If you type this question into a search engine you will get a multitude of answers. Historically, being a gentleman seemed to be something that you were born into. It came from a man’s bloodline. 

The meaning of this term has evolved over time and, now, being a gentleman seems to be more a matter of choice. You no longer need to be of noble birth, but it comes with connotations of striving to be the best man that you can be.

A few commonalities that I’ve found whilst researching this, which describe the attributes of gentleman include: 

  • Being well dressed and having the knowledge of what attire is appropriate for different occasions. 
  • Being well groomed and having high standards when it comes to personal hygiene.

These elements, although important, are relatively superficial – any man can wear a suit. What makes a man a true gentleman, however, seems to run far deeper. These aspects are more psychological and are at the core of everything he does.  

For example, it has been said a gentleman should: 

  • Take his responsibilities (to his family, his friends and community) seriously. 
  • Be willing to put others before himself.  
  • Look for opportunities to develop his knowledge, be well read, and be open to learning from others. 
  • Have a good understanding of manners, social conventions, and always be courteous to others (regardless of their social standing). 
  • Understand that failure is part of learning.
  • Look to develop resilience and understand that life’s hardships help to shape who he is.
  • Be someone that others can trust and rely on, and who keeps his word. 
  • Be decisive and assertive, not aggressive or passive.  
  • Help others and treat them fairly, regardless of whether or not there is anything to be gained. 

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”—Malcolm S. Forbes. 

In this regard, being a true gentleman is an attitude. Something a man continuously strives for rather than something that someone simply is, like a fixed entity. A gentleman understands, above all, that he is not harmless; that his words and actions affect others, but that striving to do the right thing, no matter what, is a fundamental part his character. 

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What do you think makes a man a gentleman? Leave a comment:

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