Q&A: Why do men look at other women when they have a girlfriend or wife?
Right, so now it’s my turn to ask you a question:
Why do men with a girlfriend (or a wife) look at other women?
I was out shopping with my husband the other day and I caught him discreetly checking out another woman. I asked him why he was looking at her like that and he said that he wasn’t.
He so was though!
Why couldn’t he tell me?
I’m very jealous already and he’s aware of this…
Is there a reason to why men do this?
The Nervous One
Why do men look at other women?
Dear The Nervous One,
Thank you very much for asking this question. I so want to say “Ha! Join the club!” I know SO many women who experience their husbands looking at other women.
I’ve actually also met several men who’ve complained that their wives look at other men – to the extent that they’ve felt uncomfortable and upset.
So no, it’s not just men who look at other women; this is a two way street.
Of course, there’s the question of how much you actually look at someone else and how often you do it. Is it something that just happens all the time as soon as he leaves the house? Is he constantly aware of every single female outside the house?
Or… is it something that happens once in a blue moon because a supermodel is walking past him and even a blind guy would notice that?
So why do men look at other women?
I think you’ll have a difficult time finding a man – or a woman – who’ve absolutely NEVER ever looked at someone else and thought: “Wow, she/he is really beautiful/handsome”.
That being said…
“Looking at other people” certainly doesn’t mean that you want to go out with them; that you’re not happy with the person you’re actually with or that you wish your own partner looked differently…
In regards to your question about whether him looking at other women means anything, this is definitely worth remembering. When you start feeling insecure, ask yourself that question. Sometimes it means something and sometimes it actually doesn't.
My experience tells me that in the majority of cases, it doesn’t mean anything other than he has seen someone who (to him) is beautiful or attractive, he looks at her and then moves on with his day without giving it a second thought.
Some male couple’s therapists say that it’s about their natural instincts and that men simply can’t help it. I disagree with this; it’s a cop-out saying: “Oh but I can’t help it! It’s a natural instinct!”
It equals to saying that we as human beings are meant to eat everything we find in nature – according to this logic, we should eat everything and we can’t stop eating, we just eat all the food around us.
I’m sure we can agree that a bit of self-restraint would be appropriate…
Believe it or not, humans – and the human brain – have evolved since the Paleolithic era and if we continue to let our “desires” control us – these spontaneous desires and intuition that is – and fail to take any responsibility for our actions, then we’ll end up very lonely. That’s my thesis, anyway.
“I need to do what I want to do whenever I want to do it”… Well, that’s okay, you go ahead and do that. It just won’t be with me then!
It’s perfectly fine to feel this way but if that’s how you feel, then that’s the terms of the relationship and then you need to be able to talk about everything openly and honestly, so that you both know what’s happening and so that you both are aware of your situation.
Just because you want to look, doesn’t mean you have to.
Just because you want to eat cake, doesn’t mean you have to.
Just because you don’t feel like going to the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t go to the gym.
As adult, mature and responsible people we CAN actually control our behavior and our actions.
If we want to.
So what does this “looking” mean?
As I said, that’s a comparison. In my eyes it’s all about respect. Respect for you when the two of you are out grocery shopping but also respect for the women he’s looking at.
Personally I don’t like being checked out like it’s nobody’s business. Yes, I’ve tried this and I actually find that they cross my boundaries, these men who can’t keep their eyes to themselves; they have absolutely not an ounce of sense of situation.
One of my beautiful friends – and yes, she’s absolutely stunning – told me that she finds it extremely uncomfortable when men stare at her for a long time and can’t take their eyes off of her. Especially when they’re with their girlfriend or their wife and she’s (obviously) uncomfortable about the whole thing as well.
This friend of mine tells me that she feels reduced to a piece of meat and she doesn’t feel seen as a woman with a body, a soul, a heart and feelings. She also told me that one time a woman approached her in a club and gave her a mouthful, because this woman’s husband kept staring at her. Needless to say, my girlfriend felt DEVASTATED :-(
Comparison and respect. Oh and a third thing:
To stare at other people – regardless of how they look – is actually quite rude.
We all know that it’s impolite to stare at fat people or handicapped people. This is what I teach my kids, anyway.
It’s about common decency.
You’re telling me that your husband discreetly looked at another woman and this little adjective actually tells me a lot about your husband. He knows that you don’t care for it so much and he tries to respect this by looking discreetly and not letting his head nearly fall off turning around looking at her.
Even though he tried to hide this sneaky peak, you saw it and when you confronted him, he lied. This is probably the worst thing about your situation, not the “looking” part.
