairs, but I am always uncomfortable about going up the stairs ahead of a man. My thoughts go like this – “Is he looking at my butt” “can he see up my skirt”, ” is he following me?” etc. I can’t see him so I don’t know what he may be thinking about doing, so I am uncomfortable, especially on stairs where there aren’t any people around.

Hope this view from the other side helps.

109 Kerry Soileau June 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Etiquette is not invariant, it changes with changes in culture. Chivalry and overt respect for manhood by women once went hand-in-hand. Now women as a group exhibit contempt for masculinity. Why then should we respond to their disrespect with continued subservience toward them? I say, if a woman can compete with a man in the boardroom for a promotion, let her pay for her own dinners and open her own doors.

110 PrincessRoyal June 20, 2011 at 2:25 am

Thank you Mr. McKay for this article…as a young lady I feel this is such a great set of guidelines for today’s world. They are well balanced between old- fashioned chivalry and modern practicality.

111 PrincessRoyal June 20, 2011 at 2:28 am

Oops, forgot to acknowledge Mrs. McKay, also I would have to agree when going up stairs I would want the gentleman to proceed me. When going downstairs I don’t care though.

112 Matt June 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Being born and raised in the South, I was always taught to open doors for ladies. It started with Mama and Grandma then moved onto my female friends.

113 Caleb M June 23, 2011 at 12:17 am

I really like this article, and I totally agree with almost everything you said!

However, on one account, I disagree with when it comes to the most tricky of door-opening procedures: the double set of doors/airlock situation. After realizing how awkward this can become in a practical scenario, I came up with my own conclusion on what to do. I personally will open the first door for myself and hold it or look back to make sure she has a hold of it, then be sure to stop and open the second door for her.

I do this because I don’t think it’s about who enters the door first, but about who emerges from the doorway first. I would rather have a beautiful woman precede myself into any room. Also, I think it’s awkward to be gung-ho on opening the first door for a woman so that she doesn’t have to muscle it herself, only to leave her to do that very thing with the second door or stand awkwardly waiting for you (which likely wouldn’t happen anyways). By opening the first door for yourself, all she has to do is keep it open as she walks through and then she has the second door opened for her. I think this provides a much better and more desirable result overall.

But that’s just what I’ve found in my life! Like you said, keep it smooth and keep it natural!

114 Rick S. June 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

Does anyone know where this tradition came from? I always thought that it was from the middle ages when a knight would open the door to allow his wife pass through before him in case someone on the other side was waiting to attack him. If women were held in high regard they would be relatively safe from harm allowing the knight to draw his sword while the other held his attack. Either that or women were considered chattel and therefore worth less than a man, never mind a knight, so if they were killed then “no big deal”.
Just a couple of thoughts.

115 Ross June 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I have a question for you guys. What do you do if the woman is driving the car? I ask this because the woman I am dating was offended that I didn’t open the car door for her even though she was driving. She insists on driving all of the time. So what is the proper etiquette? Thanks.

116 Gem1111 June 24, 2011 at 8:09 am

In this matter, the evolution of men and women has caused the door opening phenomena. Way back in the day women were not allowed out of their cave, tent, or thatched- roof cottage in Plymouth MA. Once they had gained that freedom to leave the premises, they were on foot or later in a horse-drawn cart-no doors. Men did not have to be considerate of women’s door opening requirements, as there wasn’t any need for this sort of behavior. Then when the auto came around and men had to bring women along, there came the problem of having to also lug stuff; because you know women NEED stuff for everyone. Possibly an expectant woman with a picnic basket full of homemade goodies, attempting to open the mammoth, steel door of the old model T, with hands full and stomach bulging, harkened in the man some old, genetic spark of chivalry. I am thankful for what ever caused manners to exist in all its splendid forms; after all, they are what distinguish us from the animals.

117 Meghan June 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Please don’t make the woman go upstairs before you–it makes us think you’re looking up our skirt or looking at our butt. Also, be careful about opening the car door for her because if she’s wearing a skirt or dress, she can worry about flashing you when she sits down.

