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Love Letters

Does looking lead to cheating?

Q. Am I the only woman who feels disrespected when their significant other blatantly checks out another female right in front of them? Don’t get me wrong — women are beautiful. There is no doubt that I eye a good-looking man up and down when I see one, but I would never be so obvious that it makes my boyfriend notice, or God forbid, feel uncomfortable.

So, when do you let it slide and when do you call him out? It doesn’t help that in my last serious relationship I was cheated on . . . bad. I am talking about major infidelity that went on for half our relationship, and I had no idea (absolutely no idea). I’d like to think that my past relationships have not affected how I feel about love or the current relationships, but I am starting to think maybe they do. The one time I did call him out, not only did I feel disrespected, but I felt insecure, unworthy, and far from beautiful. I started to feel like I should transform how I look to make him happy, because maybe that’s what he likes (which is exactly how I felt when I was cheated on).

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Either way, I don’t want to assume every guy is a cheating dog, but I also don’t want to be with a man who is drooling over other females while I am sitting across from him at dinner. Is it safe to say that when you look, you touch, and when you touch, you cheat? Please help!

A. Looking doesn’t mean touching or cheating. Looking is just looking. And I have no problem with looking unless it’s frequent. Frequent looking is just sort of weird.

If this happens every now and then when a pretty woman walks by, don’t freak out — and don’t make any assumptions about what the looking means about your boyfriend’s feelings for you. After all, when you look at other guys, is it because you wish that your boyfriend would magically transform into someone else? Looking at other guys has nothing to do with how you feel about him, right?

I assume that your boyfriend knows what happened in your last relationship. I assume you’ve talked about your priorities and how you want to be treated. If his looking is gratuitous, you can ask him to cut it out and to be more conscious of his behavior. But leave it there. Tell him how you feel, but don’t jump to conclusions. You’re better off asking him what the looking means than deciding for him.

READERS RESPOND:

Looking is definitely not cheating. But obvious drooling looking in your presence is disrespectful.

He’s allowed to look as you are as well. He’s human for criminy sakes. You continue with this behavior and you’ll be single again.

If he is a normal man, he looks. And he looks frequently. A weak may not look if you ask him to, but do you want a weak man?

Does he look at you or compliment you as well? If he does, give him credit for good taste. If not, he’s a dog and not worth your time.

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com.
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