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 email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.