118 Ains June 26, 2011 at 7:51 am

@ Carolyn Haywood,

When going up or downstairs or on a travelator a man should let the woman go first on the way up and the man should go first on the way down. That way if you happened to fall on the way up, gravity pulling you down, you would fall into the man and he would then stop you from tumbling down the whole way, same going down. I have had a woman complain when I went in front of her going down the stairs and politely pointed out that etiquette does dictate a man go first and went on to explain that I would much prefer it if she fell into me then she would me falling into her. Needless to say there was no reply back lol

119 Ains June 26, 2011 at 7:58 am

PS As for looking up skirts, no porper Gentlemen would.

I would also like to ask what people think about us chaps walking on the outside of the pavement? My parents taught me to always walk on the outside (I think this stems from back in the day when we carried swords on our left but could be wrong) from when I was little. I only ever had one girl complain about me doing it although a few days later I had to step out into the road and nearly got run over. Her reply, ‘I am glad that wasn’t me’.

120 L June 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Excellent, excellent article! I especially love this:

“Holding doors open isn’t something you need to do just for women. It’s an act of common courtesy that you can show to any person whether they be man or woman. ”

Etiquette shouldn’t be about rigidly following a set of rules — it’s about showing courtesy and respect for others, regardless of gender. There will always be a few people, men or women, who will be offended that you did or didn’t observe a particlur rule of etiquette in the way they prefer or expect, but most people will recognize considerate actions and respond appreciatively.

121 Matt R July 2, 2011 at 1:14 am

Great blog! I personally feel that it depends on the women you’re currently with. Some still like the old fashioned door opening, others like it sometimes for a surprise, some like to open it on their own. Just like anything else, there’s variety.

122 Wendy Pan July 7, 2011 at 10:54 am

I think the issue here is that you should just open doors for everyone. Everyone should. I am a woman and I hold doors open for people. Everyone likes to be treated a little special. I don’t mind when people hold doors open for me, but I do like to return the favor. Men who get upset about that really frustrate me – that’s the issue that women who dislike this kind of special treatment have, not *just* that it implies you think that they’re weak.

Even though you really do, in this article at least. At the end, you suggest that men hold doors open not just for women, but for men who are physically burdened or disabled. That implies you class women together with the physically disabled – it DOES show an insistence on some kind of superiority. Ovaries are not a disability – that’s not why you should hold a door open for a women. You should hold a door open for your date because she’s a person, and ALL people deserve and enjoy respect, and in the case of a date, some special treatment.

123 A. Guy Maligned October 3, 2012 at 7:40 am

At my blog, I encourage women to respond to men that open doors this way: “Men are never more handsome than when they show special favor to a lady.”

124 Nicholas October 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I will hold a door open for any person regardless of their gender. The thing that really bugs me is when people refuse to acknowledge my efforts. I remember once in high school when my entire grade twelve class was attending mass I ended up holding the door open for a line of about three hundred students and a dozen or so teachers, I was appalled by the fact that I could count all the Thank you’s I got on one hand. Another time i was actually told to get out of the way when iI was holding the door open for a young lady.

125 Evan November 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I was told years ago that revolving doors were an exception to “ladies first.” It was thought that a gentleman should precede his date through a revolving door. In that way, he sets it in motion for her so she can just follow through without having to move the door herself–the equivalent of opening and holding a regular door for her.

126 Vee November 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

My now x gf would insist I open every door no matter what. I didnt mind at first but it quickly turned from something done to be nice for her to a burden or degrading to me. When in a car, no matter if she was driving or I was, she would sit and wait after we parked for me to exit my door and walk around to open hers. I quickly felt like I was her servant more than something that I wanted to do. If I didnt do it there would be a big problem so I continued but it just built up resentment in me and I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. Something as little as opening a door turned into a degrading task in my eyes and I really hated it.

127 TJ November 29, 2012 at 4:33 am

Loved the posting, it is one way to my heart or act of kindness. If I have to tell a man to hold the door open for me, it is a huge red flag.
It tells me his true character.

128 marcia December 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm

One detail left out…In a crowded public setting, such as entering a restaurant or a store, the man enters first and holds the door. The idea behind this is that if someone comes flying through from the other side with a gun in his hand or knife, the man will be the protection.

129 marcia December 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

To Wendy Pan:

No, you should not open and hold doors open for men, unless they are elderly. It defeats the notion of male-female etiquette and here in Europe, men do not like those kinds of “equalizing ” gestures at all.

