What is a true gentleman?
Is it a man who holds the door open for others and always keeps his word, or is there more to it?
Here’s a look at what separates a gentleman from the rest.
24 undeniable signs of a true gentleman (complete list)
Every society has its own cultural norms about gender roles and ideals.
But the idea of being a gentleman who is strong, dependable and sought after is a vein of gold that runs through history and modernity.
Here’s how to spot a gentleman and how to weed out the fakes.
1) He keeps his word
Many of the stereotypes about a gentleman are true.
For one thing, he keeps his word.
I don’t only mean that he keeps his word about big, serious things. He also keeps his word about small matters.
If he tells you he’ll meet you at such and such a time, he’ll be there.
If he can’t, he’ll let you know ahead of time.
A gentleman is allergic to excuses.
He avoids them like the plague. He’s responsible and strong.
He means what he says and says what he means.
2) He has a moral code
Another one of the undeniable signs of a true gentleman is that he has a moral code.
What does that mean?
It means that he has a set of values which he sticks to come hell or high water.
These may have been passed down to him by parents, faith or teachers, or they may have been developed through his own life experiences and journey.
The key is that he doesn’t adapt and change them just to be popular or get what he wants.
If he doesn’t drink and meets a woman who loves drinking and pressures him to do so, he’ll politely let her know that he still isn’t going to drink.
If he meets a charming business partner who encourages him to cut corners and embezzle a bit from company funds, he’ll say absolutely not.
A gentleman’s moral code doesn’t wax and wane depending on whether he’ll get caught, nor on whether it’s popular.
It stands the test of time.
3) He knows his mission
Finding your mission in life can be difficult, but a gentleman has found his.
He acts with a certain clarity of purpose and behavior that comes from knowing why he gets up in the morning.
We all need to discover our own unique purpose…
With that in mind:
What would you say if I asked you what your purpose is?
It’s a hard question!
And there are far too many people trying to tell you it will just “come to you” and to focus on “raising your vibrations” or finding some vague kind of inner peace.
Self-help gurus are out there preying on people’s insecurities to make money and selling them on techniques which really don’t work for achieving your dreams.
Sage burning ceremonies with some vaguely indigenous chanting music in the background.
The truth is that visualization and positive vibes won’t bring you closer to your dreams, and they can actually drag you backwards into wasting your life on a fantasy.
But it’s hard to gain that clarity of purpose and inner integrity when you’re being hit with so many different claims.
You can end up trying so hard and not finding the answers you need that your life and dreams begin to feel hopeless.
You want solutions, but all you’re being told is to create a perfect utopia inside your own mind. It doesn’t work.
So let’s go back to basics:
Before you can experience a real change, you need to really know your purpose.
I learned about the power of finding your purpose from watching Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s video on the hidden trap of improving yourself.
Justin used to be addicted to the self-help industry and New Age gurus just like me. They sold him on ineffective visualization and positive thinking techniques.
Four years ago, he traveled to Brazil to meet the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, for a different perspective.
Rudá taught him a life-changing new way to find your purpose and use it to transform your life.
After watching the video, I also discovered and understood my purpose in life and it’s no exaggeration to say it was a turning point in my life.
I can honestly say that this new way of finding success by finding your purpose actually helped me to understand my purpose and become more a gentleman by knowing why I was doing what I was doing every day.
4) He sticks to his limits
One of the most important undeniable signs of a true gentleman is that he sticks to his limits.
He doesn’t overeat, he knows when to head home from the gym, he takes care of his body and he cuts off people who are toxic to him.
The common thread running through all of this?
As much as gentlemen are renowned for their care and class around others, their own care for themselves is something many analyses miss out on.
The gentleman is able to be polite and suave in the outside world because he is secure with himself.
Even his insecurities are something he owns.
He never fakes it. He is exactly what he looks like. And this makes him enormously confident.
5) He resists addiction
If there’s one issue which can sap your power and self-respect more than almost any other, it’s this: addiction.
Whether that’s addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, substances, sex, pornography, work, anger or victimology, it’s all addiction.
The gentleman conquers his addictions. He manually forces them to submit to the power of his discipline and mind.
As I said, the gentleman has a fatal allergy to excuses.
He just can’t abide by them.
Sure, he may smoke. He may engage in naughty behavior sometimes. But he doesn’t get to the point where he’s doing things that override his common sense or limits.
He stares addiction and unhealthy attachment in the face and tells it to f*ck off.
6) He treats romantic partners with respect and affection
Another of the most undeniable signs of a true gentleman is that he treats romantic partners with respect and affection.
This guy is not going to ghost you or play psychological games.
