When Quora users politely put out the word to ask for what makes a perfect gentleman, creative writer Nicolas Cole kindly stepped forward, doffed his cap and imparted some wisdom.
Gentleman. Such a funny word.
The stereotype for “men” is to be tough, rugged, driven—all very “yang” words. And yet the word Gentleman has the word “gentle” in it.
Which means that to be a “man” is not enough. That is only one half of the puzzle. To be a gentleman, you must also be gentle.
The five best things a gentleman must have are as follows:
Without self-awareness, you are nothing more than an unstoppable wrecking ball. Some people, many people see that as an admirable trait, the ability to push forward by any means necessary. This is the “toughness” that is often associated with being a man.
However, without self-awareness, that same wrecking ball mentality can also end up being quite destructive—to you and those around you. Sometimes pushing through isn’t what needs to be done. Sometimes another goal or achievement won’t solve the issue. Self-awareness is the ability to pause that relentless desire to move forward and contemplate your present role in the situation.
2. The ability to play
All growing up, my mother would drag me to musical events, camps, etc. Whenever I would say, “Mom, I don’t want to,” her reply would be, “Cole, when you get older and a girl wants to go out dancing, you are going to thank me.”
I always thought she was referring to the physical act of dancing—and in many ways, she was.
But what she really meant was that women love to play.
Playing is a very feminine act. It’s the reason why the stereotype has become for all those tough business men in suits to not leap out onto the dance floor. Playing is vulnerable, and that is often thought of (by men) as revealing a weakness.
The truth is, in the eyes of a woman, it’s the complete opposite.
The ability to play is gentle and attractive.
3. Humility (and accountability)
Men that blame are not men. They are boys who have not yet understood the power of accountability.
A gentleman, then, in every moment is willing to reflect and see what it is he has brought to the table to contribute to the current situation. He is not afraid to say, “I made a mistake. I was wrong.”
Many men fear saying those words because, again, they see it as revealing a vulnerability. To be wrong is to be weak—when really, it is entirely the opposite. A woman wants to feel understood and heard, and in order to move forward gracefully, that means taking accountability and allowing for that to happen.
Humility too, is the constant act of knowing who you are without needing to be validated for it. Your self-confidence comes from a deep sense of self understanding and acceptance, not from how much you have in the material sense. As Ron Gibori would tell me: “Nobody needs to know but you.”
When I was 18 years old, I told my parents they couldn’t tell me what to do anymore because I was an “adult” now. I was a “man.”
My father said, “Cole, you might be a legal adult, but you won’t know what being a man is like until you have real responsibilities.”
He was right.
If a man, or manhood comes with responsibility, then a gentleman is someone who can handle life’s responsibilities gracefully. He can manage his own challenges while still putting others before himself. He can be stressed and have the self-awareness not to take it out on other people. He can earn for himself and at the same time look for ways to help others who may not be there yet.
A gentleman doesn’t just throw money at problems. He looks for ways to teach, empower, and nurture, so that others can grow and mature too.
And finally, a gentleman knows how to forgive.
Note: that does not mean he should forget, or continue to allow for the same mistakes to happen over and over again. Forgiveness has more to do with the ability to let go of old feelings within himself—for his own sake, and the sake of the other person.
The ability to forgive is what allows for more positive energy to flow.
And positive energy is what women are most attracted to.