The word gentleman might bring some images to mind. Some of those images might be positive and some might be negative. Most of the images in your mind are probably of the classic gentleman. This person has become increasingly rare and is almost extinct. Why did he die and what does the modern version look like?
The “old” gentleman
The gentleman you’ve got in mind is dead and buried. Probably literally. That or they’re so old by now that they might as well be. Although there might be a few left here and there. A gentleman consists of different parts. Not all of them possessed all these parts but you need at least some.
For an overview of gentlemanly skills, check out this article (click). It covers this topic exclusively.
Gentleman’s character and behavior
More important for this article are the character and behavior of a typical gentleman. Of course, everyone is different so it’s not like every gentleman had a similar character and behavior.
There are some things that are seen as gentlemanly however. These are the things a gentleman has besides personal differences. Of course there will also be differences in the distribution of these traits and behavior.
The biggest visible part of a gentleman is how he behaves and carries himself in social situations. He is well dressed, well-mannered with good conversational skills without being brash and rude.
Why did he die?
Why don’t we see many of these people anymore? In my view there are several reasons for this.
Men and masculinity are demonized
One of the most important reasons for the disappearance of the gentleman is the fact that men and masculinity don’t get a lot of positive press nowadays. More and more of society’s problems are blamed on men and masculinity.
This causes many men to try and be the least masculine they can be. They don’t want to be the cause of the world’s problems. That results in those men trying to become less masculine since that’s seen as the cause of many problems.
In fact, I personally think that demonization and subsequent decline in masculinity are the cause of many problems we see nowadays. Although that’s certainly not the only reason.
Men are lacking good role models
People learn a lot from examples. And men don’t have many good ones these days. The amount of boys growing up without any father or father figure is at an all-time high. Many fathers that are present are not the most masculine examples themselves.
The male role models that are presented on TV are usually weak, nerdy, submissive and/or stupid. Not something for younger men to look up to.
Looking back in history for role models is difficult since the world has changed so much in the last decades. There is little to relate to for young men.
People see a gentleman as weak
If you say the word ‘gentleman’ nowadays, it’s usually meant as a synonym for ‘male’. E.g. “Can you help this gentleman over here?”
The word gentleman is also often confused with “nice guy”. A nice guy is often pretty pathetic. Check out this article for more information. Since there are many “nice guys” who say they’re gentleman, men who are trying to act as feminine as possible and no good role models, it’s no wonder gentlemen are not very common anymore.
That means that many people probably never met one and think it means something else than it actually does. They think a gentleman is a pushover, weak and panders to women. Needless to say I think this is incorrect.
Can I become one?
Maybe. There are some skills you can learn, a way you can dress, etiquette, etc. that will make you seem like a gentleman. The hard part is getting the character and behavior. This takes a whole lot more work than putting on a suit.
Changing your personality takes a lot of time and effort.
That’s a more interesting question. Should you aim to be a gentleman? In my opinion you should BUT, there are some caveats.
First you should realize why the “original” gentleman died. Changes in culture and society let him die.
The old gentleman died for a reason. The modern version should learn from that and adapt to the new situation.
Do you want to do the work?
Second, it’s probably going to be a lot of work. Learning some skills is not too difficult but it might take some time. Changing your way of thinking and behavior is much more difficult however.
It’s going to take time and effort to get there. If you do it right, it will be worth it however.
A gentleman is a polished appearance. This is only the end result however. Just like polishing a car, it takes a lot of time and work to get it right. You don’t have to expect a perfect result from yourself from the beginning. Just try to improve over time.
Since the old gentleman died for a reason, we need a modern interpretation. There are many good parts of the gentleman that should be preserved. We shouldn’t keep the old gentleman alive past his expiration date however. This would turn him into a zombie. We should be aiming for an evolution that has adapted itself to the new circumstances. Like a cell renewing itself. Keep the stuff that’s useful, clean out some things that aren’t.
The modern interpretation should be “antifragile” to survive in a modern world.
What does the modern gentleman look like?
That is the big question. The societal climate is still changing towards men. That societal climate does in a way shape what the modern gentleman will look like.
I don’t mean that what masculinity looks like can be decided by society. It does mean that some parts might have to evolve to become “antifragile”
While new additions might still be unclear, we can think about what we should retain from the old gentleman.
What should we keep?
There are a few things a modern gentleman should keep.
- Dressing well
- Being knowledgeable on many topics
- Being pleasant company
- Can take care of himself and others
How can you get there? I think adopting a masculine mindset is the first step. Stop being afraid of being a man. There is nothing wrong with being masculine and liking it. The other side of that same coin is that you should get rid of the feeling that you are a victim. Playing the victim is almost the complete opposite of being a gentleman. Read this post to get you started.
Also check out these top 5 masculine mindsets you have to adopt.
When I figure out more, you’ll find it here on this site.