If he likes you he’ll say it, if he’s not feeling it he’ll be honest.
While this article explores the most undeniable signs of a true gentleman and how he acts when he’s in a relationship, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.
With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice specific to your life and your experiences…
Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations, like judging a guy’s behavior who you are dating.
Does he like you or not?
Is he a gentleman or just a player who’s acting the part to get you to bed?
I’ve used this service in the past when I was dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend who had resurfaced in a former partner’s life and was wreaking havoc on her mental health.
I thought these coaches would just blurt out truisms and pretend to care, but they actually really got in on an even deeper level than I ever expected.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
7) He cares about others
As I’ve emphasized here, a true gentleman’s core is always built on self-respect.
What comes out of that is all good things, including competence, leadership and integrity.
Because of his respect for himself, he’s also respectful of others.
A gentleman would rather use his skills to build others up than to dominate or defeat them.
To use a business example, let’s look at the difference between a true gentleman and a basic jerk pretending to be a gentleman.
Company A has a gentleman CEO. He’s selling his company but the other corporation who is buying it expresses the need for more time to go over the papers and consider the deal. They recently had staff sick with COVID and that’s why they need extra time.
The CEO says no problem and gives them all the time he needs. He wishes the sick employees well and hopes they get better soon. He’s not desperate to push the sale, despite having demanding investors and certain debts.
Company B has a fake gentleman CEO. He’s selling his company but the other corporation who is buying it says they need more time because their CEO has just been diagnosed with a serious illness.
The CEO tells them they have 12 hours precisely and that it will be sold to a competitor otherwise. He completely ignores the CEO’s poor health, scoffing to himself that it’s probably a ploy and joking with his buddy later at the bar about it.
8) He notices the forgotten
The true gentleman is someone who sees the people around him and cares about them.
He’s not necessarily a humanitarian or a bleeding heart of some kind, but he likes to be useful and make a positive difference in the lives of others if he can.
He notices the forgotten and sees potential where other people just see a dead end.
The workers and forgotten people of society matter to him. He is repulsed by the elitist feeling of superiority that grips so much of our political and media class in modern societies.
Anything that reeks of fakeness and unearned ego is revolting to the gentlemen.
He meets everyone on the level they’re at and judges them for what they do, not the labels society attaches to them.
9) He remembers key dates
Another of the undeniable signs of a true gentleman is that he remembers key dates and details.
He’s not the kind to forget his mom or his girlfriend’s birthday. His best buddy is also going to get a ride to the hospital right when he needs it on the day of his operation.
The gentlemen doesn’t forget dates. Not that he’s superhuman or anything, just that he cares.
If he happens to be a person without a great memory, that’s fine.
He’ll put the dates into his phone or scrawl them in an alphabetically-organized notebook that he flips through every week.
This is a common trait of the gentleman in general: it’s not that he’s more talented, gifted or moral than anyone else, it’s just that he takes the time to develop his best qualities and actually cares about other people.
10) He values his own culture
One of the most important and undeniable signs of a true gentleman is that he values his own culture.
If he’s Maori, he knows about Maori traditions and beliefs. Even if he doesn’t share all of those beliefs and follow all the traditions, he cares about them.
If he’s French, he’s proud of France and the culture it produced. He knows his way around a bottle of wine, or maybe he doesn’t. But he’s got a feel for his culture.
If he’s Canadian he can heft a hockey stick and pound maple syrup like nobody’s business.
You get the picture.
But seriously, beyond the stereotypes, caring about your culture is a special and important thing.
11) He’s interested in other cultures
At the same time as he’s proud of his roots, a gentleman loves the diversity and experiences of other cultures.
I’m not just talking about loving different kinds of food, it goes a lot deeper than that.
He’s fascinated by the way different cultures think, approach life, understand its fundamental challenges and questions.
He loves languages, learning about new spiritual paths and engaging with folks from all walks of life and all corners of the globe.
To the extent that life affords him the possibility, the gentleman wants to experience a little bit of everything.
He loves his roots, but he loves to branch out, too!
12) He doesn’t shy away from disagreement
The gentleman is not the same as a nice guy.
Are nice guys ever gentleman, or isn’t there overlap? On the surface of course there is, but deep down the answer is no.
“I don’t think that you have any insight whatsoever into your capacity for good until you have some well-developed insight into your capacity for evil;”
“A harmless man is not a good man.
A good man is a very, very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.”
With this in mind, it’s important to note that the true gentleman is OK with being disliked.
He doesn’t seek out controversy or drama, but he doesn’t shy away from it either.
13) He places high value on trust
One of the crucial and undeniable signs of a true gentleman is that he cares a lot about trust.