130 Beth Verdekal December 24, 2012 at 2:02 am

Dear Mr. and Mrs. McKay,

Thank you for continuing the tradition of sex-based manners, and feeling fine with it. I used to reject the idea when much younger, but as I grow older I have become a chivalry (and manners) enthusiast. Chivalry embraces a man thinking outside of himself to consider others and take action. It embraces a woman, often the giver/caretaker, to receive a courtesy. Your pic of the woman holding the umbrella for the man as he opens her car door perfectly exemplified the kindness reciprocity that two people share when both consider the other as they move through life. I’ve found that when a man is chivalrous I relax more, knowing that I’m in the presence of someone else who notices where help can be offered.

131 StrayDataPoint January 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

-I’m sorry if that was said before, but holy dog 130, i can’t possibly catch up-

I like the general tone of the article, and especially the insistence on “do not insist”, but I think you got it wrong when it comes to the reason some women reject this chivalry. The problem is not -at least in my experience- that they need to be independent about every single act (the woman that doesn’t like you open the door for her on a regular day may be perfectly comfortable with you doing it when she actually needs it).
The problem is that chivalry is, by practice, a selective institution: traditionally, men didn’t hold doors for maids or prostitutes. Or women of “questionable value”, a group who was, of course, identified by the fact that other men refused to hold their doors.
Normalizing chivalry leaves “denying chivalry” open as a form of aggression, and this is a thing that actually happens, to this day. And some women are worried that the guy holding the door for them is a guy who would deny them this act if they had seven face pierces and purple hair, and don’t want to encourage his categorizing of people.
Of course, the suspicion that your guy is trying to pidgeon-hole you (or anyone) into a definition of “propriety” shouldn’t have a place in any relationship, so what I said doesn’t apply to the playful coreography of an established couple.
But for first dates, my reasoning seems a better explanation of her refusing chivalry than “she’s no fun”.

132 CJ January 9, 2013 at 10:41 pm

I’m from the American South, so door-opening is an important part of my upbringing. There are two rules for opening doors, one for each sex: if a woman’s about to go through a door, YOU GET TO THAT DOOR AND OPEN IT FOR HER, DAMMIT. If a man’s about to go through a door, you open it if you’re in front, let him get it if you’re in back, and take the door handoff if you’re with a group.

133 Chad March 24, 2013 at 10:13 pm

I I open doors for ladies and have found the gesture appreciated. Honestly, I don’t even think about it, it’s a natural response. Car doors? Just give it simple thought in advance, if the car is parked close to another car I say let me pull the car out for u, then I get in and pull it out I remain in the driver’s seat and allow her to get in unless prudence dictates otherwise i.e. she is injured or it would be difficult for her or it is a formal event. If she is driving which has happened, when walking back to the vehicle I walk with her to the door and open it, then walk around as she starts the car, and unlocks my side. Naturally if we arrive to the door and she is just now finding her keys I make chit chat to stall time till she finds them then assist if it seems natural, sometimes the lady will put the key in the door and open it for herself which is fine I’ll wait and assist in the closing of it. It takes a minute for her to unlock my side and start the car anyway so no time lost. If she is shopping I will carry bags or at least assist in holding her bags while she looks for her keys. Double doors, I go through first and hold the door from inside and wait until she is almost all the way through so there is very little if any weight from the door imposing on her, then I simply take a couple steps not missing a beat and open the next. It is a natural movement not awkward at all. If a woman gets to door first, I assume I will open it but if she starts opening it herself I take it to mean she desires to express her independence and I will just follow her in. As far as the stairs go, I think as a man I would agree about following the girl up, I don’t think it’s polite to stick my butt in her face hehe. I don’t see how one can look up her skirt.. unless its super short and then if that’s the case, we wouldn’t be dating anyway. If it’s a lady in the hall well, depends on who gets there first. If we are the only two in the stair way I suppose I would walk up the stairs just offset to her or to the other side so I’m not directly in front of her. To the gentleman who was wondering about why a man walks on the outside of side walk, I was told to do it as a kid to be a shield from overspray from mud and water from the road when a car, bike, horse goes along and to protect her from traffic mishaps. Things we don’t do I think are interesting like put our coat down on water puddle that doesn’t seem at all practical, unless it’s an extremely black tie event like dinner with the president standing up when a woman leaves the table creates more commotion that its worth. However, when guests join the table after all are seated I do stand up and greet them to welcome them and it makes them feel welcome, also I do pull the chair out and push it in as she sits for my special lady as well, also for an elderly sitting near me at the same table. Table manners would be a good article, such as no elbows on table a personal grip if mine or chewing with their mouth open. You can really see someone’s etiquette when watching them eat.

