So What Are The Rules For Opening Doors For People?

I don’t want to hijack this IMHO thread about giving up seats for pregnant people, but something has come up which I’m curious about. Some women in that thread said they’d be offended if a man opened a door for them. I was wondering what people around here thought modern social rules are when it comes to who opens a door for whom.

Here’s my understanding. It’s rude to let a door shut in someone’s face, therefore, as a general rule, if two people are approaching a door at the same time, whoever gets there first holds it open for the person, regardless of gender. If, however, one person is more physically burdened, whether it’s due to age, infirmity, or too many packages, whoever’s less burdened holds the door, again, regardless of gender. If two people are dating, it’s a gentlemanly gesture if the man opens a door for the woman, but is neither required nor insulting. I’d also add that, if someone holds a door for people at somewhere like a busy restaurant, it would be courteous if, after they’ve held the door for a party or two after their own, someone else took over so they could join the people they’re eating with.

I’ve got some questions for those women who say they are offended when a man opens a door for them. First, “Why?” Second, “Would you be equally offended if a woman held a door for you?” It’s funny to think that holding a door for a female neighbor last night could be seen differently based on my gender, and yes, I do hold the door for men who live in my building. Are we still at a point where courtesy is that dependent on gender?

If I reach the door closely ahead of another person (either gender), I will go through the door first, but hold it so it doesn’t shut in their face. If we are there at the same time, if I happen to grab the handle first, I will motion them to go ahead through the door.

If anyone opens/holds open a door for me, I give them a big smile and a “thank you”.

Mangled quote I’ve always loved: “Courtesy is a lubricant in the cogs of society” (Heinlein, I think.)

Your second paragraph got it right, as far as I’m concerned. Holding the door for someone is a courtesy, not a political statement.

It strikes me that it’s extremely sexist to assume that because the person holding the door for you is a man, that his intention is to condescend to you.

I hold the door open for anyone approaching, male or female. If I can pull the door open I do so and let others pass through first. If I have to push, I walk through the door and hold the door for others (sometimes I will only hold it long enough to make sure that the next person has a grip on it.)

Today I was entering our office building. I’m one of the first to get there in the morning. I thought it odd that the woman ahead of me actually stood and waited until I got there. Very few people I know would actually stand and *wait *for someone to open the door for them. (Wow, she must be royalty) I reached out and opened the door and held it for her. She blushed and said: “Oh! I thought it was locked!”

Ditto, Ditto and Freekin’ Ditto. It is a common courtesy. Most men in modern society don’t have a secret agenda that involves degrading women into a state of helpless sex meat that is incapable of operating a door. I hold doors for anyone. It’s a matter of who gets there first, who’s more capable, and frankly, my mood. (I’ve been known to let multiple parties pass through the door when I’m overcome by the spirit of christmas…greeting and smiling the whole time. I know…I’m a dork. Sue me.)

With regard to women’s rights, I’d rather work on getting the equal pay for equal work thing straightened out. There are other doors to progress that deserve more scrutiny than these.

Absolutely right. Nothing is further from our minds. It’s just basic good manners and common decency.
Phew. Our secret remains safe. I was afraid we’d been rumbled there for a moment.

Then there’s door etiquette in an office tower, but I think it all balances out at the end. Starting with the airlock, where A opens the door for B, but then B has to open the second door for A.

There’s also the elevator in/elevator out/swiper/door combo. By the time everybody’s in the suite everybody’s opened a door for someone else or let someone go ahead.

I’ve witnessed totally silly scenes of “after you” “no, after you”, Especially in an office where there are people from dozens of countries, each with it’s particular take on etiquette.

Myself, I try to make my intentions obvious using verbal and physical cues and let people do what I think they’re going to do so there’s not so much dickering around.

One of my pet peeves. Holding a door open for someone, they pass by you, and don’t even acknowledge your existence. Oh I don’t expect an effusive “Thank you, thank you, you are too kind,” but eye contact, or a smile, or something to show that they are aware that it wasn’t an automatic door. Every single time this has happened to me, it was a woman. And lest you think they were rebelling about some sexist BS, I am a woman, and a non threatening one at that. I’ve never understood that. OBVIOUSLY they see me, and are making a conscious choice to ignore someone who is trying to be helpful and polite. Next time, I am going to kick one as she walks by…

Oh, and men do it to check out the ass.

The etiquette seems to be:

  1. If the doors are in motion the female should be ushered in first and the man should follow (in the next space).

  2. If the doors are not in motion the man should normally enter first and allow the female to follow.

Etiquette very often differs from practice.

I hate revolving doors! I have this weird phobia about getting my shoe/foot trapped in one…

Another vote for “your second paragraph got it right”. We always have added amusement since we have two sets of doors to our office building, and no one knows whether to thank on both doors or what. I generally say “thanks again!” which at least elicits a smile.

Which is the main reason I let a man hold the door for me!!

Ew, I hate it when people treat courtesy and respect this way. If someone holds open a door for me, I give them the biggest smile I have and a “thank you”. If someone is close behind me while approaching a door, I hold the door open for them with a big smile.

Why is it that people aren’t allowed to be nice to each other these days without someone freaking out and calling it rude, or weird, or “not PC”, or sexist or something?

Luckily, it seems everyone else in this thread understands that courtesy is a GOOD thing.

The only time I have issue with the door opening thing is if I happen to get to the door first and hold it open for the person following me and he absolutely refuses to go through a door held by a female.

This will most often happen in the airlock situation, where perhaps he opened the first door, I went through it, grabbed the second door, and got out of the way so he can go through. I’ve actually had a couple of guys tell me that no woman will hold a door for them.

That, to me, is not generally being a nice person.

It’s really simple.

Under normal circumstances, if you are opening the door and there are people coming up behind you, you hold the door for them until the next person arrives, whereupon THEY hold the door for the follow-onners. No gender, age or infirmity criteria need be employed. The only exception here is if the person following me IS aged or otherwise infirm, whereupon I continue to hold the door until the next available “able” person takes the reigns, so to speak.

I open the door for everyone, and hold it. I expect (and almost invariably get) the same courtesy back.

Why is this so hard to understand?

You must fraternise with very strange men then catsix, because in all of my 46 years, I have NEVER encountered a fellow who would behave like that. I live and work with all ages, religions and ethnicities and not ONCE have I had my door-opening rebutted in such a way.

How come you get such a raw deal?


Hell if I know. It’s happened to me a handful of times at the college where I work.

I’ve had a couple of guys say that to me. Only when I was younger, and (presumably) had a much more innocent air about me. Now I have a no-nonsense air, and besides, I think men have changed even in the last 10 years.

I think your rules of door-opening pretty much summed it up, Siege. Any woman who gets offended by a guy holding a door for her needs to get a grip. (Any guy who gets offended by a woman holding a door for him also needs to get a grip, but I have yet to see that myself.)

My peeve is when someone lets the door just slam right in your face. I believe a yelled, sarcastic, “THANK YOU!” is the proper etiquette for that, right?

(I also have a peeve with people who hold the door and wait for me when I am waaaaay far away, forcing me to scurry to get in because they’re, you know, waiting. There’s a limit to who you hold a door for - these people don’t seem to recognize where it is.)