Jamie Shupak is the Emmy-nominated traffic reporter for NY1, the Big Apple cable network that’s the end-all and be-all on all things Gotham for New Yorkers. She’s also a beautiful, single woman navigating New York’s treacherous (and hilarious!) dating scene. In her weekly column she shares her war stories and offers her advice and admonitions.
No, chivalry is not dead.
I know this because in recent weeks I’ve seen it many a time, in different forms—very much alive.
There is the guy who remembers and recognizes all the unusual, unique, and important anniversaries in my life. When it had been exactly one year since I moved into my apartment, for example, he said, “Happy new year.”
And there was another guy who took me to the movies and politely insisted that yes, I should wear his coat when I was cold, even though it looked ridiculous because it was so big.
I’ve seen guys walking with their woman, carrying the heavier grocery bag while she carries the lighter one. Or one of my personal favorites is when I see a guy walking on the outside—the side closer to traffic—while his lady walks on the inside.
I will never fault you for any of this behavior; in fact, I encourage it.
But what are the ramifications of dishing out too much goodness to your woman? What happens when your good manners and chivalrous actions backfire? And even worse, what if she starts to feel smothered?
There’s a tightrope that a guy walks in a relationship—there are many, of course, but this is one of the thinner and more dangerous ones. It’s the line between giving your woman the space she deserves to be independent, while at the same time giving her the right amount of love and affection to feel wanted, needed.
But there’s even more of a push-pull at play here than that suggests.
It’s about letting her know that you’re there, thinking about her, but also letting her miss you for an afternoon. (More on that later.)
If you want to walk the wire, you have to be attuned to your woman; this will require your time and your powers of observation. You have to know when it’s time to hold the door open for her to walk through, but also when it’s time for you to let her close the door for some sacred alone time.
Listen, watch, and feel for every cue she sends; if you don’t get the hints, you’re not going to get the girl.
Everyone needs space, but a lot of times—and we’ve all been there—it’s insecurity that begets smothering. You strangle her with the barrage of texts you send and the tight schedule of plans you make. It feels good and it feels right because you’re spending time together and you don’t have to worry about what she would be doing otherwise, but soon enough these tactics will choke her.
So let her breathe.
Encourage her to hang out with her girlfriends. A woman with a strong support system of other smart, independent women makes her more of the same. (And isn’t that what you want?)
Remember my friend from last week who left his girlfriend at the bar with her friends and went home on his own? He did the right thing. You have to respect that maybe she was really vibing with her girlfriend in a way that she hadn’t in a while and wanted to prolong it. Or maybe her friend just needed her for some reason. Either way, you have to let her do her thing.
Part of being a mature partner is being able to settle your own paranoia and let your significant other be their own person.
Some of this will only come with time and trust, but let her miss you for an afternoon.
The wonder, anticipation, and butterflies you create by not texting her one day or not emailing her back the second her name pops up in your inbox will help keep the momentum going.
I am not encouraging you to play games; I would never do that.
But by being a little less available she is left to think that, a) you have other exciting things happening in your life, b) another girl is taking up some of your attention (crazy, but we will find you more attractive if we think another girl finds you attractive), or c) a mixture of both. Either way, you win.
Plus, if we think we have you in the bag, it is no fun anymore. No more fun, no more us.
So let the clock strike independent o’clock, take a break from the communication, for just a few hours even, and you will thank me later.
Now back to the chivalry, because I don’t want you falling off that tightrope.
You shouldn’t shy away from being Prince Charming, especially if that’s your nature. But small doses are all it takes sometimes for the woman to know you’re not only a good guy, but a good guy who’s also into her.
Be there for her at those tender moments—when she’s having a bad day, when her friends are on her last nerve, or her boss is giving her a hard time—but most importantly, just when she’s cold and needs your jacket.
Next week: Jamie discusses relationship deal breakers.