Why Do Men Walk on the Outside: A Guide to Chivalry

Have you ever wondered why men often walk on the outside of the sidewalk, closer to the street? This common practice can be traced back to medieval times and the need to protect women from being accidentally splashed by horse-drawn carriages.

Today, it has evolved into a sign of chivalry and respect, but it can also make women feel like a liability if they perceive the man walking ahead of them and not meeting their needs.

The Origins of Why Men Walk on the Outside

Have you ever wondered why men walk on the outside when walking with their female companions? This age-old practice dates back to the early 19th century where there were three main reasons why men did this.

  • Protection from horse manure and filth: Back in the day, horses were the primary means of transportation. As they moved along the streets, they would splatter mud, manure, and filth on anyone who happened to be walking by. As such, men would walk on the outside to shield their lady counterparts from the muck.
  • Protection from danger on the streets: In earlier times, streets were relatively unsafe places, not only from transportation hazards but also from the dangers of being robbed or assaulted. By walking on the outside, men were able to protect women from these dangers.
  • Social class hierarchy and manners: Back then, social class hierarchy was strictly observed, and good manners were highly valued. Therefore, men walking on the outside was a sign of chivalry. It was seen as a way of demonstrating respect and care towards women.

While these reasons may no longer be as valid today as they were back then, the practice of men walking on the outside still persists, although it is now more of a social norm than anything else. Nevertheless, it is still a sign of respect and care that some men embrace to this day.

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Why Do Men Walk on the Outside: The Origins of Chivalry

Chivalry is an ancient code of conduct that finds its roots in the medieval era. One of the key tenets of this code is that men should protect women.

This is why, traditionally, men have been known to walk on the outside of the sidewalk when walking with a woman.

This practice dates back to a time when the streets were much dirtier and sewage often overflowed. By walking on the outside, men were able to shield women from the spray of mud, water, and other waste that might come their way.

The practice also effectively prevented a woman’s dress from getting dirty or getting caught on something.

In addition, walking on the outside started to become a symbol of chivalry. It showed the woman that the man was willing to put himself in harm’s way to protect her, and that he respected her and her honor.

The act of walking on the outside also demonstrated the man’s manners and consideration for others, towards women, and companions of all types.

Today, the practice of walking on the outside may seem outdated. However, many men still practice it as a sign of respect, and as a nod to the chivalrous values of the past.

Why Do Men Walk on the Outside: Modern Perspectives

For centuries, the tradition of men walking on the outside dates back to chivalry where knights would walk on the side of the road to protect their lady companion. Nowadays, the reason for men walking on the edge of the sidewalk has evolved into a symbol of respect and protection towards women.

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However, various opinions and modern perspectives on whether men should continue this tradition exist.

Arguments for keeping the tradition alive

Many people argue that keeping the tradition of men walking on the outside is a classic sign of chivalry that should not die out in modern times. They believe that it symbolizes respect and protection towards women and that upholding this tradition is a way of paying homage to our societal values.

By doing so, men can show their willingness to protect their female companions and keep them safe from potential accidents or hazards on the road.

Arguments for breaking the tradition or expanding it

On the other hand, some people argue that breaking the tradition or expanding it is necessary. The reasons for this are that the tradition of men walking on the outside can sometimes come off as outdated and patriarchal, and that it upholds a form of gender binary that reinforces the outdated ideas of what it means to be a man or a woman.

Some people even argue that the tradition reinforces the idea that women are less capable of protecting themselves or that women need a man’s protection, which leads to the normalization of gender roles.

What women think about the practice of men walking on the outside

It’s important to acknowledge that not all women have a uniform opinion on the practice of men walking on the outside. Some women appreciate and find comfort in the gesture, while others believe that it is not necessary or can even be seen as patronizing or belittling.

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At the end of the day, the practice of men walking on the outside is subjective and depends on personal preference and cultural traditions.

Remember, regardless of tradition, respect and protection for all should always be practiced and prioritized.

man walking on the outside of a sidewalk

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do men traditionally walk on the outside?

The tradition of men walking on the outside dates back to medieval times when men would protect women from mud and horse-drawn carriages splashing on them.

What is the meaning of chivalry in modern society?

The meaning of chivalry has evolved in modern society. It now entails showing respect and thoughtfulness to others.

Should women walk on the outside too?

While it's not necessary for women to walk on the outside, anyone can show warm and friendly gestures to fellow pedestrians.


The idea of men walking on the outside of the sidewalk has been around for centuries, rooted in chivalrous traditions, societal norms, and even practical safety considerations. While the practice may have evolved over time, it still carries a symbolic meaning of protection, respect, and caring for one’s partner.

Additionally, walking outdoors in general, not just on the outside, can have significant mental and physical health benefits, from boosting mood and reducing anxiety to increasing vitamin D levels. So next time you’re out for a stroll with your partner, consider switching up your position and embrace the tradition of men walking on the outside.


Jonathan B. Delfs

I love to write about men's lifestyle and fashion. Unique tips and inspiration for daily outfits and other occasions are what we like to give you at MensVenture.com. Do you have any notes or feedback, please write to me directly: [email protected]

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