Opening a Door for a Woman. Yay, Nay, When, How, Why and Where?

chivalry open a doorWhat’s the rule on this? Who started it? Do I need permission? Will I be yelled at? Will I be thanked? When do I do it? Am I doing it right? Answers will vary depending on who you ask. Some will say I don’t know and others will say yes, no or maybe.

If you ask me I say yes we should be opening doors for woman. It’s chivalrous and they appreciate it. Not all will have this same sentiment but don’t let that scare you. We should also be opening doors for others regardless of sex.  Manners aren’t about following a set of rules. It’s about showing courtesy and respect regardless of gender, and at all times. It’s a part of your code.

The unofficial history on opening a door for a woman.

Who started it and was it always an act of chivalry. Here are a few answers I found with a simple Google search. Some are hilarious!

“The habit of opening doors for women started out in medieval times as a way for men to keep from being assassinated in doorways by letting women go first.”

Hilarious! But not if it’s true.

“Other men, in keeping perfectly with the courtly medieval tradition, open doors to woo pretty girls and hope for some kind of flirtation”

I can see that being true. You open the door and they have to look at you.

“I think women’s clothing had a little to do with it. Huge skirts made it impossible for ladies to open a door by themselves, and make it through before the door slammed on a petticoat.”

The mental image makes me laugh. I didn’t think this google search would make me laugh so much.

“The story for this custom that I heard is that women carried all of the purchases when the couple went into town. A man could keep his hands free to defend them from attack by robbers and the like.”

Was this before or after guns? I’m pretty sure if I got attacked and was carrying something I’d drop it instantly. I’m not buying this one.

 “It is just something society has portrayed since men are “stronger” than women. Society feels they should be the ones who do the heavier or the more gentleman stuff.”

I’m not buying this one either. I don’t think opening a door is heavy lifting. It’s only an act of a gentleman if it’s considered chivalrous.

“I don’t know how it started, but I just do it so I don’t have to hear dookie about being rude. It’s a small price to pay to get some peace.”

Ha! Not the right motive here.

Some general perceptions…

Opening a door for a woman isn’t about tit for tat or keeping score. It isn’t about what you’ll get in return, even when you know she’ll appreciate it and return the favor. In Christian circles we believe in serving one another in love. When both are looking out for the other, each others needs are met. It’s beautiful and it works.real-men-still-do-this

Some men think if women want equal pay, voting rights and equality in general that they have to give up the desire for men to be chivalrous towards them. But if you’re a man that thinks this then you’ve forgotten the definition of chivalry.

Some women are offended when a man offers to open the door for them because they think he’s labeling them as inferior. This is also an incorrect assumption. A chivalrous man offers to help because he has manners, not because it’s required or “too difficult” for the lady to do herself. Many woman are smart, successful, have high leadership roles and still let a man open the door for them. They’re secure in who they are and let a man feel pride in helping them. Men, this is the type of woman you should hang on to.

One woman mentioned that, “I’ve found that when a man is chivalrous I relax more, knowing that I’m in the presence of someone else who notices where help can be offered.”

Chivalry doesn’t differ when opening the door for a fully able-bodied woman and someone who physically struggles with it. Chivalry doesn’t differentiate between sexes, race, ethnicity, age and motive. The situation might be different and we’ll go over a few examples.

How-To Open a Door for a Woman

Don’t over think it. It’s not complicated. It needs to be natural or you’ll both feel uncomfortable.

Don’t make it a race. If you get there first open the door and let her through. If she reaches and starts to open it, then go ahead and take over and let her through. Don’t whack her hand or impose your manliness.

With Revolving Doors take the lead, push the door, and let her follow. Don’t push so fast that it tramples her feet.

Double doors? Open the first and let her get the second. You can always take over and hold it until she’s all the way through. If she waits for you to open the second there then feel free to proceed. Don’t insist she does it and then say we told you to.


Don’t be that guy. It’s chivalry, not a horror story.

