My husband and I have been married for ten years.
Our marriage has had its ups and downs, but in the past year I’ve had to deal with something I never really expected:
Not cheating, not alcohol or drugs, not abusiveness or negligence…
It’s a lot simpler than that:
My husband looks at other women online, and he does it quite a lot.
It’s not the worst crime in the world, some women would even say it’s no big deal, but I’m not thrilled about it.
Still… I also know that it doesn’t have to be the end of our marriage if we both approach this right.
My husband looks at other women online – 14 tips if this is you
You walk in the living room and say hi to your husband. You notice he quickly puts his phone face down on the table and squirms a bit.
You notice he’s more and more preoccupied and absentminded. You find him lacking in bed, and emotionally distant.
Then you catch him at the computer just staring at photos of various women online. In my case, these were actual female friends of ours.
I’m not that kind of woman who’s looking for an open marriage or a threesome, so I wasn’t too happy.
Once I found out he’d been sexting a couple of women, I blew my top…
I admit I overreacted and made the situation worse.
There’s no magic answer here, but there are ways you can tackle this tough issue without the whole marriage collapsing.
These are my suggestions for what to do if your husband has been busy checking out other women online.
1) How to know when it’s become a real problem
When I started to notice my husband checking out other women a lot online, my first reaction was to play it cool.
I felt kind of jealous, but nothing crazy.
He promised he’d never do it again. He stopped visiting certain pages on Reddit and unfollowed a few accounts that had been burning up our Kleenex supply at home.
But he was lying.
Our sex life was dead in the water and he was emotionally absent and seemed glued to his phone.
Once I found out he’d been sexting for hours a day for months since promising to ditch checking out women online, I knew it was a real problem.
This wasn’t just him casually looking at some models with nice tits now and then on Instagram.
I’m not naive. I know men like to see an attractive woman and compare ladies.
I also know that even if a man has a gorgeous partner his eye will often wander.
This doesn’t necessarily make him a bad guy, nor does it mean he’s cheating or plans to cheat.
Sometimes he’s just a bit of a hormone-soaked teenager at heart.
But when it’s become obsessive and gotten into texting, lies and lack of intimacy, then you have a real problem on your hands.
And you’ll have to deal with it if you don’t want your marriage to crash and burn.
2) His reactions say more than his actions
To tell the truth, what really bothered me about my husband checking out other women online was the way he reacted when he got caught.
He tried to hide it, then downplayed it, then told me he’d stop.
Then he escalated it into full-scale sexting with multiple women, including an ex-girlfriend he’d already promised me years before was fully out of the picture.
Talk about a fail. I was furious.
Walking in on him video chatting with his ex is not an image I’ll probably ever completely get out of my head.
If he’d just said sorry and moved on I was ready to work with him and rebuild the great marriage we used to have.
It was the way he lied and kept trying to choose other women over me that hurt me deep inside.
My husband’s reactions made me feel a lack of respect.
They also made me doubt his future honesty.
That’s a very hard thing to repair.
3) Is it just a distraction or does he have a real crush?
Like I was saying, my husband had started swapping a lot of photos with an ex.
I’d see him checking out her social pages and feel uncomfortable because I knew that it might be about a lot more than just sexual attraction.
He seemed to miss what he’d had with her, or who he’d been when they were together.
That rubbed me the wrong way.
And when I caught him rubbing one out with her assistance I was even more miffed.
If your husband looks at other women online and it’s more than just eye candy then you have a double whammy to deal with:
A husband who’s not satisfied with you and a husband who may be catching feelings for someone else.
“Whenever a guy catches feelings for another person while in a committed relationship, their behavior will change,” said Aey at Panda Gossips.
“He will either start neglecting their partner subconsciously or they will start to shower them with extra love out of guilt.
“If you’ve observed either of these changes in his behavior along with other signs, your husband has a crush on the woman he’s been checking out online.”
Watch out for these signs.
4) Is he honest or does he lie and flirt obsessively?
Another of the top signs that your husband’s online activities are a serious issue is whether he’s honest about it.
I admit I’ve swooned a couple of times when Channing Tatum does his thing in Magic Mike.
I’m not a saint. But I also joked with my husband about it.
We even worked it into our fantasy life, imagining that he was Channing and he was raving me on the living room sofa.
I have room for fantasy in our marriage, and I’d be OK with him being honest about other women he finds hot.
