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“My Boyfriend Always Stares at Other Women”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half, we are both 31 years old and we live together. Things are normally very, very good — we have a connection that I’ve never experienced with anyone else. We communicate very openly and often. It’s been great. The only major issue we have is my jealousy, which I’ve definitely toned down over the years, and his apparent obsession with other women. Perfect combo. To clarify, I am very aware that occasionally looking at porn and fantasizing about other women is normal and to be expected. I’ve gotten over that for the most part. My boyfriend, however, takes his behavior to the next level. There are times we have gone out and he will almost completely ignore me the whole time because he can’t focus. He has stared at the same couple women through an entire concert and barely said two words to me. Last night we went out to eat and his head was whipping around the whole time staring at waitresses. Not much talking happened then either and there are plenty of other examples. Obviously, this isn’t flying with me. My confidence is suffering and I have a hard time believing him when he tells me he thinks I’m beautiful … sometimes even when he says he loves me. We’ve talked about all this and he’s told me he is fantasizing about having sex with these women while he is supposed to be spending time with me. He also says he wants to change. I do believe him but how long do I wait before I look like an idiot? Or do I already? I certainly felt like I was in his way last night at the restaurant.

I’ve been in enough relationships to know when they are going wrong and I have never had regrets about ending things before. This one has me stumped though. He’s been through a lot in his life and has made many positive changes so I have faith that he can change this too… but it’s also a behavior that is highly disrespectful to me, in my opinion, and I’ve told him it’s something that no woman should have to tolerate from her man. I’m perplexed. — Tired of His Wandering Eye


You’re dating a man who can’t say more than two words to you when you’re out and about because he’s so busy having sexual fantasies about every other woman who passes by and you think your jealousy is one of the main issues in your relationship? Uh, no. The main issue in your relationship is that your boyfriend is a rude, disrespectful pig of a guy who lacks the basic self-control most people have developed by fifth grade. It’s bad enough that he ignores you when you’re on a date — and that you have “plenty of examples” of this behavior — but the fact that he actually cites his sexual fantasies of other women as the reason for this is … well, it’s just mind-boggling. I mean, there’s harmlessly glancing at attractive people as they walk by, and then … there’s your boyfriend who doesn’t so much cross the line as long-jump over it.

To think this is a relationship you consider “very, very good” makes me wonder what on earth you must consider a bad relationship. I would hope one of your qualifications for “good relationship” would be: “I don’t feel invisible every time we go out in public together.” But if it’s not, let me tell you: it should be. Because the way your boyfriend treats you when you’re out together says a lot about his character and how much he values you as person, to say nothing of his attitude toward women in general. If you can’t count on his attention to be on your when you’re on a date — again, an expectation of the most basic level — in what other ways is he letting you down as a partner? It’s hard to imagine this is it, and that in every other way he is an ideal boyfriend.

Personally, if it were me, I’d MOA so fast it would make the boyfriend’s head spin (er, if he were actually looking at me and not fantasizing about some other woman). But if you’re intent on giving it a real chance, tell your boyfriend you have absolutely had enough of his behavior and that if he doesn’t immediately quit leering at other women (especially when he’s in your presence), you’re done. You aren’t asking for a lot here – a modicum of respect, really — and if he can’t comply, you’re going to have to ask yourself whether you want live with this kind of degradation any longer. I know I wouldn’t.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

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{ 163 comments… add one }

avatar Starfish13 May 26, 2011, 3:07 pm

Yay I got to comment right away! I used to have an ex like this, though on a much smaller scale. Basically, I have found that if you feel less attractive with the person, than it is not going to work. This guy is clearly killer on the self esteem. You are way too good for that.

avatar melikeycheesecake May 26, 2011, 3:09 pm

Wow LW! This man has ZERO respect for you.. to literally say that he is fantasizing about having sex with the women that walk by. Wow!!! You are blinded by love and I have to agree with Wendy that maybe you don’t know what a good/healthy relationship is… because it’s NOT your boyfriend acting like a horny pig.

I say MOA. If you just can’t MOA… then follow even ounce of Wendy’s advice and be straight forward with your guy.

avatar SpaceySteph May 26, 2011, 4:25 pm

I agree. I mean to be fantasizing about these women and tell you to your face that he imagines himself having sex with them so intently he cannot focus on you… if he just fantasized about them later during his “personal time” maybe you’d have a shot. But that is just outright rude and disgusting. Leave him.

avatar kali May 27, 2011, 3:10 pm

Exactly – I can believe the guy is such a self-centered pig that he actually SAYS he’s fanatasizing about other women in front of you and THEN, dear LW, you don’t just leave right at that moment. How good can good be if you have to put up with this??

Go, run, leave, MOA!!!

avatar Amber May 26, 2011, 3:10 pm

Ew. Ew ew ew.

The LW’s boyfriend is a creep.

avatar BoomChakaLaka May 26, 2011, 3:13 pm

I’m usually conflicted about telling LWs to just leave, but rather try to work things out. But I don’t really see how you can constructively criticize this. I don’t even know if therapy can cover this. Even if he were to visibly change, which might mean him forcing his attention on you when his body/mind wants him to look elsewhere, could you honestly live with him knowing thats not who he truly is? I’m worried that he’s probably thinking about other women while he’s..umm..intimate with you.

In short, you really need to leave.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 3:25 pm

I’m the same way about telling people to leave (as per my comment after yours), and I guess it’s possible he has Satyriasis/is hypersexual/has some legitimate lack of impulse control due to deeper issues, but… even if so, even if he truly cannot help himself, even if he wishes he could change, his behavior is so deeply imbedded now that it is unlikely he’ll be able to change, and I don’t feel the LW should have to wait around to see if he might.

avatar cmarie May 26, 2011, 3:15 pm

MOA as fast as you can!! This dude is a Color Red Flag Creeper. He’s disrespect to you AND to the women he is leering at. He’s not even bothering to hide it! Then he goes on to tell you exactly what he’s thinking while he stares, how does he even still have eyeballs?! Leave him to his fantasies and find someone who actually gives a damn about respecting you, and women in general.

avatar callmehobo May 26, 2011, 3:17 pm

Ok, LW, imagine if he was vocalizing what he’s thinking instead of staring in silence…

LW- “Could you please pass me the salt”

BF- “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you; I was busy staring at dat ass… DAYUM GIRL”

Seriously, does that sound like a jealousy issue to you? Because to me it sounds like him being rude and disrespectful. Occasional eye roaming is normal yes, but this behavior IS NOT NORMAL. Good boyfriends don’t tell you that they are constantly fantasizing about strangers. This will kill your self esteem.

If you think that you can work through it, call him out on it. My father had a problem with ogling women when we were together, so every time I caught his eyes lingering I would say “Excuse me, but you looking at women like that makes me uncomfortable.”

Honestly though, I think you should move on. You deserve to be with someone who makes you feel good about yourself, and this guy clearly is working against that.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 3:18 pm

I almost always try to play Devil’s Advocate because I feel the people being discussed by a given LW have no defense, so I’ll try to give them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.

I try really hard to see how the LW might be misinterpreting things and to, if possible see at least some way they could hope to resolve things well.

Here, I can’t do that.

LW, MOA.

Almost any man will, on occasion, be distracted by a beautiful woman. It happens. However, it shouldn’t happen often, and even when it does, it’s almost an instinctual reaction (actually, it probably is an instinctual reaction) and it’s very similar to having an itch. But… we don’t stare, unable to look back at you, and fall into deep sexually explicit fantasies about them. We look and, to be honest, probably picture them naked at times. But it’s just a look, and it’s not all the time, and it really shouldn’t be obvious.

Your boyfriend is a pig. I’m sorry if he’s had a rough past or been through a lot, but I strongly suspect he’s drawn to rolling in the mud and eating out of troughs.

It’s not you. It’s him. He’s a pig, and once you leave him, he will do the exact. same. thing. to the next woman.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 3:19 pm

Oh, in case spaceboy’s AWOL: stop banging him.

avatar spaceboy761 May 26, 2011, 3:21 pm

<3 the first sentence of Wendy's middle paragraph. Pretty much says it all.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 3:27 pm

I see the use of the word “bang” caused you to materialize. ;-)

avatar SGMcG May 26, 2011, 3:39 pm

I’m still waiting for your Date Hunter/Classifier analysis of this guy for the tree I’m drafting.