There can be a lot of reasons to why he “looked”. It’s not necessarily because the other woman was really hot; like I just said, sometimes it’s quite the opposite really.
But I’m sure these aren’t the situations that upset you…
Another thing is being dishonest about it, when they’re “caught”.
You get upset when he looks at other women because it makes you feel unsure about where you stand with him and when he then chooses to lie about it… well, that just makes you feel even more insecure, doesn’t it?
And I completely understand why you would. Being insecure in our relationships with other people is one of the worst things we as human beings can experience.
And THAT’S the problem!
He could’ve said:
“You know what babe, I’m sorry. That really wasn’t very considerate of me to do that. I think she was pretty and I looked at her a bit too long. It wasn’t okay and it was disrespectful to both you and her. I’m sorry!
I love you and it wasn’t okay. I know it makes you feel unsafe and I’m sorry. I’m right here. With you. Come here, let me give you a hug. I promise you that I’ll be more aware of not doing this when you and I are out together.”
Rather than denying he was looking at another woman, a response like this (or along those lines, you know) would’ve been a lot easier to deal with. I realize that this example was very pedagogical but you get the gist :-)
I completely understand that you feel upset and insecure. I did too when I experienced this. I’ve also had a boyfriend once who looked at other women A LOT. And he made no attempt to hide it either.
In no way whatsoever, actually.
It seemed as if he enjoyed watching me feel insecure and uncomfortable. He didn’t have an ounce of sense of situation and this didn’t exactly make matters better… It was so uncomfortable to just go for a walk with him because he constantly commented (positively) on other women, implying that they were everything I was not.
I wasn’t with him for very long.
However, what I experienced was what it meant to be judged on my looks and how it felt to constantly be compared to other women. It was so uncomfortable despite the fact that I actually felt pretty good about my body and about myself.
Anyway, back to you…
I think you need to have a talk to your husband and tell him that him looking at other women upsets you. And tell him that it makes you even more upset that he chooses to lie to you about it too.
Being dishonest only creates insecurity and this isn’t necessary.
I’m sure that if you have a husband who loves you and respects you, he’ll be upset that he’s hurt you and then he’ll do whatever he can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
If you husband doesn’t care about what you tell him, then that’s a whole different matter of course. A much more dire situation for sure. If this is the case, then I’ll recommend you to really have a think about whether he’s the right man for you. You might even want to seek professional help/guidance, either alone or the two of you together.
What you tell me in your e-mail, I do actually believe that he’ll do whatever he can not to hurt you again.
I’m sure this is also why he denied it even though being dishonest is a terrible strategy. He probably denied it because he didn’t want to hurt you even more and he didn’t want to have a big confrontation.
This strategy obviously needs to go and he needs to replace it with honesty. Honesty is without a doubt what makes a relationship flourish and what makes love flourish.
Just a final note on your jealousy…
In regards to your jealousy and how to get rid of it, I’ll recommend you to start working on ridding yourself of this. Make this work serious and structured and perhaps even go see a competent cognitive psychologist.
Most of the time, jealousy is simply rooted in the feat of losing someone, and when jealousy gets a grip on you, it holds on tight. The thing about jealousy is though, that the more you try to avoid it, the bigger it’ll grow.
And this, my friend, will drive you to the point of madness…
One thing is that your husband looks at other women – this isn’t nice for you, of course it isn’t.
Another thing is that you suffering from jealousy make everything so much worse. You can even say that your experience with your husband is negatively affected by this jealousy that already resides within you.
Some would say that you just need to “pull yourself together” and the fact that you don’t like that your husband looks at other women, is actually a sign for you to work on something about your own self-worth and your self-confidence and by doing this, you’ll be fine with him looking at whoever he wants to look at.
You won’t hear this from me though.
Granted, when your jealousy runs the show, the situation worsens. That being said however, I know a lot of men and women who feel confident and secure about themselves and they still don’t like it when their partner is (very obviously) checking out other people when they’re with them.
So no, it’s not about you working on “not caring” about what your husband is doing. This is about him not looking at other women when you’re with him AND about you ridding yourself of the jealousy. If this happens, I’m sure the two of you will be so much happier together.
Maj Wismann, Clinical Sexologist and Couple’s Therapist with own private clinic since 2006
★ Have you found yourself in a similar situation? What did you do/say? How did you handle it? Has your partner stopped looking at other people or did you learn to live with it? How did you get to that point? I’ll love reading your comment, your story and your good advice.
* Please remember to keep a nice tone. ALL negative comments will be deleted immediately as I wish to create a positive and supporting space where we can help each other. Because of this, I do have a zero tolerance policy to rudeness, condescension and other negative inputs.