5 Ways to Spot a Southern Gentleman

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My Southern gentlemen: That’s Paul on the left. He’s already taken by the lovely lady (Q) on the right, so back off ladies. Hubby is the last on the left and Carl (also taken) is right across from him. The rest of the boys (Noah, Sam and Nate (aka Mancub) are Southern gentlemen in the making, folks.

I’ve lived in the South most of my life, and always consider myself a Southerner. When we moved from Arkansas to Texas, nothing shocked me as much as the name-calling that occurred on my first day on the job.
After being chided about my accent someone even called me a “Yankee.” WHAAAAAT?

Disclaimer: For any of you who align yourselves with Yankees, I want to say that I have nothing against you. There’s no reason why Southerners and Yankees can’t just get along. We’re all Americans, are we not? (Insert the Star Spangled Banner Here).

After all, Yankees have done much to promote American society. The eradication of slavery, the industrialization of the nation, the emergence of feminism, deep dish pizza…all great things. Some of my best friends are Yankees.

But back to the story. After feeling my justifiable righteous indignation, I said, “Really? A Yankee? Because I’m from Arkansas.” I hoped that would stop him dead in his tracks, and that he’d see the error of his ways.

No such luck.

He looked me straight in the eye and said, “That’s North, ain’t it?”

I was called a Yankee TO MY FACE by someone I just met. At least get to know me first! To use a Southern phrase, “You coulda knocked me over with a feathah!”

Note to self: to Texans, IT’S ALL NORTH.

Since then, I’ve come to terms with my Yankeeness…no offense to those who are similarly afflicted. It is still my dream, however, that my son will grow into a fine Southern gentleman, like Rhett Butler (minus the whole Belle Starr thing). Ok, scratch Rhett Butler. I’ll take Atticus Finch (the original, thank you…not the horrible impostor as seen in the BOOK THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED). He’s good with a gun and has lawyer smarts. I’m not saying Yankees can’t be gentlemen–it’s just a preference, ok?

Besides my dad and my hubby who’s a transplant from Southern California (but I’m happy to say he’s assimilated), the sweetest Southern gentlemen I know are my cousins Paul and Carl.

Anyway, I’m taking positive steps to ensure this process of training in Mancub. It’s important to me to train my son to embrace this part of his heritage (we’re still a work in progress here). For those of you who might be fuzzy on the topic, a man doesn’t have to have ALL these traits, but here are a few pointers to get you started.

          5 Ways to Spot a Southern Gentleman

1. He’s nice to women. You can say a lot about Southern men being wild and unruly, but even the reddest of rednecks will open the door for a lady. A Southern gentleman doesn’t curse in front of a woman, and he’ll chastise those who do. If he does really need to “cuss up a storm,” he’ll signal with a warning: “Pardon my French.” If you hear a Southern boy say these words, you can reckon he’s pretty upset and if there’s time, you best get out of there, buddy.
2. A Southern gentleman respects his parents and his elders, especially his mama. You can say and do a lot of things in front of him, but don’t disrespect her or it’s gonna hit the fan. The same is true for his wife or family. He’ll defend them with his fists if necessary, but most of the time he doesn’t have to. He just needs to stand up (that’s enough).
3. He always says “Yes, Sir,” and “No, Ma’am…” without prompting. It’s second nature. He both earns and demonstrates respect.
4. A Southern gentleman is hospitable to guests and friendlier than expected. He’ll stop to help a woman change her tire or to check strangers who are having car trouble. He probably even has the tools in his truck already. Afterward, he’ll ask you if y’all want to come over to the house to grill some ribs. I’d take him up on it.
5. He’s patriotic, church-going and not afraid to “show you the door” if you put down his country. He’s probably been in the military, and if he hasn’t, then his daddy or granddaddy was. He stands to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He takes off his hat when he prays. Which is often.

To all the Southern gentlemen out there, thank you! And to you Southern women who snagged yourself one, well done.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What traits do you recognize in a gentleman?

11 thoughts on “5 Ways to Spot a Southern Gentleman

  1. A humorous aphorism attributed to E. B. White summarizes the following distinctions:

    To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
    To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
    To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner.
    To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
    To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.

    When I was a kid in Florida, the other kids called me a Yankee. I was from California, and as far as I was concerned, we were too far west to be concerned with all that stuff. So I said we were neutral, and that stopped the nonsense. A yankee? A southerner? Not me. I was a westerner. 🙂

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  2. Living in North Carolina makes me a Yankee by this standard. Whoa! I can’t wait to tell my southern gentleman husband. He holds the door for everybody, shows respect, and is a great all-around guy who appropriately loves baseball and football, but is too gentlemanly to hog the television if I’m not interested. Love this post. It made me think.

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  3. I know what you mean! My husband read this and said, “Excuse me, but I was born in Arkansas!” We had a lively discussion about how long you had to live in the South to truly be Southern.

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  4. I love this. My husband has always opened my car door, held my hand as I walked down a set up stairs, and walked closest to the street when we are on the sidewalk for our entire 27 years of marriage. I find those protective traits so deeply touching. He also has done this for my daughters growing up. We would ask the girls to wait to get into the car so he, or my son, would have the opportunity to open their doors as well. It was always so sweet to me! My only son has two daughters and he treats them with such tenderness and it is precious to see that continued and know that my cherished granddaughters will have a steady example of good, respectful men around them. Manners are not dead. They are not passé. I agree with you that they must be taught and expected. In return, I always, always, always, sincerely thank my husband every single time he opens a door, helps me up or downs stairs (even if I don’t need it), and keeps me inside the sidewalk. I never take it for granted. Thanks for the article.

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