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My Way Or the Highway, Dude!

I could fill this page with stories about “Joe”, my boyfriend from my senior year of college. I wish I`d had enough self-esteem to see what a controlling, selfish, insecure person he was. We often double-dated with his friend “Rick” and Rick`s girlfriend “Susie”. Rick was not very fond of me, and as far as I could tell, it was because he didn`t like the way I dressed or styled my hair ( I was an alternative music fan .) However, he seemed to put up with me because he was good friends with Joe, and because Susie and I got along very well. Joe usually drove on our double dates since Rick`s car wasn`t reliable. Rick always opened the car door for Susie, and he noticed that Joe never showed me that courtesy. I would have liked for Joe to open my car door for me, or for that matter to open doors in buildings for me instead of shoving ahead of me to go in first. But, as I said, I had a self-esteem problem, so I never said anything about it to him or anyone. Eventually Rick asked Joe why he didn`t open my car door. How do you think Joe reacted? He said “Because it`s my car”, and laughed, alone. For our date the following weekend, Rick suddenly offered to drive his car, telling Joe, “It`s not fair if you have to drive every time.” I didn`t think anything of it until we arrived at the movie theater we`d planned to go to. Rick pulled into a parking space and put the car in park, but instead of cutting the engine right away he sat there for a moment. Joe asked what was going on. Rick turned to him and said, “You know how you never open your girlfriend`s door in your car? Well, this is my car. Either you open her door or you walk home after the movie. Your choice.”

I don`t know who was more stunned, Joe or me! Rick didn`t even like me, yet he had enough of a sense of propriety to call his friend on his rudeness. Joe grudgingly opened my door and sneered when I said, “Thank you”. I thanked Rick too, though quietly so as not to make Joe angrier. Though he and Rick remained friends, that was the last double date the four of us had. It was also the first and last time Joe opened a door for me. His routine on future car trips was to exit the car and walk away from it as quickly as possible to make sure I knew he wasn`t opening my door. After almost a year I broke up with him. And whatever lessons he was brought into my life to teach me, I guess I`ve learned them. I did have bad boyfriends after him, but none were as bad as him, and now I`m engaged to a wonderful man who does everything Joe didn`t.  09-05-08


{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Lara February 14, 2010, 2:15 am

    It just goes to show that just because you don’t particulary like someone, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a gentleman/lady.

  • Tara February 17, 2010, 6:50 pm

    Why didn’t the OP ever open doors for her boyfriend? I mean, if it’s the courteous thing to do, then women shouldn’t be exempt from having to do it.

    It annoys me to no end that my husband continues to hold doors for me. By this I mean, he walks ahead, opens the door, and holds it while I go in first. It’s polite to hold the door behind you until the person behind you catches it, so it doesn’t shut in their face. But by holding the door for someone, you’re implying they can’t make it through a door without assistance. I hold doors in this manner for the weak looking elderly, or for people who have their arms full of something, or people on crutches. Everyone else, I hold the door long enough that the person walking behind me can catch it. But I decided to choose my battles after arguing over this, and so put up with it.

    If this is the worst story the OP has about her ex-boyfriend, then he doesn’t sound so bad to me.

  • Candace February 19, 2010, 7:36 pm

    Oh boy, wow. Midwesterner? I’m not saying all people from the Midwest are like this, but I’ve encountered quite a few who were. Tara, there are a lot of ladies here in Texas who would love to be in your position.

  • pixie February 19, 2010, 9:09 pm

    I don’t think this is so much the ‘worst story’ she has about him, but more a ‘stand out etiquette faux pas’ that he was involved in. From the introduction of the story, I’d assume there are plenty more horrible stories about him but perhaps not suitable for a site about poor etiquette.

  • Jill March 19, 2010, 1:31 am

    I don’t understand why people have a problem with this. Personally I think it’s very polite, but even if I did find it a little condescending I would still think it is too small a thing to make a fuss over considering the struggles some women face.

  • livvy April 29, 2010, 1:21 pm

    Tara – I understand where you’re coming from from a feminist perspective. I believe that the first person to reach the door should hold it open for the people who follow.

