I Can’t Stop Staring At Other Women
Looking at other women has become a big problem for me.
I want to learn how to stop. I mean no harm, but it upsets my wife and hurts her. She says I lose touch with reality and become a different person — and don’t even notice her.
That’s from a 42-year-old man whose been married 16 years. He’s totally satisfied with his wife, he says, and has no interest in anyone else.
But he feels he has no control over his ogling.
It happens without control… It makes me awkward and I panic, mostly out of fear of hurting my wife and the risk of losing her.
Why do guys feel like they can’t stop?
All straight guys surely appreciate an attractive lady. But not all of them disappear into a magic spell that makes their partners disappear, too.
I’m not sure why some guys ogle and some don’t — we are all a unique mix of our culture, our social interactions, our biology — and how we put it all together in our heads.
But for guys who can’t stop looking, here’s what seems to be going on:
A lovely figure creates a chemical high in a man’s brain — a minor high compared to drugs, but still enjoyable and addicting. So a lot of guys get into the head-turning habit as teens — a habit reinforced by media bombardment via billboards, TV, movies, “lad mags” like Maxim, and porn, says Kurt Smith, a marriage counselor who blogs at GuyStuff.
And the more your brain repeats a pattern, the stronger the neural path becomes, so that you can come to feel you have no control.
Plus, these guys move into an altered state that’s similar to watching porn — maybe because the girl-watching has become a pornified experience for them?
To paraphrase an article from Men’s Health on men in a pornified state:
Pornographic images seem to activate a man’s visual system in a manner that goes beyond just looking at trees or even people. It’s almost like a high-definition signal compared with a standard signal. Once this signal—Tori Black in the nude, say—hits the male antenna, the brain’s reward system kicks in, producing a rush of feel-good dopamine. This can reinforce the behavior much in the same way that drugs like cocaine would.
At the same time the part of the brain that makes judgments is shut off.
Essentially, the decision-making system is turning itself over to the experience; it’s almost like the men are hypnotized.
This is the classic male stereotype: When men think with what’s below, they don’t make good decisions. Or, the decisions are made for them.
And then the tension between wanting to look and feeling like you shouldn’t just strengthens the compulsion.
How to get over it
Therapist, Kurt Smith suggests:
- Recognize that it’s a habit, and not an uncontrollable reflex.
- Observe the ways you’re strengthening the habit — thru movies, television, magazines, football games, or internet porn, and stop feeding it to your brain.
- Accept and get comfortable with the fact that it is natural to notice women. The goal here is not to eliminate noticing, but rather how often you look and for how long.
Regarding that last point, don’t forget that resistance can make things stronger. So just: Notice. Appreciate. Let it be.
And remember that need can force fate: If you need something badly enough, you will find a way to accomplish it.
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Posted on March 16, 2015, in men, objectification, pornography, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged men, objectification, ogling, pornography, psychology, relationships, sex, sexuality, women. Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.