Wandering eyes

Joey GarciaI have been living with my boyfriend for more than three years. I believe we are in love and are committed to the idea of marriage. The problem is that I often catch him staring at other women. I don’t try to catch him; I’ll just look over and see him obviously ogling. This hurts me very much, and I believe it is harming our relationship irreparably. I have considered leaving. I am very attractive, and it’s hard to fathom why he would do this. Is this healthy? I have confronted him about it, and he responds angrily. I am not imagining it. Do all couples experience this? What should I do about it?

Realize that your boyfriend is an addict. When a man stares lasciviously at women, the addiction centers of his brain fire up. These are the same spots that flare when a drug addict looks at a narcotic or when a gambler looks at money. So, as with any addiction, the more often your beau succumbs to his habit, the more his appetite intensifies. The need to protect this addiction is so strong that some people claim ogling is a biological urge that men can’t control. This argument might carry weight if men were creatures without consciences and without the potential for self-control. The reality is that through self-understanding and respect for others, we learn to choose our behavior. So, a person can either react to his biology and be lascivious or respond to his mind and choose respect. It takes willingness and determination to change, particularly when advertising, role models and the media often encourage men to mentally rape women.

Few people appreciate being corrected when they know they’re wrong. That explains your boyfriend’s anger when caught using a woman for sexual gratification without her permission or knowledge. A person once said that sex without love is pornography. That explains why lust is one of the seven deadly sins—lust (don’t confuse it with passion, which is healthy) denies the humanity of the other. I know plenty of couples that are not troubled by such behavior. Until your boyfriend admits he has a problem, your concerns will be blocked by his denial. It’s important, then, for you to accept that his behavior is no reflection on your attractiveness. He is simply stuck in an addiction fed by an archaic mindset that says women exist solely to serve men.

Recently, you printed a letter regarding the difficulty of finding love in Sacramento. Although that is difficult, I believe finding female friends is harder. I’ve placed and responded to ads but have gotten no return calls. I’m not an ogre. I’m a successful, 30-something woman with a home and interests. I’ve joined clubs and groups, but I meet people who are not interested in new friends. I long for girlfriends who will champion successes and share chocolate ice cream during failures. I wish there was a local group or Web site for this. Ideas?

Perhaps it’s an urban legend, but I’ve heard that those friendship ads are attempts to find customers. So, the lack of a response could be a good thing! Seriously, though, why not launch a Web site and associated group yourself? If that doesn’t appeal, examine your interactions with women. Your genuine but hungry desire for friendship may make you appear needy or anxious to please. Or maybe you try to push the relationship along too quickly. You also might seek friends on the job. Many of my dearest friends are former co-workers.

Meditation of the week
“I am simplifying my life down to the sensual,” said my friend Claire, “food, sex and fine fabrics.” She cooks food that she can linger with, seeks the softest bath towels and finest cotton bedsheets and treasures sex with her husband of 25 years. What would your life look like pared down to the sensual?

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