In medieval times, a knight escorted a woman on his left arm (to keep his sword hand free to defend her from scoundrels and dragons). For gallant gentlemen of today who walk curbside when escorting a woman, thank you for your chivalry!
However, times have changed and etiquette has changed with it.
Here are a few pointers for gentlemanly behavior when walking with a female companion:
- The left arm rule still applies (the woman walks on the right)
- If it’s a safe place (use your best judgment), the man walks on the outside (closest to the street) to protect the lady from traffic or splashing water/mud.
- In large cities, the safest option is for the man to walk on the inside of the street and the woman to walk on the outside (nearest the curb). Cities can be a dangerous place. There is a greater chance of someone with nefarious intentions hiding in the shadows or alleyways than the chance of a car running over your companion.
- Ultimately, it’s the woman’s preference as to which side she’d like to walk on.
The general idea behind all of this is for the gentleman to protect the lady he is accompanying.
A brief note for feminists:
We believe in political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. We also believe that etiquette is about kindness and thoughtfulness. If a man wants to be chivalrous, please don’t be offended or mock his efforts. He is being a gentleman and is doing what he was taught–to value and protect women and children.
If you are not into chivalrous gestures, the polite thing is to thank them or kindly mention your preferred place to walk. A true gentleman will graciously accommodate your request.