How to Be a Modern Gentleman
“Be a man,” is something that most of us have heard at one time or another, especially while growing up. It was often lobbed as a directive—a warning to stop whining and toughen up. Sit down, shut up, and swallow the pain. And while there's something to be said for quiet stoicism, it makes one wonder ... What does it mean to be a man these days?
Perhaps, more importantly, we should be asking, “What makes a modern gentleman, nowadays?” After all, you don't get much choice in being a man. It simply happens. But being a gentleman—that's a choice. A practice, even. And it's a practice that we care deeply about honing and perfecting. And if one thing is true, it's that the role of men is changing.
But it's always been changing. Some might warn that the sky of old-fashioned masculinity is falling, but that's merely evolution. True, your version of being a man is different from your father's. But even his version had evolved from the socially constructed gender roles your grandfather was raised on. According to Psychology Today, society operates on “the subconscious stories, built over millions of years, that allow us to best survive and reproduce.” With that in mind, men have a rich and long history of being protectors, fighters and status seekers. But at the same time, outdated rules and etiquette have always mucked up people's expectations. So what are the useful rules, the practical dos and don'ts of being a good guy right now?
We're talking about the little things. Sometimes they're arbitrary and they're definitely a bit biased, but they're also what make a difference in one's life and get noticed. They're also the things are are easy to get wrong or forget in our fast-paced, digitally distracting lives. Things like ...
Being aModern Gentleman
A gentleman is well-read. Even if his secret is that he listens to audiobooks at the gym or on his commute.
Help others out. Open the door—for a woman, for a man or a child—and give a quick smile and some eye contact. It shows that you're putting the needs of others before your own.
A gentleman is comfortable being over-dressed. No one doubts a guy in a suit or a good pair of shoes.
At the same time, don't be so squeamish about being naked. We're all just skin sacks—some are tanner, others are more toned, but we've all got something to bring to the table.
There's no shame in working hard, but it's not cool to brag about being the last guy in the office or the first one to arrive. Let others say something about it.
Always carry some cash. Even if it's just an “emergency $20 bill” tucked inside your wallet.
A gentleman doesn't dwell. You gotta let some indiscretions pass. We've all gotten away with things. Decide what's really worth getting upset about. If this isn't one of them, consider yourself lucky and don't give it another thought.
A gentleman wears a watch. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it should be good looking. When someone asks you for the time, it's inelegant to pull out your phone.
Own up to your mistakes. Apologize to those who've harmed, learn from where you went wrong or how you might've fucked up, and move on.
Don't be fussy about food. You don't have to like every bite, but damnit, give it a try. Some of the best surprises a human can have is tasting something new and unique and getting your mind blown. If you don't like it, now you know.
A gentleman can order a drink. Even if you don't care to imbibe in alcohol, know what you want to order without sounding clueless or intimidated. Have it ready and say it clearly to whomever's taking your order.
Don't let others know when your confidence takes a hit. It's always a temporary set-back. A gentleman acts as though everything is fine, because eventually it will be.
Dry the dishes. You'll either be helping out your partner or you'll be finishing a job properly. Leaving them to dry on a rack is only doing half the job.
Don't sweat your phone's battery percentage. It's unbecoming and not as important as you think. Yes, we're all connected these days, but if it dies before you can charge, so be it.
A gentleman invests in good bedding. Even if you're the only one sleeping in those sheets, life is too short for shoddy linens and a bad night's sleep.
A gentleman will dance when the time is right. Don't be the guy who stands awkwardly to the side and says something like, “No way, I don't dance,” because it just brings down the whole mood.
Consider investing in quality tools that you will use regularly. These will be different for all of us, but they are (and not limited to) a good pen, a proper umbrella, a sturdy shoe horn or a dedicated alarm clock.
A gentleman doesn't have to cook. But he should have one dish that he knows how to prepare—for himself and others. And when the takeout arrives, he at least plates it properly on real dishes.
Consider having a hobby. It's good for your mind and soul. And when someone asks what you're up to or what you're into recently, you'll have a compelling answer that makes for an interesting backstory.
A gentleman understands that there's a difference between knowing you can knock a guy on his ass and threatening to do so in public.
Don't yuck someone else's yum. If it brings them pleasure or makes them happy, why be the wet blanket? It just makes you look and sound old or close-minded.
A gentleman listens. He doesn't know everything and in fact, is far more interested in learning than boasting about his knowledge. This not only makes for better conversation but also helps put others at ease.
Be mindful about money. A gentleman splurges when necessary and is happy to pick up the check for loved ones, but also pays his debts and makes sure to save for the future.
Repeat the name of the person you just met. It not only helps you remember their name but it instantly makes the other person feel comfortable and important ... and that's what being a gentleman is all about.
This list is by no means final ... have a rule of your own? Think we missed a few key points? Let us know on social (@valetmag) and we could add yours to this list.