Remember When Gentlemen Existed?

Ten tips for men who aspire to do better

Barry Davret


Licensed from Shutterstock // Kiuikson

In 1710, an obscure British politician wrote, “The appellation of Gentleman is never to be affixed to a man’s circumstances, but his behavior in them.”

Translated into 21st century English, it means that the mark of a gentleman is not his birth parents, finishing school, or other cultural markers, but how he behaves within his given circumstances.

Judging by the behavior of men in society today, a significant percentage of us fail to measure up to gentlemanly standards. In the last several months alone, we’ve seen thugs attack our capital, crazed parents abuse school-board members, and general decay of decorum across our communities. Granted, not all transgressors are men. But I am a man, and I’ll leave the judgment of ladies to a lady.

Men of modern society have succumbed to the scourge that made us warlike, brutal, and controlling for most of human history: an inability to control our primal impulses.

It wasn’t long ago that if a hateful thought crept into our head, we’d take a deep breath, collect ourselves, and let the feeling pass. But no more. Now, it’s okay to surrender to our urges and value the emotional satisfaction of acting on emotion over the hard work of promoting civility.

How did this happen? I suspect it’s a combination of reasons.

Perhaps it’s because we’ve elected leaders who permitted us to act like assholes. Maybe it’s because life circumstances have left some of us feeling powerless, and acting out allows us to reclaim a sense of control. Let’s also not forget that some young men never learned the principles of gentlemanship.

Regardless, modern men need a primer on how to become gentlemen. Here’s how to start:

Establish a realistic code of conduct.

Men succumb to their primal instincts for several reasons: they lack moral guidance, someone in authority permits them to act on their urges, or they get caught up in social pressure.

A personal code of conduct aids in curbing those primal tendencies, but it must be realistic and practical. Unreasonable demands like “Always tell the truth” or “Always do the…



Barry Davret

Work in Forge | Elemental | BI | GMP | Others | Contact: barry@barry-davret dot com. Join Medium for full access: