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Just a Guy Who Looks

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Men like to look at women. Yes, there's a time and place for doing it. But we will also do it when it's not the time and place. It's in our hardwiring.

guy on a date checking out another woman

Bruce Sallan: Two recent outings with my wife brought this to mind. First, we were driving at night and pulled alongside a line of (young) people waiting to get into a club. My wife was driving, but noticed that I "gazed" at the abundance of barely clad women. Now, of course, she would say "slobbered."

The second occurred while at the airport, in the interminable security line. Bored to death as it inched along, I tried the more covert spy gaze, this time at a group of young girls apparently on their way to Vegas. But, as it turned out, I'm no 007, and in my absent-mindedness, I slightly bumped my wife, who was ahead of me.

Clearly sensitive to this issue, she twirled around, accused me of looking at girls (again), and promised to get even, which in her language means spending money.

My wife is quite attractive and I don't want anyone else. To a degree, I can't help it when a half-naked woman crosses my path, while at the same time my wife deserves my respect and exclusive attention. I don't like this side of my character. To counter it, I usually sit facing the wall whenever we eat out, to ensure my undivided attention to my wife.

Honestly, I'm doing my best to work on this, but as with more than most of my (male) deficiencies, what can I do, as I'm just a guy? Now, gulp, I'm ready for your comments.

next: I Am the Land of the Free -- Free of Children!
47 comments so far | Post a comment now
inutu July 8, 2009, 4:04 AM

im always keeping an eye on my boyfriend whenever we are outdoors,cos i always expect his eyes to stray,but i guess its not just a guy,its actually a human thing cos i cant keep my eyes from straying too when i see a hottie

Bruce Sallan July 8, 2009, 11:36 AM

I can’t let another day go by without replying to all these comments. First, in general, I stand by the reality that women do not look or notice men as much as men notice women. Simple proof of this is any magazine stand where the men’s section is full of Playboy, Maxim, Hustler, and worse, while the women’s section is relationship and fashion oriented (Yes, I know the men’s section is also loaded with car, motorcycle, and how to mags, but even half the car magazines feature scantily clad women on their covers - speaking of that, why is it that most of the women’s magazines ALSO have bikini clad women on THEIR covers, huh!?). Playgirl was a failure, period. Women looked once or twice out of curiosity, while men look (at variety) all the time ‘cause, sorry Stephanie, we ARE wired much differently (I use this as just one proof). Now, some specifics, in no particular order:
1. Amanda, Jeff, and Mark - THANK YOU.
2. David - she’d add more to her list of my deficiencies, but we’re in love, we’re a second marriage where 65% fail, and we’re a “work in progress” with both of us putting in the effort and desire to make it work.
3. Shea - I often compliment my wife on her beauty and other wonderful aesthetic features she possesses, in addition to all her other non-physical glorious qualities.
4. Anonymous - I know it’s a natural thing that we look and more power to you for acknowledging and accepting it.
5. Penny - He gave the right answer in the same way there’s ONLY one answer to the question “Does this dress make me look fat?”
6. Jen - I wouldn’t have written such a public and somewhat embarrassing character trait if I wasn’t both working hard to change it and hoping to help both men and women be more aware of how hard it is for men, given both our hardwiring and the society we live in that attacks us constantly with scantily clad women in all forms of entertainment, ads, and in person (especially in the warmer climates, like where I live).
Okay, readers, please continue to weigh in on this subject. I stand by my blog. I still sit facing the wall and I am trying to be more discreet, without a doubt. However, now that my wife is sensitive to this, if a naked centerfold walked by and I didn’t even glance, she’d accuse me or at least be watching me like a hawk! I’ve earned that suspicion, as I’ve already confessed, but I still contend it’s hard and I may just be on the lower end of the curve in controlling myself, but I’ve acknowledged it and continue to work on it. Harumph is my final word on the subject!

Anonymous July 8, 2009, 12:09 PM

hey men are just more physical and we have more things to look at

Bruce Sallan July 8, 2009, 12:57 PM

I just realized I exceeded the amount of words allowed in a comment, so to finish where I left off:

However, now that my wife is sensitive to this, a naked centerfold could walk by, I could not bat an eye, and she’d be on guard. I’ve generated that suspicion, obviously, but I hope her sensitivity will diminish in relation to my improved focus on her and my efforts to change (in this regard). Okay, now I’m done…lol.