    However, whenever I encounter someone who is uncomfortable with this, or who has gone out of their way to be sure to open the door for me, I thank them sincerely. I think that anyone who goes out of their way to attempt to do something nice for you, regardless of whether or not you personally appreciate it should be thanked – the same way you thank someone who gives you a hideous present.

  • Elle May 24, 2010, 4:55 pm

    Tara – it annoys you that your husband is polite to you? Wow. My husband holds doors for me at every opportunity and I’m grateful for it…because it means he’s still head-over-heels for me. You should start being worried when he STOPS holding doors for you.

  • Oh Please May 29, 2010, 12:04 pm

    After growing up in the deep south where manners are drilled into your head and not saying yes sir/ma’m is a capital offense. I must say that opening doors for women is a sign of courtesy. When I moved Colorado where formality is pressed jeans at the symphony I held the door open like I always do and recieved a lecture from a woman (notice I did not say lady) with her two screaming children about how I was patronizing her and such. She became almost hysterical and in hindsight it was rather funny. I simply looked her in the eye and said “I apologize if I offended you I was raised with courtesy and manners” and walked through the door and let it close. I’m sure my great-grandmother rolled over in her grave but the look on her face was priceless.

  • HannaLee August 23, 2010, 7:15 pm

    I’m from Texas and I open and hold open doors for boyfriends, friends, and even strangers. I just think it’s polite. I did have a boyfriend who made a point of opening every door for me, no matter where we were, and in the beginning it annoyed me a little, but until you date someone (like I have) that shows no such common courtesy, you really take door-opening for granted.

  • Michellep August 24, 2010, 3:18 am

    Bring back the chivalry!!! I’m a woman, and always hold the door open behind me, for anyone, that’s just common courtesy. Love it when men are polite! It’s not implying that we’re weak, it’s saying that they care. Good response when a woman gets angry when a man opens the door: From Miss Manners herself: “I held the door because I’m a gentleman and thought you were a lady. I guess I was mistaken.”

  • Cubie August 25, 2010, 8:43 pm

    I didn’t think people actually got mad when someone held open doors for them. Why would they? I chalked it up as an apocryphal ‘those crazy feminists’ story, right up there with bra burning, but… wow, really?

    The fact that Joe went out of his way to show that he would definitely *not* extend this courtesy to his girlfriend on the next date because his friend called him on his behavior shows what an immature jackass he is.

  • Shayna August 25, 2010, 10:06 pm

    My husband not only holds the door open for me, but places his hand on my back to guide me through. And I LOVE it. And I am a very independent, opinionated woman. If he didn’t do this, I’d worry.

  • Allison August 25, 2010, 11:11 pm

    Women complain and complain about a lack of romance from their men, then when a chivalrous gentleman comes along and opens a door for you, you give him an earful!!
    I love the old time romance, men coming to your door, phoning you, holding open doors, asking your parents permission to marry you, its all so romantic. All those who find offense at these things, need to take a step back and think about what they are actually annoyed at. He isnt holding the door open for you because he thinks you are handicapped, he is doing it because he loves you and wants you to see that.
    At my workplace every single guy will wait til the ladies get on the elevator first, or allow them to go through the door first, i dont know why, but they all do it, and us women all love it. Noone complains or moans or screams “prejudice”, we all take it in the manner its meant, “ladies first”….and that is exactly how I intend to raise my sons.

  • Simone August 26, 2010, 3:07 am

    I thought I was as feminist as you could get, but I really don’t see that door opening is a huge issue. I open doors for people, they open doors for me, big woop. I don’t think it is a man’s role to open the door for me but if I meet a man who feels it is it doesn’t really bother me. I *really* don’t think they are doing it because they think I am incapable of it. And I have to say, given the very real equal rights battles there are left to fight in this world (not just for women, for many people), alienating a man who cares about women over something as petty as opening a door seems petty to say the least.

    Every morning when I leave for work my husband my husband carries my bag down to the car. I could certainly carry it myself and he is well aware of that – it is just his way of doing something nice for me before I leave for the day and gives us time for a quick moment without children in the morning 🙂

  • Lexi September 12, 2010, 5:46 pm

    With some women, it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    *rolls eyes*
    I’m one those women that likes to wear jeans and vote and I still very much appreciate the chivalrous things my husband does for me.

