Dear Disgruntled Dater:

It’s come to our attention that you might have had a less-than-stellar experience with a couple of our members. Specifically, upon meeting these young men on separate occasions, each asked you to buy him a drink.

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First, allow me to apologize on behalf of brothers everywhere for our members’ ghastly errors in judgment. This is not behavior we condone or encourage. They should have known better. Let me assure you that we are taking this matter seriously. We are looking for these brothers, and they will be dealt with accordingly, including being put through a refresher course in etiquette.

I was saddened by your statement, “I quit.” It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want any part of a dating system that has adopted new trends that so radically depart from accepted norms and your reasonable expectations. However, please know that your declaration is based on bad information. Contrary to your recent experiences and what you may have heard, there has not been a paradigm shift in the dating game. Manners still matter. Plus, we’d consult with you all (women) before we ever collectively implemented such a drastic rule change. 

On the other hand, I must admit, you’re not alone. Lately, we’ve seen a startling uptick in the number of similar complaints about outlandish behavior by some of our members. Despite the frequency of such incidents, please don’t interpret it as a “new world order” or as a conscious, concerted effort on our part. Rather, some brothers are simply straying from particular gentleman’s bylaws. 

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We have our experts working around the clock to get to the bottom of this phenomenon and stop it in its tracks. In fact, one expert (Momma Holmes), who has a wonderful track record of training a gentleman, told me recently in a telephone interview that to understand the problem I need to look at a calendar. “It’s 2014, baby. It’s a different society, a different world. It’s not what it used to be,” she said.

Anecdotal evidence suggests there’s something to her unsophisticated analysis. Dating behavior that once seemed like a no-brainer is often shunned. Some of the people who’ve challenged me most fervently about dating etiquette focus their criticism on whether men should open doors for a lady, pay for a lady’s meal or drink, offer their arm to a lady while walking, etc. Given some of those prevailing attitudes, I suppose it was only a matter of time before some men started expecting a woman to buy them a drink.

I can relate to your assertion that “old school, traditional gender roles” are at play in some of your thinking. I have been called a sexist by a few who translate traditional values of politeness as antiquated throwbacks to a time when women overwhelmingly weren’t treated as equal partners in the home or in the office. Some argue it reeks of sexism anytime you put men and women in traditional societal roles­­—men as the strong protectors of the weaker, more vulnerable or lesser sex, women.

But we pray that you and others don’t misunderstand the sincere effort of some of our members. Buying a woman a meal or a drink isn’t us saying that we don’t think you can buy your own. Holding the door for you isn’t us saying that we think you’re too frail to get it yourself. Offering our arm to you as we walk down the street isn’t us saying you need us to protect you. Giving you a compliment isn’t us saying we think you lack self-esteem and need us to affirm your worth.

What we’re really saying is that we respect you. We admire you. We’re in awe of you. We adore you. And because we’re enamored, it only makes sense for us to make the simplest of gestures.

I understand there is a danger, however, if a man’s personal actions toward a woman are misinterpreted. If a man feels compelled to open a door, buy a drink, etc., just because he’s the man, then he might apply that same logic in all circumstances. In other words, if in his mind a woman is the “weaker” sex, then perhaps she also must be protected in the office from tougher assignments, the bigger workloads, promotions, etc., which are so often doled out by men. That type of thinking is wrong and can be harmful.

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Like you, I believe it’s possible to adhere to “traditional” principles of politeness and be considerate in personal dealings without being degrading. But, as Momma Holmes (expert) went on to explain, it’s a shame that we’re in a time when even being a gentleman or having an expectation of being a gentleman has to be defended.

It’s important to note that we are not discouraging you from offering to buy us a drink, if you’re so inclined. It’s a delightful gesture that I hope my fellow brothers would accept with the proper graciousness. But you have every right to be appalled if a brother asks you to buy him a drink and then berates you after he makes the request, as if you need to get with the program. If you ever find yourself in that situation again, please don’t hesitate to call our 24-hour hotline (800-GET-YA-BOY). We’ll have someone on standby who can hopefully resolve the situation immediately. 

Again, please accept my apologies for your unfortunate experiences. We are striving to do better, but we fall short sometimes. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Your feedback is welcomed and appreciated. We want to make things right. We can’t afford to have even one sista quit on us.

Sincerely,

Coalition of Brothers to Save Chivalry

T.J. Holmes is a journalist and TV personality. Formerly of CNN, he can currently be found at MSNBC, and his commentary can be found online. Follow him on Twitter.