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March 26, 2015

What To Do When Your Man Looks at Other Women

# 1. Self monitor to tame your insecurity spikes and discuss it with your partner from a place of observation and curiosity

Allison Cohen

The context of a monogamous relationship implies that it’s just that; a commitment between two individuals and two individuals only. When one partner indicates that they may have interest (however minute) in another, it signals a natural insecurity that needs to be addressed. Whether that process is internal or external, will be determined by several factors:

1. What specifically bothers you about this act?

2. Do you have genuine concern that your partner will stray and if so, what facts justify this fear?

3. If you determine that there are no facts to warrant the upset but it still strikes a nerve, are you willing to express the bother regardless of the lack of justification?

4. To what degree does your partner engage in this habit? (IE Frequency and intensity)

If after a thorough check in, you’ve determined that there is no factual concern and you want to manage the frustration on your own, it will be important to self monitor to tame your insecurity spikes. Deep breathe and frequently remind yourself that your partner has committed to you and has always acted in a manner which honors this commitment (bringing to mind the specific examples when necessary), even if they notice an attractive other from time to time.

If you determine that there is a fact based motivation for your insecurity, think about how these situations have been resolved previously (IE quickly, respectfully etc) and what keeps you in a relationship where you feel that your partner often violates the sanctity of your commitment.

For those that do desire an outward communicate of the issue, your best bet will be to come from a place of observation and curiosity. Meaning, you want to create a soft, safe opening to develop the conversation. This will allow you to ask your significant other what motivates this behavior. Statements like, “I’ve noticed that you look at other women and I’m wondering what that’s about for you?” When you present a potentially inflammatory topic in a calm, non-reactive way, it signals that you are open to learning about your partner and their needs. From there, you can express your discomfort and work to problem solve and meet a middle ground.

If after the conversation, you determine that the behavior hasn’t ceased or lessened, you may need to re-evaluate the level at which your partner respects and addresses your needs.

Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT – www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com

# 2. Follow the below dos and don’ts

Dr. Randi Gunther

I grew up in my dad’s barber shop in Beverly Hills. He was barber to the stars and I spent a lot of my childhood on movie sets and in the homes of famous people. People in “the business” had a phrase for men (or women) who constantly looked over the shoulder of their current date to see if there were any opportunities beyond them that might have a better outcome. That phrase was not a flattering description by any means, but an understandable one in a profession where one moment’s opportunity could mean a one in a million chance.

Enter the modern day equivalent. When you can arrange for a date by simply flipping faces on your smart phone and hoping the person you choose on the other end will choose you, the support for shifting opportunism is not only rampant and accepted, but practical in a depersonalized world. Maybe the next person, the next experience, or the next moment might hold the real deal and you might miss it if you’re too focused on what’s right in front of you. You might even miss it if you don’t answer that text during dinner unless you politely ask to be excused to go to the bathroom so you can answer it before that crucial opportunity might fade away.

Fortunately, there are people who don’t fall prey to that kind of “next might be better” thinking that invalidates and undermines whoever is currently available. But it is difficult for some to switch from opportunistic hook-ups to treasuring whatever moments that are spent face-to-face with a potential relationship candidate. They are the classical, on-the-move, opportunists who can’t be okay with just where they are in fear that they might miss somewhere they are not yet at.

It’s only fair to say that women look at men, too. But they’re usually better at discreetness. Still, if their inner world is similar to male opportunists, they similarly won’t cherish or get to know the guy that is facing them. When other guys look at them when they’re with a date, they’re supposed to subtlety let them know that the guy they’re with is the one they want to be with.

So, how do you handle a “table hopper?” no matter what decade or century he or she exists?

Here are the “don’ts”:

1. Don’t automatically think that there is something wrong with you. (Unless of course, all your dates looked bored.)

2. Don’t challenge him with “Why are you constantly looking at other women?” It will just make you look insecure.

3. Don’t get angry and show it in your demeanor.

4. Don’t keep talking as if he is listening.

5. Don’t say something like, “We seem to be having a problem. I can’t seem to hold your attention.”

6. Don’t get up from the table and spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom to “show” him that you’re not available.