134 Marvin Fuzznut April 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm

When or even if a man should open a door for a woman depends on the relationship he wants to establish with that woman. Is it your mom? Your grandmother? Want her to think you’re a gentleman? Open the door. Is this someone you want to have sex with? Then the LAST thing you should want her thinking is that you’re a gentleman. Every act of courtesy will take you in the OPPOSITE direction of your goal. Remember women are crazy. The nicer you are to them the more they will treat you like the hired help. The more you treat them like they’re nothing the more they will want you. Forget what your mom told you. Women don’t want gentlemen. They want bad boys. Jerks get laid. Gentlemen go home with a nice warm feeling about how they held the door. And before anyone starts fussing at me just remember – I didn’t make this rule. I don’t even like the rule. I’m just telling you what the rule is. It was women who decided the rule. Nice guys really do finish last.

135 Vinc May 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I think you should make the last sentence about saying thank you bold and something like twice as big so everybody will see it as there are sadly too many people with bad courting shall we say to know that.

136 Nora May 24, 2013 at 6:15 am

“Yes, you open doors for a woman, but your woman probably does special things for you. It’s madness to think that equality must mean doing the exact same things for each other and constantly keeping score.”
While it is good for you and you partner to do special things for each other, this does not have to mean doing this by preserving traditional roles, in fact, it has nothing to do with it. You’re afraid that if traditions like these cease to exist, that things will be boring? That is just because you fear the unknown! In fact, I think it will open up a WORLD of new possibilities and dynamics that the world has seldom made possible, because most women today, admit it or not, are not capable of thinking outside traditional roles.
You think discontinuing an act that makes women feel like an elegant prize will threaten your superiority somehow, and you will lose some of that “manly” quality that makes life great? Then you haven’t considered the options that will be set out for you to explore in a world where society treats both sexes equally. Imagine, no limitations, no roles, no disrespect, the sort of alliances, bonds, and exploration that can develop between the two sexes.

137 Nora May 24, 2013 at 6:22 am

@Marvin Fuzznut

While your argument has some truth, what you’re missing is that this is basic human psychology, not about women liking jerks. Humans want what they can’t have. Why are some people bullies? Maybe because they think that if they’re nice people will walk all over them. There should be a balance.So, yes, that is why use the phrase “play hard to get”.

138 Michael June 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I agree with this except for “If there’s not much room between your car and the car parked next to you, let her open her own door. Don’t force the gesture if it’s just not possible to perform.”
Yes, don’t force the gesture, but I have found that if I place my hand on the edge of the door. I can not only open and hold the door for my wife, but I can also use my hand as a buffer and prevent my truck door from damaging the neighboring automobile, if my wife bumps the door while getting in. Win-win.

139 Mike June 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Most of the time, I’ve found that I can indeed open the car door for my wife after we have stopped, as she is putting away sunglasses, fixing scarves, powdering noses, or whatever other car fussing she does.

I never viewed gesture as demeaning. I viewed it as elevating. Kind of like holding books in church, or carrying shopping packages for your lady. Trust me, if you treat her like a lady, she’ll treat you like a MAN…

140 Bob Cleveland June 10, 2013 at 2:05 pm

When opening a car door for a lady to whom I was not married, I always made it a point to turn my body away from her as I opened the door, so I was not watching her as she sat down in the car.

It’s just the way I was raised. I always walk on the street side of the sidewalk when I am walking beside any lady, despite the fact that the real reason for that no longer applies.

