Respect and chivalry do not always go hand in hand:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I just have to share this and ask what you think.

A male friend, Dan, stopped by here today and we went for a walk.
As we were getting ready to cross a street, and were both looking to see if cars were coming, Dan suddenly put his arm out and said “Watch out! Stay back!” as a car I was staring directly at, and was making no move to walk in front of, drove past us. When I sighed instead of acting pleased, he got upset. He had perceived himself as being the manly protector. When I told him that quite honestly, such a move was more indicative that he thought I was an idiot who was going to jump in front of a car without looking, he was affronted and said “well, what difference does it make if I save your life!!?” He was actually convinced he may have saved my life. He just couldn’t understand why his protective gesture was offensive and upset me. He got all huffy.

I told him that instead of being upset, he should be grateful I told him how it affected me. If his intent was to inspire admiration for his manly protective qualities, it was backfiring miserably and he shouldn’t keep it up. But when he left, he was trying not to show how offended he was, somehow convinced that I was ungrateful for not appreciating his concern.

Why are men such idiots? And why do they think women want to be treated like five year olds who can’t cross the street by themselves ?

Not a frail flower

Dear Not a flower,

Whatever! Your friend reacted because he thought he saw imminent danger. Whether there was danger or not isn’t really relevant. How you felt about it is a discussion for afterward- but do realize this is really your problem, not his.

If a man holds doors for a woman and picks up all the checks, that’s another story- then, he is being chivalrous. What’s the big deal, most people would enjoy that. If you don’t like it and want to be treated as one of the guys, say so. But just this incident in isolation makes it seem you have some deeper issues.

You say he is your friend yet you would rather see him watch you get hit by a car in front of him? That’s not very nice. Keep that up and next time he will yell look at the squirrel when a car is coming at you.

Why do men feel the need to act chivalrous towards woman? That’s both socioeconomic and cultural; in some places men have been taught to do that.

Be warned that chivalrous behavior doesn’t actually correlate to how a man will really treat you regarding cheating, finances and things that really matter. What matters is respect- and respect and chivalry do not always go hand in hand.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I ran this scenario by two different people and got two different perspectives.

A guy I mentioned it to said that the woman in question is just going to have to accept that men have an instinct to protect women and it’s not even personal, it’s simply reflexive. He thinks the woman over-reacted and the guy’s heart is in the right place.

The woman I ran it by was exasperated with the guy’s reaction. She wondered if he also braked for leprechauns. Her assessment was that he was looking for an opportunity to display some sort of manliness and manufactured one where it didn’t exist. There was nothing to save the woman from! He wasn’t being chivalrous, he was either posturing or hallucinating.

I think the answer lies in between the two reactions. The guy’s intentions may have been in the right place, but it was an unnecessary gesture, since there was no real danger. I can understand the woman’s annoyance- if I were standing quietly waiting to cross the street and my companion suddenly shouted and threw his arms in my face, it would scare the crap out of me.

My guess is that there IS a deeper issue here- the guy has feelings towards the woman that she doesn’t want to encourage. He wants to become more intimate with her, and she wishes he would stop hovering and back off.

No one is right and no one is wrong…but I don’t see much hope for a future relationship.

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About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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5 Responses to Respect and chivalry do not always go hand in hand:

  1. There was really not enough data to give a real big picture opinion so one has to read into the question and make up the big picture. The interesting result is men say what’s her problem and woman say what’s his problem!

    Dr. B. C.

    Granny says: I find it interesting how fast men are to jump to the conclusion that a woman has a problem if she doesn’t appreciate a supposed gesture of chivalry from a man. Even Dr. Brilliant told this woman she should realize it’s “her problem.” Yet I hear men constantly bitch when women show too much concern- they call it “smothering.” Hmmmm. A double standard going on here?

    • Dear Dawn,

      You are absolutely correct. There are as many interpretations to this scenario as there are people to read it. This scenario due to a lack of overall information just acts as a Rorschach telling more about the reader than anything else. See our next blog on just this!

      Thanks for your comment and for reading.

      -Dr. B.C.

  2. Dawn says:

    Why is everyone assuming this is a gender issue? What if it was a woman friend walking with a woman friend. Then what? Why do we automatically think that people’s differences are related to their gender? Women can be protective, assertive and courageous while men can be anxious and timid. It’s not fair to place either of them in limiting boxes.

  3. Ken Bryant says:

    Dear frail flower,
    We’ll assume that because you recognize this man as a friend, you have already determined he has no ulterior motives in putting his hands near you for the possible opportunity of making physical contact. If that motive is ruled out, than will you be more understanding about his impulse control issue? He’s neither like that with just you nor is he like that with just this traffic situation. His impulsivity must be unrealistic in such things as stopping is own car when someone is just standing on a street corner not even intending to cross, standing over the sink to mix his iced tea because he doesn’t want the powder to spill on the countertop, and answering questions he asks of someone before they get the chance.
    So my frail flower, he’s neither treating you like an idiot nor is he one. As his friend, you’ll need to be patient with him when he jumps ahead to unwarranted conclusions. It may help if you ask him to explain to you how he adapts to situations. I think you will be pleasantly surprised as to how ingeniously he solves his day-to-day problems and if he decides to tell you, how honored you will be because he confided in you such intricate details.

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