I have discovered the Counseling Men Blog: Advice for Men, and the Women Who Love Them! The topic I am focusing on from their site is “Looking at Other Women”.
Before I go into this: I have to confess to feeling completely tired just looking at the title, anticipating what it is about, and discovering that I was completely right. Take a look for yourselves. The usual Christianese formulae are there—in a Q&A, husband admits that though he loves his wife, he can’t stop looking at other women.
When younger I was just another guy who looks at other women, even when with my wife. I meant no harm, but it upset my wife and hurt her. My reaction was to stop looking at other women and avoid dealing with women. I have no interest to meet any one else or look at any one else. I am totally satisfied with my wife.
Like other men looking at other women, I get incidents that happen without control, a glance, that I hate and am not comfortable with and especially if the other woman notices me looking. I do not look again, but just this uncontrolled look makes me awkward and I panic, mostly out of fear of hurting my wife and risk of losing her.
When with my wife, my wife reports that I become a different person and not notice her. I notice that I feel awkward and I am not comfortable when out. I feel as if I have to keep my guard up all the time and if I relax I will fall!
(bold above is on the site)
So that is the fellow’s dilemma as presented. I have to say that I’m a bit puzzled—what exactly is meant by this stuff? What does ‘looking at other women’ mean? Is it a glance? A full on ogle? A Loony Tunes stare with eyes bugging out and train whistles going off and a loud whistle? We don’t know.
What are incidents that happen without control? Is he becoming painfully aroused, is he unable to keep from snapping upskirt shots? Again, we don’t know.
And how exactly is he hurting his wife? How does he become a different person? What does that even mean?
Anyway the author of the article goes on to explain something of why men look at other women.
Why do men look at other women? Most of us first developed the habit of looking at women when we were teenagers. It happens naturally and then we encourage it because of how good it makes us feel. Each time we see a sexually attractive woman our brain rewards us with a chemical high. It’s a minor high compared to other drugs, but it’s still enjoyable and addicting.
This natural reward system is the beginning reason why men look at other women. With the almost constant barrage of attractive women we’re exposed to in our media crazed world, many of us men have developed a regular “habit” of looking at other women. This habit can become so ingrained that our looking becomes like a natural reflex and one that we can feel we have no control over.
Unfortunately, our media exposure has only made this a more and more difficult battle for men. Advertisements by Carl’s Jr., Victoria Secret, car and beer makers all use scantily clad women, in sexually provocative poses to sell their products (are we buying the car, the girl, or does the girl come with the car?) contribute to why men look at other women.
When we get married or in a committed relationship we need to stop being a man who looks at other women. If we don’t, this “habit” can cause us a lot of problems, just as you’ve described.
Before I continue, I must say that while sure, one would expect that there is a need to demonstrate devotion to one’s committed relationship, that again there is this odd phrase: looking at other women. I’m still not sure what this means exactly here. Does he mean notices? Ogles? We still don’t know.
Anyway, here’s some advice he gave on how to control this, barring being so obviously addicted that you need counseling.
1. Recognize that it is a habit that you’ve built, not an uncontrollable reflex.
2. Begin to look for ways you continue to build that habit — such as movies, TV shows, magazines, football games, or internet porn and stop feeding it to your brain (read My Husband Looks At Porn to learn more).
3. Accept and get comfortable with the fact that it is natural to notice attractive women. The goal here is not to eliminate noticing, but rather how often you look and for how long.
Well wait a minute—let’s suppose we accept these three pieces of advice are reasonable. What exactly does ‘how often you look’ mean, and how long is too long?
And in fact, what is the actual goal here? What is this trying to achieve?
I read a bit of the comments section but there was only so much that I could take. A common theme was agreeing with the article which suggests that overwhelming amounts of sexual materials in the media are one of the causes of men being obsessed with sex. Which is interesting—why then are subjects like lust, adultery, falling in love, so common in the writings of the ancients? Were things more moral in the bronze and iron age or something? Doesn’t seem like it if you read the Bible or any ancient history. But one poster said that she felt human beings could be like penguins and mate for life. Um…no, actually they can’t. Human beings just aren’t wired that way. Human beings are naturally opportunistic, it’s one of the reasons why we are a successful species. Faithfulness for human beings is a moral choice, not a natural inclination. And here’s something to consider: one of the first things we are attracted to about anything is appearance. Other things tend to follow after that first impression. That doesn’t magically go away because of a ceremony and signing a piece of paper.
The issue I have with this sort of thing is not that it is trying to encourage moral behaviour—it’s rather that there is no real yardstick for moral behaviour in it; it merely feeds into women’s fears, worries about their looks and self esteem, without offering any real practical advice.
I’m sure that sites like this have the best of intentions, I really do. They see a crisis and want to respond to it. So I am NOT condemning this website in particular—I think that it reflects a generally faulty line of thought in our society, which I think this ignores a real factor in divorce: women generally feel a strong inclination towards letting their morals be guided by their emotions. You will notice that women who are enjoying being married will often be amused or even arrogant in the face of their man giving a glance to another woman, the “sway your hips if you want honey, he’s going home with ME” attitude I’m sure we’ve all seen. But for the woman who is unhappy about her marriage anyway, everything the guy does will become a suspicious clue as to why she’s unhappy, no matter what it is. Like the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the start of WWI—if conflict and condemnation are wanted, women who want out will find a way that allows them to feel like the wronged party.