of boys and men


A conversation I had last year comes to mind. It was on one of the trips I had to do to the women’s shelter in Klang, when the matter of relationships came up in the car. It was between us girls, just three of us, dissecting the intentions of their suitors. One was talking about the age gap between her and this other guy, and we went around talking about how big of a gap is too big, or the age thresholds that they had for saying yes to a date.

“You know Grace, you’re way too matured for young guys, at least not our age or younger. I can totally see you dating someone older and more responsible: a man, not a boy.”

Now we come to today’s question: What constitutes a man? And more so, a gentleman?

Is it the way they dress? Is it the way they walk? Is it the stability of an income? Is it the ability to grow a beard?

When you’re younger, the definition of ‘boy’ and ‘man’ was clearly demarcated by a person’s age. But with the number of years added to my own, I doubt the division is that clear. One does not simply become a man once they’re past a certain limit, I think we can agree on that. Perhaps it is when a boy can step out into the world and make his own mark, stepping up the plate and taking on responsibilities that he achieves ‘manhood’. Then again, as a girl, there may be some secret rituals or requirements that has to completed before they can achieve that status among their peers. I can’t say for sure.

Chivalry is dead, cry the women of my generation. But then there are those who subscribe to the school of thought that chivalrous behaviour ie: opening the door, is chauvinistic. What are the opportunities then, for men to show that they are of a better creed?

I guess  the term ‘gentleman’ has variable definitions but here’s what I subscribe to: One becomes  a gentleman when his behaviour is chivalrous, regardless of what he gains from the situation. Let’s put it this way: A guy can use the basic forms of chivalry to appear well-mannered in order to impress the opposite sex, but a gentleman does so regardless of whether he gains affection of others. He behaves in a way that supports others, regardless of their relationship with him. He need not wear dapper suits, have a power position in the workplace, or be in touch with the latest fashion; he is in touch with core beliefs and treats all mankind as his tribe.

Should one limit one’s self to simply dating men? I don’t know. But one thing I’m sure of is that we should all date a gentleman.



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