A single woman in her late 40s/early 50s was on a date with her gentleman-friend at a semi-formal event. They were holding hands. But his neck was on swivel…looking at a bunch of other women. She noticed it but didn’t say anything at the moment. She waited until they got outside. Then she told him in a polite yet determinant way that ‘I don’t play that. That’s disrespectful’.
He was like, “What? Girl…you trippin’!”
So she was like, ‘Whateva! But you’re not gonna disrespect me when we’re out together.’
So she stopped seeing him. Was she right? It depends.
After she told me this story, she asked me, “Why do men look at other women, even when they are out with someone?” This is what I told her. (caveat: this is an explanation not a justification.)
From the time of pre-teens, men were socialized to admire females’ bodies. ‘She gotta phat butt.’ ‘She has big breast’ is the standard conversation that goes on among boys in school, on the block, on the phone…everywhere. This fixation intensifies through the pubescent years of high school, the sexual exploratory days of college, and through the youthful folly of their 20’s. Looking at other women has grown into an automatic, involuntary response to a female stimulus, like saying ‘amen’ to a preacher who’s preaching a good sermon.
Enter the love of his life. Now, he’s expected to stop looking at everyone else and focus his attention solely on one person. Noble…indeed. But his challenge is, he has to consciously retrain himself to stop doing a very natural involuntary response to a female stimulus that he’s been doing more than half his life.
There are three types of men in this regard. Jack is able to control himself and not check out every woman that crosses his path. Sam tries, but finds it very difficult. He’s the one that tries to act like he’s not looking, but is obviously checking her out. And then there’s Mike. Mike doesn’t care. He looked, is looking, and will look again. And there’s nothing you can say or do to stop him.
Ladies, if you are in a relationship with Jack, you’ve got yourself a man that has retrained himself not to check out every woman. Keep him. He is considerate and cares about your feelings.
If you’re with Sam, be aware that he’s not intentionally doing something to you. He’s just doing something that comes automatically natural to him…like an ‘amen’ at church. This was me for the first year of our marriage. I didn’t realize I was still looking at other women until I got tired of my wife ‘trippin’ about it. I had to really check myself. And she was right. So I made an intentional effort to stop because I cared for her feelings. Be patient with Sam. Let him know how you feel about what he’s doing and give him an opportunity to change his behavior. But show some empathy for his plight and give him grace to change over time. It’s an unrealistic expectation to expect him to stop cold turkey, a decade-long automatic behavioral pattern over night.
If you’re with Mike, he’s a lost cause. He likes looking at other women. It gives him a dopamine high and he doesn’t want to stop. The only way he will stop is if he decides to. If you’re dating him, don’t expect anything other than what you’re already getting. Consider this a warning. If you’re married to him, this issue is the least of your problems.
Like I said, I’m not justifying this as appropriate behavior in order to get you to accept it. But you do have to accept that some men aren’t intentionally doing something to you, in spite of how it might feel. For those men, me included, if you are patient with them and get them to see how it makes you feel, then they will respect your feelings and, over time, cut back on looking at other women.