My Lover Looks At Other People

Your lover looks at other attractive people when he or she is with you. The ‘looking’ might be subtle or more obvious to you and other people. Maybe you didn’t care at first. But now it’s starting to bother you.

You’ve told yourself that looking is ‘freedom of vision.’ You’ve told yourself that it doesn’t matter, you might even look yourself. You’ve told yourself that looking does not have to mean anything bad about your relationship because it’s not touching.

After all these things you’ve told yourself, you might still have a nagging little worry somewhere in the back of your mind. You’re just not sure why your lover has to look  so much.

Do you need to know why a ‘looker’ looks? Let’s talk about the psychology of repetitive looking at other attractive people when you’re in a committed love relationship.

To understand the underlying psychology of looking we have to consider two important love-life experiences and their relationship to each other. The love-life experiences are: commitment and satisfaction. Commitment is the promise of exclusive love a lover makes to his or her lover. Satisfaction is the fulfillment of the need to give and receive love in a love relationship.

The relationship between these two love-life experiences will tell you what you need to know about ‘looking’ in your love relationship. Let’s assume there are four (4) different ways commitment and satisfaction can interact in a love relationship. For example, if in your love relationship your commitment to your lover is strong and your satisfaction is also strong, there won’t be any repetitive looking to speak of. Basically, there would be no reason to look.

The opposite combination would be, a weak commitment and a weak experience of satisfaction in your relationship. I wouldn’t expect a love relationship with this description to last very long. There simply wouldn’t be much incentive to hang around. No commitment and no satisfaction means a breakup is probable. So we’d expect a lot of looking for a very short time.

The next two combinations are more likely when a pattern of looking is taking place over time. Let’s consider a strong commitment with weak satisfaction? This combination could explain much of the looking that takes place. When this is going on, two people are strongly committed and obligated to each other, and definitely not going to cheat on each other. But, they are not satisfied in the relationship.

Their commitment keeps them from straying. Maybe their sex life isn’t what it used to be or it never was. A couple can get into a rut over time and start taking each other for granted. They can get so familiar with each other that the desire that could be in their relationship starts fading away from lack of use. Here’s where the ‘looking’ comes in.

When chronic dissatisfaction takes control of a love relationship where the two people are fully committed to each other, looking and fantasizing about another person can become a hidden or not so hidden practice. Visual stimulation outside of the relationship taking the place of more satisfying experiences in the relationship itself.

Of course, the cure for this is to work with your lover to stimulate desire in whatever way you can. To ‘light the burner’ in your relationship, so to speak. Start communicating about sex and desire, and figure out how to co-create a mutually satisfying fantasy. In other words, create a fantasy together and act it out. The object is to get your lover to look at you.

The last combination I’ll discuss is, a weak commitment paired up with strong satisfaction. If your relationship falls in this category, the problem is not satisfaction. The two of you are probably quite passionate and can satisfy each other in all kinds of ways. The problem is commitment.

A looker who looks when his or her commitment is weak and satisfaction is strong, is looking because staying in a relationship for a long period of time may be unusual for him or her. Some people are afraid of the vulnerability they will feel in a deep love relationship. Some people like variety even when satisfaction is high.

I figure in this kind of love-life situation the looking is telling you that there is a distinct possibility that he or she might start or be already acting on that wanderlust he or she is feeling. Sometimes you can read other people’s intentions before they have consciously chosen to act on them. This could be one of those instances.

The cure of course is to strengthen the commitment in your love relationship. Sorry, easier said than done. If you are in a relationship with a looker who is weakly committed even though the sex is great, you might have to work on accepting the current limitations in your relationship.

My guess is, that would be easier than trying to make your lover more committed. Save your energy. I haven’t met a person yet who successfully made someone commit. Commitment is given when it is ready to be given, and usually not before. If commitment is not being given, move on if that’s what you’re ‘looking’ for.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan







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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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