I really appreciate the science you laid out showing that men instinctively look at women, even if they really love the woman they’re with. Maybe I should stop feeling a tad bad about looking at beautiful women and enjoying beauty? After all, my wife and I have been married 26 years, and I’ve never even kissed anyone else during that time. Admittedly, I’ve sometimes wanted to, and I’ve had opportunities. Thanks for a perspective that brings in science and isn’t the usual man-bashing that’s out there.
— Male Reader
Your eyes probably go many places without your body robotically following suit — like at a buffet when you ogle the chocolate cake and baby doughnuts while dutifully piling a plate with raw broccoli and fat-free dip. Fortunately, broccoli rarely retaliates by sobbing, calling you a pig, and making you sleep in your car for three days.
Evolutionary psychologist David Buss tells a story about a married guy who emailed him after reading his book “The Evolution of Desire,” which lays out scientific evidence supporting evolutionary theories about human mating psychology. Buss gets heat for the book from those whose beliefs it upends — those who cling to the idea that men and women are largely identical in basic sexual psychology — and he admits, “Some of what I discovered about human mating is not nice.”
The man conceded that “maybe some people worry that men’s desire for sexual variety will give men an excuse for cheating.” But, he said, learning about it helped him stay faithful. Buss said the man had previously interpreted his attraction to various women he encountered “as indications that maybe he didn’t love his wife any more. But after reading my book, he realized, ‘Oh, that’s my evolved desire for sexual variety; it doesn’t mean that I don’t love my wife.’”
The man’s revelation reflects what Buss sees as “two separate evolved systems”: one for love and one for lust. “We become attracted to other people even if we’re in a loving mating relationship and fully in love with our partner.” In other words, no, you shouldn’t feel bad about eyeballing the ladies. Focus on how much you love your wife and how, despite MMO — means, motive and opportunity — looking has yet to give way to a need, upon arriving home, to sit in your car feverishly working the hand sanitizer in hopes of getting the glitter-flecked spray tanner off your pants.
Meet Joe Blank Screen
I’m a woman in my late 20s. The guy I’m seeing is “not a phone person” and hates texting. Our time together is wonderful. However, he rarely texts except to make plans. I am used to frequent contact throughout the day via text with boyfriends. My friends say he should be texting every day, multiple times a day. I’m worried his lack of texts signals a lack of interest.
Technology was supposed to set us free, not dial back our personal autonomy to that of my late hamster. I didn’t have control over much when I was 8, but I loved how at any moment, I could go all kiddie Mussolini, pull Squeaky out of his cage, and make him turn tricks (uh…do somersaults on a pencil).
A smartphone makes constant communication possible; “it doesn’t mandate it,” I wrote in “Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck.” Your friends’ daily texting quotas aside, what might it mean that your boyfriend doesn’t spend his entire day texting you? Um…he has a job? He prefers to communicate in spoken-word form, ideally in person? (See “not a phone person.”) Frankly, maybe he’s onto something, considering that so many text-versations, beyond the constant attention-hijacking, are basically conversational iceberg lettuce, amounting to: “I’m still alive!” “Yep, still alive here, too. LOL. LOL. LOL.”
Chances are your guy shows he cares in a number of ways. Take stock of those. Still feel a little under loved? Consider “the dependency paradox.” Social psychologist Brooke Feeney, who coined the term, finds that in romantic relationships, the more an insecure partner sees they can count on the other to be responsive to their appeals for love and comforting, the less needy and clingy they end up being. (Ultimately, through repeated dependence comes independence.)
You might ask him to be more cuddly-touchy-affectionate with you, which, Feeney finds, helps insecure partners calm down and enjoy their relationship. Assuming he cares about you (as “Our time together is wonderful” suggests), it’s a relationship “task” he should enjoy. And though you’re used to texts from a boyfriend, demanding texts from a man who hates texting is to be avoided. It makes a girlfriend seem less like a girlfriend and more like Mussolini with boobs and a phone seem less like a phone and more like a cattle prod that delivers dings, cat memes and throw-up-face emojis.