141 Kenny R June 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm

My favorite moment ever was about a year after my wedding. I took my wife to a really nice fundraiser so we were both dressed nice. We got there WAY early so we found a coffee shop to kill some time. After we were done I opened her door for her and a guy who was sitting outside the coffee shop said “dude, did you just open the door for her?” and him and all his friends started clapping for me. I gave some lame answer like “well she is my wife” but being a Gentleman is still valued by society.

142 Brian June 10, 2013 at 11:05 pm

No matter how far we have come in terms of gender equality, I think any rationally-thinking person can acknowledge than men and women are incredibly different, and as such, think very differently. I think most women will appreciate the gesture. And deep down, I think most women still recognize and embrace traditional roles (in terms of actions such as these) and are happy to have men who act the way men have traditionally been expected to behave. I have yet to come across a woman who didn’t appreciate it when I’d hold the door open for her. There is one girl I work with who always tries to hold the door open for me, and I’m constantly saying, “No, you go ahead.”

143 Jess June 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I’ll throw in my two cents even though the article is old because the focus on the whole ‘door opening’ issue puzzles me, as a modern woman and a feminist. If a man opens a door for me, I say ‘thank you’ and move on with life. When I’m on a date, I just try to use common sense, and hold the door or let it be held depending on what is easiest in that particular situation. To me, the tradition implies courtesy and respect, and I try to do my share of the door opening just because I like being polite. I’ve never gotten in an argument with a man on this issue, so I think something I’m doing is working. Its not about scorekeeping or proving myself, it’s about being nice, and being happy when men are nice to me.
Maybe its just hard for me to get worked up because the sexism I experience tends to be from insecure men who feel the need to comment on my anatomy or question my abilities. I expect men not to be threatened by me and take me seriously when I show up to my programming job or square off with them in martial arts class, I feel like I can return the favor and not get all bent out of shape if a guy wants to open a door. Even if he doesn’t want to do the door thing, it’s not my primary concern. Respect is an overall attitude, not a set of gestures. You can go through all the motions and still be a total snot, and you can be well-intentioned even if you slip up on a detail here and there.
To conclude, Manly Men: if a woman is holding tiny details like this against you, she probably isn’t worth your time. If you seem to be performing all the actions right, and women (or people in general), remain unimpressed, take a long hard look at your behaviour and ask yourself if you really care about the people you are being chivalrous toward, or if you are just trying to boost your own ego and rack up brownie points. Whatever you choose to do with doors, what really counts, in my opinion, is being sincere with your actions and performing them for thr right reasons.

144 Lance June 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I agree that you should always let your woman/ date into the car. Not only does it show some chivelary but also allows you a couple of seconds to let the wind go that you have been holding in through the hole meal, movie, dinner at her family’s house. Just make sure that; the window is up and you take your time to allow for ample venting of fumes prior to getting in. If you smell something once you get in ALWAYS assume it was her and casually roll the window down.

145 Ginger July 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I just posted the link to this page of your blog about opening doors for ladies, on my blog, hope you don’t mind. Since someone noted on my blog that opening doors for ladies is keeping ladies from being able to do to the things that they want to do in life.

Personally I feel that if a man opens a door for me especially if we’re dating, (which I’m married now) it shows me that he’s polite and can be a gentlemen. My son (5 year old) and my husband both hold the door open for me still, and I always response with thank you. I feel its showing me that they respect me as their mother and wife, and showing me that they love me.

Oh how young woman of today don’t know what’s its like to have a gentlemen while dating, to be romanced, to have someone to show chivalry towards them.

I like this blog article a lot, thank you for writing it.

146 Octavius Sharpsword August 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I know Im like 2 years late but I’ll comment anyway. I whole-heartedly agree with this article. I am always in favor of chivalry and etiquette. In regards to stairs, technically it is proper etiquette to, as a man, follow a lady up the stairs, and lead her down the stairs for the reasons which Ains has pointed out, mainly in case she falls. But this rule of etiquette was put in place when ladies wore long flowing dresses and gowns so looking at her butt or up her skirt would never have been an option. These days, it would be considered proper etiquette to follow the lady up as long as you walk offset of her and only a stair or two behind. By doing these two things she can rest assured that the gentleman will not even have the possibility of looking unless he is really trying, in which case, I don’t think that he ought to be called a gentleman.

