Q: Dear Meredith,
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).
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. It is safe to say that when you look, you touch, and when you touch, you cheat?
– A confident, sometimes-insecure Boston gal
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? Is looking a gateway drug to cheating? How much looking is gratuitous? How should she bring this up with her boyfriend? How can she separate new relationships from the past? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.