I’m hypothesizing that he is Family – Jerk, but I’m having a hard time deciphering his Genus – Douche? Tool? Asshole? What about his species?

avatar spaceboy761 May 26, 2011, 3:53 pm

This guy falls straight into the Asshole family. Species name: Lechera porcus.

Straight forward as it gets.

avatar SGMcG May 27, 2011, 1:19 pm

Your recent classification threw me off a bit, but I think I got a hold of it now. Would it be safe to say that this would be under Genus>Creepus?

avatar Rachelgrace53 May 27, 2011, 12:13 am

Can we please see this tree? I think it’s definitely necessary for our future discussions on DW.

avatar SGMcG May 27, 2011, 1:18 pm

I would provide a diagram of the tree, but spaceboy’s recent classifcation threw me off a bit. I had to rearrange my notes so that those of the Douche, Asshole and Tool familes need to be under the Order>Jerk as opposed to the Family>Jerk classification I had with the respective Genera. Maybe I’ll throw it up in the next open thread – should be a bit tighter by then.

avatar silver_dragon_girl May 26, 2011, 3:26 pm

Wow. My first thought reading this was, “this guy sounds like a total creeper.” He sounds like that guy at the party who just stands in the corner and stares at you but never talks.

However, the fact that he does this ALL THE TIME, to the point where he can’t have a conversation with you if there are other women around, makes me think he might actually just be hyper-sexual in that way. *throws out the therapy card*

I’m not an expert, though (obviously).

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 3:29 pm

Funny – that’s what I mentioned in a reply above. Maybe he is, but that wouldn’t explain why he seems to focus only on other women. Or maybe it does. I’m not all that familiar with hypersexuality, and maybe I’ll look it up if I can stop masturbating long enough to do so.

avatar silver_dragon_girl May 26, 2011, 3:33 pm

Haha. It seems to me that there could definitely be a compulsive component to his behavior- he can’t seem to help it.

avatar spaceboy761 May 26, 2011, 3:30 pm

Even if this guy does have a legit sex addiction, why should the LW be responsible for nursing him through his rehab process? She’s already 31… stop wasting any more time on this pig.

avatar silver_dragon_girl May 26, 2011, 3:32 pm

Yeah, I kind of agree with you. I just felt like somebody should mention that the guy might have a legit problem. Of course, I’d say the odds are likely he’s just a massive douchebag.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 3:41 pm

No, I agree, he might have a legitimate problem, and it does seem compulsive, but unless he agrees to therapy and – likely – medication of some sort, this behavior won’t change, and if he does agree to it, given the likely need for medicate to correct his compulsive disorder (if he has one)… he night not be the same person when medicated anyway (meaning same except for the compulsive behavior).

All things considered, unless he’s open to therapy and medication now, MOA. And probably MOA anyway.

avatar silver_dragon_girl May 26, 2011, 3:47 pm

Or she could try behavioral therapy. Every time his eyes wander she shoots him with a rubber band. Or something.

But it’s definitely not something she should put up with any longer.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 3:48 pm

I think a taser would be more effective. Or a kick to the balls.

avatar silver_dragon_girl May 26, 2011, 3:55 pm

You know, I have new respect for you, _jsw_! Usually I read your comments and get all, “why are you offering alternate explanations in a balanced, level-headed manner when this guy is clearly EVIL INCARNATE?!” And now here I am doing the same thing ;)

avatar TaxMan May 26, 2011, 4:14 pm

You know I actually had a psyc professor in college tell me about how she assisted in something like that. She helped perform aversion therapy on a guy while she was still getting her degree. Apparently this guy had been compulsively cheating on his wife with one particular lady. He wanted to stop, but for some reason he couldn’t muster the will power. Anyway, my professor said they had him go through a stack of pictures and every time a picture of this lady came up they shocked the piss out of him. They did this for several weeks. My professor said she knew it worked when she saw him crossing a common area one day. She said he saw the home wrecker in question turned around, ran behind a tree, and threw up.

avatar BoomChakaLaka May 26, 2011, 4:24 pm

Is “shock” therapy still legal?

avatar Jess May 26, 2011, 4:48 pm

awesome!!! haha Shock therapy TOTALLY works. As a child this payphone at our neighborhood pool would shock you if you pull the change lever. I think I only did it once or twice but for YEARS I refused to pull the change switch on payphones. Thank god for cell phones! haha

and to the previous commentor I think you might be thinking of a different kind of shock therapy they did for depression and stuff. and I think I read something about them still doing it for extreme cases of depression where they tried everything else, but its voluntary and not as brutal as the stuff you see in the movies about mental hospitals in the 50s, etc

avatar WatersEdge May 26, 2011, 9:30 pm

yeah. electroconvulsive therapy- ECT. They do still do it in extreme cases. it’s a little freaky but it actually works. and yeah, it’s voluntary and not that brutal.

avatar phoenix287 May 26, 2011, 10:01 pm

jsw you are beyond awesome! :)

avatar Lucy May 26, 2011, 6:14 pm

At a bare minimum, even if she’s not willing to dump him yet, she should get up and leave every time he starts n with the staring. Right now his creepy behaviour has no negative consequences for him.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 5:14 pm

Agreed. It sounds to me like this guy is pretty obvious with his leering. While I definitely have sympathy for the girlfriend, I wonder how all these women that he’s leering at feel. If the girlfriend notices, I bet they do too and if there’s one thing that makes me feel uncomfortable its noticing a strange guy unabashedly check me out. So really, this guy is not just disrespecting one women, but creeping out and disrespecting all women out there. And to me, that’s a deal-breaker.

avatar Amber May 26, 2011, 3:30 pm

There is a huge difference between a guy occassionally looking at other girls and one who can’t hold a conversation with you because not only is he looking at them he’s fantasizing about sex with them during a dinner out with you. If you’ve spoken to him about it and he knows it’s bothering you and has aknowledged he would like to change and then doesn’t, it’s time to MOA. It is obvious he doesn’t care enough about you to change or he would have at least tried a little harder.

avatar Sarah May 26, 2011, 3:36 pm

“We’ve talked about all this and he’s told me he is fantasizing about having sex with these women while he is supposed to be spending time with me. He also says he wants to change.”

Oh. For. God’s. Sake.

Not only does he ogle women in front of you, he then tells you its because he fantasizes about sleeping with them (yeah, no shit, sherlock.), doesn’t even get embarrassed enough to lie (I was just noticing that her dress would look amazing on you.), and THEN he says he wants to change. Like his fucking head is controlled by a fucking alien who uses a fucking remote control set to find tail and he wants to stop but he just fucking can’t.

Guess what, dude? Every guy likes looking at women. And tits. And ass. They love it. They love thinking about women they would like to have sexy time with. A lot. I would be crazy stupid to think that if some Scarlett Johansson clone walked into a bar with my boyfriend there that he wouldn’t think about all the ways he’d like to get lost in her translation. But guess what? He doesn’t ogle the pretty things. You know why? RESPECT. Respect for me, respect for us.

Your boyfriend doesn’t respect you. You can’t force him to, he either does or he doesn’t. The only hope you have is to tell him that if he doesn’t stop, you’ll break up with him. Maybe he’ll learn fast. What a jackhole.

avatar ArtsyGirl May 26, 2011, 4:07 pm

LOVE this!!!

avatar The_Yellow_Dart May 26, 2011, 4:22 pm

Those are the two things that stood out for me too: 1) that the boyfriend is too busy ogling other women to make conversation and 2) that the boyfriend tells the letter-writer that “he is fantasizing about having sex with these women.”

There’s nothing wrong with (briefly) noticing a beautiful woman/man or having fantasies about someone other than your significant other, but to do so undisguisedly and incessantly is, as Wendy and the other commenters have noted, not being fair to your significant other!

avatar Bethany May 26, 2011, 4:40 pm

Perfect uses of profanity. Love it!!

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't May 26, 2011, 3:47 pm

LW, I’m confused about your “jealousy issues”. You don’t give an example of how you’ve behaved jealously, which leads me to think that your scummy boyfriend has *convinced* you that you are a jealous bitch.