147 Anne September 20, 2013 at 7:30 am

This made me think of the movie where the older Italian guy instructs the kid to open the car door for his date then see if she leans over to unlock his door, and if she does, she’s a keeper. Reciprocity, you know. I think that’s kinda cool.

148 James September 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm

“This made me think of the movie where the older Italian guy instructs the kid to open the car door for his date then see if she leans over to unlock his door, and if she does, she’s a keeper. Reciprocity, you know. I think that’s kinda cool.”

I was thinking the same thing, but I can’t remember the title. My car doesn’t have electric locks and I’ve only known one woman to ever do this for me.

149 Kerry October 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Since others have responded recently to this older blog, I thought to add my own as well. One thing which wasn’t mentioned is when a woman is disembarking the bus. My husband always disembarks ahead of me then steps aside and takes my hand as I step down. I ALWAYS appreciate it, especially in the winter when there is possibly ice or a snow pile just below the bus steps. He has saved me a spill on my keester many a time! He also always carries the heaviest bags and my small hands have thanked him many times (those bag handles can really cut into the palm and cause numbness in my fingers). We have been married 22 years and he has never failed to treat me with kindness and respect and I have always appreciated all he does.

150 Feminist Kate October 14, 2013 at 11:27 pm

I think holding the door open for someone is common courtesy, and everybody should do it, regardless of gender. I suppose, as a result, I don’t feel all special when a man does it for me; it’s what I expect someone to do, in the same way that I expect them to expect me to do it for them (I apologise for that absolute shocker of a sentence).

As far as car doors go…yeesh. This bit is entirely just my personal opinion, but, unless it’s raining and the man is holding an umbrella for me, I’d rather he didn’t hold the car door open. It just seems odd, and then there’s that awkward moment where he shuts you in and you are left alone in the car by yourself waiting for him to come around. It makes me feel off balance. I’d rather just get in myself. Likewise, the only time I’d be comfortable with a gentleman helping me out of the car is if I’m in a more difficult outfit that might benefit from having a hand to use for balance or leverage. Or, again, if it’s raining and he has the brolly.

On that note, gentlemen, could somebody tell me how one can tell a date that a certain behaviour (that may seem quite reasonable to him) makes one feel uncomfortable? For instance, I don’t like people standing behind me, so I’d be very uncomfortable if a man tried to pull out my chair at dinner for me to it.

151 Athens November 3, 2013 at 12:36 am

To open or not to open? I am an independent woman, I am also an athlete and and my strength allows me to take care of anything I like. While I do not insist on having a man open a door for me, it is a beautiful gesture where a man can show that he has his woman in mind, I don’t feel belittled in any way (and if it really is a big problem for some feminist, have you ever thought of politely declining the offer instead of keeping youir mouth shut while hating the fact a man is behind you/controlling you or denying you of being a modern woman). The bigger no no and yes I experienced this with a man I had a relationship with, when a woman constantly finds herself jammed up shoulder to shoulder in a door way next a shoving pushing partner, it says inconsiderate and far from manly. I am no longer dating this man but is seems that self-absorption filters into many areas of a relationship, least of all you door manners.

152 Regine November 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Observation to some comments: A man does not have to stand behind the woman to assist her to a chair at dinner – wrong procedure. He simply pulls the chair backwards, whilst standing to the side, to allow the woman to seat herself – (No reason for the woman to feel threatened that the man is standing behind her.
#2: If a man takes out a woman, especially if it’s on the first date, he should take no chances – Open that vehicle door unless she insists it is not necessary. Better be safe than sorry…turn on the charm. Even an independent feminist would feel impressed. Women who react uncomfortably to gestures of courteous conduct may just have issues that need to be addressed. Also, that feeling of awkwardness and off-blance experienced by some women when their dates “shut them in” after escorting them to their seat in the vehicle, (duration of procedure may take just a few seconds) could be due to low self-esteem and related insecurity.

153 Peter Dunstan November 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Aha!!, an un-commented scenario!!!; entering an unlit apartment/home etc.

** Note: The following is written purely tongue-in-cheek. Suffice to say, open the door for your lady as per above, but enter first, switching on the light, and where practically possible, then hold the door open for your lady.

