I don’t want to rain on anyone’s heteronormative ogle parade, but women aren’t mad at you for checking out other women. At least, they’re not mad at you for the reason you think they’re mad at you. Listen, women fundamentally understand that the world is full of smoke shows. They also don’t think looking at another person and finding them attractive is some kind of cheating dealbreaker. Just like you, women find other people — often, men who look nothing like you, dress nothing like you, act nothing like you, speak nothing like you — wildly, mesmerizingly, fantastically attractive. Dear god, the world is full of insanely hot men!
So why’s she mad? Because it’s rude to do it in front of your woman, it’s unnecessary, and whether you realize it or not, you’re not extending the courtesy back to her. If you were, I doubt you’d be so into it.
Recently, another version of a shockingly universal question asked by women five times a second surfaced on Reddit. This time, it was a 23-year-old woman lamenting that her 28-year-old boyfriend checks out “EVERY SINGLE WOMAN” when they’re out.
Now, let’s be clear: He’s probably not checking out every single woman. Only the hot ones, amirite fellas? Hell, maybe he is. Maybe he likes the sorta hot ones, and maybe the not-hot ones, too. Takes all kinds!
Regardless, she’s bummed. It’s only four months into their relationship, after all. I can’t speak for everyone, but the first part of any relationship is good for one notable thing: the making-out-in-the-bar period of love. You’re boning constantly, leaving bed only to eat or see a movie. It’s that thing where you can’t really take your hands off each other yet; it’s as if there’s no one else on earth but each other. Eventually you settle down and turn back toward the outside world… but until then, hot damn.
So it follows, then, that she doesn’t like feeling like chopped liver every time they step out into the world. Dudes don’t understand how this feels, because they never have to.
Generally, when guys are accused of body-scanning every woman in sight like an FBI agent (ahem, that’s Female Body Inspector), and that it sucks for the woman they love, they usually balk. They usually deny they even do it. Or they act sheepish but don’t stop. Or they just defend it like it’s the most natural thing in the world (for them) and that you should be fine with it (or else the problem is you). Sometimes, they listen and agree to stop, which is nice. That’s what happened with the Reddit story, we’re told in an update.
Great — glad those two could work it out! But I also believe strongly that if women simply expressed the inner narrative in their heads about what they see and find appealing in men, their male partners would probably start to sweat it a little more. Think about it: You definitely wouldn’t want to hear it all the time. And you’d probably not be able to conclude it’s no big thang. It’d get old very quickly.
There are plenty of men out there who just don’t check out other women so obviously, and if they do, you don’t notice when you’re around them. They either just aren’t that obvious about it, or they’d never want to make you feel bad. That is gentlemen behavior.
We women are not idiots: We know you probably still have your late-’90s Britney Spears pinup still in a drawer somewhere. We know you’ve got a favorite Pornhub category only Google knows about, and a mental spank bank with a highlight reel of college hand stuff. We know you get boners for, like, the fucking dental hygienist or a woman in a Listerine commercial or the way some random smiled after you bumped into her.
What you don’t know is so do we! You’d just never know it, because we’re not going to go on and on about it. Why?
- We know how to do it subtly.
- You’re too busy checking out women to notice, anyway.
- Even if you did notice, you would never assume we’re thinking equally filthy things. You assume we aren’t horny “like that,” but we are, and it’s just easier for us not to tell you. (Also, historically, we’ve been burned at the stake for that sort of thing.)
- We also haven’t been encouraged our entire lives to go awoooga over random passersby as proof of our virility every time we step outside, like we’re the Sherlock Holmes of tits.