For example: was he looking at porn so often that he was neglecting you, and called you “jealous” when you called him on it? (I realize that I might be making a bit of a leap here, but I believe it’s something worth thinking about). Did you catch him flirting aggressively with someone (or someones) and get upset, causing him to accuse you of being “jealous”? Likewise, when you tell him off for so blatantly staring at other women, does he accuse you of being jealous?

avatar SpaceySteph May 26, 2011, 5:03 pm

I wondered this too. You have a right to be jealous that your boyfriend stares so hard at other women he doesn’t even notice he’s having dinner with you. You don’t have a right to be jealous that your boyfriend holds the door for a pretty lady. So I wonder if you really have jealousy issues, or if you are just reacting normally to your horndog jerk of a boyfriend.

leilani leilani May 26, 2011, 3:51 pm

When I read the title and was going through the first few lines, I was already thinking “its just looking, get over it”….but then I got to the actual issue. And this is far from just the harmless glances at cleavage I was expecting to hear about. If your boyfriend was ignoring you and not talking to you every time you went out for any reason, it would be a huge problem. But acting like you’re not there for a reason as stupid as wanting to openly stare at other girls as long as his heart desires….what?? This guy is such a creep. Imagine how weirded out other girls must be when they know he’s with his girlfriend and still, they can feel his eyes undressing them all night. And then telling you its because he’s fantasizing about having sex with them….wow. That’s just the icing on the world’s grossest cake.

avatar Lexington May 26, 2011, 8:22 pm

I love that metaphor. So much.

avatar Rachelgrace53 May 27, 2011, 12:18 am

“That’s just the icing on the world’s grossest cake.”

YES.

avatar Jshizzle May 26, 2011, 3:54 pm

Imagine you are in a restaurant. You see someone else’s husband/partner leering at you and the waitresses and you can see the hurt look on their wife/partner’s face. What is the first thing that pops into your mind? This should be your reaction.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 4:10 pm

Usually, the look isn’t one of hurt. It’s one of anger – like, “WHY THE HELL IS HE STARING AT THAT B***CH, I’M GOING TO BLUDGEON HER WITH MY PURSE AND THEN SCRATCH HER FACE OFF”.

I am one of those women who gets stared at a lot, and it is NOT MY FAULT, I was BORN this way. Blame the man, not the other woman for attracting his eye. I’ve had women throw drinks at me, sneer at me, and follow me into the bathroom in order to confront me – “What are you doing with my husband? He’s MY HUSBAND. Back off, bitch.” To which I replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand!! I have a boyfriend too, he’s sitting at the same table with me! I wasn’t, like, intentionally looking at your husband!” And then I hid in the bathroom stall for a while. As I walked past the table again, she muttered out, “B***ch”. UGH.

PLEASE do not blame the women for a man’s wandering eye. Seriously. They deserve blame if they know he’s married and try to seduce him, but they can’t help it if they happen to be aesthetically pleasing to him.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 4:14 pm

Very well said. Especially for a hedgehog.

avatar mf May 26, 2011, 4:26 pm

This is officially my favorite comment of the week.

avatar Laurel May 26, 2011, 4:31 pm

I don’t the thumbs down—-it is completely NOT your responsibility to keep your attractiveness under wraps. If the bf/husband can’t stop staring that’s his problem, not yours (except for how uncomfortable and objectified it makes you feel). Ugh. I really wish women would stop hating on other women and place the blame where it belongs.

leilani leilani May 26, 2011, 4:38 pm

I don’t think the thumbs down are because people think women are to blame for men staring, I think they’re because what she said is completely off-topic and kinda just came off as the commenter trying to toot her own horn.

avatar Jess May 26, 2011, 4:53 pm

yea exactly. no one is blaming the other women here, obviously.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 5:21 pm

I was responding to:

“Imagine you are in a restaurant. You see someone else’s husband/partner leering at you and the waitresses and you can see the hurt look on their wife/partner’s face. What is the first thing that pops into your mind?”

She asked the question, so I answered, as I have actual experience experiencing such a thing. I didn’t realize that admitting to being pretty was considered tooting your horn, and would illicit purple thumbs.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 5:34 pm

I don’t think you were trying to promote yourself in any way, nor did your post come across as vain.

I’m not sure what non-petty reason, then, there’d be for tumbling you down, as it’s not your fault that you look the way you do, however that is. Again, I think you’re a bit spiny, but my tastes differ from those of others.

Had you said “look, I’m really hot, and guys stare at my ass all the time, and it annoys my pro athlete boyfriend so we usually just drive off and chill in my beach house until I jet off to somewhere exotic to do my next modeling shoot as I laugh at how the ugly people must have to live,” I would have agree with the reaction. But what you said did not in any way have that tone.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 5:36 pm

“…thumbing you down”.

“Tumbling you down” implies other things, perhaps. Like, you know, girl-on-girl Jello wrestling, amiright spaceboy?

*chest bumps self in mirror*

*comes to senses, feels shame*

*says ‘bang’ just to get spaceboy to show up*

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 5:53 pm

Lol… yes, I’m very spiny! People love my quills!

A general invitation to everyone, if you want to meet the girl behind the hedgehog, just add me on facebook (with a message saying you’re from Dear Wendy, please!): facebook.com/britannia (ohhhhhh yeah, I gots the vanity URL)

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:23 pm

Yeah, as I’m completely inept at Facebook, I didn’t actually include a message, but I just asked. I used to spend a lot of time on TheFrisky.com. The username should make sense, knowing that.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:25 pm

Actually, a Dear Wendy Facebook group would be fun.

I say that as a Facebook Luddite, so maybe it wouldn’t be. Or maybe there aren’t things called Facebook groups. People who actually use Facebook might have a different opinion.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 6:27 pm

I added you! Yes, there are groups, but they’re still a little convoluted in their design so they aren’t particularly popular as a social platform.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:34 pm

Thanks for the explanation. I’m all over other forms of social media, but Facebook just never hooked me. Maybe it’s because I always feel like Zuckerberg is reading all my stuff on there. I mean, there’s nothing there to read, and he wouldn’t care about it if there was, but… I get that feeling he’s there, reading it, just like Ceiling Cat.

avatar Rachelgrace53 May 27, 2011, 12:24 am

You can only add you (not message) on fb for some reason. But I would like to meet the girl behind the hedgehog. I sent a request, and my fb pic is very similar to my DW pic :)

avatar MissDre May 26, 2011, 5:56 pm

A bit spiny… hahahaha!

avatar Jennifer May 27, 2011, 11:18 am

Um, so JShizzle was saying to the LW that she deserves to feel hurt. Not blaming the attractive girl.

Though I somehow doubt that you don’t dress to attract attention.

avatar Britannia May 28, 2011, 9:43 pm

How very sweet of you to make such an assumption that I must be desperately seeking attention in order to receive it.

Do I wear bright, pretty colors? Yes. Do I attend to my appearance, wearing makeup and styling my hair? Yes. I take pride in my appearance; I was raised by my grandmother to believe that when you go out in public, you should “present yourself”. Do I wear slutty little dresses, glitter, and whatnot? NO. I do NOT wear short skirts or low cut tops or any of those clothes with weird cut-outs that show random bits of skin.

Would it make you feel better if all attractive women wore burqas?? Or only dressed in black, shapeless burlap sacks with no makeup? Is that the only way a woman would be justified in drawing people’s eyes to her? Wow. You sound like the woman who verbally attacked me.

avatar Jshizzle May 26, 2011, 5:59 pm

Wow, that’s terrifying! I’d probably return the favour, go up to the husband and be like “Why are you doing with my boyfriend? I’ve noticed you staring at our table all night. He’s mine, so back off, bitch!” No, I wouldn’t actually do that…but I’d like to.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 6:12 pm

It was really surreal… I couldn’t believe it was happening, which was why I was so apologetic! It was really out of left field… Luckily, only one woman has ever actually yelled at me. I’ve seen plenty of dirty looks, but I never expected someone would just blow her lid like that. Obviously something deeper was going on between that woman and her husband… but I still can’t believe she had the audacity to take it out on me, a complete stranger. I would never ever be able to behave like that toward someone I didn’t know… or out in a public place!

