Chivalrous man

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliche,

I read your blog regarding the “chivalrous man,” and the comments that were left. I wanted to write because I ran this scenario by two women, who both thought the guy was an idiot. Most of us all have had this experience before where some guy jumps in to offer help where it isn’t needed or wanted. I also ran it by two men who both thought the woman was ungrateful and had personal issues. Hmmmmm. What further questions does this prompt?

Additional input came later from another female- she thought it was sweet of the man and believed he meant only the best. Interestingly, this particular woman has allowed men to dominate and abuse her throughout life and will always take blame on herself first. The women who thought the guy was an idiot were much more assertive.

Is this a male/female thing? It seems that we all interpret situations differently, depending on what we expect to see. It makes me wonder:
what really happened here? And is every exchange like this between people so open to interpretation?

What the?

Dear What,

That’s the thing about advice. If we are not actually present to witness the real situation and know only the part of the picture that is presented, we are at least partly projecting. Sometimes advice is more relevant to the giver than the receiver. The receiver needs to see what part of the advice, if any, applies to their own situation.

The Chivalrous Man scenario is an example. There wasn’t enough data to know the big picture; just a suggestion of it. Men and woman read differently into it based on their own personal experiences with the opposite sex. We are the sum total of our experiences and how we relate to a story tells us a lot about our personality. It is like a Rorschach test.

Is every exchange like this between people so open to interpretation? YES! There is an amazing book by Deborah Tannen about this phenomena, That’s Not What I Meant.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: we all see what we expect to see and people can generally find evidence and proof for whatever theory they wish to maintain. Ask any good lawyer.

But in the end, it is always between the actual people involved to decide upon what the truth is, barring any necessity for legal intervention.

Advice can be more, or less, biased and skewed by personal expectations. That’s why advice columns exist- we at least have the advantage of not being personally involved! A great philosopher once said that most personal problems could be solved quite easily if we were capable of viewing them as if they happened to another person, in another civilization, five thousand years ago.

Good advice.


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 and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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One Response to Chivalrous man

  1. Ken Bryant says:

    Wisdom (in this case) is not only how the man’s actions are interpreted but whether or not they even should be. Enough emotion can defy all logic and you are left with the line drawn in the sand at the most basic of all biases, the binary gender model. You have to be the person who is accused of being an idiot before you can call him/her one. That takes a lot of faith and openness. Saying that, I am now comfortable with my own bias. If I can get away with the slightest chance of being chivalrous, I’ll take it. With that kind of attitude, each new relationship will be approached exactly the same way with nothing learned from previous encounters. I doubt this has purely existed an any relationship in all of history. In like manner no individual has ever treated everyone exactly the way they want to be treated because no one is positively sure how they want to be treated. Is it about some middle of the road or the best of both worlds? No, its about taking each moment, with the maximum pain it offers, and realizing you will never suffer that much again and that makes each moment THE beginning of life.

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