Doors that swing in can get tricky. You’ll have to innovative and think quick. Be decisive. You can push the door in and let her follow you. If you have the strength to push/hold it open and there’s enough room for her to enter then that’s alright too.

Not every “opportunity” is an opportunity for door opening. There will be times you don’t need to open the door or it’s just not possible. Don’t rush it or over pursue it. Use common sense. You’re not trying to scare her into letting you do it.

If she says no, then don’t push it. Respect her wishes and move on.

Car doors. If you’re on a date always open the door for her. Even if she drives you can request that you’d like to open it for her. Might seem cheesy but it shows you’re a gentleman. But do try to be the one driving. It doesn’t mean she’s not capable. It just shows her that she’ll be safe with you in control and leading.

Situation: Non-romantic, Carrying a heavy load, Following behind you…Go ahead and open the door regardless of gender or age. Hold it for as long as is necessary.

This list isn’t all inclusive but hopefully is enough to lay a foundation and get you started. Happy door opening and remember chivalry should come natural, it isn’t about tit for tat.


  1. I’m totally dating myself, but I remember back in high school, that we would show our partner we care by the guy opening the door for the girl, and the girl reaching over to unlock his door… now the latter doesn’t really work out since cars can be unlocked from the key chain! B opens doors and car doors for me most of the time, which I always find endearing. I also think it’s the kind thing to do for strangers (and get kind of dismayed when some don’t bother to look over when I’m only a few steps away… but perhaps it’s because even if someone is a few feet away, I’ll just wait and keep the door open).

    • Some advice for men I’ve heard around the block is that if the girl reaches over to unlock and open their door then she’s a keeper. I wonder if it would be weird, now that they’re unlocked remotely? I also try to always open the door for my girlfriend whether it’s a building, entrance, car, etc…But I’m also practical with space, time, etc…and she appreciates the gesture when possible.

  2. I like the advice of it needing to be natural. When it is natural that communicates that it is apart of who you are, not just a “chore” you are doing to be noticed.
    Being a Christian, I think most other Christians will agree that it is our calling to serve others, especially women. Not that they are inferior or below us, they are equal in God’s eyes. Being a chivalrous man hopefully communicates that you put others before yourself.
    I do this most of the time with everyone, even my guy friends. Where i fail is in romantic relationship with car doors. I am really good about it at the beginning but then just forget too. Something I need to work on.

    • I agree Leon. We’re to serve and love them as Christ loved the Church. I think most of us after a couple weeks or months tend to get lazy in doing these loving gestures and have to be reminded. My girlfriend reciprocates in other ways and when we’re both serving each other we’re both happy.

  3. Do I open a door for a woman? No. Do I open a door for anyone also wanting to go through it? Yes. Gender never really enters my mind in the situation.

    As far as car doors go, my driver’s side door doesn’t unlock from the outside, so I have to open the passenger door to unlock my door to get in.

  4. I always appreciate a man holding a door. It sets that man apart from the rest. Seriously, my sons are learning these things because I want to raise high-quality men. Women of quality will not tolerate inconsiderate men, nor should they. Men of quality should be considerate, and that means respect for women, men, the elderly, children, peers, superiors, and subordinates.

  5. I came to a door this morning at the same time asan older lady. She was coming in and I was going out. Since we were there at the same time I held the door and moved as far over as I could. She immediately got a sour expression and claimed she was going in the direction I was standing. There was plenty of room for her to enter and then head in that direction. It was ackward because in order for me to go I would have had to walk through her. I stammered “umm ok” and started to step back, she then made a bigger deal of it by saying “no wait let me get the door for you.” After I walked out she proceeded straight and not in the direction she had previously said. Incidentally I would’ve held the door for anyone regardless of sex who came to the door at the same time. Now I am all worried about offending someone when I come to a door, I don’t want women to think that I believe they are incapable which I never would. I feel like I should bowl every one over so I don’t offend them

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