Lyra L May 26, 2011, 3:56 pm

I’m actually going through a similar situation right now with my boyfriend–we recently had an argument about how he likes to tell me which girls (both celebrities and “normal” people) he thinks are cute. It really hurts me and I’ve told him that, but he claims that I’m trying to “control” him and what he says. (We’re both incredibly stubborn, and he absolutely HATES when someone tries to control him. I tell him I’m not controlling him, he claims otherwise, it develops into an argument, rinse and repeat. You get the picture.) It’s still an “issue” with us, but we’ve opened up more communication and have been trying to see the other person’s side to come to a compromise. Essentially, we’re a work in progress.

This, however, is extreme. I don’t think a normal conversation will suffice. LW, you deserve someone to devote all their attention to YOU during a date. You deserve a guy who is going to support you and build your confidence, not tear you down and make you feel insignificant compared to other women. I agree with all that has been said previously: MOA. Find a guy who will spoil you rotten, support you, and love you completely, not someone who checks out your waitress every time you go on a date.

leilani leilani May 26, 2011, 4:02 pm

I actually have had a similar issue with a boyfriend before. It didn’t usually bother me that much when he would tell me which girls he thought were cute, but sometimes it would just really rub me the wrong way….I think typically if he got a little too graphic or descriptive with it, or if he said something like that at a tender moment, or (maybe) if I was PMSing. I told him that sometimes it bothered me, and he never really stopped…. It wasn’t a huge deal that I wanted to make a big thing of, but I never really understood why he was so compelled to mention it that he wouldn’t stop even when he knew it bothered me. Like, what are you getting from this? Why is it necessary?

Lyra L May 26, 2011, 4:11 pm

Exactly! It wouldn’t matter so much to me if he’s telling his guy friends “oh, she’s cute”, but why would you mention it to your girlfriend?? It just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not something that would cause us to break up, but I really just don’t want to hear it. Like I said, work in progress. :)

avatar BoomChakaLaka May 26, 2011, 4:30 pm

My ex was the same way. This was just one of the many issues that I just couldn’t stand. I had insecurity issues as well stemming from other stuff we went through; that aside, it didn’t give him any reason to go overboard in describing how sexy (insert rando sexy celebrity name) was.

The most important thing is that if you mention to your boyfriend that it bothers you, unless he thinks you’re legit crazy, he should stop. Whether its mentioning a simple word or avoiding a whole action. DON’T DO IT.

avatar mf May 26, 2011, 4:25 pm

Asking for a bit of respect is not the same as trying to control someone.

If you want to turn the tables on him, start talking about all the guys you think are super hot. I’d love to see his reaction!

avatar Laurel May 26, 2011, 4:40 pm

You didn’t ask for advice, so I hope you don’t mind me giving it ;) but you need to reframe the argument when this stuff comes up. You are not trying to “control” him, you are asking him to stop/limit a behavior he knows hurts you. You aren’t asking him to deny sharing some essential part of his being with you, you’re asking him to respect a boundary of yours (which TONS of people, men and women, share).

Lyra L May 26, 2011, 4:55 pm

This is one thing I love about the Dear Wendy community: there’s always lots of ideas floating around! :)

I do agree that I’m not asking for too much, and I’ve been trying to explain that to him. He’s had some pretty crazy exes in his past who have treated him like crap and like I said, he’s suuuper stubborn about everything. His defense is that I’m trying to control what he tells me, and he claims he has a difficulty filtering what he tells certain people (total BS, I know). Don’t get me wrong, he’s a SUPER sweet guy and I love him to pieces. There’s a reason why I’ve been dating the man for almost two years now. Like every relationship though, we’ve had a couple rocky patches, this issue being one of them.

avatar Jshizzle May 26, 2011, 6:03 pm

My boyfriend will sometimes do this, but only with celebrities. Then he tries to get me to tell him who I find attractive, and I’m usually too embarrassed by the truth so I say Channing Tatum every time.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:16 pm

I think the truth might be less embarrassing.

Unless it’s Paul Giamatti. No offense, Paul.

avatar Kristen May 27, 2011, 3:06 pm

As an aside, I think there’s a big difference between pointing out celebrities you think are cute vs. real people. My boyfriend telling me he thinks Kate Beckinsale is hot? Not a big deal. A random girl walking by at Olive Garden, or one of our friends? Not good.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 4:03 pm

It sounds to me like this boyfriend is one of those men who just isn’t the type for a committed, monogamous relationship. Personally, I see nothing wrong with people who are polyamorous or swingers, or whose sexual needs make it impossible for them to be monogamous. I do think that there’s a major problem with these types of people shacking up with people who ARE monogamous and expect their partner to be monogamous. Monogamy of course means different things to different people, and in this case, the girlfriend has a far more stringent idea of what monogamy is than the boyfriend does.

Your personal beliefs and emotional needs are not on the same page as each other’s. Go find yourself a boyfriend who shares your same values and expectations.

avatar Jess May 26, 2011, 4:59 pm

yea, but im sure even george clooney types don’t creepily stare at other women when he’s with one. The starring at one girl over a whole night fantasizing about her thing is creepy, no matter if someone is a swinger or in a relationship or single.

Either go up and talk to her, initiate something, or move on and look at something else. If a men is staring at me off and on over a period of hours i get seriously grossed out. But this rarely happens to me. I consider myself fairly attractive, so therefore I think it rarely happens because its a weirdo thing to do, and there’s not *that* many weirdos out there. Unfortunately, the LW found one.

avatar SGMcG May 26, 2011, 5:16 pm

I think equating this lecherous pig to those practicing polyamory discredits those few I know who are polygamous. Getting into those types of relationship are difficult and involve a lot of communication and respect for individual boundaries. The polygamorous individuals I know wouldn’t even consider adding another partner/relationship without the consent/witness of the primary and/or respective secondaries. Just because they’re polyamorous, doesn’t excuse them from communicating and respecting their partners needs, whether individually or simultaneously.

This guy, on the other hand, didn’t listen to this LW’s reservations and failed to recognize her personal boundaries after they were voiced. Moreover, he stomped over her needs for attention by rudely flaunting about wanting to bang the other women he sees. It’s not a matter of her personal beliefs and emotional needs are not on the same page – it’s the fact that he’s acting like an asshole, and should be treated accordingly.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 5:20 pm

While its true that some people just aren’t wired to be monogamous and that’s fine, he is still being INCREDIBLY creepy and disrespectful to not just his girlfriend but all the women around him. Without a doubt, many of those women he’s oogling at notice. And most women do not like being leered at. I don’t, it makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes violated.

Its fine to be non-monogamous, to have an open relationship. Its also fine to notice people you find attractive. Its not fine to stare continuously at those people. Its hella creepy, and he needs to knock it off, if not for his girlfriend then just to be a decent person.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 5:27 pm

He may not have his sexuality under control, yet. I ventured into the idea that he’s polyamorous because it would explain why he’s able to love one woman but desire so many others. It could be that he’s just a horn dog, of course. Either way, this guy obviously sounds like some part of his sexual needs are not being met and that’s probably why he’s acting strangely. That’s not the girlfriend’s fault, at all, but I think that this isn’t just him being an asshole… it’s an asshole in an identity crisis who doesn’t have a grip on his sexuality. I don’t necessarily think that puts him into the weirdo/pervert range. His girlfriend doesn’t deserve to be with a guy who violates one of her boundaries… and everyone’s boundaries are different, whether they’re polyamorous or monogamous.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 5:35 pm

It doesn’t matter whether he has issues that aren’t under control, or if he’s just a jerk, he is undoubtedly making multiple people around him uncomfortable and there is no valid excuse for that. He needs to knock it the f off, either by just being more subtle or getting the counseling necessary.

Those girls he stares at don’t know if he has issues or not, they just know he’s creeping them out. And it needs to stop.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 5:41 pm

Oh, and the ability to be monogamous does not mean you suddenly stop finding other people attractive as soon as you fall in love with one person. I love my boyfriend deeply, and we are happily monogamous, but I still find others attractive (as I would assume he does as well). Relationships require sacrifice.

