What Does It Mean to Be a Gentleman in the Modern Age?

What do you think of when you hear the word gentleman? It likely conjures up images and ideas of ages past: men in nice suits, opening doors for fine ladies, perhaps wearing tuxedos in the evening and sipping fine scotch.

There’s something romantic about the idea of the gentleman. Some would say the ideal is long gone or outdated. You’ll find people who mourn the passing of the gentleman and wish there were more “old-fashioned” men around, while others see them as a chauvinistic relic that was long overdue for extinction.

Being a modern gentleman is a way of life that isn’t about self-gratification or getting anything from anyone. In many ways, it’s about being the best you can be.

Either way, there is such a thing as a modern gentleman. A new ideal for men to strive for, not just for the sake of charming ladies, but for our well-being, personal, professional, and relational success. Being a modern gentleman is a way of life that isn’t about self-gratification or getting anything from anyone. In many ways, it’s about being the best you can be.

It is an ideal that encompasses every aspect of life.

8 Standards of the Modern Gentleman

1) Maintain a keen sense of those in need.

The modern gentleman doesn’t allow someone in need to go without aid, regardless of gender. If someone is struggling with their groceries, they help. If they can’t reach something, need an umbrella, are in imminent danger, or any number of scenarios, the modern gentleman believes it is his duty to step in and help. Even if it is inconvenient or dangerous. They never let a person in need go without aid.

2) Recognize the humanity and value in others—and respect them.

Today’s gentleman knows that all people—of every gender, race, religion, size, and orientation—are worthy of respect. They never use demeaning slurs, do not tell crass jokes, and they understand what is socially acceptable talk. They would never make another person feel threatened, unsafe, or belittled.

3) Allow others first choice, but be their guard when needed.

A modern gentleman lets others go before them: in lines for food, through doors, in cars, being seated (especially on trains, buses, and subways), and so on. Serve others first rather than jumping to be first yourself. That said, there are situations to be the guard. Going into dark places, or where there is unsteady ground—go first.

4) Open doors for everyone.

Men, women, children: it doesn’t matter. Open doors. Be polite. Stand out of the way and let people through just as a gesture of kindness. It makes an impression and shows that you are thinking of more than yourself. Old fashioned? Maybe. But not all old-fashioned gestures need to be left in the past.

5) Be well-dressed and put-together.

This is what we think of often when we think of gentlemen: and for good reason! Dress well! You don’t have to be flashy. In fact, be the opposite. Invest in well-made, well-tailored clothes. The classics. When invited to an event with a dress code, all dress accordingly. Invest in good haircuts and grooming habits.

Buy a good cologne. A gentleman takes care of himself and values his appearance: not out of arrogance, but because he knows presentation matters. He cares enough about the people around him to put in the extra effort.

6) Send thank you notes and flowers.

Grandmas everywhere rejoice! The art of the thank you note is dying: but the gentleman keeps it alive. In your personal relationships as well as in business, thank you notes are a way to keep your name in their minds and make that little extra connection. That extra personal touch. They really do make a difference, especially to the older generation. And flowers? Whether you’re sending them to a love interest, a friend, or someone ill, they are a lovely gift to receive.

Remember: you don’t need to wait for Valentine’s Day to send flowers. You don’t need a reason at all.

7) Believe in earning things honestly.

The modern gentleman believes in the ideals of honesty and a hard day’s work. They know that you have to earn what you have: and they do it gladly. There’s no deceit, no shortcuts, and no underhanded dealings. You can always trust a gentleman because they hold themselves to the highest standards in all that they do.

8) Maintain a kind and even temper.

Lastly, today’s gentleman keeps his temper in check. Even during stressful situations, he keeps his cool. There are never outbursts, verbal or physical. He is calm and collected. Anger never gets the better of him and his emotions are always under control. They never cause rash decisions or impulsive actions. No one would ever describe him as volatile or hot-tempered, but reasonable and well-mannered.

These eight standards are the making of a modern, successful gentleman.

What would you add to the list? Leave your suggestions in the comments.