If you've noticed your partner is looking a certain way at people, in a way that you might make you feel uncomfortable, how would you handle the situation? As a “wandering eye” can vary on different levels, one might conclude it really depends on the scenario.
Jess answered a handful of questions about wandering eyes. Check out her answers and insight below.
1) Why do those in relationships check out other people in front of their significant other?
We are naturally drawn to beauty and sexual attraction is part of a hard-wired natural human response.
a) How 'normal' is this behavior?
It’s normal to notice other people, but you have to be cognizant of cultural norms and how your reactions impact those around you. Are you making them uncomfortable? Are you appreciating beauty or objectifying a person?
b) When does this behavior become a cause for concern?
Checking out other people is a cause for concern if you’re making your partner (or the other person) uncomfortable. If either party feels disrespected, you need to talk about comfort levels, boundaries and what is appropriate in your relationship. No expert can prescribe what is problematic — that’s up to you two to decide together. It is, however, unrealistic to expect your partner to only notice you and no one else as long as you both shall live. Noticing other people is perfectly normal.
2) What should partners do if they find their significant other's eyes are wandering elsewhere?
Tell them how you feel and be honest about your feelings. If you’re jealous, own it. If you’re intrigued or excited by their wandering eye, embrace it!
3) How often is a wandering eye indicative of a wandering heart?
A wandering eye is not necessarily a sign of a wandering heart. If it were, every heart would wander.
4) Men are believed to be "hardwired" to check out other women. Why?
Some research suggests that men are more visual than women when it comes to sexual attraction, but it’s also possible that men stare at women as part of a cultural prescription of masculinity. It’s also performative — Look at me! I’m so heterosexual.
5) At what stage of the relationship are partners more likely to have a wandering eye?
You’re more likely to have a wandering eye in the second phase of love — companionate or attachment love. During this phase (unlike the early limerence phase), you may seek out novelty outside of the relationship, as the relationship may not naturally present it. This desire for novelty is universal — it’s not necessarily a sign that something is awry.
6) Why is telling a partner “do not look” not an effective strategy to reduce the wandering eye?
It’s impossible not to observe and notice our surroundings — this includes people.
7) Would you say it's disrespectful to stare at someone else for 5 seconds, in front of your significant other?
Staring, in many cultures, is rude. Whether or not your partner is present, if you’re making the stranger/ another person uncomfortable, you might want to reconsider your behavior.
Try not to stare too long and remember not to make the apple of your eye feel uncomfortable.