  • Ashleigh September 21, 2010, 10:56 pm

    I really can’t imagine the mindset where anyone notices who opens the door for who, or places any kind of significance on it. As a mundane act that must happen hundreds of times a day in busy buildings, it doesn’t sound like my idea of romance to be honest with you. To each their own, I suppose.

    As long as no doors shut in anyone’s face, then it’s not rude.

  • Samantha October 22, 2010, 10:58 am

    My boyfriend and I both hold the door open for each other, dependent on who gets their first. In most malls, we end up doing a reversal due to the double doors, so he’ll hold the door for me and then I’ll hold it for him. We also hold doors for anyone who is arriving at the door just as we’re opening it, regardless of age, gender, race, ability or anything else. The only door-holders that annoy me are the ones that will hold the door for me and then not for my boyfriend who is all of a step behind me.

  • Kimbubbley October 22, 2010, 3:36 pm

    As a recently divorced lady whose ‘wasband’ was VERY chivalrous when we were dating, I’d like to second or third the opinion that ‘you should worry when he doesn’t anymore’.

    I’m a VERY independent woman, full-time job and full-time mommy and LOVE those chivalrous, old-fashioned things that gentlemen can do for a lady. It never OCCURRED to me to be offended in any way.

    In the beginning, it was a fun thing for ‘wasband’ and I to do…he would open my car door for me and then once I was in, I would lean across and unlock and open his door for him. After we got married and there was buckling of kids and diaper bags and stuff, the door opening waned. Once I became suspicious that his mid-life crisis involved another woman rather than a sports car, I began to put extra-special effort into rekindling the romance in the hopes of heading it off at the pass and I started doing all of those cute things that had gotten left by the wayside – reaching across the car to open his door for him, leaving him notes in the morning, etc… It got to the point that I said to him, point blank, “Remember when you used to open doors for me and hold my hand? Could you start doing that again?”

    Alas, it was not to be, but you can be sure that all of those small, seemingly inconsequential things will not be left undone or unnoticed the next time.

  • Michelle October 26, 2010, 2:55 pm

    I often hold the door for people when I’m out with friends or family, and almost always ensure that the person behind me can catch the door so it doesn’t slam in their face. It’s not a necessary thing, but I think it’s a nice gesture. On the other hand, I think opening car doors for ladies is ridiculous. I don’t mind if my boyfriend does open the door for me to get in, but I’m never going to sit in a car and wait for my door to be opened for me, I think it’s a silly waste of time. So I really don’t see what the big deal is in this story – Joe may have had plenty of other problems, and the way he responded to Rick’s ultimatum was childish, but I don’t see his initial “mistake” of not opening the door for OP to be a bad thing.

  • Christine December 30, 2010, 12:27 am

    I have to say, I’ve never even THOUGHT to be offended that my boyfriend doesn’t open my car door for me. That seems completely ridiculous to me. Even if I were on a double date with somebody whose boyfriend DOES open her door, I’d be much more likely to think “aw, that’s adorable”, and nothing more, if I even noticed in the first place.

  • MM October 7, 2011, 1:26 am

    I’m female, and like many of you, I open and/or hold doors for people, male or female. If I get there first and I have to open it anyway, why not? It irks me if I’m walking in right behind someone and they drop the door on me. I mean RIGHT behind them, like a metre or less.

    With car doors — my car does not have auto-locks. So if I drive (again, whether it’s a male or female passenger) I unlock and open their door first, then I open mine. If someone has auto-locks, it doesn’t bother me if I have to open the passenger door myself. I kind of expect that, because I don’t know whether their door and/or alarm system needs to be opened from driver’s side; it’d be silly for them to walk there, unlock the car, walk around and open mine, then walk around again. It’s a very sweet gesture, but it’s not important to me if they don’t.

    The thing that does bother me is when someone drops me off in my driveway, then drives off before I get inside the house. Especially at night, I hate this. My neighborhood isn’t great, someone might jump out, there may be something wrong with my key, etc.

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