And for some the cost of that sacrifice is too great to maintain monogamy, and if they decide (and their partners agree), many people can have happy healthy poly-amorous relationships. I certainly won’t condemn happy relationships just because they aren’t a type of relationship I personally could handle.

But to say that he can’t control himself because he has issues and may be poly-amorous doesn’t mean he gets a pass. You still need to respect those around you, even if you want to see them naked.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 6:15 pm

I’m not saying that he gets a pass, but maybe some understanding would help this woman come to terms with the fact that this guy isn’t right for her, and it’s not her fault that he’s like this.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 6:52 pm

Sorry, I just am not on the same page as you. If he truly does have some issue, he gets all my sympathy, but he still needs to work that issue out. And I think you can still accept him for who he is, but he still has a responsibility to correct his behavior in public.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 7:00 pm

I agree with you on this post. It seems that we have differing opinions on the road leading up to this conclusion, but I do agree with the conclusion.

avatar SGMcG May 26, 2011, 5:53 pm

“He may not have his sexuality under control, yet.”
“It’s an asshole in an identity crisis who doesn’t have a grip on his sexuality.”

The same could also be said of pedophiles. Yet do we tolerate them? No fucking way should we ever because when those assholes act on their sexuality, they create victims from their desire. Whenever this guy leeches his eyes at other girls in the LW’s presence, not only is the LW a victim, but also the women he wishes to bang whenever he looks at them. For one of those women who gets stared at a lot, you sure have a surprisingly amount of empathy for them, especially since their respective girlfriends and wives proceed to bitch you out.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 6:05 pm

Being who you are and acting on who you are are COMPLETELY different things, and comparing a pedophile who hurts children to a guy who doesn’t know how to keep his creepy staring under control is completely outrageous.

Everyone deserves to be “tolerated” because they have the right to be who they are because they are sentient human beings. “It’s not who you are, but what you do, that should define you”.

I think that staring at woman is a minor “evil”, if evil at all. If a guy is genuinely making you uncomfortable by repeatedly staring at you, you should go up to him and tell him to stop because it bothers you. But everyone has to look at something during their waking hours, and I don’t see why you should get defensive, or his woman gets angry at you, if a guy just happens to enjoy looking at you for a few moments. I have little sympathy for the women who overreact. However, with the blatancy and lack of shame that the LW’s boyfriend does it when he knows it bothers her, it crosses into not-okay territory.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 6:23 pm

Brittiana, have you ever gone up to a guy that was staring at you and told him you felt uncomfortable? And I mean staring (as the LW writer said he stared at two women for an ENTIRE concert, not just a “few minutes”). As much as I hate to say it, women are culturally conditioned to avoid such confrontation. If you have been able to do this, I wish I were you. The truth is that in these situations I always feel uncomfortable, degraded, and in certain contexts, sometimes afraid.

You are right that he is not on the same level as peodophile. But his actions ARE impacting people in a way that is not ok. As you said yourself “It’s not who you are, but what you do, that should define you”. And what he is doing right now is making women feel uncomfortable.

If he truly has hypersexuality and can’t control himself, he has my sympathy, BUT he has a responsibility to get that under control now. I’m sure its hard road, but you don’t get to say “Its the way I am, deal with it.” No he owes it to others (and himself!) to fix this problem, if in fact it is one.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:13 pm

I also have to agree that it’s a bad comparison. It’d be more suitable to compare it to pedophiles who never act on their desires, and even then it’s not a great comparison, because one adult staring at another adult isn’t the same as an adult staring at a child.

For the record, pedophilia is an mental illness, and it’s not the fault of the person that they have those desires. The evil is when they, as Britannia said, act on them. However, I’d include staring at children as a degree of “acting on them.”

Anyway, it’s all off topic.

Staring is, by most standards, rude and not socially acceptable. I would not, however, consider it to be evil. Just… rude and obnoxious and not something that should go without comment.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 6:26 pm

jsw, I usually think you’re on-point, but I gotta say I disagree somewhat. As a woman, when I guy stares at me, and I mean more than a quick glance to check me out, it goes beyond rudeness. Maybe not “evil”, but it really makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe I’m hyper-sensistive, but if I was with a friend at a concert and some dude stared at me and my friend the entire time, I would feel more than annoyed.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:30 pm

Yeah, I agree that it’s super-rude. I wasn’t sure I’d go with full-on “evil” but… it can be very disconcerting and potentially traumatizing to some, especially those who have been assaulted before.

So, maybe if someone stares and no one has ever told them how hurtful it can be, I’d just consider it general obliviousness and a but rude, but anyone who’d been called out on it should realize that it’s hurtful, and if they don’t, it’s, perhaps not evil, but mean and wrong to continue to do so.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 6:35 pm

I guess its possible that he has no idea how creepy his behavior is, but as an adult with decent social skills…c’mon…he really should be self-aware enough to realize that most women don’t like being leered at. I sometimes take offense that a guy needs to be called on it, we all grew up in the same culture, nobody ever had to tell me what was approporiate behavior or not, its been socialized into me since I was a baby. Why should I have to tell some dude what’s okay or not?

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:38 pm

This is why I lament the death of chivalry at times, as surely in times past such men would simply have been punched in the face by someone who noticed their behavior.

I agree that almost anyone should know innately that it’s not acceptable. However, there are those on the autism scale or with other social disorders who might not. They might actually need to be told.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 6:50 pm

Well, based on my experience then I’ve come across a lot of autistic men! In all seriousness though, there are a lot of great, respectful guys out there (most of them actually), but a creepy dude can really put a damper on my day.

avatar fallonthecity May 27, 2011, 3:14 am

If you lament those times, _jsw_, we can send the LW’s boyfriend to my hometown. Of course, he’d probably be verbally warned before being punched in the face (“Boy, why are you looking at my wife like that? She doesn’t like it.”), but if this guy is ballsy enough to tell his girlfriend to her face that he’s staring at women and imagining having sex with them, he might tell that to an angry redneck, too — and then get punched in the face.

avatar fallonthecity May 27, 2011, 10:48 am

…lament the death of those times*
Haven’t been able to type, or talk, this week!

avatar demoiselle May 27, 2011, 9:37 am

In past times, a guy would have been punched in the face for starting like that at a “nice girl.” But if you happened to fall under the label of a “not-nice” or “low class” or a “different race” or whatever . . . you’re out of luck in the days of chivalry. Because you don’t count as the kind of woman who gets treated well.

avatar Britannia May 26, 2011, 6:58 pm

I think that he doesn’t understand how uncomfortable it can make women, or that he doesn’t realize that he’s staring that long – he may get tunnel vision or just be completely daydreaming at that point. It’s very possible that no woman has confronted him on it before, because like you said in the earlier post, most women do not like to be confrontational.

I’m going to respond to your other post up here about confronting men if they’re making you uncomfortable because it follows the stream. I actually have gone up to men and told them that I’d appreciate it if they’d stop staring at me because it’s rude. I don’t say that it makes me uncomfortable, because that gives them the idea that they have some sort of sway over me. I just make it clear, concise, and neutral, and then walk away. I’ve never had a man continue to stare after confrontation. My therapist, actually, was the one who helped me develop the confidence to do this. I have been attacked by men in the past when I was a pre-teen and young teenager, and it really did a number on my ability to be out in public or on my own. I was honestly a nervous wreck around strangers and was very scared of being attacked again. She told me that strong, confident women are much less likely to be attacked. Of course, confrontation can sometimes backfire and piss off a guy and provoke him to do something worse, but most of the time, when it’s a relatively safe situation but you’re getting the “creep” vibe from someone, if you assert yourself and show them that you’re not scared of them, and can take care of yourself (by speaking up), you will thwart any potential power plays they may have been trying to begin and they will leave you alone.

avatar ele4phant May 26, 2011, 7:22 pm

Wow, that’s great. I just have one final thought (and then really, I need to get back to work!), but don’t be so hard on women who don’t have the courage you do, which is most. Remember how it felt before you got counesling. As for me, I’ll make an effort to be more upfront when a guy is giving me the ol’ creepy eyes.