Traci  July 8, 2009, 3:06 PM

I agree with a few posters here. 1) This isn’t a guy thing, it’s a person thing. Women check dudes out all the time. 2) The only opinion that matters is your wife’s— and looks like from above, she wants you to be a wee bit more discrete about it. Do I check out other guys? Perhaps. Good looking people are like works of art— you can’t help but appreciate them. Bad looking people are like train wrecks, and have the same affect. The one thought that keeps coming back to me, though, is perhaps your wife is not jealous that you find others attractive; rather, perhaps she would like it if she were the object of those same attentions. Put another way: I’m not too shallow to admit that should my husband notice a beautiful woman, part of me wants him to find me as desirable. On the same note, when I feel that he finds me desirable, I don’t really care if he notices other women or not.

Victoria July 8, 2009, 5:14 PM

you rock, you are so right in everything you said!!!! You made me feel soooo much better about men slobering over women!!

Denise July 8, 2009, 8:47 PM

Wow, hard to believe a guy being THAT honest. I think you’re the only one Bruce. I hope your wife appreciates you even if you occasionally are a caveman. It should cost you, but you should be forgiven, too. Isn’t that the key to relationships? I love your blogs and your willingness to put it out there. Keep it up.

Scott July 8, 2009, 9:09 PM

I really appreciate Bruce’s perspective and especially his honesty. I work very hard at letting my wife know how much I care about and for her, how much I appreciate everything she does at work and at home and how completely committed I am to our marriage. That said, I’m absolutely certain that guys are hardwired to look…I do from time to time. In his 80’s, my dad once said to me, “I’ll stop looking when I’m dead.” I think that says it all.

Shani July 8, 2009, 9:41 PM

It’s totally natural to look- for both sexes. If I see a scantily clad hot girl walk by I look and then I look to see if my husband’s looking. How do you not notice? I think some of the comments were right on about the women partners wanting to feel that same admiration from their guys and so maybe get a twinge of insecurity- at least I know that there are times when I need some extra validation. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it as long as you are secure with feeling that you are the only one for him…

kathy July 9, 2009, 12:12 AM

Your hardwiring premise reminds me of my WASP older brother and makes me laugh. I agree with your premise. However, is it “brutal honesty” you are displaying or is it the canny ability to “stir the pot” and get a discussion going? I opt for the latter. Perhaps we can get a blog going about how women are hardwired to be monogamous, bare children, stand by their man and bake chocolate chip cookies while doing it. Maybe Hillary Clinton would even post a comment.

When married to my first hub, I was too young to understand the differences in hardwiring and was jealous. Second marriage, still a lil jealous, but knew deep down inside that I was hotter than he. Very important to me at that time. Third marriage – older still, and the wandering eye syndrome didn’t mean much. After all, my three marriages began with that lovely glance.

Like your blogs a lot. Keep it going.


ilene July 9, 2009, 11:50 AM

Great column, brave column! Classic etiquette dictates that the man is supposed to sit facing the wall so that a) the woman can look out at the room, and b) the man’s attention is directed exclusively at his companion. While it may seem formal and old-fashioned, you’ve discovered that it’s a good idea, because those annoying little man-tics can really land a guy in trouble. But aside from wanting to protect yourself, it would be so great if guys could find the self-control to overcome many of those puerile and hurtful-to-women habits. Thanks for encouraging the discussion…

Erin July 10, 2009, 11:24 AM

Well, this blog seems to have stirred a spirited debate Bruce. Gotta hand it to you - you either have guts or you’re nuts. LOL. But, I believe you’re right. Men sometimes can’t help themselves and women don’t exactly make it easy parading around, especially in summer, in such provocative clothes. Forget the beach as my guy is just like one of those swivel dolls. Nonetheless, like you, his love and devotion is exclusive to me so I have chosen to kick him in the butt when he’s less discreet but otherwise to put it in the category of “just a guy” if you don’t mind my stealing from you. Love your blogs. Keep ‘em coming, please.

Bagel July 10, 2009, 1:54 PM

It is a challenge as a male not to look at women who show off the goods. I have a very pretty girlfriend but I would not be human i I didn’t turn my head when I see another attractive woman, especially if they are scantily clad. Just because a man looks doesn’t mean he isn’t fatihful to his partner. If women didn’t want us to look, they would dress alot more conservative than they sometimes do. Otherwise, what is the point of dressing that way?

Wayne July 10, 2009, 4:24 PM

As a man who has coached hundreds of men to be BetterMen, I can assure you that this “ailment” is suffered by most healthy men. Whether it’s nature or socialization, we objectify women (just look at our marketing culture). Sex is used so pervasively to sell us all form of product and service, how can we possibly be expected to NOT pay attention to real live, moving billboards.