Here are the “do’s”:

1. Follow his gaze and keep looking that way after he returns to looking at you. Smile broadly and say something like, “I wondered what you were looking at?”

2. Stop all conversation until he looks at you again. Don’t make it a big deal, but just hit the “pause” button and resume as if he wasn’t distracted.

3. Do stay gracious as if you are not being ignored. You can always decide later not to go out with him again.

4. If the evening is progressing well in other ways but he continues to occasionally look away at the newest interest, you can say something like, “You seem a little distracted. Is something going on you would like to share with me?” Do not reference what you are referring to.

5. If, when there are no distractions available, he is attentive, interesting, and interested, then he may just not realize what he’s doing. After a couple of “good” connections, then you can say something like, “You’re so present and connected when we’re alone, but distracted when we’re out. Sometimes I follow your gaze and there’s often a beautiful woman at the other end. I don’t ever want to stop you from looking at whomever you want, nor would I want you to stop me, but it’s hard to experience when we’re out together. It makes me feel like I’m on the outside. Are you okay with not doing that?”

If his answer is defensive, outraged, affronted, or angry, you’re with the wrong guy and should probably get out before he turns his gaze into action. What you’re hoping for is something like, “I’m so incredibly sorry. I haven’t dated for a while and I just didn’t realize I hadn’t changed my single behavior. Thank you for pointing it out. I think you’re amazing and I’m not interested in anyone else.” That could be the beginning of a whole new relationship.

Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com

# 3. Keep things honest and avoid accusatory statements

Courtney Stewart

The most important thing to preserve in a marriage or relationship is communication, and it is also the most common aspect of the relationship that suffers. So if you see your partner looking at another woman and it bothers you, let them know immediately. Too often we assume that our partners know what bothers us, but the truth is that we cannot read each other’s minds and it is our responsibility to let them know that we have been hurt by one of their actions, and also why this hurt our feelings. It may seem like common sense that this would be hurtful to you, but your partner may have grown up in a family where his father constantly looked at other women, and his mother either did not say anything or did not care. The patterns we saw within our own families define how we behave in our own adult relationships.

As for the actual conversation, keep things honest and avoid accusatory statements such as “I can’t believe you looked at another woman!”

Instead try something like, “When you looked at another woman it hurt my feelings and made me feel (insert emotion – unloved, jealous, inadequate, etc).

Keep in mind that when there are additional issues in the relationship, especially trust issues, this conversation may get heated, but stick to the point and try not to bring up things from the past to prove your point. The most important thing is to let your partner know that his actions hurt you, and that you would prefer that he not do this in the future, and come to an agreement of how you would like to move forward from this. Relationships are not easy, but if maintain communication, honestly, and respect for each other, they become much easier.

Courtney Stewart, MA, LMHC – www.healingwithtime.com

# 4. If your partner looks at another woman but demonstrates respect, commitment, desire, and affection for YOU, let it go

Dr. Benna Sherman

Men look at women. It’s biologically based, evolutionarily practical, and a reflex. It is not infidelity, disrespect, or desire.

If a man who is with his partner and is looking at another woman makes rude comments, stares or gawks, or compares her out loud to his partner, then it’s disrespectful, insensitive, shameful, and absolutely unacceptable. In this case it should be addressed directly by the partner as bad behavior.

In the absence of those bad behaviors, however, the act of looking at a woman who is not his partner is not a demonstration of anything other than nature. Simply looking in no way reflects desire, intention, or dissatisfaction with the current partner.

On the other hand, if the relationship does not feel secure or respectful, and the looking at other women feels like a reflection of a more deep-seated problem in the relationship, then those concerns need to be addressed. They need to be addressed directly and quickly, but with the focus not on the looking but on the underlying relationship issues.

If your partner looks at another woman but demonstrates respect, commitment, desire, and affection for YOU, let it go.

Dr. Benna Sherman – www.drbennasherman.com

# 5. Express your feelings about it- honestly and non-defensively

Dr. Karen Hofmann

Does it bother you if your partner glances at an attractive woman once in a while? Probably not if you feel secure in your relationship. If the relationship is new or you have been having problems in the relationship, then it can make you feel insecure and possibly question his commitment? Once you feel upset, do you ever question if your being too sensitive and overactive, or do you feel he is being disrespectful. Is it normal if your man looks at another woman?

