Why Does My Boyfriend Look at Other Women?

I am in a serious relationship with a man that I have known for many years but have only started the relationship in the past few months. Our relationship seems like a dream, we have always cared for each other, but I think our timing was never right. We had started a relationship at 20 and I subsequently broke his heart. He did not communicate his feelings for me which led me to believe there was no future for us and I moved on. Nevertheless, we continued to be friends and it’s now been 18 years. We have matured and grown and are better equipped emotionally to have a successful relationship, at least I feel that way.

You have far more to worry about than a nudie poster. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?

He lives across the country, has a great job and is leaving it behind to come and start a new life with me at this point. We are buying a home together and are trying to start a family, but something still makes me feel doubt and insecurity. I had the chance to see his place, I flew out for a week vacation (he often visits me and I wanted to see him at his end) and saw his apartment for the first time. I chuckled at first, seeing that it was decorated with flags and beer posters and such but when I saw the detailed nudie poster of a woman signed to him with love hanging on the inside of his closet door I felt like throwing up. He is an intelligent man, very successful, very down to earth, is very respectful and caring in how he treats me, very loving, sensitive and has no problems sharing how much he loves me anymore… all those things a girl would want. But I am disgusted by that poster, I didn’t say a thing to him about it, I figured this is his place and who am I to throw my opinion in his face about his decorating tastes so to speak. But the whole time I was there that was all I could think about! It drove me crazy, I felt like it was a notch on his belt that he had to hide in his closet but yet had no qualms with letting me see it. I have a lot of negative feelings about this and I’m hoping that my perspective on this needs an adjustment. Hope you can put me at ease or help me deal with this in an appropriate way so we can move forward because I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall.

Thanks,
Trixie

Oh, Trixie.

You have far more to worry about than a nudie poster. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?

First let me attempt to put you at ease with the concept of the signed (and detailed!) nudie poster. I know it’s easier said than done, but this one’s on you. There is absolutely, positively, 100% nothing wrong with a normal, red-blooded American man who appreciates the naked female form. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a man who turns away in abject horror when presented with the image of a perfect body.

Expecting men not to be turned on by magazines, calendars, porn and strip clubs is like wishing for the sky to be red – a pleasant thought, perhaps, but not one consistent with reality. As long as he’s not ADDICTED to magazines, calendars, porn and strip clubs, he falls in the healthy 80th percentile of men in the bell curve – stimulated by visions of unattainable women. Better to embrace that and use it to your advantage than to go crazy about a fact of life.

Expecting men not to be turned on by magazines, calendars, porn and strip clubs is like wishing for the sky to be red – a pleasant thought, perhaps, but not one consistent with reality.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss the many, many things that are wrong with this picture:

1)       He is an intelligent, successful, down-to-earth, 38-year-old man…who keeps a signed naked poster in his closet? Not to mention beer signs and football pennants? At best, he’s an overgrown frat boy who desperately needs a woman’s touch around the house. At worst, he’s a clueless delayed adolescent who has absolutely no consideration for how his décor makes women feel. I’ll let you make that call yourself. But, from personal experience, I had tons of posters of women – Paulina Porizkova, Kathy Smith, Kathy Ireland, Cindy Crawford – in my room when I was 15-18 years old. My mom continued to send me the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar for Christmas into my early-mid 20’s. I loved looking at it, but kept it hung in my closet out of embarrassment, until eventually I asked her to stop sending it. I could not possibly imagine how your guy has gone this long without realizing how this makes him look. Any ideas?

2)  He’s moving cross-country, you’re buying a home and you’re starting a family…and you’re worried about a freakin’ poster in his closet? I’d spend a lot more time visiting each other, trying to build up a sense of trust and normalcy, instead of signing on the dotted line and sorting it all out later.

Please, Trixie, for your own sake, slow down on the proclamations of love and marriage and future and babies – and try to figure out if you guys are truly a long-term fit. If you are a good fit, then a poster doesn’t matter. And if a poster makes you second guess the basis of your entire relationship, maybe it’s best that you don’t rush things.

It just seems that you’re putting things out of order, and by focusing on the minutiae, you’re missing the big picture stuff that will determine your success.

Best of luck.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jennifer

    I cannot for the life of me understand why Trixie would not just *ask* about the poster. Is it just a playboy playmate and he went to an autograph session to get it signed? Is it a super good-looking ex girlfriend? My guess is something along the lines of the former which makes this, in my view, a total non-issue.

    Being so bothered by something and not mentioning it *at all* seems very reminiscent of the 20 year old Trixie. While the guy definitely seems to have some arrested development issues, please don’t let him uproot his life when you don’t even feel comfortabe having a conversation about something he wasn’t even trying to hide from you (i’m assuming you didn’t sneak into his closet).

  2. 2
    Honey

    Well, for me the insecurity over the poster is actually her brain’s way of trying to sneak in all that other stuff that so desperately needs to be considered…but I agree.

