The Official Amy Alkon Website

All About Amy
New Columns
Really Old Columns
Goddess Blog
Amy's Book Picks
Amy's Links
Love Letters
The Pink Rambler
Contact Info


The Sum Of All Leers

I'm a happily married man. I've been with my wife for three years. We have a problem: I look at other women. My wife can't bear it. I don't mean to look, but the harder I try to quit, the more I end up doing it. I love my wife with all my heart, and I don't want to be with anyone else. Nor do I want to hurt her. Please tell me how I can stop my wandering eyes.

--Gawk Soup

There's a reason Botticelli painted "Birth Of Venus," not "Peasant Girl With Missing Teeth And A Zit So Big And Hairy The Townspeople Mistook It For A Cat." Of course, it is possible that Italian Vogue had already booked the model with the big furry zit, and Botticelli got stuck painting some really gorgeous naked chick rising out of the ocean on a clamshell. Oh, the suffering one must endure for one's art.

People have always had a thing for beauty. Not just male people. Female people, too. That's why your wife probably has nothing against girl-watching -- providing she's the only one in your marriage who gets to do it. Now, there are some women who never look at other women. Most of those women are reading this column in Braille.

As for the rest of us, like you, we find it a wee bit majorly impossible to walk past a woman wearing a skirt that looks like two or three cocktail napkins taped together without copping a stare. Generally, the stare is followed by some rudimentary math: How much did her outfit cost, and/or how many hours of Pilates did it take for her to get into it? ("Just close your eyes and think of Neiman Marcus.") A man's calculations, on the other hand, can tend toward the algebraic; as in, they often contain a lot of XXXs. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that -- despite what you might hear from people who've bought into the mistaken notion that a man's brain is exactly the same as a woman's (save for that unfortunate tendency toward male pattern baldness on its housing).

So, how come your wife can admire some woman's outfit without feeling compelled to tackle the woman, yank off the woman's clothes, and run away with them; yet, she manages to remain welded to the conclusion that your eyeballs are your first line of flight? Maybe she's just insecure, or maybe it isn't your looking, but how you're looking, that's causing the problem. Do you study your wife's best friend's butt like it's Game Seven of the World Series? When you pass a woman on the sidewalk, do your eyeballs leap out of your head and bounce down the sidewalk after her? At restaurants, do you ask the hostess whether you can reach down her cleavage to hunt for your lost car keys? Part of your job as a man is to avoid getting noticed checking out women, especially when accompanied by a woman who finds your gawk-a-thons upsetting.

Now, not all women feel this way. Take the marital expert I interviewed, also known as my mother, who's been married to my father for 41 years. She doesn't feel threatened if my dad glances at another woman; in fact, she likes to be sure he catches sight of all the hotties, so she tends to point them out before he notices them. "Maybe if I didn't feel secure about your dad, I'd think differently," she between reminding me twice that the waitress where they go for dinner on Friday nights is "just darling."

You can't stop your eyes from wandering (not unless you pluck them out and store them in a jar, or live out the rest of your life in a dark closet). You do need to stop your eyes from wandering when you're with your wife, or at least stop them from getting caught in the act. Dark wraparound sunglasses should be of some assistance. Setting up a No Spy Zone is another helpful option: Say you spend 12 hours a day by yourself. Set aside that time for excessive drooling and staring. (Avoid revealing your plan to your wife unless you'd like leaving the house without a blindfold to become cause for your indictment.) Say you spend the remaining 12 hours with her. Use that time to show her that you're so in love and obsessed with her that the only thing she has to fear from other women is constant interrogation about what they have to do to find a man like you. Of course, the answer to that is obvious: Go anywhere they'll find lots of strippers and centerfolds loitering during the hour you get for your lunch break.

Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.