Do you feel as though your man has a wandering eye?
This comes up a lot, especially for new couples. You wonder, "Why can't he just keep his eyes on me?" Sometimes this makes you feel insecure about yourself. Maybe you feel that you're not pretty enough or that you should somehow be doing more to keep his interest.
You hear people say, "That's just how men are, don't make a big deal of it," and sometimes you think, "If I could just be more secure about myself, I would have nothing to worry about." You know you shouldn't overreact about it and yet you want to feel safe in your relationship together.
The thing is you should feel secure in your relationship, and you should be with someone who wants to make you feel that way. So how do you navigate this oftentimes difficult subject? Fortunately, we've had the opportunity to work with many women who have asked that very question and we have a lot of insight to offer on the topic.
In this post, we'll explain exactly how to approach this sensitive topic with your partner--especially if you're in a new relationship--and how you need to be so that it doesn't come as an issue ever again.
Are men really just that way?
It's a common idea that men are just like that--they like to look at other women. While there is some truth to that (generally speaking, men tend to be more visually stimulated than women), it's not license for someone to be inconsiderate of your feelings, and certainly not license for infidelity. Any man who tries to use this as an excuse or a cop-out for his behavior has a lot emotional maturing to do.
That being said, not only do men arguably have some predisposition towards this behavior, but we also live in a culture in which this behavior has been encouraged in men from a very young age. Many men were taught to objectify women by their fathers and other male role models as far back as they can remember. Even if they had positive male role models in their life, they've certainly been subjected to this mentality in other social situations, and most men will have picked this up, at least to some degree.
While this is not intended to excuse any behavior, a measure of compassion for the true challenge that some men struggle in this area will go a long way. Still, the question remains--how do you deal with it in a relationship? Compassion does not mean anything goes. In fact, sometimes the most compassionate thing to do about a situation is to put a stop to it.
First, understand that this is not about you not being enough in some way. His attractions are about him.
Second, learn to accept that he is attracted to the female form. Of course he is--he's attracted to you!
Attempting to rid him of his attractions is resisting something that is operating at a very core level of his psyche. If you attack that, he will feel inadequate. It is in this way that jealous women can actually drive their men toward other women. When you make him feel inadequate as a man, he will lose attraction to you.
Accepting his attractions does not mean that you compromise your own dignity or need for respect. If you allow this to happen, he will lose respect for you. An extreme example of this is when women allow their men to sleep around under the guise of "it's just how men are/how they are meant to be." In this example, women are not holding themselves or their men to their greatness. He will lose respect for you because you are allowing your dignity to be compromised, and he will not respect the relationship because there is nothing being held sacred about it.
A woman who can accept her man fully, while holding him to his greatness and demanding that he honor her and their relationship completely, is irresistibly sexy to a man.
It's his conduct that is in question, not his attractions. Does he conduct himself in a way that honors you and your relationship? Some men may come to this on their own and others may need some support in getting there. We think that most men are willing to take that leap when presented with the promise of a relationship that's worth it.
If you find that you do not feel safe in the relationship as a result of his conduct, two things become necessary:
1. You are clear with yourself (and him) about conduct that is and is not acceptable.
2. Your relationship together is so attractive to him that he wants to grow as an individual in order to be the man that can give you the respect you deserve.
You'll need to have clear boundaries around what conduct is appropriate and what is not. When you are clear about what boundaries are needed for you to feel respected and honored, you will need to discuss this together and agree upon those boundaries.
Some examples of boundaries that our clients have set are:
No "liking" provocative images on social media
No obvious flirting (meaning be friendly with people while conducting yourself in a way in which others are clear that you are in a committed relationship)
No intimate 1-on-1 meetings with members of the opposite sex, or an understanding that your partner is always invited to meetings like this
Note: While we are discussing your man's conduct here, these agreements apply to you as well. They are relationship agreements.
To determine what the boundaries should be in your situation, you'll need to look at the specific instances in your relationship in which his conduct makes you feel unsafe and determine what reasonable boundaries can be set around these issues. We think that asking him "to never look at another woman" is not only unreasonable but probably impossible. Make agreements that he can actually keep and avoid making him wrong for his conduct. Express how it makes you feel and let him know you're making these requests so that you can feel safe in the relationship.
We've often supported couples in navigating this difficult conversation. If you'd like to find out how we can do that for you, click here.
A critical point that's worth repeating is that you are not making him wrong for his past conduct; you are discussing the impact that it has on your ability to feel safe in the relationship and asking him to behave in ways that will create safety for you.
You are not trying to make him feel guilty about it; you are inspiring him to step up for the relationship. You are not asking him to give up his attractions but rather to mature them.
This brings us to the second point:
He must see a relationship with you as more attractive to him than these behaviors. For some men, growing out of these behaviors will come naturally. For others, it may require some work. As stated before, some men are not up for growth in this way, but if you believe that your man is a good man with a noble heart, then he will likely rise to the challenge.
Even for a man who is ready for this level of commitment, he must see you as a catch. For him to see that, you must BE A CATCH. That means taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. If you find that you are not attracting quality men into your life, it is likely that you are not providing for yourself in one or more of these areas.
We're not saying you have to be perfect! What we're saying is to be BE YOUR BEST SELF! Work out and eat well. Read and educate yourself. If you have deep-seated emotional challenges or insecurities, work with a coach or therapist to create emotional wellbeing. Provide for yourself financially. Be an active participant in having an exciting sex life together. You don't have to do any of this perfectly but do put in the effort to do it well.
Taking care of yourself in these ways allows you to live your life with a feeling of completeness. That's what is needed for a man to want to reinvent himself to be with you.
One of the biggest challenges that women face around this conversation is that if a man is unwilling to adhere to the boundaries and commitments that you're asking for, you must be willing to walk away. In these situations, we tend to make compromises to keep the other person around and we do this because we are not living with the feeling of being complete.
You have to be willing to stand for the kind of relationship you want to have and be willing to walk away if this person can't create it with you. Powerful women understand that if they do walk away, it's because it's not what they wanted anyway.
If you want a relationship with the kind of man that will truly honor you, you have to be the kind of woman who truly honors herself. In doing that for yourself, you will naturally honor him as well.
This brings us to another critical point that makes you a definite catch--he has to feel completely supported by you. He needs to know that you admire who he is and that you think highly of him. If you talk down to him, criticize him, and judge him, he will not want to change for you.
We often think that if we criticize the things we don't like about someone, they will change them. This idea is misguided. People change because someone thinks highly of them and believes that they are truly capable of greatness. Because you see his greatness, you make him want to be great.
If he knows that you absolutely improve his life in every way, that any man would be blessed to be with you, that you love and appreciate the person that he is, and that you respect him, he will do everything in his power to honor you.
And that includes learning how to develop a healthy relationship with his attractions. Again, for some men this may be easier than for others, so remember to have compassion for the struggle that this might be for him.
To recap, here's a summary of our recommendations:
1. Don't judge him for having the attractions, but for his willingness to create a healthy relationship with them (or not).
2. Clearly communicate to him the boundaries that will make you feel safe in the relationship, and ask him to agree to them.
3. Be the kind of woman that gives him so much in return for his commitment that not supporting your boundaries would be unthinkable.
Do these three things and see how he responds. If he shows the openness to work on them and actionable followthrough, it's very likely you have a great man.
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