    If he wants to move, fine. But why buy a house together so soon? And if they’re 38 then I do understand the rush if they want their own genetic children, but…is it worth the other risks you are taking, just to have that one thing?

  3. 3
    starthrower68

    It’s always the same old story: “he’s all of these wonderful things, but…”. If there’s a “but”, then please take Evan’s advice to heart. So many people rush into these things without looking at all the clues then come back and complain about it later. I suspect what the OP really wants to know, is can she change him from looking at other women.

  4. 4
    Curly Girl

    I disagree with Evan. I say it’s a red flag that you have to take a look at. I think the poster IS a sign of issues that he has and that you are right to be bothered by. So many women dislike this type of male behavior (ogling, objectifying women) and despite this, men persist in doing it. Why? Because they get away with it. Because there are plenty of people to tell you that as a woman YOU are wrong to find this objectionable. And yet you do. In your gut, it repulses you.

    I hold that there is nothing wrong with you. But here starts the denial and the looking in the other direction, until before too long you’re lost in a stupid relationship where “I’m just a guy” has become the excuse for all sorts of unfair and insensitive behavior.

    Not all men go in for this type of behavior. I feel sad that they are in such short supply, however. And happy that I have one who is not like that. (He does appreciate female beauty and he’s quite into s*x, lest you be thinking otherwise. He’s just very respectful and not at all dog-like.)

    But think on this: If this type of display/behavior is OK, then why is it banned in the workplace? Because it creates a work environment hostile toward women. Why hostile? Because 80% of red-blooded American women find it offensive. Why should you be less protected in your home than in your workplace?

    I would say that you have the right to ban from your home any sort of material you find objectionable. You have to live there, too.

    Oh, but to correct something: The woman in the poster is not “unattainable.” To paraphrase Tina Fey on Letterman last night–she’s quite attainable. For about $6,000.

  5. 5
    Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach

    My bet is lover boy doesn’t have women to his home very often. He’s goes to her house as he has with Trixie. Therefore not much worry about being embarrassed about the poster.

    But more importantly, if Trixie is bothered by a poster – why not just ask? As a dating coach for women over 40, I highly recommend asking the hard questions. That is the best way to get answers – one way or the other – because no asnwer is still an answer.

    Asking tough questions deepens your relationship and helps you discover how the two of you will handle difficult issues as your relationship progresses. If Trixie is thinking about kids – there will be plenty of difficult things to handle way beyond a nudie poster.

    Be bold – just ask about the poster and stop the worrying.

  6. 6
    Christine in the uk

    Personally i would worry if he didn’t have posters like that somewhere.

  7. 7
    girl-with-glasses

    I think to paraphrase, Evan’s sayng the poster’s not a bad reflection on the man’s sexuality, (because that’s pretty much healthy and the norm), but the poster is a bad reflection on the man’s social awareness and maturity. Maybe he’s just not well socialized, if he had a *serious* relationship in his life, his decor might be at a different level. You can’t go into a relationship expecting him to change, but sometimes a man will change for the better after prolonged exposure to a real live woman in his life. So go with both eyes open on your part, hopeful but not hasty, etc etc

  8. 8
    girl-with-glasses

    Doesn’t her boyfriend sound like a potential case for that show with the Fab Five or whatever, those gay men that come around and reburbish a straight man’s hopelessly tasteless living room and dating style? He might be a nice guy, but he’s not at the stage you’re looking for… the op sounds a bit overwhelmed by nostalgia and romantic wishes. If she’s capable of buying a home and planning a family, she needs to reasses the situations with those eyes of logic instead.

  9. 9
    Michael

    From a guy’s perspective, I would have to agree with Evan that these are basic facts: healthy guys look at girls; mature 38-year-old guys don’t have beer signs and naked posters on their walls.
    And I’m going to go on a bit of a rant for a second: I see a lot of men and women, especially single men and women, who seem to have decided that “30 is the new 20,” and so they behave like they’re still in college until…well, some never stop. If you’re a woman who’s still partying like it’s 1995, don’t be surprised if you keep attracting Peter Pan. There’s a difference between youthful vigor and immaturity.

  10. 10
    Curly Girl

    Agreed, Michael. I mean, don’t we all want to live in a nice place and have great, soulful sex? Like grown-ups do? Where in this scenario are the dumb nudie girls who go around flashing their boobies for money?

    And who wants a guy who is so easily manipulated by women who flash their boobies for money?

  11. 11
    Michael

    Guys will always be influenced in some way by girls who flash their boobies. Evan, me, every hetero guy.

    It’s the “easily” part that’s the variable.

  12. 12
    hunter

    Poster of a woman “behind the closet door?” Behind the closet door. hmmmh…I side with Ronnie the dating coach, she maybe the first woman over to his place.