avatar ArtsyGirl May 26, 2011, 4:04 pm

Ok so I was watching Lonely Island (Andy Sandberg’s band) music videos on youtube over lunch (yes I am that cool) and there is one called The Creep and many of the lyrics apply to the LW BF – it sounds like he is a pencil mustache away from being a class A creeper. Plus I have to kinda feel bad for the waitress since all she wants is to get through the day and maybe make some nice tips without the customer dreaming up her naked in reverse cowgirl.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 4:06 pm

For the record, reverse cowgirl is really unlikely to be the position. I’d say it’s more likely to be doggie-style or, well, unreversed cowgirl, but point made.

avatar WatersEdge May 26, 2011, 4:43 pm

wow, JSW

avatar Jess May 26, 2011, 5:00 pm

i dont know jsw, from what i’m overhearing from my guy friends, reverse cowgirl is trending right now

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 5:48 pm

Well, I guess it’s sorta the lazy man’s version of doggy-style, but the way I see it, if you’re feeling in an aggressively sexual fantasizing mood, you’ll go for doggy-style, and if you’re feeling in a horny-but lazy fantasizing mood, you’ll go for girl-on-top, but you’ll rarely go for missionary because that’s a bit too affectionate for the fantasy bang*, unless you’re talking standing-by-the-bed-hands-on-her-hips-as-she’s-laying-on-her-back-on-the-side sort of “missionary.” I don’t really see the fantasy value of reverse cowgirl at all, since you can’t be caveman-aggressive, and you can’t really see her amazing body, and the view can be a bit… compromised. So, sure, I believe the it could be trending, but if so I’m bucking the trend, and I’m also doubting it’s trending in the fantasy-bang** category. Plus, it takes longer for some reason to fantasize about reverse-cowgirl. I don’t know why, but it does. And why waste time when fantasizing when you’ve only got a few seconds at best to look?

Bangedy bang bang.***

* Hoping for spaceboy’s input, so I said the magic word…
** …twice.
*** For emphasis.

avatar PFG-SCR May 26, 2011, 5:54 pm

“…I guess it’s sorta the lazy man’s version of doggy-style…”

Thief!!! That’s a John DeVore line!!!!!

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:05 pm

Ha! Great (well, fill in the adjective of your choice) minds must think alike, as I didn’t know he’d said that, and I’ve used the phrase before. :-)

But, seriously, how else would you describe it? I guess I could see why some women would like it (maybe it rubs the right places better? dunno), but for the life of me I have no idea why any man would prefer it to standard girl-on-top. Or doggy style. At least one of those. I just don’t get it at all* as a fantasy position.

* Yeah, yeah, true, I don’t,ever, but I meant “don’t understand”.

avatar MissDre May 26, 2011, 6:09 pm

I don’t get it either. It doesn’t “rub the right places” at all. At least not for me.

avatar PFG-SCR May 26, 2011, 6:15 pm

“…but for the life of me I have no idea why any man would prefer it to standard girl-on-top.”

I doubt it’s a fantasy position, but for honest-to-goodness sex, I think it comes down to variety/mixing it up and what he wants to be watching (tits or ass). And of course, there’s no reason both can’t be used in the same sex session, so it’s sort of the best of both worlds for the guy.

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:32 pm

Well, I was mainly speaking as a fantasy position. However, in the real world, I don’t think it’s the best way to get that other view. On the other hand, it’s very restful, so it’s got that going for it.

avatar ladiejoy May 27, 2011, 9:57 am

Doggie FTW.

avatar LTC039 May 26, 2011, 4:05 pm

UM, what a creep!! LW, how are you not completely disgusted? I just read this & I feel like taking a shower. Hope you make a decision that benefits YOU. (dump his ass)
Good luck!

avatar Turtledove May 26, 2011, 4:09 pm

LW, you do realize that being upset because you’re boyfriend won’t allow you to interrupt his sexual fantasies about other women when he’s supposed to be on a date with you is not jealousy? This isn’t occasionally catching your man noticing another woman’s low-cut blouse. I’m actually not sure what it is, but whatever it is it’s certainly creepy. I don’t want to imagine what he does when you’re not there– he’s probably thinking, “Well, out of respect for my girlfriend at least I’m not whistling and making lewd comments/gestures.”

Whether this behavior is pathological or not; it’s rude, disrespectful, and gross. You don’t owe it to him to sit around on your hands while he gets counseling which may or may not help. MOA and let him sort it out on his own time.

avatar mf May 26, 2011, 4:21 pm

Preach it, Wendy!

avatar Flake May 26, 2011, 4:23 pm

Not too long ago there was a letter here about a similar situation (I think ‘My BF talks to me about other women’) I feel like reposting the same ‘advice’.

Sadly, yes, LW, you already look like an idiot (your words, not mine).

Your wonderful, loving BF is a pig (I chose that word because I am uncomfortable typing some other choice ones). He doesn’t respect women in general, and he definitely has no respect for you whatsoever. Every time you tolerate his rude behavior, you are enabling him. He is 31 years old, he doesn’t live in a cave. It is unacceptable for a man to not be able to hold a conversation with you while there are other females around. If he says he wants to change, he knows that his behavior is unacceptable. He still does it. What is worse, he makes you feel guilty by making it your fault bringing up ‘your unreasonable jealousy’.

This is NOT a healthy relationship, no matter how you look at it. You don’t have a connection. You have a man that is using you for whatever reason, and he doesn’t even care enough to hide it.

I don’t know what either of your background is. This man has nothing to offer you except learning experience of how not to behave in a relationship.

You have asked your BF to modify his behavior because it upsets you. He refused. Move on to someone who will care enough not to openly provoke you and upset you.

avatar TaxMan May 26, 2011, 4:30 pm

Run now while you have the chance. Every guy will let his eyes wander from time to time. I’ve been guilty of it myself. Its something that is just about unavoidable when we go out. If there is a beautiful woman in the room we will glance and then return to our conversation with you. This guy isn’t doing that though. He is staring at these women, and actively fantasizing about them. All the while you are sitting there right in front of him. At the very least that tells me that he might have some form of sexual addiction. At the worst he has no respect for you, and doesn’t give a shit how you feel. Either way you should hit the road. Even if it was the first option you can only look forward to having to constantly worry about him trying to make some of these fantasies real, and who wants to do that. Get out now, and don’t look back.

avatar SGMcG May 26, 2011, 4:30 pm

“An apparent obsession?” You poor woman. This obsession isn’t a figment of your jealousy issues – this blatant ignoring you while he’s supposed to be out on a date is behavior that’s not to be tolerated at all. Maybe he has some form of sexual ADHD and needs to get some medication. Yet if he wants to make changes, he should be able to do so already and not be rude enough in the process to tell you that he fantasizes about other women while having sex with you!

LW, don’t just MOA, DTMFA – Dump the Mother Fucker Already.

avatar Rachelgrace53 May 27, 2011, 12:32 am

I didn’t even read your comment before I thumbed it up, simply because I had already seen “LW, don’t just MOA, DTMFA – Dump the Mother Fucker Already.”
Bravo!

avatar cdobbs May 26, 2011, 4:37 pm

Ugh, why would anybody want to be with an ignorant, inconsiderate piece of crap like that is beyond me! “He’s been through alot in his life”, so that gives him the right to be a total creepy perv? Unless you like being disrespected over and over again i would suggest you MOA!

avatar Jess May 26, 2011, 5:17 pm

yea i was thinking about that. What did he ‘go through’ that would result, much less justify, this particular action? Was he locked up in a dungeon as a child and only allowed food aftr he stared at a woman for 20 minutes? wtf?

avatar WatersEdge May 26, 2011, 4:40 pm

My husband did this when we first started dating. Well, maybe after the initial glow of being in my presence wore off… maybe 1-2 months in. He wasn’t as extreme as your boyfriend is, but my husband is kind of quiet to begin with, so he’s definitely not talking if he’s distracted. It REALLY upset me.

Here’s how I handled it. I told my then-boyfriend that I didn’t like the behavior, that I didn’t like how it made me feel, and I felt that it was disrespectful and rude. I told him I wouldn’t tolerate it and that in the not-too-distant-future it would be a dealbreaker for me, so he better change it or I was out of there. I believe I even cried for much of this conversation.

