Wise Guys: He Looks at Other Women But Gets Jealous If I Ogle Men

man_ogles_women_cropphoto by makelessnoise

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: My boyfriend claims it means nothing when he looks at other women, and yet he gets jealous when I look at other men. Why is that?

joel_derfner_100Gay Engaged Guy (Joel Derfner, author of Swish): It’s a combination of insecurity and a double standard. When your boyfriend looks at a woman who isn’t you, chances are he’s really just appreciating her, like you might appreciate a strawberry-rhubarb pie on the table — even though you’re really enjoying the piece of red velvet cake you’re already eating. But when you look at someone who isn’t your boyfriend, he can’t see that you’re probably just appreciating too, because he’s terrified that you might decide the other guy is better — that you might realize the strawberry-rhubarb pie is smarter than the red velvet cake, or makes more money, or has a bigger penis — and dump him, half-eaten, in the trash, so you can ride off into the sunset with the pie.

anonymous_suitStraight Married Guy (Figleaf): Funny you should mention that. I’ve got a woman friend who flirts shamelessly but almost blacks out with jealousy when her partner so much as asks another woman to pass the salt. Her answer for the double standard is a lot like men’s:  She knows she’s not looking to change relationships, so it’s okay for her, but not having the same insider information about what her partner’s thinking, she sees it as a total threat. Something similar is probably going though your partner’s head.

But that’s just the general case — there’s a more specific case related to what we “know” about men and women in relationships. We “know” that women are all “naturally” monogamous and men are just as “naturally” promiscuous, right? And so all your boyfriend’s cultural messages are that it’s really harmless for him to eye other women. He’d at most want a one-night stand, but we all “know” he wouldn’t want an emotional attachment. Meanwhile, though, all the cultural messages about you as a woman say that if you’re looking, it’s because you’d rather be with them. Forever! So he “knows” you’d really “only” want an emotional attachment and not a one-night stand. And as Em & Lo’s survey showed back in September, both men and women feel way more threatened by emotional infidelity than sexual infidelity. Is it fair that women are thought to be “naturally” monogamous and men are thought to be “naturally” promiscuous? No, but a lot of things aren’t fair, and jealousy will probably always be with us. The bigger question is whether it’s true? No, it’s not. Which is a bigger problem, but one that, unlike jealousy, we can get over.

anonymous_suitStraight Single Guy (L.A. Chris): That’s because men are, in general, babies. I think almost every guy has this double standard when it comes to jealousy. He’s jealous because he’s jealous, but he’s telling the truth when he says it means nothing. Men deeply believe that sex and love are unrelated. Totally separate. Like apples and roller coasters. When a man ogles another woman, it has nothing to do with how he feels about his girlfriend or his relationship. A guy may stare excitedly at a bulldozer or a flame-thrower, but it doesn’t mean he wants to own one. So if you catch him glancing at a passing hottie, don’t feel threatened. He’s not shopping for a new girlfriend and he doesn’t love you any less. However, I think that most guys suspect, deep-down, that when a woman looks around, she is probably shopping around for something better.

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Gay Engaged Guy is Joel Derfner, author of Swish, and our Straight Married Guy is Figleaf, the guy behind RealAdultSex.com. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. My man admits that he looks at other women, but it seems like he is not looking her way and he is not really looking at her. He thinks I am cheating on him because I get along with guys more and his friends check me out or look at me, so he thinks I am cheating on him. Sometimes he looks at other women to make me jealous. He said when I get a lot of money then I am going to cheat on you with money and he said that you are probably happy that I am his friend not him and it was him not his friend. He has told his friends that he is the only one that gets to sleep with me not them and he is jealous of them because they check me out. He has jealous issues with me and other men. Sometimes I can’t handle it, so men cheat because they are jealous too.

  2. I think that both men and women experience the same thing. You know what’s going on in your own head, which is “he is pleasant to look at” while you talk to him, but you would be just as happy talking to a pleasant looking female. It really is all the same to you because you aren’t interested in him. But you don’t know what the other is thinking when they’re talking to someone attractive. As a protective mechanism, people naturally assume the worst. That way, they will act to prevent anything from happening. When you SO is talking to someone, you naturally but illogically assume the worst.

    Worrying about your man’s desire for a one-night stand is just as disturbing as worrying about him being interested in someone for the long-term. Society emphasizes women’s looks a million more times over than it does men’s looks. Because of this, wanting a woman for a one-night stand is pretty darn close to wanting a woman as a partner. Many men will say that a woman is “marriage material” based on their looks. Or they might say “I would marry her” just by looking. Physical and emotional attraction to women are very closely tied together in men. In women, they are not. Physical attraction is more likely to repel women because the guys who are physically attractive are usually the players.

