Dear ladies and gentlemen, we often receive your questions about gallantry: when and how should men be gallant with women? As you can imagine it is a very subtle question, which highly depends on the situations. Therefore, this is the first article of a series dedicated to all the moments that men can demonstrate their gallantry sensibility to women. But even if we generally follow the rule “Ladies first”, in some situations men have to be first. Let’s find out together how.

We start with a game, in which of the following situation the lady should enter first?

So did you get it all correct? Here are the answers.

Situation 1: going downstairs

A lady and a gentleman arrived in front of the stairs. Of course, if they are large enough for two people they can go together. But if not, who should go first? The answer is: the gentleman.

Princess Madeleine of Sweden at Nobel Prize Gala

The reason why: it is actually simple; the man needs to go first in order to be able to protect the lady if she falls down. Remember ladies often wear heels, which make the descent particularly dangerous.

Situation 2: climbing upstairs

The situation is here the same: the stairs are too large for the couple to climb up together. Here for a gentleman saying “after you, ladies first” would not be a proof of good education.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the former France’s first lady, and Letizia, Queen of Spain

The reason why: here we consider the risk of falling backwards is very low, we can not use it as a clue for the answer. Let imagine the lady climbs up first followed by the gentleman. At which level will his head and his eyes be? Right in front of the lady’s behind! And you will agree with me, this is not the part of her anatomy a lady wants to show the most.

Situation 3: at a friend’s home

You have been invited as a couple, you arrive at your friend’s place, ring the bell, and the door is now open. Here in most of the cases, the lady should be first.

The reason why: politeness, the lady is probably beautifully dressed, we want your friend to admire her first, or simply to greet her first. If the gentleman is the only one to know the friend inviting, then he should go first and introduce the lady.

Situation 4: the car

The car is here, waiting for the couple to come in. Some gentlemen would think they would be gallant to open the door to the lady and let her go first. It actually depends.

The reason why: We should not let the lady go across the whole back seats to free the seat close to the door for the gentleman coming second. If there is only one door open, the gentleman goes first, take the seat the furthest, and let the lady taking the seat close to the door. Then she would be the first one to go out. But, if the gentleman can walk around the car and enter through the opposite door, then the lady is first at the first door.

Situation 5: the lift

You arrive at a lift. Who should enter first, the lady or the gentleman? Here it is the lady, and she should also get out first.

The reason why: It simply politeness, the gentleman gives her the priority, hold the lift door for her, watch her elegantly coming in, and going out after. For getting out, the gentleman holds the door with his arm, let the lady get out first as well.

Situation 6: the restaurant

It is dinner time, and a reservation has been made at a delicious French restaurant. Who should enter first? It used to be the gentleman, but…

The reason why: Traditionally we considered the gentleman has to come first, as he was the one who booked the restaurant and should then be the one dealing with the waiters. But of course, nowadays ladies book a restaurant, pay the bill as well, so if a lady has the booking under her name she should enter first!

Situation 7: public places

Now our happy couple is walking down the street, and would like to enter into a public place, such as a shop, museum, station, etc.… Here the gallantry says the gentleman is first too.

The reason why: he has to judge first if the place is suitable for the lady or not if it was where they intended to go. In case the place is not, they would both leave, and the lady won’t have given the impression to have made a wrong choice because nobody would have seen her.

After reading this you may think it is more often “gentlemen first”. Actually it is not, for service, honours, everything which is pleasant we let the lady go first. I hope this article has been useful, and if you have any other questions, or your want to organize etiquette classes for your company, you are more than welcome to write to us!