He said that he didn’t mean to do it and he would try to stop. He actually practiced not checking out other women all the time, even when I wasn’t around, to break the habit. He agreed that it was disrespectful and he didn’t want to disrespect me. Since then he’s gotten much, much better and now I almost never catch him checking out other women. Just the occasional glance that most of us do. I do recall a couple of instances where I kicked him under the table or gave him a significant glare, but really it was 1-2 months of transition and now he’s fine.

My point is that you CAN stand up for yourself and he CAN change. And yes, this kind of behavior is a dealbreaker. Don’t be afraid to tell him that you won’t stand for it, and then hold him to it. If he doesn’t stop, then he’s prioritizing fantasizing about other women over the basic respect that you deserve.

avatar melikeycheesecake May 26, 2011, 4:48 pm

@ WatersEdge… I agree with how you reacted 1,000%. I too did this with my boyfriend. It’s not about control. It’s about healthy & respectful boundaries.

avatar PFG-SCR May 26, 2011, 5:04 pm

“Well, maybe after the initial glow of being in my presence wore off… ”

I thought this was really cute!

Glad that you shared your personal story for the LW.

avatar WatersEdge May 26, 2011, 5:26 pm

he used to put his arm around my shoulders and shout “I’m on a DATE with HER!” in public. so embarrassing and adorable :)

avatar PFG-SCR May 26, 2011, 5:52 pm

Awww, that’s so cute!!

On the flip side, I saw a married couple where the guy was wearing a shirt that said, “She’s so lucky” with an arrow pointing to the side (which happened to be the side she was walking on)…it was so funny!

avatar WatersEdge May 26, 2011, 7:31 pm

That is hilarious!

avatar cdjd0523 May 26, 2011, 4:59 pm

Your boyfriend is a freaking dick wad!He is 31 and still can’t practice common courtesy, let alone respect for you or the women he’s eye raping. That’s absolutely disgusting and you should not put up with that kind of treatment at all. I was in a similar situation to yours and it took 1 time of prolonged staring and me walking out on them to make my point clear. The POS you call your boyfriend deserves much more then a walk out!

avatar Mainer May 26, 2011, 5:06 pm

“We’ve talked about all this and he’s told me he is fantasizing about having sex with these women while he is supposed to be spending time with me. He also says he wants to change.”

What, his pants?

You should probably thank him for being so honest, as it makes it much easier for you to move on. I MAY be able to understand this behavior if you *just* started dating him and he had *never* had a girlfriend and he was at an age where even the sight of cleavage gives him a hard on, in which case I would recommend WaterEdge’s approach (since it seemed to work for her), but you’ve been dating for a year and a half and he’s 31. If you don’t want to leave him for ogling other women, you should at least leave him for being such an idiot as to think your girlfriend actually wants to hear about your sexual fantasies with other women in the room and the fact that he acts like a teenage boy who doesn’t know why he is experiencing all these new changes to his body.

This is one of those instances in which I feel compelled to apologize on behalf of the male species.

avatar Jess May 26, 2011, 5:06 pm

Because the way your boyfriend treats you when you’re out together says a lot about his character and how much he values you as person

Can I just say how much I love this line? SO TRUE.

avatar Jess May 26, 2011, 5:15 pm

I never notice my boyfriend looking at other women when we go out, but if I’m ever like, “Oh wow don’t look now but the woman in the booth behind you has really fake looking boobs!” he’ll ALWAYS be like, “yep, the woman in red, saw her.”

My point is all guys look but most have figured out (in middle/high school, as wendy said) to do it covertly enough that we don’t even notice. What the LWs boyfriend is doing is totally different than noticing an attractive woman. He’s leering, he’s fantasizing, and its soo disrespectful. MOA. If he cared about you enough he would have already done something about this, because you’ve clearly brought it up to him before.

avatar lk May 26, 2011, 5:49 pm

I actually JUST had this conversation with my guy on Sunday…We’ve been friends for a while but just started dating. He has never checked out ladies in front of me but I always notice attractive people and have always commented when I see a QT – male or female.

We were out on the patio at a bar and he said under his breath, “Wow!” and then caught himself, laughed, and explained to me, “Sorry, that girl over there looks like she’s not wearing anything!”

I said, “Yeah, that pink is just the color of her skin! And she’s looking cu-u-ute!”

Then, kind of to test me I think, he said a few minutes later, “That girl is wearing a cute skirt.” And again, I agreed.

He commented that it’s rare to find a girl who is not upset by the natural impulse to look at other humans, especially attractive ones.

This is the BEST part, because we weren’t exclusive yet:

Me: “Do whatever you you want in your mind…But please don’t do it in real life.”
Him: “I couldn’t. I’m not interested.”

avatar MissDre May 26, 2011, 6:08 pm

This is slightly off topic but I have never noticed any men within my age range checking me out (I don’t really even get approached in bars and when I was younger I used to worry that I must be unattractive)… but OLD GUYS look me up and down all the time. Why is this?? I’m 25 years old, yet I have 50, 60, 70 year old men ogling me, all the time. I don’t get it. Is it a generational thing?

avatar _jsw_ May 26, 2011, 6:14 pm

Stop wearing those “Ensure” t-shirts. I know you got them for free, but, seriously, you need to stop wearing them.

Also, don’t consider the drooling to be a sexual thing. They just can’t help it.

avatar Darlin' May 30, 2011, 3:14 pm

Stop wearing those “Ensure” t-shirts. I know you got them for free, but, seriously, you need to stop wearing them.

Kay, I’ve been scrolling through just to read _jsw_’s comments. Awesome. :)

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't May 26, 2011, 8:49 pm

I’ve noticed that I get a lot of leers from old men. Including a 50+ man that I work with, who is a well-respected scientist. Like this LW’s boyfriend, he doesn’t even try to disguise the fact that he’s staring. So yeah, makes things awkward. Anyways, I think the whole “dirty old men” cliche is sort of true. It’s like, as they get older, they forget all those social norms that most people follow.

avatar KL May 26, 2011, 9:57 pm

I think it’s often a “what type of female attractiveness was fashionable during their time” thing. Guys my age tend to go for a particular “type” which I am not, and I’m seldom ogled by them…but I’ve always gotten lots of attention from older men. I think it’s because I’m closer to the pinup girls and movie stars of their own youth, in body type and hair color.

avatar demoiselle May 27, 2011, 9:39 am

Some old men feel entitled?

avatar twiglet May 29, 2011, 11:37 am

it’s generational- they can’t believe today’s fashions.Few women their own age walked around as we do now.They can’t believe their luck- when they were younger, they’d be castigated for harbouring pictures of women dressed more modestly than many modern outfits,now all they have to do is walk around any city. Actually, I think anyone has a right to look at anyone else in a public space, (you wouldn’t mind the cute young guy checking you out.)…but a look is all. No return glances,leery behaviour etc.That’s oppressive and out of order, unless you are wearing something like, say, a live alligator on your head, in which case, they are probably just curious.
But if you walk around (as I did when younger ) in eyecatching clothes, you can’t expect to filter which eyes caught by age and eligibility. You do have a right to get pissed off with pesterers, or rude starers like LW’s horrible boyfriend.

avatar _jsw_ May 29, 2011, 12:09 pm

Well, to be fair, even fairly old men grew up (or at least were relatively young) in the 60′s or later, so I’m not entirely sure that’s it.

I think it’s mainly just do to them no longer caring what others thing and staring when they feel like it.

avatar Quakergirl May 26, 2011, 7:21 pm

Your boyfriend is human, so he’s going to notice (and even look at) other women. But, your boyfriend is human, so he should have the damn good sense not to make it so obvious and then blab all about it to you! SERIOUSLY DUDE, get it together! It’s not that hard not to flat-out stare at other women. Noticing is acceptable, staring is not. Glancing is acceptable, looking so hard you don’t notice your girlfriend is trying to have a conversation with you is not. Thinking or even fantasizing about other people is acceptable, straight-up telling your girlfriend that you’re distracted because you can’t stop thinking about banging the hot chick at the table next to yours is not. These are, as Leonard would say to Sheldon, non-optional social conventions.

