With the approach of Valentine’s Day in mind, disheartened girls lament the death of chivalry.
They ask, “Whatever happened to the guys that pay for dinner, that shower them with expensive bouquets, and take them out on lavish trips?”
Quite frankly, I find these rare male species a remnant of patriarchal times and while being a gentleman is certainly a desirable characteristic, men shouldn’t have to be held up to a certain set of standards in order to show their appreciation of their significant other.
As young girls, we idolized Disney princesses who, despite their beauty and intelligence, depended upon a powerful young man to save the day.
This damsel-in-distress and prince charming dynamic, while overplayed, continues to dominate pop culture well into our adulthood and we see this today with the popularity of movies like “50 Shades of Gray” in which a rich and powerful young man swoons the doe-eyed innocent girl.
Prince charming does not exist, he never did. He was merely an idea we were taught to believe in.
Now in our early 20s, I think we can all acknowledge that relationships are more complex than they are portrayed in movies.
We are all flawed creatures and as much as social media creates this impression of the perfect man or the perfect couple, the lengths at which couples take to reach a healthy and happy relationship are things that are wholly unrepresented in pop culture. Mostly because they are unpleasant.
Real couples argue and people are flawed. In my perspective, it’s completely unfair and wishful thinking to compare your significant other to a slew of unattainable standards commonly portrayed by fictional 2D characters.
Real men are not comparable to a Nicholas Spark’s male character. Mostly because they don’t exist. Do away with the fantasy of the chiseled abs, the handyman who would build a house for you, and the guy who only has eyes for one woman.
You can’t expect someone to give you the world. Rather, appreciate that they chose to give you a part of themselves that no one else has.
While the notion of chivalry continues to place men on this unattainable pedestal, it does much harm to women as well. Young girls should be taught to believe in their autonomy and to be confident in their ability to be successful individuals.
These ridiculous heteronormative norms are harmful on both ends of the spectrum. We expect our partners to fit this limited existence and that is perhaps why commitment proves challenging in our generation. Our expectations get the best of us and that is perhaps why relationships feel so volatile.
Ladies, you can take your man out to an expensive dinner too. You can also spoil them with lavish gifts and take them out on exciting dates.
This Valentine’s Day, offer to split the tab, take part in planning the evening as opposed to expecting the man to plan everything out. You shouldn’t feel unappreciated if he doesn’t have everything totally planned out.
Obviously it’s normal to expect of kindness, respect, maturity, and loyalty from your significant other. But relationships are a two-way street, and these expectations shouldn’t be limited to men.