Look, we need to respect our women. There are certainly men who have trouble with boundaries and have no sense of what’s acceptable. They need some support from other men to make a change.

And then there are those of us who are married, not dead. We love to look. My experience has shown me that healthy women appreciate when their men are just being men, as long as they bring it all back to them.

Rachel July 10, 2009, 4:54 PM

This type of thing doesn’t tend to bother me, but again if I were witnessing my husband going into an intense glaze, then I might be a little annoyed, I don’t expect to be the only person my husband looks at, because he certainly isn’t the only one I look at, but there is a level of respect, don’t go from glance to glaze!
Bruce we met not an hour ago at Trader Joes and in the middle of our conversation about this article not only did you look at a woman passing by, you were not even conscious of the fact that you did it! I started laughing thinking that you would come to realize what I might be referring to, but you didn’t! So I figured I would save it for my blog.
If changing this part of yourself is really something you want to do, the first step to changing it is to become conscious of the fact that you do it!

Bruce Sallan July 10, 2009, 5:50 PM

Rachel - Whoa, busted, am I? See, it’s not easy even when I think I’m conscious of it and I’m trying to beat it. We’re in TJ’s and women are streaming by and I’m really trying to focus on you and your lovely kids. Granted you weren’t my wife, but it still is rude. But, the hard-wiring comes to play in spite of my best efforts. No alcoholic, gambling, or drug addict usually succeeds at going cold turkey so, trust me, I’m better than I used to be. And, I was clearly more interested in your lovely kids than any passing woman, as I REMEMBER Hunter and Soren (correct? - it was an unusual name), including Hunter’s mohawk, Soren’s lovely blue eyes, and the mimicking she was doing of me and when she cried when her foot got caught in the cart. This only reinforces my belief that the male hard-wiring is unconscious and hard to fight, as I can’t remember a single woman I glanced at, other than you whom I talked and interacted with!

Jimmy July 10, 2009, 6:31 PM

A man’s intent is a key factor in why we look. Some men do it as a natural reflex but with absolutely no interest in anything more than said glimpse. As quick as we gandered, we’ve forgotten.

However, some men have a true ‘wandering eye.’ Many of those men do so with a yearning but with moral restraint and yet others are less reserved.

Only you (the proverbial you) know what evil lurks in your lurks.

Rachel July 10, 2009, 6:41 PM

Bruce - Busted, No! You didn’t write this article without having a reason to write it.
Hunter and Soren is correct, good memory.
I would be a hypocrite to say that I haven’t set forth to change something about myself and then immediately contradicted my intentions by doing it. I truly believe that if you want to change this “hardwire” then you will find a way to do it.

Art Maven July 10, 2009, 7:39 PM

Why short-circuit hard-wiring? If beauty is indeed in the eye of the behavior and people like you didn’t look, how much less beauty there would be in the world. Beauty and art in this world are here to be appreciated and I’m sure many of the beauties you appreciate, appreciate being viewed. If you gazed at the Mona Lisa or an incredible sunset while talking to your wife would she really be offended? As long as your looks are artful appreciation and not the first step toward more lustful behavior, gaze on. It’s why beauty exists in the world. Have fun.

Eddie July 10, 2009, 7:49 PM

Wow Bruce, cool blog! Three things come to mind. Either:

1) Don’t look when you are with your wife.

2) Wear sunglasses so she can’t see your eyes and don’t make your body langue so obvious.

3) Turn it into a fun little game between you and your wife about both males and females. Here’s what I mean; make a comment to your wife about things women are interested in (read Cosmo magazine for tips).

For example, “WOW hun, that girl was wearing some nice red heals, totally reminds me of the ones you wore ______ night… but yours are way hotter.”

Or “WOW, that guy is buff! I totally want to hit the gym tonight. Join me babe and we’ll have a blast working out together.”

Or “What she is wearing is AWFUL, totally makes her butt look way too big” “Baby, if you ever wore something like that, its so over between us” (said with a joking tone and a flirty smirk)

Or, “That color dress doesn’t match her skin tone; I’m such a lucky guy!”

Notice how the above are all about clothes and fashion…why? because women are into that and finish with a positive comment about her or yourself or something you two can do together.

#3 and the examples above only work if she is on board and both of you are willing to make it into a fun little game. Both of you are checking out both guys and girls together, which is cute. It’s almost like having your own adult DVD collection and watching them alone (NOT COOL) or sharing a few DVD’s and watching them together (VERY HOT)…

Remember it takes two to Tango…or in my case Salsa! :)

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