Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On Chivalry, Romance, and the Occasional Date

Last weekend I went on a date for the first time in over two years.  Not an "ooo la la!" date with romantic potential, but a young gentleman friend needed an escort to a particular event, so I accompanied him.  I expected nothing other than the natural high of dancing the night away.

Keep in mind that I have (and have always had) many guy friends.  I have become quite accustomed to one-on-one hangouts that are fun but very boundary-conscious.  Safe chivalry, if you will.

On the other side of the coin go my many experiences of being hit on, mediated somewhat by salsa dancing.  Though my distrust of strange men is imediate and my reaction one of caution, I have learned that some unknown men really don't want to use me for their own twisted pleasures, but want simply to have the pleasure of my company for a dance, much like the occasional stranger who walks up to me, tells me I'm beautiful, smiles, and wishes me a pleasant day.

Back to the evening at hand.  Desensitized by four years at Steubenville, I had nearly forgotten:  Chivalry is inherently romantic (which should be obvious, considering its origins)!  Though I was accustomed to walking through open doors and was pleased by his constant presence by my side, I had to stop myself from telling him it was really too much as he went out of his way to bring me drinks and pulled out my chair before each time I sat down.  I had to fight a learned response of physically tensing up when, upon the first slow song, he pulled me closer than I'd expected.  Boundaries! You're not dating! screamed a voice in my head.  But a more reasonable voice reminded me that, though this was unexpectedly close, it was not inappropriately close.  I was, after all, his date for the evening, and there are romantic connotations to that.

The understanding between us was absolute; he was not trying to pull a move on me.  So why did I have to fight myself to remain calm and enjoy his taking the lead and guiding things, as he did consistently (and excellently) all evening?  Why am I always so overly concerned about maintaining proper boundaries between friends?

I don't have a nice tying-things-together paragraph to end things.  I'm still trying to figure this one out myself.  Thoughts?


  1. This is a truly interesting essay. I'm particularly glad that you noted the origins of chivalry in courtly love. Fr. Albertus the Chaplain, if I remember his name correctly (I did not in fact click on your link) seems to have been quite the character.

    As you can probably tell from my livejournal (sadly, I haven't switched over yet...), this is the sort of topic I particularly like. Though I have nothing to add, rest assured that I'm "thinking"

  2. Hormones: They are fun. Kind of like lighting firecrackers! Knowing the rules and boundaries to keep safe is an important part of lighting firecrackers. Making sure you get as close as possible to those boundaries are what makes it fun and scary.

  3. Believe it or not, even I have boundaries. Discovering boundaries is part of the fun of forming new friendships.

    I find it easier to discover other people's boundaries than my own. Maybe the reason you are so concerned with maintaining boundaries is because you are not sure whose boundaries you are trying to maintain?

  4. It is so like to my life that the three comments on this post are from men!

    Will: Perhaps. This, too, is something I shall ponder...

  5. Anonymous10:33 PM

    The three comments I believe come from the fact that men are more ritualistic in some areas and women in others. While most females reading this may want to post something they tend to get pulled into reading something else, or feel as though they have spent too much time involved in their online activities and vow to come back later, then don't. Maybe that is just me.

    Your boundaries are a natural defense something that is ingrained in you through years of behaving as a lady should. Being to close even if not inappropriately so if it causes you pause should cause them pause as well but some of that comes with time and understanding of the small but necessary social rituals that exist. Hold on to the side of you that is wary it is hard to regain.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...