But his flirting was secretive and obsessive. My husband didn’t want to include me in a fantasy about women he finds beautiful.
He wanted to two-time me with other women, checking them out online and getting off on the drug of hiding it from me.
“Most of us first developed the habit of looking at women when we were teenagers. It happens naturally and then we encourage it because of how good it makes us feel,” said Dr. Kurt Smith.
“Each time we see a sexually attractive woman our brain rewards us with a chemical high. It’s a minor high compared to other drugs, but it’s still enjoyable and addicting.”
5) Have you caught him sexting other women repeatedly?
Guys like attractive women, and they keep liking them even when they already have one.
Mature, responsible men can temper that impulse and resist it.
Even when they can’t resist, sometimes it’s a slip-up once or twice with porn or gawking at a hot movie star.
But over and over again? Then it becomes a bigger issue than just having a horndog husband.
If he’s just ogling Gal Gadot or a bikini model now and then, try to work it into your sex life.
But if he’s got a whole digital double life going on then there are bigger problems to deal with.
First of all and most importantly is whether or not he’s going to actually stop doing it.
6) Is he willing to stop doing it?
So, like I said, it’s necessary for your husband to decide if he’s willing to stop.
Maybe his issue goes deep and he has years of porn addiction under his belt.
Maybe he just got hooked on the dopamine rush of looking at other women online and got carried away and hooked.
There are various reasons that a man may start checking out women online and get just a bit too into it.
What’s most important is that he has the intention and commitment to stop.
That may take therapy, that may take going to meditation and yoga. That may take having some really nasty arguments.
But it’s either going to happen or it’s not.
And if it is going to happen then he has to be willing to own up to what he’s done and do his best to fix it.
There’s no real third option here, because if your husband isn’t willing to stop checking out women all over the net then your options are:
- Tolerate it and be OK with it
- Leave him
7) Have you ignored warning signs all along?
When I first found out that my husband looks at other women online on a very regular basis I thought he was just being a guy.
After all, we all know men are more visual and have an instinct to be with as many women as possible.
It’s in their genes.
I blamed myself, wondering if I’d done something that threw my husband off or if I was lacking in the bedroom.
I saw all these warning signs I’d ignored of him checking out other women and got the worst feeling like marriage had just been a trap for him.
Looking into it deeper, however, I understood that it wasn’t my husband looking a time or two at some hot women online that was the main problem.
The main problem was that he didn’t stop when I asked him and that he had this deep part of himself that felt it was his right to do whatever the hell he wanted regardless of what his wife asked.
That leads to huge tension in a marriage, I can tell you that.
I can so relate to this question a woman asked relationship coach Leslie Vernick. This woman wanted advice on what to do about her husband checking out other ladies.
Vernick was honest and like she said “the human eye admires beauty. However, men who respect and value their relationship with their wives, do not keep looking.”
Amen to that.
8) Make your response proportionate
Like I was mentioning earlier, sometimes you can both find a way to work fantasy into your sex life in a fulfilling way.
I think that it can be fine for your husband to find another woman attractive if it doesn’t go farther than that.
It’s when he starts masturbating to her, holding secret conversations with her, imagining her during sex, and making a beeline to his phone or the computer to check out her photos that you have an issue.
If your husband or boyfriend says that he’s just fantasizing now and then, sometimes the best bet is to just believe him.
Maybe he really is, and if you haven’t caught him lying before then maybe he’s not lying this time.
Maybe he was just scared of how you would react.
Do your best not to assume the worst, and if his behavior really does bother you then be honest about it, but don’t pounce on him fully right out of the gate.
I really like what dating coach Evan Katz said about this topic.
“You’re falsely assuming that if a man’s dating you, he should find no other woman attractive, nor should he acknowledge the objective truth that other women are attractive…
“The most effective thing you can do is to believe your boyfriend when he says he loves you and try to get over your belief that ‘looks at women = infidelity.’”
9) Talk it out in the open
Your situation with your husband is unique and may involve many different emotions and tensions.
Don’t let that insecurity and anger get buried under the surface and bubble back up later when you least expect it.
Talk the problems out as much as possible and do your best to be open about your perspective.
Your husband may have no excuse, but let him know exactly how you feel and the frustration you’re going through.
This can be hurtful. Maybe he feels you’ve gained weight, or he’s got an underlying disagreement he has with you or something you did.
