10 Things to Know Before Dating a Southern Gentleman

Mama always comes first and nine other points to keep in mind.

Tim Kilgore
Couple at Pepper-Place Farmers Market with Dog
Robbie Caponetto

Yes, he's a keeper...but there are a few things you must know.

1. His mama will always come first. And if she doesn’t, throw him back immediately. She has always been the most important woman in his life and he will compare every woman he meets to her. Mama's boy's? Not so fast. In reality, all the things that attracted you to him were instilled by her. Just remember that his dad taught him how to be a man but his mama taught him how to be Southern.

2. You will tie for second–with his dog. There’s no fighting this one. He’s probably had a dog by his side since the day he learned to walk. Southern gentlemen learn at an early age what it means to have a loyal companion. He knows what it’s like to see a loving face when he walks through the door, how it feels to know someone is there beside him during the bad times, and the pain that’s left when it’s time for them to go. So don’t be jealous of the dog, thank him and his predecessors for all the training they have done on your behalf.

3. He will test your patience. The word "stranger" is not part of his vocabulary. He'll strike up conversations with anyone and everyone, and whenever he has the chance. So count on finding yourself standing beside him wearing a forced grin wishing he would just shut up and get in the car. This behavior may seem odd and annoying to you, but to him it's just good manners. He was brought up to greet people with a friendly nod and kind words.

4. His mama’s cooking will always be better than yours. It’s the secret he will never admit...because he is a Southern gentleman. No matter how many classes you've taken or how many blue ribbons you've won, his mama’s recipes are the best. Food goes beyond the sense of taste and smell, it’s also wrapped up in memories and traditions–and nothing can compete with that.

5. He is probably going to insult you. It’s not intentional (so don’t get all bent out of shape), he just doesn’t know any better. Where he’s from, calling a woman ma’am, no matter their age, is a sign of respect. This is just the courteous way he treats women, and you’ll have to learn to live with it.

6. He knows how to dress himself. He owns every style of camouflage ever made and the appropriate occasion for each one.  His shirts are clean, pressed, and intentionally bought one size too big. Flattering? Maybe not. But it’s all about comfort, which is why he pairs them with faded baggy jeans. He completes the look with one of his 10 baseball caps, which represent the sum total of his knowledge of accessories. (Warning: never throw any of them out!) What might look beat up and dirty to you is just getting good and broken in to him. It takes work and dedication to get a cap just right. This, plus the occasional trip to the same barber he’s been going to since he was five-years-old, is all a Southern gentleman needs to look his best.

7. He won’t text you back. No matter how easy technology may make our lives, this guy doesn't like to cut corners. Chivalry is alive! He will open the door for you whether you’re five or 20 feet away. He will offer up his jacket when you’re cold, and walk you to your door when it’s dark. He’ll even hold the umbrella over you when it rains, but he won’t text you. He will call you because it’s the proper thing to do.

8. He can handle any situation. The Southern gentleman, in general, is a simple creature. His troubles are few and far between. However, from time to time, problems come up leaving him to fall back on one simple truth: bourbon fixes everything. He learned this from his father, who learned this from his grandfather. So hand him a glass and give him his time with his bourbon.

9. He’s handy to have around. All Southern gentlemen are raised with the basic skills needed for home repair (aka duct tape can fix almost any problem). He will reach for his toolbox–not his phone–at the first sight of a leaky faucet or a sticky drawer. With with him around you can feel safe in knowing that the house won’t fall down around you. However, when you’re tired of looking at all those rolls of duct tape, call in the professionals (just be sure to wait for him to leave the house before you do).

10. And if all goes well…never plan the wedding during an SEC football game. His love for college football is real–and runs deep. Knowing that his favorite team is kicking off while he’s doing the Carolina shag with your Aunt Helen is just cruel and unusual punishment. Although he will never say anything, he will secretly brood over this for years. No other way around it? At least make sure there's a television at the reception.