He cares about earning it and he doesn’t give it out easily.
A gentleman with a daughter doesn’t just let his high school-age daughter date any guy who happens to catch her eye, for example.
A gentleman doesn’t give out trust like a wink and a nod to anyone who says hi. He judges whether somebody is worthy of trust.
Similarly, he knows that he has to earn his place in the world and the trust he is bestowed.
He does his best to honor the faith that family, friends, partners and business associates place in him.
Because he knows that trust is everything.
14) He practices proper etiquette
Gentlemen follow basic etiquette well. They remember names, know how to greet people and follow the customs of the culture they’re in.
A gentleman isn’t going to start wolfing down food like an industrial-strength vacuum on a date. He’ll eat calmly and cleanly.
He won’t cut people off in traffic like a jerk, he’ll give them the right of way when possible. However, he will drive confidently and assert himself when necessary.
A gentleman is a master of balance.
He’s not a pushover by any means, but he’s also not aggressive or overly confrontational.
15) He knows how to choose tasteful gifts
Buying gifts can be difficult, even for those you love and know well.
Will he or she really like this set of earrings, this purse, this shirt, this new subscription?
The gentleman seems to have a skill for this, however.
It’s not so much that he’s a genius or can always predict what somebody will like.
We all fall short in that regard.
The gentleman is simply gifted in that he has good taste and is able to pick the best gift in a given category with attention to detail.
Is he always right? No. But he’s on the mark more often than not when it comes to buying tasteful gifts…
16) He leads when necessary
The gentleman is not necessarily an alpha male, but he’s willing to be a leader when necessary.
He steps up to the plate and gets the job done when it needs to be done.
If the going gets tough, the gentleman does what it takes to deal with it.
He’s not one to complain or ask for easy ways to get something done when he knows there isn’t.
17) He follows when necessary
At the same time, the gentleman is not an egotist. He shuns the spotlight when possible and instead seeks solutions more than fame.
He follows when it’s better to do so and loves to be part of a team or helping accomplish great things.
The gentleman cares much less about validation than the average person.
And even when somebody says good job or pats him on the back, he’s more concerned with whether it’s true than with the buzz he gets from the support.
18) He dresses the part
Gentlemen have style. We all know it, and the stereotypes are true.
Even the poorest guy from a slum will have a certain way of dressing the part and making it clear he holds himself to a higher standard.
This is not about money, ultimately.
Despite the original idea of being a gentleman being directly linked to class and aristocracy, its real essence is not in being “higher class” or anything financial.
A gentleman is made that way by his character, bearing and taste, not by his external status.
19) He admits his mistakes
Gentlemen hate excuses and they also have humility.
They will admit when they have screwed up or are in the wrong.
They do this because it’s a manly and noble character trait.
Cowards shy away from mistakes and errors and act like they’re too good to ever mess up.
Gentlemen dispense with such idiocy and come right out and admit when they’ve done wrong.
20) He doesn’t judge on appearances
Gentlemen do judge. We all do.
A gentleman won’t do business with a thief or fall in love with a gold digger.
But he also refrains from judging on appearances.
He’ll make his judgments if and when he knows someone for real.
Looking just on the surface doesn’t tell him enough to decide for sure what a person or situation is all about.
21) He takes responsibility
Gentlemen take responsibility for what they do.
They take life seriously and know that despite all the fun there does come a time when you have to man up.
They tend to be open to serious commitments and be the kind of guy who women want to get serious with.
The reason, quite simply, is that they are someone who is both manly and trustworthy, which is a rare and valuable combination for a woman on the prowl for a mate.
22) He provides for those he loves
The gentleman never abandons those he loves.
He never sits back and twiddles his thumbs while those he cares about go hungry or want for food or shelter.
He is a provider and a protector.
He never shirks away from providing for those he loves.
23) He never plays victim
Victimhood is a distasteful concept to the gentleman.
While he recognizes and despises injustice, he hates focusing on being a victim himself.
He cares about those who have been mistreated and wants to help them any way he can.
But however he can he encourages people to step outside the victim mentality because he knows how toxic and self-fulfilling it can be.
24) He provides his own validation to himself
The gentleman is not hungry for validation.
He provides his own validation for himself.
Not in the form of mantras or positive visualization, though.
He provides his validation for himself through his actions.
After all, the proof is in the pudding.
Is a gentleman the same as a nice guy?
In fact, this is a common misunderstanding.
As discussed in this article, being a gentleman does not mean you let others step all over you.
Instead, it simply means you stand up for yourself while also being a dependable man of integrity in the lives of those around you.