In the Victorian Era dresses were so large at the bottom they prevented women from reaching door knobs. That’s how the tradition of men opening doors for women began. It was reinforced by men opening doors for mothers carrying children.
In 2020 I wrote about this in Open Her Door to Open Her Heart. I received a wealth of positive feedback so I decided to revisit it with a twist.
Strangely (to me) there is a debate about whether men should still open doors for women. Is it sexist? Does it portray women as weaker, or somehow inferior? Is chivalry dead?
I can speak for myself (and hopefully others) by saying I ALWAYS open doors for Teresa. I did it before we were married, and I continue today. It’s my privilege. I feel good every time I do it. She now expects it… and I’m glad.
After my previous article, one reader wrote saying her sons and husband routinely wrestle to determine who gets the honor of opening the car door for her. “It’s been going on for years,” she said.
Another reader told me about a date she had in high school…
“He came to my house, said hello to my parents, and we went out to his car. He walked around to his side and got in. I went to my side and stood there waiting. From the driver’s seat, he leaned over and rolled the passenger door window down.”
He asked, “Is everything alright with the door?”
I replied, “I’m sure it’s fine but if you want to go on a date with me, you’d better come around and open it for me!”
Chubby (my dad) was the messenger for my first door-opening lesson when I took Leslie Edwards to the local Cincinnati version of American Bandstand. It was my first real date. I didn’t have a driver’s license yet, so Chubby drove us.
When we pulled up in front of Leslie’s house she came running out and hopped into the back seat of the car (I was sitting in the back on the other side).
I was excited and said, “Let’s go Dad!” But Chubby kept the car in park, sitting there in silence. 30 seconds felt like 30 minutes. Chubby adjusted the rear view mirror to make eye contact with me in the back seat. What was wrong, I wondered. Calmly but sternly Dad said, “Greg, didn’t you forget something?”
My mind raced. What did I forget?! Wallet? No, I had that. The flower my mom gave me for Leslie? No, I had that. Embarrassed with Leslie sitting quietly next to me, I blurted out a couple of fumbled responses.
Chubby finally smiled and politely asked Leslie to get back out of the car so I could have the “privilege” of walking around to open her door. I distinctly remember him using that word, and I also distinctly remember Leslie’s big blushing smile as I opened her door.
Small lesson. Big impact.
To this day, I cherish the “privilege” of opening the door for Teresa, and any woman who gets in my car. With Teresa, opening her door is about love. With other women, it’s respect.
I believe this door application can have a wider application. It makes a statement about who we are and how we view others.
When I go to Houston’s for lunch with my sons every Thursday, I routinely wait and hold the door open for anyone approaching the entry. This makes me feel good, and I’ll bet in a small way it makes others feel just a little bit better too.
Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.”
Author Thomas Fuller once said “All doors open to courtesy.”
But my favorite quote on the subject is by an unknown author, which leads me to believe that it has naturally become one of those truly meaningful sayings…
“Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”