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Why won’t he open the car door for me?

How do I communicate that I feel treated more "like a lady" when he opens the car door for me than when he pays for everything?


I recently met a man through a Christian online dating site and have been spending time with him for a little over a month. At this point I’m not sure if we are spending time together as “friends” or if we’re “dating.” He seems to be pretty emotionally/romantically/physically reserved. We’re definitely in need of the DTR talk, but I don’t want to do his job for him. He is a divorced, full-time father of two, so I understand why he would want to be very careful and move slowly.

Anyway, to get to my more practical and curious question, he is a gentleman in many ways: He won’t let me pay for a thing, has done all sorts of “acts of service” for me, etc. But he doesn’t open the car door for me when we go out. He gets in and sits down and reaches over to unlock the door from the inside, while I wait outside.

Should this bother me as much as it does? How might I in a respectful way communicate that to him? How do I communicate that I feel treated more “like a lady” when he opens the car door for me than when he pays for everything? Don’t get me wrong — I love being taken out to dinner and appreciate his generosity, but I don’t expect having him foot the bill of our every activity. Am I expecting too much?


This would concern me only if a lack of respect was evident in his other actions as well, which might reflect a heart condition, which is really what matters.

If he opens every other door for you and shows respect in other ways, then we’re probably just talking about a trained habit of getting into a car without thinking of other adults. I can’t tell you how different travel is once little children are introduced into the mix.

Given that he has two young children, he’s probably gotten into the habit of juggling backpacks, sippy cups, snack bags and a thousand other items, as well as the kids, and just trying to get everyone loaded without forgetting a child somewhere.

Please don’t think I’m trying to excuse his habit (if that’s what it is); I’m merely giving you a little insight into travel-life with children and how it re-trains one’s door opening behavior. It’s a three-alarm fire from the day you leave the hospital and strap that baby seat in her car seat. Driving takes on a whole new meaning and effort. It’s all-hands-on-deck to get everything and everybody in the car and strapped down.

By the time Mom and Dad get everything loaded and seatbelts buckled, Mom has already been in and out of her own seat three times to get things she forgot inside. Imagine a female firefighter waiting for one of her male counterparts to open her fire truck door for her when the alarm is blaring. They’re just trying to get to the fire before the building burns down. No disrespect; just the nature of the profession.

So when there are no kids and all is calm, it’s very easy to have forgotten the simple act of opening the car door for your wife (in my case) or friend-who-is-a-girl (in your case).

What is imminently more important than opening car doors for you is whether he helps open spiritual doors for you. By that I mean, does he spur you to a greater intimacy with Christ? Does his love for God make you want to love God more? Does he set an example for you and his children “in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity”? These are the “doors” that matter most. I am much more interested in whether he opens these for you than car doors.

So what you need to figure out is this: Is his car door habit simply an oversight as a result of the line-of-duty of parenting young children, or is it a symptom of a deeper issue of disrespect? Is he a gentleman in every other way, respectful of God and you, attentive to the needs of his children, your needs and the needs of those around him? If so, I’d say you have a pretty great guy on your hands who has merely gotten distracted on the car door thing.

These are questions that will take a little more time to answer as you get to know each other better. In the meantime, make sure you turn the tables and ask yourself, “Am I treating him as I would like to be treated?” I often find that when I am wishing for different behavior from others it helps to evaluate my own behavior first. I do this by asking God to show me how I can love and serve and respect better those from whom I wish to receive the same treatment. Go there first, with a thankful heart for all the good things you see in him. God will take it from there.

If the relationship keeps moving along to the point of a DTR, that would be the time to bring it up as something that means a lot to you if it’s still an issue. Just be honest about how you feel. If he’s as good a guy as it sounds, I’m sure he’ll be happy to oblige. Be sure to ask if he has any similar issues with you so that he understands your own willingness to reciprocate.



Copyright 2008 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

John Thomas

John Thomas has been a Boundless contributor since its beginning in 1998. He and his wife, Alfie, have three children and live in Arkansas, where he serves as executive director of Ozark Camp and Conference Center, a youth camp and retreat center.


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