Well, it can be normal to notice an attractive person, or someone who is intentionally causing attention to themselves. The way you feel and react can depend on how you are feeling with your partner.

1. To glance once in a while is human, but to glare often is disrespectful.

First ask yourself, was it a glance, or was it a long stare that felt disrespectful? Either way, if you are feeling upset, it is important to express your feelings about it, honestly and non-defensively.

2. To feel insecure is human, but to hold sadness and hostility is unfair to you and the person you are with- Always talk about how you are feeling.

Instead of approaching the conversation by saying, “I can’t believe you are staring at that woman!”, it is important to express the impact his behavior has had on you by saying, “it makes me feel insecure about myself when you look at another women that way.”

3. Discuss your feelings in a vulnerable, non-defensive, and non-accusing manner. You will get better results. Start with “I feel _______ when _______” statements.

If he responds defensively or makes you feel like you are overacting, there may be bigger problems in the relationship. Your partner should care about your feelings and try to be mindful of the impact of his behavior on you. He should reassure you that his glancing had nothing to do with how he feels about you. It is also important to distinguish the difference between a glance and a gawk once in a while versus all the time.

4. If your partner is incapable of understanding your feelings if you have showed them in a non-angry manner, then that may indicate a bigger issue.

The bottom line is if he is still staring at other women frequently, despite sharing your feelings honestly and non-defensively, then there may be something more serious that is threatening the relationship that should be addressed.

Dr. Karen Hofmann – www.drkarenhofmann.com

# 6. Have an open and honest conversation with him

Brett-McDonald

The first thing to do when you notice your partner checking out other women is to make sure he is actually checking out other women. We all look at attractive people, we all look at people in general.

Sometimes what catches the eye is the person looks familiar, they have a particular dress that is curious, they have an emotional countenance that might draw attention, etc. Unless your partner admits he was checking her out, you have to at least somewhat play Devil’s advocate with yourself and question whether what you perceived was really his sexual attraction to her or not. The other thing to remember is you might be guilty of checking out other men from time to time as well. Make sure you are being fair when you breach the topic of him eye-cheating on you.

However, if your objections are sound, you may have a bigger problem on your hand. Is checking other women out as bad as cheating? Most would say “no”. But it does make you feel put down and disregarded, threatened or insecure. Chances are if he does this frequently, he may not be as present to your emotional needs as you require, so having a discussion about being more sensitive would certainly be in order. If the looks are ‘unconscious’ then ask your partner if it would be ok for you to point it out when he is doing it, so he can learn to control the undisciplined and rude habit.

If he’s not receptive this feedback or is unwilling to work on changing for you, perhaps you can let it go if it’s not part of a larger series of problems between the two of you. My guess though is, if he is that inconsiderate and unwilling to make adjustments on your behalf, then the quality of his emotional nurturing may not be all that high to begin with.

Brett McDonald, M.S., LMHC – www.thedragonflyretreat.com

# 7. Express your feelings assertively

Elizabeth Earnshaw

If something is making you uncomfortable in your relationship not only is it okay to mention it, it is paramount. Vulnerability- the ability to express your experience genuinely- creates connection. There are three ways that people communicate discomfort:

Passively– “I am uncomfortable but I am afraid to make you uncomfortable so I will just keep it to myself”. When people are passive communicators they are teaching their partner three things – 1. What you are doing does not really bother me. 2. I am not confident enough to speak up for myself. 3. Feel free to do it again. What happens is a cycle of repeated unwanted behavior and resentment.

Aggressively– “I am uncomfortable so you will be too”. An aggressive way to handle your man’s wandering eyes could come in many different forms – physical (slapping him) , stonewalling (ignoring his attempts to reconnect with you), or emotional (threatening a break up, calling names). Aggression feeds more aggression and, again, resentment.

Assertively– “I feel uncomfortable. I believe that my discomfort matters. I trust that you can handle what I have to say”. Assertive communication is difficult but it also opens the doors for vulnerability. When you let your partner understand your experience you are communicating that you trust him and that you trust yourself.