Upon approaching the impending doorway, you, the chivalrous gentleman bow low, so as to dust your lady’s shoes clean. Then in one flowing motion, come to your feet, swiveling on your inside heel and unlock the aforementioned portal with your right hand. Now, with flair and panache swing the door open with the left hand – this should not be done with so much manly force that the plasterer needs to be called out, nor so sensitively that a second more manly shove is needed from your damsel – having successfully opened the imposing obstruction, immediately crouch into your choice of positions, I would personally choose the action packed “Die Hard” type position holding my clasped hands in the shape of an imaginary Colt .45. Another good position here would be the “Striking Ninja.” After shouting, “Fear not my Dearest!” leap through the doorway and in one fell swoop, activate the light switch.

The rest should now follow seamlessly as the mood has been well and truly set.

154 Bill Butler December 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm

When you encounter a woman, hopefully not your significant other, who takes great offense at you holding the door open, be gracious in the face of indignity. You opened the door as a gentleman, you should continue the exchange as one. I encountered such a woman as I exited a store. She, on her way in, was only a few steps from the door, so I held it open. “I don’t need a man holding a door for me, I can do it myself!” she exclaimed. I replied “Just the same, you have a nice evening.” I did not know what led he to say that to me. Perhaps: A) She was having a bad day. B) She has strong feelings about equality and gender roles. C) She was truly a bitch. In each case, the high road is the best. If I had let the door go so she could do it herself and then with respect to the cause: A) I did not do something nice on her bad day. B) I would have hurt the cause of being a gentleman with respect to the equality movement. C) I would have only made her madder and confirmed whatever it was in her mind that makes her a rude woman. There is no reward from such people except the satisfaction that you did something nice with no expectation of a reward. However, many of us have a little devil on our shoulder who wants to get back at her for her refusal of our generosity. Tell the little devil that, to others, you look even more of a gentleman compared to the response you got. Further, for people who are genuinely soured by the human experience, giving them the opposite reaction they want from you leaves you with good feelings and them with worsening feelings. But we don’t want to give the devil on our shoulder too much due. Listen to the angel on your shoulder and be a gentleman at all times to all people for no expectation for yourself, but that their day may be made better for it.

155 Ian December 30, 2013 at 1:46 am

So we are assuming all men date women? Because, y’all, its about to be 2014.
Hold open doors to be nice for people, not women. I.e. ladies should hold doors for gentlemen and trans* folks and dogs and imaginary friends. Everyone be nice. End of story.

156 CJ February 7, 2014 at 1:55 am

One thing I am just now realizing among the younger crowd (including myself) is that at times this courtesy is carried out with a sense of self-mockery; in my mind, I envision this as a guy holding the door and making an absurd mocking gesture of “After you!” instead of holding a quiet disposition about himself. I think this is worth noting because courtesy is meant to be sincere.

157 T February 14, 2014 at 11:56 pm

I just had an awkward experience with a female coworker where she acted very odd and taken aback by my holding the door open for her. She insisted that I went first. I had thought it to be a common courtesy; when you’re conversing with somebody, the first able-bodied person to approach the door holds it open for the others in the party, regardless of gender, age, or whatever.

Sure enough, it is a common courtesy still. Thanks, Art of Manliness. I guess I’ll just calmly be like, “Hey. Yo. It’s a door,” next time that happens or something. Or, I’ll just go through and let it close on her. Weird.

158 john February 15, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Something I heard and picked up on my travels in France, when entering a restaurant or dining place, open the door and let the date through, when a door opens people look and therefore as she steps through will become the center piece for a moment. When going for a drink, or into a cafe/bar/pub open the door step through hold it open (whether it swings in or out) that way if the welcome is less than chaleureux, (a fight/heated debate on a taboo subject) it is you that ‘takes it on the chin’ instead of inadvertently letting your date step into it.

159 Diane April 8, 2014 at 4:26 am

I’ve just found this page and I have to say I find Kerry Soileau’s comments concerning. Most women do not look upon a man with contempt, especially not one who is showing simple good manners and common courtesy. I am perfectly happy to open doors myself and hold them open for someone else but an equally willing to accept the same courtesy in return, I hope with good grace and manners. Other people’s poor manners do not excuse being rude yourself. A great article.

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