Does Your Spouse Have a Wandering Eye?

There is lot of debate whether this is perfectly normal or insensitive behavior

Man and woman flirting
ONOKY - Fabrice LEROUGE / Getty Images

When talking about the issue of wandering eyes, people seem to have two general responses. People either think wandering eyes, or frequently checking out members of the opposite sex, are nothing to be concerned about or they think the behavior hurts a marriage and are disrespectful. The real answer depends

Arguments Surrounding Wandering Eyes 

The Pros

  • Many people believe that having a wandering eye is perfectly normal behavior.
  • Looking at an attractive person is a natural reaction.
  • A person with wandering eyes is a just a normal individual who appreciates beauty.
  • There is no cause for concern about your spouse's wandering eyes if all that is involved is a quick glance and not an all out ogle, 30-second dress down, lascivious leering, or a lingering flirting stare.

The Cons

  • Looking at other people is a sign of disrespect to your spouse, shows a lack of caring, and is insensitive behavior.
  • A wandering eye is offensive and can erode a marriage relationship.
  • Having wandering eyes is a first sign of cheating and a sign that a person is looking for another relationship.

According to psychiatrist, Dr. Gail Saltz, "First off, it is worth saying that humans all have some measure of voyeurism and exhibitionism: we like to look and we like to show. Still, there is looking and there is LOOKING. Most people are not very bothered by the occasional glance. But blatantly checking out, commenting on, repeated admiring of and certainly flirting or touching usually feel quite undermining to a partner. Such behavior makes one feel unappreciated and even threatened in the relationship. Unless both parties are confident of the others' affection, appearance, and fidelity it generally will stir envy and hurt."

What to Do If Your Spouse Has Wandering Eyes

  • Don't try to police your spouse's wandering eyes.
  • Accept that there will always be individuals who are sexier, prettier, more handsome, younger, etc. than you are.
  • Ask yourself why your spouse's wandering eyes bother you. Do you have self-esteem issues? Are you jealous or possessive? Are you worried about your spouse being faithful to you? Are you insecure about your relationship? Is there a deeper issue going on in your marriage?
  • Remember that your spouse's wandering eyes is no reflection on your own attractiveness.
  • Try to acknowledge it first when a beautiful person comes into view.
  • If your spouse's wandering eyes create a problem in your marriage, discuss the issue with your spouse. Start with your own feelings, not with an accusation or criticism. 

"Make it clear: you don't expect them to wear blinders, or stare at the ground; just don't ogle" says Dr. Saltz. "If your partner really won't make any effort to change and doesn't appear to care how it makes you feel, it's likely you have other such issues and couples therapy may be in order. Most important is to be rational and reasonable in your request. Being unreasonably jealous with unreasonable requests is likely to make your partner throw out the baby with the bathwater and pay you no heed."

It seems that the bottom line is that it is within the realm of normalcy for married people to still take a look at an attractive person. It is not acceptable for married people (or anyone for that matter) to stare at or ogle an attractive person at any time. Do not argue with your spouse over whether or not you ogled or stared. Take their word for it. It is much ruder behavior if it is in front of your spouse! Keep in mind that rude or annoying behaviors over and over will undermine your relationship. It's best to practice being respectful and having self-control.


*Article updated by Marni Feuerman



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