Ladies need to take a stand, demand gentlemen show face

I recently attempted to be romantic. As my mother always said, “Nothing beats a try but a failure.” And I did just that. I failed.

Last Friday I choreographed a romantic gesture that went down the tubes faster than a chubby kid on a water slide.

Around 8 o’clock, I arrived at the door to pick up my date with a bouquet of flowers.  I knocked and he didn’t answer. I called him, and he said he was on his way. Five minutes later, he stumbled through the door.

As my date slurred, staggered and struggled to get dressed, I began to cry. There I was in a dress and heels, watching him nearly choke putting on a bowtie. I’m ashamed to admit it, but after a few minutes I started rooting for the bowtie.

Naturally, I picked a fight. After all, being upset is one thing, but suffering in silence is something that women simply don’t do. As the argument escalated, my date informed me that “I expect too much.”

I started to wonder, what happened to the gentlemen of the world? When did expecting your date to be sober become ‘too much’?

Were my expectations unrealistic? Or, like the snow leopard and giant panda, are gentlemen a dying breed?

In the 1950s, dating a woman was a structured ritual with very strict etiquette. While I recognize that gender roles have relaxed considerably since then, today’s level playing field has resulted in the discarding of traditions fundamental to previous generations.

Post-World War II men who were ‘going steady’ with a woman engaged in protective behaviors, according to the American National Biography. They did their best to make their girlfriends feel safe and valued by doing things like opening car doors, ordering for them at restaurants, and assuming sole responsibility for requesting dates every week.

Men would arrive at the door, donning formal attire, often bearing flowers or a gift of some sort. They didn’t send a text message from the car with the word ‘here’ and just expect their date to run out. Courting a woman was a production characterized by good manners. Men of this generation had the tact to ask a lady out, define their relationships, and perform romantic gestures to impress her.

Before you assume I long for the days of rigid gender roles and a major power imbalance between the sexes, I don’t. I am not naïve. I realize that women were powerless in their romantic relationships.

Modern technology, pornography, and today’s hookup culture have all helped shape our opinions on sex, romance and relationship expectations.

We are different than the baby boomers in many respects. I don’t expect us to court as they did, either.

I also firmly believe that women share the blame for the current dating climate in this country.

We have become a complete contradiction. We want to be treated like ladies but then behave like sluts when we go out at night. We demand equal pay, criticizing corporate management for the famous glass ceiling we’re kept under, but we never pick up the check for dinner. Men are up against women who want to have their cake and eat it too.

That being said, operating on the principle that ‘you teach people how to treat you,’ women shoot themselves in the foot in their love lives. They accept inadequate behavior and then complain about it after the fact. Instead of nipping it in the bud, we wait in hopes that some act of God is going to transform the male mindset.

We women have considerable work to do.

In my experience, knowing what you want and asking for it, while terrifying, is the sexiest thing one can do. Regardless of gender, confidence and self-respect are attractive.  Although they may cost you a number of relationships during the course of your life, they act as a weeding-out process for experiences that aren’t worth your time or energy.

Acknowledging that everyone is different, it would be ignorant to make the generalization that every woman desires a committed relationship with a true gentleman or that a man desires one with a true lady.

On the other hand, I think there is room for men and women to meet in the middle. Regardless of whether you’re on a date with ‘the one,’ or at the bar trying to find the perfect one-night love affair, be respectable. Respect others and respect yourself.

In the words of novelist Stephen Chbosky, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” With that in mind, I advise you to re-evaluate what you believe you deserve. You’re valuable, and you should be treated accordingly.

As for practical advice, do the little things. Showcase the manners your mother taught you. Open doors, ask someone out, and walk that person home if it’s dark outside. Offer to split the check and pick your date up at the door. Most importantly, pick them up sober. This goes for both sexes.