(The Root) —
"When my fiance and I are out, I often catch him looking at women who, let's say, look more like his ex than me. It makes me feel some kinda way. I try to ignore or look away, and I know all men look, but it still makes me feel insecure." —E.I.
Unfortunately, your man's disrespect is an issue that a lot of women deal with and chalk up to "men being men." It's deeper than that, though. It's profoundly disrespectful to ogle other women, period, and it's additionally disrespectful to do so when your partner is present.
You're right. Men look. And women do, too. "Committed" doesn't mean "blind," and being in love doesn't make everyone else in the world unattractive. But when he's looking hard or long enough that you, his partner, take notice, it's a big problem. And it's rude. And though a small act, it could have big implications for how he feels about you.
Guys know the rules on this one, which are: 1) Look and look away, and 2) Don't get caught. By breaking those two simple rules flagrantly and "often," he's sending the signal — intentional or not — to other women that he's available, even as he walks with you, his soon-to-be wife.
When you catch a guy looking hard, don't you assume he must be single? Or, worse, disrespectful? Some of the women who see him looking while he walks with you are probably thinking, "Why does she put up with that?" Some others may be thinking, "He's clearly not serious about her. Let me try my luck, since he clearly likes what he sees." No matter which way you spin it, he's out of line and making his commitment look questionable.
I like to give folks the benefit of the doubt. Maybe your guy is a jerk, but it's also possible that he's just clueless. Tell him how it makes you feel when he does it (leave out the part about the ex because it's really not about her). If he remotely cares about you, he'll quickly adjust his ways.
It's not at all your fault that he does this, but your silence condones it. If he doesn't change immediately, call him out when you catch him staring at other women, instead of looking away in embarrassment or ignoring it when it clearly upsets you. "You know I'm standing here, right?" "Do you know her? Because you're staring" or "Excuse me, you're being rude" are all acceptable reactions.
Hopefully your fiance will get the message that he's out of line and you're not going to put up with it. And if he still doesn't? Instead of trying to convince him to treat you correctly, it may just be time to expend the energy on finding a new man who knows how to come correct.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root , a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.