The 40-year-old guy I’m dating swivels his head to check out ladies everywhere. He even comments on those he finds attractive. I’ve mentioned that it bugs me. He contends that it’s my insecurities that are really the issue here. I can see how lower self-esteem might lend itself to an offended reaction, as opposed to just a shrug or an eye roll, but is this really on me?
Yes, of course your insecurities are the real issue here. Because what woman wouldn’t feel great when her boyfriend’s all “Whoa, boobs are out tonight!”?
That said, it is normal that he’s driven to look. Men evolved to have their eyeballs all up in every hot woman’s business because the features considered beautiful in a woman correlate with health and fertility. Ancestral men who passed on their genes (and mating psychology) — the men whose male descendants are walking the planet today — are those who went for the fertile young hotties, not the 70-year-old ladies with a lot of personality.
Not surprisingly, brain imaging studies by evolutionary psychologist Steven Platek and his colleagues find that when men see pictures of curvalicious women — those with an hourglass bod, a fertility indicator — there’s “activation” in (most notably) the nucleus accumbens. This is part of the brain’s reward circuitry and, as they put it, “the seat of addictive behavior.” Regarding their findings, Platek told me, “We think that this is why men quite literally find it challenging to look away from a highly attractive female body.”
No, not “impossible” to look away. “Challenging.” Like it may sometimes be for you to keep from stabbing your boyfriend in the thigh with a fork when he rubbernecks at a passing pair of Wonderbreasts. However, feeling disturbed by his girl-gawking isn’t a sign you’re emotionally defective. Consider that emotions aren’t there just to jazz up your day. Psychiatrist and evolutionary psychologist Randolph Nesse explains that emotions have a job to do — to motivate us to “respond adaptively.”