Confession time: I’m aware of every hot man in every room I’ve ever been in. Hell, I can tell you the hot men in a 360-degree radius for as long as the eye can see, and at least with glasses on, I have 20/20 vision. I know when the men in my vicinity are hot like I’d date them, hot like I’d fuck them, hot like I’d hate-fuck them, hot like I’d indifferently fuck them. I know when they’re classy hot, sleazy hot, slouchy hot. There’s businessman hot. Millennial-dude hot. Gen-X hot. Distinguished-gray hot. There’s beard hot, there’s long-haired-skater hot. Tattoo hot. Beach-bum hot. I mean, the list goes on: The world of men is a widely varied, endlessly novel, highly visual, giant fucking bag of every flavor of hot fries, and I’m on fire.
Sorry, tit bros, ass bros, leg men and blonde fetishists: You don’t have the monopoly on lust. You don’t have the monopoly on having eyes. You’re blind to the dust in the house, but you can see a nipple outline peeking through a sheer top from four blocks away? I can see the dust and the dick print, bitch. Where’s my medal?
Female lust goes forward and backward in time and memory, too. Just like you, we remember our old crush, our never-crush, the first lay, the hottest professor, your hot brother, your hot dad, your hot friend, your hot third cousin, the hot guy at the bank and so on. But guys have invented a convenient fiction that ogling is a natural male instinct — that inside every man is some Diving Bell and the Butterfly reverie of a rich, lust-filled lifetime of cleavage and smiles and perfume scents. Same here! Just with dick.
But you know what? I’m with you, and I think you’re hot. So when I see the hotness of the general universe, I just don’t care.
Whatever enjoyment I get from an attractive stranger, whatever the appeal may be, it’s not some irresistible hook that renders you suddenly dead to me. It’s not on par with a cat and a laser pointer. It’s just there, and because of you, it’s not driving me crazy. I’ll notice it more without you, yes. I’ll still notice it with you. But what the fuck would be fun about going on and on about some other dude’s hotness, highlighting how great it is because of all the ways it’s not you? To make you jealous? Immature. To make you sad? Cruel. Because it didn’t occur to me? Insensitive. Uh, I still want to fuck later. And I don’t want that to be off some weird neg.
This is not rocket boob science, dudes. I can think of a million other things we “all do” that “feel good” but that “in front of people” that we “actually like” we “don’t do” because “we aren’t gross.” Picking your nose? Farting? Belching? All excellent pastimes, but we curb them because, you know, gross. Unnecessary. Rude. Please mentally place ogling strangers into that category too.
Now, here is where men will step in, and some women, too, and say, rightly, one of two things:
1. My significant other and I check out people together all the time and it’s fun!
I believe you. I think when two people do it equally or in some way that doesn’t bother them, great. I do think that many women put up with it to varying degrees and tolerate until they can’t, and don’t want to look like nags or scolds. Or worse, insecure.
Even if you do think you both do it together and enjoy it, I still bet what you mean is the two of you look at “women” together and probably not “men” to the same degree. Go ahead. Prove me wrong.
2. It’s not that big of a deal! It’s just looking! Guh, what are ya, insecure?
Only if you are! And there’s only one test of that. Flip the roles, let her do the lookin’ and the droolin’ and see how long you last.
The next time you’re out with your woman, only agree to look at, check out and remark on the hotness of other men. Ask her to comment freely and point out freely, either with her attention and body language, or literal language, on what looks good. Let her take it in, like a sunset. Let her get a little flustered, on account of how hot he is.
Every time you go out, encourage her to do as you do. To clearly and openly turn her head to look at attractive men, to marvel at these fine specimens. Asses, thighs, dick prints, watch arms, rolled-up sleeves, great hair and so on. Hey, it’s what she likes! She’s a woman! She can’t help it! He’s hot!
Especially focus on men who look nothing like you in any way. Especially let her point out men who are really hot in precisely the way you aren’t (which is probably 100 percent of what you look at when with her — other types of hotness).
And if, after a while, you can still hold your head high, feel solid and unthreatened and laugh it off (because after all, girls can look, right? He’s hot! You can see it too!), then carry on. Twenty bucks says you call it off in less than 24 hours.