Next time you catch your partner staring down another woman try saying “I noticed you checked out that girl and it makes me feel uncomfortable. Can we talk about this?” and see how it goes.

Elizabeth Earnshaw, MFT – www.abetterlifetherapy.com

# 8. A look is just a kook but feelings are feelings

Amanda Patterson

When you man looks at another woman, check in with yourself to see how you are feeling. Are you angry that he would look at someone else in front of you? Are you feeling ashamed because you think that other woman is pretty than you? Are you worried because the two of you have been fighting and now he might be considering leaving you? Checking in with how you are feeling is going to give you an idea what is really going on between you and your boyfriend, or simply just with you. The truth of the matter is a look is just a look. It’s going to happen. Other women are going to be physically appealing, even to the most committed and loving man. Once you have a clear idea of how you feel, you can now do something about it.

Are you angry that your boyfriend looked at another woman?

So you are angry. What do you normally do with your anger? Do you yell and scream and create drama? Do you withdraw and use revenge? If you are angry, the healthiest option is to talk about it with your significant other. Let him know how you feel and how his actions impact you and what you want him to do differently in the future. If you are very angry, I suggest that you take some deep breathes before talking to him about your feelings or engaging in another stress reducing activity.

Are you sad that you and your boyfriend are not as close as you used to be or would like to be?

There may be an underlying issue going on in your relationship. Sometimes it takes a third party for people to realize there is not homeostasis in the relationship. Have the two of you been fighting lately? What is causing a rift in your relationship? What steps can you take to bring closeness in your relationship? This is another place where it is healthiest to take time to talk to your partner about your feelings.

Are you scared he is going to leave you?

The recommendation here is going to be similar to the ones above. Talk to him about it. Take a look at how you feel about the relationship and discuss it with him. If he is considering leaving, the two of you can work together in a way that the break-up works for you. If neither of your needs are being met, you can sit down and discuss how to better meet the needs of the relationship. You have many options in how to handle this and what the outcome is going to be. Communication is the foundation of a relationship and it is important for the two of you to practice when this type of issue comes up.

Are you ashamed about the way you look?

Maybe the look is less about him and more about you. How are you feeling about your body image? Are you nurturing and taking care of yourself to the fullest? The work here is for you. Take time to nurture yourself. If you have gained some weight, look into taking your favorite fitness class. If you have outgrown your style, spice up your wardrobe. If you are really struggling with feelings of not good enough, consider seeing a therapist who can help you feel and process out those feelings.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com

# 9. Tell him how it makes you feel when he looks at other women – open and honest communication

Cynthia Benedict

Before we can answer that question or suggest solutions, we need to know if he is looking, glancing or ogling. Here are the Merriam-Webster definitions:

Glance – to look very quickly
Look – to direct eyes in a particular direction
Ogle – to look at someone in a way that shows sexual attraction

Ogling another woman is basically “eye sex” and inappropriate on all levels. Honestly, if this is the case the problem is more the man’s than yours and should be addressed by a therapist. Glancing, as in someone just walks by or enters the room, is fairly normal. We all pretty much do that at times – become distracted for an instant. So that brings us to “Why does my man look at other women if he loves and is attracted to me?”

First, remember that men are visually oriented and they express themselves physically as opposed to verbally.

The first step in addressing the problem is to tell him how it makes you feel when he looks at other women – open and honest communication. Then comes training and implementing the principles of reinforcement. Research indicates the positive reinforcement is more powerful than punishment. Show him affection, tell him nice things about himself, comment on how handsome he looks, etc. WHEN HE IS NOT looking at another woman. This is POSITIVE reinforcement – we add something. PUNISHMENT is when a behavior immediately follows an aversive event (looking at another woman). An example would be, without saying anything, getting up and going to the restroom (removing self from situation). Before moving to PUNISHMENT, try REDIRECTION. Think of a small child reaching for something hot – you redirect. Same principle. He looks at another woman, reach for his hand and tell him how much you love him.

