“1. The combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, esp courage, honour, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.
2. Courteous behaviour, esp towards women” –Dictionary.com
I have come to realize that chivalry is an attitude and a mindset, not just an action.
I have had a guy open doors for me and walk me home–yet have zero courage, honor, readiness to help the weak, and courteousness. This left me feeling insecure, attacked, valueless, and unsafe.
Chivalry has to be beyond mere actions. I’m not a dude, so I can’t explain the motivation behind chivalry. But I can tell you what I think we need to be looking for.
Honestly? I think “Chivalry” is a fancy term for a heart that is committed to serving and loving the object of its affection (though this attitude of service and gentility will undoubtedly overflow onto others around him). When a man is truly chivalrous, a woman will feel safe, secure, cherished, valued, and protected. (Notice how all those words boil down to two things? Safety and love. Interesting.)
Chivalry is also in words, what is said and, sometimes, what is unsaid. It is also in what *isn’t* done.
Chivalry is an attitude that says “I want to honor you regardless of the way it impacts me, because you’re worth it.” That could be taking the hit in an awkward situation, making time for something, respecting boundaries, guiding conversation when it becomes uncomfortable, being honest about his stance in the relationship without needing to know where you are, killing bugs, serving…on and on and on.
There is a ton more to chivalry than opening doors. It really is an attitude that holds the girl up in a position of honor and respect and doesn’t ask for anything in return. It’s being a man, protecting the woman, and (not necessarily romantically) loving her like Christ loves the church. That’s all chivalry really is.