Maybe he’s just being a dick.
You have no reason to overreact here, but you also have every right to
10) Be understanding but not permissive
It’s important to be as understanding as you can about your husband’s online activities while still not being a pushover.
If he admits he made a mistake and says he’ll do better then you have to at least give him a chance.
I gave my better half that chance and he used it to move deeper into sexting and looking at other women online.
But I still think it was the right thing to do.
The reason is that it showed me the problem was more serious than I had thought initially.
Give him some rope and see what he does with it.
Maybe he really is just playing around a little and enjoying looking at some pics online now and then.
According to guys, checking out other women isn’t always a big deal.
“The world is full of beautiful sights – flowers and sunsets, great works of art – none more beautiful than the female body,” Ben Neal says.
“It doesn’t take anything away from you when your man admires a painting or sculpture. It doesn’t diminish his love for you when he looks at another woman.”
11) Don’t let drama bury your relationship
Drama can be the death of a relationship if you let it spin out of control.
When your husband looks at other women online it can almost feel like he’s cheating.
You may also wonder if he’s been cheating as well or thinking about doing it.
Reacting with anger here is an understandable response.
The thing is that if you get too mad it can back your husband into a defensive corner where he gets even more entrenched in his lies, has a fake apology, or starts to think his wandering from you was justified in the first place.
If your husband is looking at other women online a lot then it sucks. I get that completely.
But you need to show him you still believe in him and still believe in the love he has for you.
Otherwise, he’s going to possibly use your anger as a justification for getting further from you and finding a woman who’s less critical.
12) Turn up the heat on your fantasy life
This is an important step you both can take:
Find out what it is about the women he’s seeing online that turns your husband on.
Does he have a fetish for librarians or gorgeous blonds?
Go invest in some books and a wig.
Give him some insights into your fantasies and what turns you on in a man.
A little bit of roleplay never hurt anyone, and it could be just the spice your relationship needs to get him away from the online fantasy and into the present reality.
I think that couples often get bogged down by the stress and busy clamor of day-to-day life and lose sight of just how hot their intimate life can still be with a bit of imagination.
If he’s been obsessing about 80s workout video models and the way that Spandex hugs their thighs then go check out what sort of retro outfits there are online.
When he sees your butt sculpted in neon green and aquamarine blue he’s going to go nuts.
He won’t want to look at photos online anymore of other women if he has the real thing right in front of him.
13) Get him to get help and consider spending time apart
If the problem has become truly toxic and all-consuming and your guy has promised to stop but hasn’t, then consider therapy.
My husband goes to therapy now.
I don’t go because I think that it’s his business what he wants to talk about regarding his sexuality with his therapist.
It’s also because I don’t want to be there judging or reacting to everything he says and intensifying this situation.
I want him to get the help he needs and talk through what it is that makes it difficult for him to stick to boundaries.
Maybe your husband who looks at other women online could benefit from therapy as well.
14) Know when to draw the line
If worst comes to worst you may have to end the relationship or consider a temporary – or permanent – separation.
I hope for your sake this is not what ends up happening, but sometimes it’s just how the cookie crumbles.
When I caught my husband sexting is when I went overboard confronting him directly and threatening him with an ultimatum.
I literally made him send texts saying he couldn’t sext anymore to the women he had been trading photos with.
Then I got my husband to see a counselor and tried to find out what it was about our marriage that wasn’t working out for him.
If your husband is willing to clean up his act and confront whatever it is that is making him unwilling or unable to control his impulses, then you should be patient and supportive.
If he’s not, then it could be time to leave this marriage.
Like one woman whose husband keeps looking at photos of other women online advised here, sometimes it’s just time to up and leave.
“Sweetheart, pack your bags — or his — and get out of this toxic relationship before you start to actually believe that you are to blame for your husband’s juvenile, cruel, abusive behavior.”
When to put your foot down and when to relax
Ever since I found out my husband looks at other women online, I’ve felt a little like I’m wandering around a carnival staring at myself in a funhouse mirror.
I’ve doubted every aspect of myself and our relationship.
But I’m done with that now.
My husband knows what I expect of him and he knows that I believe in our ability to overcome this.
I believe that this situation can often be resolved.
Really, as long as both parties are honest and put in a real effort there is lots of potential to overcome this issue.
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