Finally if none of these work, consider seeking the assistance of a therapist. Continuing to look at other woman may be indicative of another issue that BOTH of you need to work on. Hope this helps!!

Cynthia Benedict, M.A., LMHC, NCC – www.longwoodcounseling.com

# 10. Choose how and what you value in a relationship and openly express your feelings

Theresa J. Crawford

Letʼs face it, we live in a culture steeped in hierarchy and patriarchy; women make less money than men, historically weʼve had less power, and women have been objectified for years now. Look at any fashion magazine, and now, imagine your man lying there passively, against a dreamy background with a designer briefcase strategically placed.

Could you ever feel that powerful, or be interested in a man so submissive? So, just what is going on when men look at other women? It could be a number of things, depending on the guy and the relationship; but Iʼd wonder, is a guy who keeps looking at other women, really into other women, or is he just giving himself a boost to the ego, by objectifying women into something that theyʼre not? Granted, every once in a while there is a person so beautiful, or confident, or well-dressed that they will grab nearly everyoneʼs attention (even yours), thatʼs another thing entirely.

Simply put, women are not out there for your guy to look at; and are probably not that happy about being gawked at by someone whoʼs obviously not available. Just like there are a handful of men who believe that flirting makes them popular or lovable, there are a handful of women who want to be looked at, who are defined by their outer beauty in such a way that they want and need validation that they are pretty, or sexy, or desirable.

So yes, there are people who really look to the other sex to affirm their own worth or attractiveness. That is, they really value being attractive, perhaps over valuing trust and intimacy. And honey, if you canʼt have a conversation with your lover about what he values and why, you donʼt have intimacy.

The bottom line ladies, is that you get to choose how and what you value in a relationship and thereʼs no formula (other than getting straight on yourself and what you want from your partner), around whatʼs going on and what you should do if your partner looks at other women. If itʼs an ongoing thing and youʼve expressed that this makes you unhappy or jealous or sad and he still keeps looking, maybe you should keep looking too. We attract people into our lives to show us more about ourselves, and if you are open to feeling whatever feelings your partner brings up in yourself, you will become more aware of who you really are, and having that self-awareness is a gift that you give to yourself. Why not attract a man into your life who only has eyes for you?

Theresa J. Crawford, MA – www.crawfordtherapy.com

# 11. Follow the 2 steps below

Shelby Castile

Here are some thoughts on this issue and my simple TWO STEP protocol I frequently offer my clients.

First, we are all unique and there is no right or wrong answer. Each person has their own path towards figuring out the best way to handle their particular situation.

Step One: I encourage you to WRITE.

It may help to write down the emotions you experience when you notice your partner doing this, so you can sort through it and decide what to share with your husband. And, do your best to go beyond your “surface feelings” in order to see the deeper issues.

Some questions to ask yourself while journaling that may help you:

Is this my own insecurity that is coming up?

What am I feeling uncertain about?

Am I fearful of losing him?

What am I questioning when I see his behavior?

What might HE be going through? {i.e. work change, aging parents etc.}

More often than not, you will need to work through your own issues, even as your husband deals with his.

Step Two: I encourage you to TALK.

Speak up and let him know you’re feelings… once they are clear, of course! Let your partner see how this is affecting you. Rather than REACTING quickly in fear, which could push him away and put him into defensive mode- attempt to come from your heart and tell him how it makes you feel when you see him looking at other women. This is best done after writing out your thought on paper, which is why Step One is essential!

Some things to keep in mind when talking to your husband about your feelings that may help you:

Speak to him when you are in a calm, rational state of mind. {mornings are best, as the mind is most clear}

Make sure the environment your speaking to him in is appropriate. i.e.) children free, not in the middle of a busy restaurant, and please be sober. {morning coffee dates while the kids are still sleeping = a great time for relationship discussions}

Use “I” statements, as opposed to harsh blaming statements.

Take turns talking and listen patiently when he responds.

Communicate your feelings thoughtfully and do your best to articulate how his behavior makes you feel.

