Is Chivalry Dead? | Modern Romance in the Digital Age

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Ah, the woes of modern dating. You swipe left and right and cross your fingers, hoping for the best. 

Will they match you back? 

Is their profile real? 

Are they a serial killer? 

And then the day of the date arrives, and you’re so relieved that you’re not being catfished you don’t even notice that they didn’t hold the door open for you. And they’re texting the whole time. But who cares? At least they’re single. (You hope.) 

So what’s happening here? Have our standards really dropped this low? Are we just so overwhelmed by dating app horror stories and the possibility of things going wrong that we accept the bare minimum of treatment? Or have we developed unrealistic expectations of chivalry that we’re just being a little too nitpicky? 

Just because every date isn’t a recreation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, it doesn’t mean that chivalry is dead. Or does it? 

Let’s explore whether dating apps have eradicated chivalrous romantic gestures entirely or if we’re just expecting too much.


courtship

The Nostalgia of Courtship

Your date opens your door to the restaurant, pulls out your chair at the table, and brings flowers as a gift to dinner. Are you being courted and wooed? Is your dating going above and beyond to impress you, or is this just too much for a first date? 

Well, that kind of depends on who you ask. The courtship customs vary across cultures, but these kinds of romantic gestures have also evolved with time.

Courtship rituals have been tracked as far back as ancient Egypt, Greece, and Mesopotamia. Although families arranged many marriages of the time for political or economic reasons, there have been records of people expressing their infatuation with others through gifts or poetry. 

Medieval literature talks about noble knights rescuing damsels in distress, detailing courtly love, and all about heroic acts of chivalry. In the 18th and 19th centuries, with industrialization and urbanization came a new era of traditional dating, where courtship evolved out of personal desire instead of family arrangement. 

While it was still expected that people would marry before becoming physical, dating rituals evolved to walks, letter writing, and social interactions.

Enter the 20th century, and “going steady” became the term for 1950s courtship. Chivalry had evolved. Men no longer fought to the death to prove their chivalrous nature but instead took their date to the diner and the drive-in to show affection. 

With the advent of technology, online dating became a thing in the 1990s with the launch of Match.com. This opened an entirely new door that had never been stepped through before. 

Not only could people communicate in new ways, men no longer had to “win” over a woman’s affection. If a woman matched with a man on a dating app, the man already knew the woman was interested. Was this where the death of chivalry began? Or had we reached an entirely new realm, one dominated by the evolution of gender equality?


gender roles in chivalry

Gender Roles Redefine Chivalry

If you look back at the evolution of chivalry over time, you’ll notice one big glaring similarity. Men were always the ones wooing the woman. While it originated in medieval times as a code of conduct for knights to display their honor and loyalty towards women, this prescribed behavior is less applicable in modern times. 

Although women gained the right to vote in 1920, it wasn’t until the 60s and 70s that feminism challenged reproductive writing, workplace equality, and the societal expectations imposed on women. This movement dismantled the stereotype of gender roles by questioning the long-held belief that men are the dominant ones in relationships and women are more passive. 

The chivalry of yonder years was becoming a thing of the past, and women were no longer just the receivers of the male gaze, part of an imbalanced power dynamic.

In the digital dating age, we now have apps like Bumble, where women make the first move. Apps like Tinder have also made flings and situationships more popular. 

So this brings us to the question at hand: Is chivalry dead? Or has it just evolved with the changing times? I guess it depends on who you ask. 

Some women detest the idea of a man paying for the bill, while other women still like the traditional notion of that. And to really throw in a mind-bender, it’s actually possible to be a feminist and still be fond of traditional values. 

I mean, even men can be feminists these days. All it means is that you respect each other and understand that women aren’t less than men but equal partners. Chivalry and romantic gestures can be a way to woo a date, but they’re no longer indicative of a successful relationship. 

So maybe chivalry isn’t dead. Maybe it’s just a little bit different.


Incorporating Chivalry in the Digital Age

While gender equality has played a role in the evolution of chivalry, romantic gestures don’t have to decay in the grave. If anything, this is now a two-way street, one where men and women can display chivalry through romantic gestures. 

At the end of the day, chivalry is just a synonym for respect. Here are some strategies to practice chivalry on your next date.

chivalry in modern age
  1. Practice active listening. Be present and engaged in conversations on dating apps and ask questions to show your genuine interest. When you’re in person, keep your phone on silent.
  2. Be empathetic. Understand that you don’t need to be identical to get along.
  3. Plan thoughtful and creative dates to show that you value your match’s time and effort.
  4. Respect personal boundaries, and regardless of gender or identity, always pay attention to consent so you can create an environment of safety and trust.
  5. Always be open and honest in your communication, lay out your boundaries and expectations, and don’t be afraid to say no.
  6. Personally, I don’t think chivalry has vanished completely. It’s just adapted to the changing times. 
  7. Stay open-minded, and maybe try swapping the word chivalry for respect. That way, it won’t matter who is being romantic, but instead, emphasize the genuine gesture of kindness and appreciation on your next date.

Personally, I don’t think chivalry has vanished completely. It’s just adapted to the changing times. 

Stay open-minded, and maybe try swapping the word chivalry for respect. That way, it won’t matter who is being romantic, but instead, emphasize the genuine gesture of kindness and appreciation on your next date.

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