    Competitiveness is men and women is equal. If a man or a woman thinks their SO is actually interested in someone else, that competitive drive will kick in just as quick in either gender.

    Jealousy is more entrenched in women’s culture. We learn to compare ourselves to each other based on superficial qualities. So the jealousy reaction is stronger in women because of that.

    But the natural jealousy, of not knowing what the other is thinking or feeling, and assuming the worst, is equally present in both men and women.

    Physical attraction is more threatening to women than it is to men, because physical attraction is much more important to men than it is to women.

  3. I used to be one of those females, when I was younger, who would fly off the handle if I saw my boyfriend looking at another women. After going through a terrible marriage, I realize there are far worse things out there your man could do. As long as my boyfriend doesn’t stare for a longer period of time then normal, or try and talk or smile at the other women, I’m o.k. Let’s be real ladies, we look at men just as much as men look at women and our “girl talks” would make any man blush if they knew what we talked about. I enjoy admiring a beautiful women too. Women are physically beautiful and so are men. Porn is healthy, get over it. My boyfriend and I enjoy it together and when we are a part. If you restrict someone so much, they are going to do something far worse then watch porn. So ladies lighten up a bit and enjoy your man. As long s he isn’t cheating on you or lying, you have a good one.

    1. I think women talk about men in “girl talks” to try to take the sting out of what they feel their men are doing. I would never enjoy such a discussion about how hot a guy is or whatever. I can see the appeal though if you feel like you’re trying to level the playing field and feel less bad they are doing that behind your back. Literally looking at a woman is one thing, but being distracted from a conversation with your S/O is something else.

  4. So many soft, kill the relationship, kill the filing here. People are jealous because we know when people are shopping, I mean looking it will result in them becoming disconent and judgemental about what they are missing out on – grass is greener. Doesn’t hurt? You are only fooling yourself at the expense of your eventually ruined relationship. When it comes to sex and infedelity – the blah, blah, blah about men say it is just sex and they still love their partner – Good golly what a line of BS. Yes, I still love my ex but I also love my other and you know how well we all share!!! We share our time, finances, energy, etc and you know most barely have enough of that for one otherwise they tend to half ass it. So the entire it is just causual sex that means nothing argument, is just a load of crap we try to sell someone to continue to do what we want. You probable will only get your other to buy that crap one time so use your pass wisely.

  5. I had, had the same problem with my ex. We went to the zoo and some woman was jogging and in mid sentence I was intereupted by “oh a woman with bouncing boobs”. I said what? after I had seen this woman coming closer to us. I had stopped the woman and asked if she cared that my fiance was checking her t*ts out while bouncing and asked her if she wouldn’t mind lifting her shirt so he could have a picture of what intriged him so much that my talking to him about our wedding plans took second place. She right there slapped him across the face and asked “why disrespect the woman you are going to marry”.I corrected her at this point and said was going to marry. Funny thing is she asked me if I wanted a ride home and I accepted and left him at the zoo without keys to his car or house. I had them for a few minutes untill we got on the highway and tossed them with my 2000.00 engagment ring. So men by all means look while your woman is standing there but don’t be supprised at what happens. There is no reason for that sort of behavior. Yes I know they say looking is natural….Fantasies are suppose to be natural bs. People do this sort of stuff because the one they are with isn’t doing it for them. What is between my legs is mine, how dare any male put another face on me while he is lets say in me. NOWAY

    1. I would also break up with my S/O if he did that. It is so tempting as to distract him from your conversation? That’s ridiculous. Who hasn’t seen bouncing boobs before? Someone who doesn’t have the internet? And someone who doesn’t have the internet would not even realize they’re a sexualized body part. 1. That is really inconsiderate of him 2. Why on earth is he even with you if he finds other women so compelling? I mean if I was drooling over a ripped man jogging with his shirt off, I would really take a minute to reconsider my relationship. Noticing abs is one thing. Giving a shit is a red flag.

  6. Ok…all this being said…I get it. I know men look. Women feel threatened by the possibility that their partners will throw them out in favour of the piece of pie that just walked by. Women look…some men don’t care, some get jealous and feel threatened for the same reason. What fans the flame of jealousy is the unknown…if that’ what I’m understanding…we get jealous because we also get afraid…because we don’t know what’s going on inside the other’s mind. So our mind messes with us – whether we are men or women….but my problem isn’t that he looks…it’s in the way it has happened. I felt hurt…I was trying to talk to him about something very important to me when all of a sudden he “shushed” me…only to tell me he had to shush me because 2 hot 20 year olds with nice t*ts were jogging by and he wanted to see them b*uncing…and he would not have listened or paid attention to what I said. I think what choked me the most was that last part “would not have listened or paid attention to what I said”…when we were in the middle of an important conversation. So do I have a right to be jealous or am I being stupid as some people seem to think? I felt disrespected…and I’d like both men and women’s feedback. Men – do you treat your women this way? Women – is this just a guy thing your men do to you?