And let’s just address the specter of legitimate mental health issues swirling about the board. Even if he does have a diagnosable, treatable issue, you are in no way obligated to see him through it, especially when it’s clearly hurting you tremendously. You’ve only been together a year and a half– you aren’t married to the guy. If he decides to try to get better, he’ll be just fine and dandy doing so without around you to take the brunt of the relapses. I’d say give him one more shot (i.e. tell him in no uncertain terms that if he does it one more time, you’re out of there), and then MOA. Just make sure that if you share finances or significant assets you protect yourself so that you have enough money to live and a couch to crash on in the meantime.

avatar Marie May 26, 2011, 7:34 pm

I was at dinner once with my ex-bf and he was not able to hold a conversation (unlike his usual mundane conversation), when I asked what was wrong he replied “I’m just so distracted by how hot the waitress is.” Yah 1 week later that dude was au revoir. Who DOES that? Even if you think that kind of thing, which I would argue is totally fine, don’t mention to your SO. It is just rude and that is NEVER ok. Get the hell out, no one deserves to be treated like that.

avatar Jubietta May 26, 2011, 9:12 pm

One thing I hadn’t seen mentioned yet is that he might be using the LW as a “cover” for his behavior. A man sitting at a table alone, giving that much unanswered attention to a woman at another table, would attract attention from the whole joint and make it more difficult for him to continue ogling if only by their non-verbal behavior. That’s part of how our culture normalizes behavior.
It appears unanimous from the comments that the BF’s behavior isn’t healthy, and the LW can choose to help him in many ways…including holding him accountable to keep healthy interactions with his community.
Good luck, LW, in building the relationship you deserve!

avatar David Jay May 27, 2011, 3:52 am

After reading the title, I was all ready to jump in and defend your boyfriend for normal “wandering eye” behaviour. However, based on your description, he clearly suffers from a compulsive disorder… one that clearly controls him right now. At this point, making ultimatums and bitching at him would be like scolding a puppy with a bladder infection. He needs to get into a support group… not sure whether for a generic “porn addiction” or something more specialized. The one thing for sure is that if he doesn’t get help quick, he will start acting on these compulsions. So, your call: If you love him, help him get the help he needs and support him through the process. If he resists, say “buh-bye”. If you are not in love with him at this point, you probably lack the patience to see him back to wellness, so MOA.

avatar Addie Pray May 27, 2011, 6:22 am

Stupid and unrelated question here: how do you upload a picture to go with your user name?

avatar sarolabelle May 27, 2011, 10:41 am

What happened to His Take this week? Are the guys not receiving any questions?

avatar David Jay May 27, 2011, 11:37 am

Nope! I think Wendy has a lot of “catching up” to do since her vacation.

Dear Wendy Wendy May 27, 2011, 11:55 am

Actually, I got caught up pretty quickly!

Dear Wendy Wendy May 27, 2011, 11:54 am

Yeah, guys aren’t getting questions. Send the guys questions!! Sometimes, I try to see if the regular letters I get would be a good fit for His Take, but lately that hasn’t been the case either. So, please, send me letters that need the male perspective, everyone!

avatar sarolabelle May 27, 2011, 12:15 pm

Okay…I’ll have to actually think really hard of what I want to ask.

avatar sarolabelle May 27, 2011, 12:15 pm

I would like to know why guys like cold pizza. but that wouldn’t make for good reading.

avatar Maracuya May 27, 2011, 2:12 pm

…that makes me a guy then. :) It’s delicious and easy. Like fast food but even faster than that because it comes from your fridge.

avatar _jsw_ May 27, 2011, 4:41 pm

You nailed it. It is delicious, but even more importantly it is easy. This is also, by the way, why we are far more likely to make cereal a meal any time of the day.

avatar LW May 27, 2011, 11:18 am

Wow! Ok everyone… What a response. I appreciate the thoughts and advice. Pretty unanimous I guess. Thanks for the sarcasm too from some. I knew there was a reason i was nervous to read this. Lol. Will send an update in the future. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

leilani leilani May 27, 2011, 11:30 am

If I were you I’d start up the conversation with him, and if he’s acts like you’re being unreasonable, link him to this article and tell him to read all the responses….just as an “outside opinion” on the matter. Haha.

avatar LW May 27, 2011, 11:51 am

Done and done. :) We did talk about it right after it happened the last time… and I just sent him Wendy’s response for a little reality check. Well a big reality check actually.

avatar LTC039 May 27, 2011, 11:55 am

Hope all goes well!! :)

avatar Maracuya May 27, 2011, 2:13 pm

Same! Good luck, LW.

avatar _jsw_ May 27, 2011, 4:39 pm

Thank you so much for writing in, and please let us know how this goes. Please also remember we’re all commenting back to a stranger based solely on what was written, so keep that in mind. :-)

avatar LW May 27, 2011, 5:04 pm

Thanks everyone!

And thank you, jsw. I’m a big fan of yours. I did want to mention that it is really impossible to describe myself, my boyfriend and our relationship in a brief letter so I really appreciate your comment… even though it is quite a heinous pastime he acquired somewhere along the way, no doubts about that.

So, we’ll see what happens! I’m not mad so much as sad – and now much more courageous than I have been recently, thanks to you guys. Should make for an interesting evening at home.

avatar _jsw_ May 27, 2011, 6:14 pm

Yeah… I don’t envy you the night – or the long weekend. I hope all goes as well as possible, and I’ve really been converted to the point of view that he has a disorder of some sort… it truly seems compulsive. I hope he decides to seek help and therapy, both for the sake of your relationship and for his own well-being.

If not, though… please don’t put up with this behavior any longer. It is absolutely not normal or acceptable, and you deserve better.

avatar SGMcG May 27, 2011, 4:51 pm

Kudos to showing your boyfriend the letter and all the subsequent responses! Sometimes a person does not get an idea how reprehensible their behavior is until someone else other than the offended person calls them out on it. Hopefully your boyfriend can learn from his mistakes. Good luck LW!

avatar val shearer June 20, 2011, 3:50 pm

i have a situation like LW. However, I have been married for 14 years and my husband has totally disrespected me by looking at family members and friends. the problem is that they look back as though i am not there. they flirt right in my face and then he expects me to have sex when we get home. I actually hate him! i cannot have sex with him because of this so he told me on Sunday that this is a deal breaker. haha, the damn deal has been broken. ive been depressed and off work on leave and i used pot (natural herbals) for medicinal reasons to mask the pain and disrespect. he has created barriers in my family and with so called friends. they say he is drop dead gorgeous and i guess they cannot resist him. I was feeling trapped lonely and stupid as a rock. no more pot smoking cuz im getting outta here asap. its been to long and i need some peace and a healthy life.

avatar MaleViewPoint October 23, 2012, 2:14 pm

I will say that from a male point of view, if the wife or girlfriend is perceived by him as being less attractive than he, or if he has made some compromises in his selection of you, than you are in for many years of low self-esteem and heartache.

Men will always default to the natural instinct to have an attractive wife by his side. There is a study out that explains this fact, marriages where the wife is more attractive are consistently rated by the couple as more happy…for both male and female.

My suggestion? Make some wholesale changes to your looks and stay fit! Unfortunately for females, males place most of their respect of you based on your looks. And here is what men look at, in order of importance. 1) Your body shape, shape of your butt and a fit waistline as most important, and overall being fit. 2) Your hair. Long thick hair will grab a mans attention over thinning short hair styles. 3) Pretty, young looking face. 4) Breasts. They don’t have to be big, just shapely. Breasts are overrated, they are a kicker to move a 7 or 8 up to a 9 or 10.

Posseing any two of the first three, and you should be able to keep your mans eyes on you, and you alone.

avatar CC September 3, 2014, 5:38 pm

I sure hope you moved along… you, as do any woman in this situation deserve better. I am one of those women…instead of admitting his “shopping” he would tell me it was all in my imagination….I was connecting the wrong dots. As a woman over 50 I thought this was just the reality of being “my age”…thankfully wth the help of great friends they confirmed his behavior…as did his ex-wife who told me what she referred to as his “ADD” and “shopping” ended their marriage. I hope you are deliriously happy with a man who deserves you!

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