Hopefully, the above 2 steps will give you some insight and guidance if you continue to notice your husband looking at other women. However, if this is an issue in your relationship that continues to go unresolved and you constantly feel unheard, it may be time to seek professional help. If you’re looking for relationship advice or support, working with a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist may be beneficial to you AND your relationship. Please contact me here if I can be helpful or resourceful to you in any way.

Shelby Castile, MA, LMFT – www.mftandyoga.com

# 12. Exercise your (positively-charged) power in a situation where you are made to feel uncomfortable

Mara Fisher

It’s everyone’s right to exercise their (positively-charged) power in a situation where they are made to feel uncomfortable, whether purposefully or accidentally. Many times, it’s easier than we think to get someone to see our point of view; we just have to make sure that we’re open and honest with them. Communications barriers build up when we believe we’re not being heard or understood. We shut down; start to build up walls; begin to care less and get to the point where we shut down all together. We may stop trying to fix the issue— at worst, just accepting things as they are.

Before these barriers begin to build for you—listen to your internal voice. It’s amazing how many times an answer can actually already be inside you. Think for a second, and examine the situation on the other foot. If your significant other believed that you were looking at men when you were on a date night, running errands, or just going through everyday life, how would you want them to approach it with you? Examine that choice, and see if it would work on the other side. Many times, inherently, we know how to handle issues—we just don’t know how to externalize the answer.

Finding your own voice is key. If you’ve got a relationship with strong communication skills, this may be easier for you. The bottom line, be honest, fair, and stick to the point—don’t get tied too heavily into emotions. Share your feelings concisely and clearly. Don’t demand a resolution; allow it to be a discussion, not an argument. It’s the expectations that you set up within the confines of your own relationship— not the parameters set by the outside world— that shape the happiness of your union, so stick to what you know to be true in your own relationship only.

What may work for a friend, aunt, mother or sister may not for you— it’s important to be selective in who you seek out advice from, especially from those close to you. The more often we allow outside influences to help us shape our decisions, the more power we take away from our own individual identity as a problem solver. Make sure that you’re setting yourself up for personal success that will help build your own esteem, and in turn, enhance the strength and success in the relationship with your partner.

Mara Fisher, L.C.S.W., M.C.C. – www.bridgeoflife.com

# 13. Follow the advice below

Alisa Ruby Bash

Have you ever felt insecure, irritated, or infuriated by your man’s wandering eye, blatantly checking out some hot babe walking down the street? You are not alone. Numerous women complain that their guy looks at other ladies when they are out in public. However, your reaction to the situation can have a huge impact on your relationship.

Many women tend to scold their partner when they catch them mid-ogle. Although it’s always important to be completely authentic and transparent with your feelings, new research has shown that women who try to prevent their man from looking, actually push them further away.

In fact, according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which tests the “forbidden fruit” hypothesis in a series of experiments on college students who were involved in romantic relationships, “When a person is forced to divert his attention from that cute bartender — by, say, a jealous partner’s opprobrium — it could result in a sort of “backlash” effect, which may end up reducing his level of relationship commitment. (Time Magazine April, 2011)” The researchers in the experiment went on to say that, “Just as people want jobs they cannot have, salaries they cannot earn, and cars they cannot afford, people may desire attractive alternatives more and desire their current relationship partner less when they are placed in situations that limit their ability to attend to attractive alternatives. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology)”.

The research also discovered that the effect of limiting a partner’s ability to look at attractive people of the opposite sex had the same negative impact on relationship commitment for both sexes. Wanting the forbidden fruit goes pretty far back in human development, say the Eve story. So, when you find yourself getting your feathers ruffled at your partner’s behavior, perhaps its better to take a deep breath, and realize that appreciating beauty is only natural.

However, there is a difference between someone who is innocently admiring a stranger passing by, and someone who has a disrespectful pattern of constantly looking at other women or even commenting on them, or putting you down. In the latter cases, this could certainly signify emotionally abusive behavior, and much greater problems in the relationship that you will need to address.