  7. I agree with Julie. Oggling in public or around a partner who wouldn’t be comfortable with it is quite disrespectful, even though it can be quite harmless.

    Also fantasizing and checking someone out are two very different things. One may admire the features or sexual air of another without necessarily including that person in their fantasies.

    Lastly: Damn, reading this post makes me feel like I’m totally weird. Not everyone fantasize about people other than their significant other. I don’t. I’ve even tried to, and found that I can get as far as a kiss before I find myself feeling slightly nauseated and I start losing my focus. Even fantasizing about my husband can be difficult, and I’m usually fairly unsuccessful except once every few months. And yet, just soft sex scenes in regular movies are a huge turn on as well as reading of such, so it’s not like I can’t appreciate sexual imagery. Bottom line, I suppose, is this: we’re all different and we need to be wary of over- generalizations, especially concerning people’s sexual natures.

    1. A man admiring or noticing another woman is one thing. It being a distraction from his S/O in any situation is another.
      Women are not actually worried about a man actually leaving them. The sad thing is that they know that the man wouldn’t leave them for this more attractive person simply because that other woman would be out of their league. Or they are tied to them for other reasons, like long-term relationships. The problem is the desire. How would you feel if your husband told you, I can’t leave you because the divorce would be messy and I couldn’t get her anyways, but I wish I was with her instead. If he said, if he got to chose from the beginning her or you, it would be her, because she’s more attractive? I don’t see how that’s less hurtful than him actually leaving you.

  8. Of course fantasizing is something we all do. I do think it is disrespectful though to ogle at anyone when in public and in the presence of your significant other. I don’t think thats too much to ask from either men or women.

  9. What you see is what you get? Isn’t it right, men get jealous if you gals start to stare at other guys. Am i right or wrong? But, when we guys start to stare at other girls. You, ladies want to tear our heads off. Agree…

    1. Well, men think looks are more important than women do. So to acknowledge another woman’s looks is like saying “I wish you looked like that”. Women might look at another guy and think he is attractive but they would never want their man to look more like him. They love the man the way they are. Men think looks are so important, and a certain way is superior. If a man had a magic wand, they would give their S/O more “desirable” features, whereas the woman would rather keep her man the way they are. That is because of society’s emphasis on the importance of one particular view of beauty in women, and on the importance of looks for a man. Looks are literally number one for men. Everything else comes second. An ugly woman with a beautiful mind will always, always, come second place after a beautiful woman with a dumb mind.

    2. All men chose women in this order (except for other special circumstances like she has more money, is socially popular, etc):

      1. Beautiful outside and a beautiful mind
      2. Beautiful outside and an ugly mind
      3. Fair outside and a beautiful mind
      4. Fair outside and an ugly mind
      5. Mediocre outside and a beautiful mind
      6. Mediocre outside and an ugly mind
      7. Ugly outside — no, they would rather be single no need to find out about the mind.

      Looks are the most important thing to men so when a man thinks another woman is attractive it is the most threatening thing for him to do.

  10. Men sexually fantasize about the women they ogle. Women sexually fantasize about the men they ogle.

    Everybody does it, and it’s normal. You’re allowed to fantasize. As for whether it means that your ogling partner would actually cheat on you, I think you have to consider them innocent until proven guilty, given the fact that YOU DO IT TOO.

  11. The guys hit on it a little bit, and it all boils down to insecurity. I feel the same way about the guys that hold this double standard as the girls who read romance novels and watch chick flick marathons and freak out when their guy uses porn to masturbate. The problem here isn’t with the girl who looks, it’s the guy who can’t handle her looking, just like the aforementioned problem isn’t the guy who uses porn, it’s the girl who can’t handle the guy looking.

    Everybody has fantasies; some people just try to make themselves feel better by pretending their partners don’t. From a rational standpoint, the idea that you can fantasize about someone else but your partner can only fantasize about you is patently ridiculous, but so many people, men and women, adhere to this kind of faulty double-standard. And they only do it because they can’t handle knowing that they personally are not the be-all end-all of their partner’s existence. It’s selfish, childish and extremely insecure; guilting your partner into not looking only makes them less likely to share themselves with you, it drives a wedge of delusion between yourself and your partner. That’s the kind of wedge that grows with time, and I would bet has ended many promising relationships. All because one person couldn’t recognize that the other one was human too.

    I wish people didn’t just assume that thought, that everybody is human, was common sense. Although, perhaps I just wish this common sense were a little more common.

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