Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ My Boyfriend’s Wandering Eyes

Dear Dr. V ~

I don’t know what to do about my boyfriend’s wandering eye. I feel like whenever we go out I’m always catching him checking out other women. It’s not like he’s standing there ogling them with his mouth hanging open, but I do notice it, and it makes me feel insecure, like I’m not enough to satisfy him or whatever. We’ve been together about six months. I don’t think he’s running around on me, I even did a cursory check of his phone and computer when he wasn’t looking and didn’t find anything. For awhile when I’d ask him if he was looking at a girl he’d be honest and say “yes,” but then he’d try to comfort me, I’d get upset and it’d end in a fight. Now when I ask him he says no, and always has some kind of cover, like he was looking at car or a billboard or something. Am I being crazy? I care about this guy a lot and don’t want to lose him, but I’m afraid of not being good enough. What do I do?


Dear Carrie,

I’m sorry you find yourself stuck in a forever-loop of jealousy and frustration, especially when from how you describe it, it sounds like your boyfriend is just being a guy. I really hope you’re not expecting him to somehow morph into a perfect being who, like the narrator in the classic (and kind of creepy) oldie, “only has eyes for you,” because that is simply a myth that’s propagated to sell movie tickets, trashy novels, record albums (fine, mp3’s and downloads, but you know what I mean) and so on.

This is not to say there’s anything wrong or impractical about monogamy, but while we modern humans have developed a lifestyle in which monogamy works, for our hunter-gatherer prehistoric ancestors living in small bands, open relationships made more sense. In other words, at the time we biologically came into our own as a species, we were not naturally monogamous. Obviously things have changed (I assume you guys aren’t out tracking mammoths or gathering berries in the wilderness when you go out to dinner), but echoes of our primal past still ring out today in modern behavior. How we redirect those energies and emotions will determine our success or failure not just as partners in a relationship, but life in general.

Basically that was a long-winded way of saying that if your boyfriend registers when another physically attractive woman is around, it doesn’t mean he’s contemplating an affair. It could just mean the following thoughts are running through his head:  “Hmm. She’s hot. Oh, look a poster for the new Batman movie! Why is my girlfriend pissed?” Now of course I don’t mean to paint your partner as a dullard – I’m exaggerating to make a point. What you may perceive as the prelude to an avalanche of indiscretion and deception may actually be nothing more than an aesthetic observation by your boyfriend, something he may never think about again. As far as his denial when you “catch” him looking at someone, can you really blame him? I’m not saying he’s right to lie, but if he’s found that sharing the truth with you results in a fight, I can’t really fault him for wanting to take the path of least resistance vs. having a pointless argument.

I think the bigger issue here lies with you. Which is actually a good thing, because this is pretty much the only area where you can affect real and immediate change. Your question leaves me with the impression that you feel insecure in your relationship, almost as if just the slightest nudge could push things over a precipice. While I don’t get the feeling this is the case, I do think if you don’t modify what you’re telling yourself, you will bring such a situation into being, or possibly even lose the relationship. So let’s back things up a bit here.

I’m not sure who convinced you of this, whether it was a previous boyfriend, a teacher, maybe even a parent, but somewhere along the line, you got it into your head that you aren’t good enough. In fact, in your question you used that phrase or variations on it, a couple of times.  Carrie, there is tremendous evidence to the contrary: you’ve got this amazing guy who’s still with you after six months. That’s no small amount in relationship time. Would he be hanging around if you weren’t “good enough?” (Note, any answer besides “he’s still with me because I’m not only good enough, I’m a catch!” is the bad programming in your head talking and should be ignored).

I also know it’s not always so simple to break out of deep-set habits, especially the kind of psychological tooth-grinding that fosters self-doubt and diminishes our self image. So you will have to apply greater pressure in the opposite direction. By this I mean, you will have to affirm all that is good and true about yourself, to yourself, many times a day until the positive tapes replace the negative ones that are playing in your head. How to do this? It sounds new-agey and cheesy, but I know from both personal and professional experience that it works: repeat affirmations to yourself through out the day confirming the truths you’ve been denying yourself. Remind yourself what an intelligent, attractive person you are. Take a moment to tell the Universe you’re open to and interested in whatever goodness it has to send to you. And remember that you flat out deserve to be fulfilled.   (You don’t have to be in front of a mirror, but it can help. Nobody’s looking, so who cares?) You may also find your own words come to you for what you’d like to say or ask for. Go with that, use them.

Take heart, Carrie. Perhaps, after a calm and open discussion about this stuff, your boyfriend might be amenable to be a bit more discreet when his inner-caveman rears his wooly head. In either case, you don’t need to worry about him running back to the cave with anyone else but you.

With Love and Light,
Dr. V

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