Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Relationships 101

Our college students have different kinds of problems with love (or, as everyone seems to call it, to my dismay, "relationships") than we had at their age. So classes are being offered on "relationship skills," how to take the relationship to "the next level," and marriage. Now, those of us who are around young people do understand that such matters are important to them and that, and I have noticed that progressively over the years, they have become more and more confused about how they should get to know one another, how they should behave (should I treat her as a lady, or just as a friend?, etc.). And sometimes, I must say, one is forced to step in and offer some guidance. I sometimes have, and, perhaps surprisingly, the students appreciate it. They do need help and, for some reason, parents are helping less than they should, and the forces outside of the family are not exactly teaching how to behave as ladies and gents. But such guidance is not a matter of teaching "skills" or "health", as the article would have it.

Some years back, when I kicked an Ashbrook Scholar out of the program for mistreating a young lady, I noticed that much hushed conversation ensued, entirely beneficial for civility. I also remember a worthy colleague who once taught a class on chivalry (or manliness); it was extremely popular. But, of course, it wasn’t a class on relationships, it didn’t have marriage homework, and he wasn’t a therapist. They read wonderful books, and they talked about men and women, and how they may differ, what each sees as happiness, and how the two views (if they exist), when properly understood and combined, may lead each toward something more human than not. My friend certainly did not take guidance from the International Association for Relationship Research as some of these courses do. Maybe love doctors are needed; I wouldn’t be surprised if colleges started offering degrees in "Relationships", but only after some Ph.D. programs in relationships are established first! Maybe Harvard would be a good place to start. For some thoughts on such matters from Terrence Moore see this
and this.
You might also want to consider this and this and this.

It seems entirely appropriate to let The Poet have the last word, from Love’s Labor’s Lost:

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:
They are the ground, the books, the academes,
From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire.

Or, a few lines later:

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive.
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
They show, contain, and nourish all the world.

Discussions - 6 Comments

One of the saddest things about chivalry is that women aren’t supposed to want men to be chivalrous and treat them like ladies. I’ve always been able to achieve my goals on my own; I’m an intelligent young woman. My GPA and LSAT scores say to the world that I’m a liberated, educated woman. Apparently, this means that I don’t need men to treat me like a lady, because I’m not weak and don’t need any help.

I went on a date this weekend with a wonderful young man who opened doors for me (even the car door), refused to let me pay for anything, and acted like a complete gentleman. I almost felt guilty that I enjoyed being treated like that. After all, I’d heard for so long that I didn’t need that and shouldn’t want that. The truth is, though, that my date this weekend is an example of how relationships (sorry, Dr. Schramm, but I can’t call it "love" yet) should look. It’s sad that my date this weekend was the first one I’ve ever had that truly made me feel like a lady (and I’m not exactly a wallflower; I have dated a lot).

In response to college girl:

I don’t know what to say, I am speechless. I consider myself a gentleman, or at least getitng close to that, and try to act chivalrous any chance I can. My parents had the audacity to raise me by good principles, values and taught me how to respect a lady. Thankfully they did a good job.

Many of my female friends, share you’re first sentiment, that young women today are too smart and indpendent to allow men to do the little things you described.

I remember one time I was with a young lady at an art museum one day. We had lunch and following lunch I picked up her jacket with mine as we left to finish walking through the museum. She actually attempted to physically remove the jacket from my hands, she didn’t want me doing that for her.

It’s great to see you found a gentleman who knows how to treat a lady, theres hope for gender yet.

Chivalry? What’s that?

I was joking. But really, who defines what a relationship "should" look like? If a girl wants to pay, let her pay. If she doesn’t, then the guy should pay (says society). I’m not sure these are really intrinsic values. As if, all men everywhere should be expected to pull out chairs and open doors (please, I swear I’m not a pig . . . I do these things! I’m just saying it’s not HORRIBLE not to). If you want someone like that, then don’t date people who aren’t "chivalrous". But don’t say that all men should be like that. *sigh* No, I’m not a cultural relativist, but I do think these "values" (as Andrew called them) certainly are not universal, nor should they be.

Please do not flog me.

Matt don’t get me wrong. I’ll do these chivalrous things till the enlightened young lady tells me what she likes and doesn’t, I’ll respect that.

I think my point was more of several things:

One its good to hear from a young lady who has realized what its like to be treated like a lady by a gentleman. It gives me some hope.

Two, i’m not saying so much that the values I have are universal for everyone. And I don’t do the things that have been antiquated by our culture. Since I am a poor college student, of course I can see the point about sharing who gets the check. It just depends on the situation.

Things like pulling out the chair, standing when a lady enters...are the things that have been antiquated by our culture, and there is a right time for them. In day to day? Probaly not...but holding the door is, to me, just a common courtesy.

I am one of those friends that Andrew was talking about earlier. I do not want a guy to open my doors or hold my chair or stand when I enter a room. I do not want a gentleman to do these things for me because I am perfectly capable of doing them myself, I am not a fragile china doll that must be protected. In fact I do boxing and play waterpolo, I compete with guys regularly and it is disgusting when they refuse to fight in the ring or quit because I knock them out; I would not be in these sports if I didn’t consider myself to be any guys equal. Why should they treat me as more delicate...if we base this chivalrous behavoir on strength, then I should be holding alot of doors open and standing when quite a few men enter the room as well as paying and getting coats. If it is because I am a woman, well I can’t help that and please don’t treat me different based on something I can’t control. I do expect that the gentleman will respect my wish and it is also a way for me to tell if he listens to what I say; if I tell him don’t do that to me or for me I insist he listen and understand that no means no.

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