It’s important to gage whether your feelings of insecurity are warranted or not. If your guy just happened to look up, or turn his head at a cute girl, and you are seething about it, try to ask yourself why. Are you feeling unattractive that day? Have you and your partner had issues in the bedroom? Does he have a history of infidelity, or do you? Having a strongly negative reaction to your partner’s wandering eye usually signifies another problem, or issue that this triggers for you. Maybe instead of chastising him, you can take a minute and try to understand what is prompting your feelings. Then, maybe you can find a good time to discuss some of those feelings when you are already engaging in an intimate conversation. This could also be a great topic to bring up with a therapist to understand your personal history and why you are so activated by this.

Remember, no one wants to feel controlled or admonished in a relationship, especially when they didn’t do anything intentionally to hurt the other person. Instead of pushing your man away when he looks, one way to bring your partner closer, is to appreciate the beauty with him, if it is authentic for you. We all like to admire beauty. Confidence is a lot sexier than insecurity. If you are in a sexually satisfying and close relationship, you shouldn’t have to see the other woman as competition. If you catch your partner’s head turning, why not try to join him and say something like, “Wow, she was really pretty,” and see his reaction. He might be a little shocked, or think it is a test. But, if you can genuinely switch gears from jealousy to appreciation of other attractive women, in a healthy satisfying relationship, it could definitely bring you guys much closer. Try communicating about it, and perhaps even complimenting other women’s beauty. Chances are, it will have a much more positive result, and bring his attention focused on you way quicker, then if you make him feel like a bad boy that needs a time out.

Alisa Ruby Bash, LMFT – www.alisarubybash.com

# 14. Start by asking yourself the questions below

Dr.-Morgain-Hall

1. Did he do this when you first met?

Yes: What has changed in you that makes his behavior upsetting now.

No: Something has changed for him, and it is time to talk.

2. Are you more embarrassed than hurt?

Yes: If so, talk to him and set him straight about appropriate social behaviors. Let him know others noticed too.

No: You are probably the only one to notice, ask yourself, what is it about me that causes this distress?

3. Does he even know what he is doing?

Yes: Let him know how you feel when he looks at another woman.

No: Tell him, he will probably appreciate you more.

4. Is this a deal breaker?

Yes: Time to talk to a professional.

No: Ask, what does it mean to me that he looks at other women? Then, ask him what it means to him.

Remember, most people have no idea how their behavior affects others or that looking at another woman is rude, especially if your children are present. Tell your partner how you feel, without blame or judging (See article, “Just Say It” in Psychology Today, October, 2014 issue). And by all means, at every opportunity, use humor. TV sitcoms provide good examples of how to use humor in relationships with sticky situations (I love The Big Bang Theory).

Also remember, you have no control over anything or anyone, other than how you handle what life brings. The experiences that shape our perception of how the world is SUPPOSED to work, are fully integrated into our psyche by adolescence and stored in our unconscious. Often, the meaning we attach to what happens around us is determined by what we saw and heard as children, and is usually not the intended meaning at all.

In my private practice I tell all my clients that each one of us is responsible for our happiness, nurturance, and self-care. When you do this, you will no longer be dependent on someone else’s mood and agenda for your happiness AND you become more interesting and attractive, on the inside and outside.

If your partner is critical of you or verbally abusive, it is time to talk to a professional.

Dr. Morgain Hall – www.drmorgainhall.com

# 15. It may be a symptom of the relationship having larger issues and you need to express how you feel openly and honestly with your partner

Brooke Campbell

As a feminist therapist my work focuses on empowering women in their personal and professional lives. As a feminist, I believe that men and women are equal and healthy relationships are based on equality. Equality means that men and women share in decision-making, communicating, and expressing feelings. If a partner is not basing their relationship on equality it may be an indication of an unhealthy relationship.

Women have a need to be validated by their partners. When our partner has a pattern of checking out other women in our presence especially, it is an indication that the relationship is struggling.

Women have a right to feel as though they can approach a topic with their partner and feel heard. If not, this may be a sign that the relationship is at a crossroads.

Just like we experience a variety of symptoms when we are sick, our partner checking out other women is a symptom of the relationship having larger issues.

If your partner is checking out other women, ask your partner when they have time to speak. Begin by sharing how your partner’s wandering eye makes you feel and simply ask your partner to repeat back what he heard you say. The goal is for your partner to validate your feelings.

Once validation is made, both partners move to the problem-solving phase. If our partners care for our feelings, and us they will willingly want to change their behavior and actions to make us happy.

If not, then make the decision if you want to stay with someone who disregards your feelings. You deserve happiness, with or without your partner. Remember that a relationship built on equality is a healthy one. An unhealthy relationship is when our partner believes that he has more power in the relationship, thus resulting in a partnership based on inequality.

Brooke Campbell, M.A., RDT-BCT, LCAT – www.creativekinections.com

# 16. Eyes wander, but hearts anchor

Elizabeth Baum

A few years back, a documentary on the late Harper’s and Vogue fashion editor Diana Vreeland was released, called The Eye Has to Travel. Ms. Vreeland was always looking for beauty, and always finding it in unexpected places. I’m thinking of that now because it seems applicable. As humans we do gravitate towards beauty, and in many ways it sustains our spirit.

While we may all find beauty in different places, it’s a safe bet to imagine that a heterosexual male will find a lot of beauty in women.

What I’m getting at is this: if you are waiting for your date, boyfriend or husband to stop looking at women, don’t hold your breath. Even if it hurts you and you let him know, he may try hard to change, but his natural default will most likely remain. Our eyes’ purpose is for looking and seeing, and we tend to look for what pleases and stimulates us. What’s more, men are hardwired to mate, even if they already have a mate. It’s the most primitive species survival programming, and that programming hasn’t been updated for thousands of years. Chances are, when you catch your guy’s eyes wandering, he may genuinely not even know he’s doing it. For many, it’s about as reflexive as a knee jerk. So that’s the hard pill to swallow-he will likely not make lasting change.

What’s the good news? Here it is, and it’s the main thing to remember: while the eyes are built to wander, our hearts are geared to anchor. Eyes and hearts are different. Just because his eyes are wandering doesn’t mean his heart is. Trust in the foundations that you have already built in your relationship. Trust in the two wholly unique creatures that you are, and the chemistry that you have together. Why not continue to seek beauty, each of you? Allow that to be one of the wonders of your relationship. It’s so much more fun that jealousy.

Elizabeth Baum, MA, MFTi – www.elizabethbaumintegral.com

# 17. Identify the root cause of the problem and follow the guidance below

Sally-Leboy

This is a problem that comes up surprisingly often. While we all know that being in a relationship doesn’t preclude a man from recognizing and appreciating other women, the overt ogling of other women is usually perceived as pretty offensive.

It seems inconceivable that a man wouldn’t know this. However, all too often a complaint about said ogling is somehow construed as a deficit in the complainer.

Out come the labels: needy, insecure, possessive. I have to say that I find this turning of the tables pretty offensive. Ogling is rude, whether the ogler is male or female. Often the object of the ogle is offended too!

Knowing the likelihood of offending your partner, why do some men continue to ogle? I have some hypotheses about the roots of this behavior. Here is one possibility. It could be that he is harboring anger or resentment and is just acting out. This is a sign of conflict avoidance. You should be wary of a partner who can’t address his concerns directly. You are looking at a lifetime of trying to figure out what’s wrong. You’ll be walking on eggshells.

Here is another possibility that is less obvious. Intimate relationships are intense. Partners enter a relationship able to tolerate a certain level of emotional intensity before the relationship feels “too hot”. We all choose partners who share their preferences for intimacy. Ogling creates some distance. It re-regulates the closeness in the relationship to a more comfortable level. This is an unconscious process that either partner can engage in.

The mature way to handle the intensity of commitment is to look at and manage your emotional reactivity directly, not through another party. A man could ask himself why he is sabotaging his relationship and then take steps to address whatever issues he may have. These could be his own issues, or they could be concerns he has about the relationship that he has been reluctant to address. A woman may ask herself why she flirts so much when she and her partner are out together. Ogling and flirting are both possible examples of distancing behaviors.

You are right to object to offensive behaviors. Your objections may actually help your relationship. Many important issues only arise in the context of a committed relationship. We profit by being curious rather than defensive. Looking at any behaviors, his and yours, that are driven by emotional reactivity is the best way to grow both personally and relationally.

Sally Leboy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com

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