    I agree with EMK, there are more important things to talk about.

    That maybe her way of starting a conversation about more important issues.

  13. 13
    Lance

    Totally bizarre. I’m younger than this guy and my place looks nothing like it. I’m single, red blooded, male, and I love naked chicks! Let’s class it up a little, people. I think he just needs to get a clue and get some style, but besides that he’s probably perfectly fine as a mate for Trixie. Also, what kind of a name is Trixie??
    She should just bust his balls about the poster and other frat boy stuff and see how he reacts. If he reacts positively, like takes it in stride and jokes, they’re fine.

  14. 15
    Karl R

    Trixie said: (original letter)
    “the detailed nudie poster of a woman signed to him with love”
    “It drove me crazy, I felt like it was a notch on his belt”

    A notch on his belt? You really don’t understand how men get one of these posters.

    Sometime at male-oriented events, playmates (or other models who pose nude) will be invited to attend and sign posters of themselves. A few hundred men will line up, and she will sign posters for all the men as they come through the line.

    The poster is a memento. It reminds him of when he met this woman. It reminds him of the event where it occurred. But the “with love” is completely without meaning.

    As others have said, his place sounds like it was decorated by someone in their 20s. It’s possible that he decorated it over 10 years ago and hasn’t updated the decor since then.

    If you want to affect his decorating style, (privately) tease him about decorating his place like a dorm room. Keep it light-hearted; don’t overdo it. The message will get through.

  15. 16
    Honey

    I would like to add that I have an autographed poster of myself with the entire cast of American Storm, a male revue in Las Vegas. There’s a polaroid of me with them someplace, too…

  16. 17
    Curly Girl

    I love how when it comes to s*xually explicit material a guy will invoke the argument of “all guys” do this or that, or “all normal guys” do this or that, or “[fill in some made-up percentage] of guys” do this or that. Clearly these are false, unsubstantiated statements. There are plenty of guys who don’t engage in this behavior, plenty of guys who just aren’t into it for a whole variety of reasons. But maybe you guys who are talking like this feel defensive about your own behaviors and want to believe there is safety in numbers, thus feeling called upon to speak for “all men.”

  17. 18
    Marc

    Trixie needs to see the glass half full on this one. If this guy has a poster like that hanging around in his place, odds are he doesn’t have any real live women hanging around.

  18. 19
    Joe

    If he still has the thing, it clearly means something to him. “Something” may be 1 on a scale of 1-100, or it could be 100.

    However, since the thing is inside his freaking closet, my guess would be that it’s to the low end of the spectrum.

    Methinks Trixie doth protest too much.

  19. 20
    Michael

    Curly, have you seen any of the guys here denying it yet?

    Don’t get caught in a black/white, all/nothing fallacy. We obviously don’t all have rooms with beer signs and nude poster closets. But we all DO notice and are influenced by the female form in some degree.

  20. 21
    Honey

    Oh, hunter, sadly the poster is in a tube in a spare closet somewhere. I’m not sure I could find it in any sort of timely manner, and I don’t even remember if it’s ever been hung up…

  21. 22
    Mara

    Oh good grief – every man I work with at an investment firm between the ages of 22-40 has a signed cheerleader Arizona Cardinals or Philadelphia Eagles lingerie calendar hanging up in their cubicle/corner office. They go out to strip clubs and watch porn. So does my husband. He’s not addicted and he’s not a frat boy. I think if I didn’t work with all men, I might have had a naive view of it all. But it’s just a locker room mentality and men turning into morons when they see pretty, big breasted, unattainable women. It has nothing to do with their real life relationships. I think getting upset by a calendar is ludicrous, unless he actually knows the women in it and is in real life communication with them. Then yah, that’s a problem.

  22. 23
    hunter

    Honey, your poster is in a tube, put away somewhere? How boring…

    Mara, I agree with your comments.

  23. 24
    Jenny

    Mara, not every man…
    I am in my mid 20s, and I am the only woman my age in a team of 20 men of my age. From the 2 years I worked there, I can see the immaturities vary with different guys. Fortunately, since our work is highly professional, it is absolutely a no-no to have such posters hanging in anyone’s cube/office. I have been to a couple of their homes and they looked just as neat (or neater) as my home.

  24. 25
    amy

    Uh…no, actually.
    I went the “well, he’s a man?” route when my ex moved his porn stash into our house. He wasn’t sitting around slavering or jumping over to the screen every other second. But I thought it was…sad, and abject, and totally not hot. Just sad. “Unattainable” is not at all the same thing as “poor dumb girls who have no idea what the men are thinking” or “down and out women used to being abused and objectified, with not a lot of anything to spare, especially brains”. I thought he should’ve been able to see that these poor women had no self-respect, were probably not that bright, maybe were used to abuse from childhood, and were being taken advantage of, whether or not they knew it. By him, now, too. I kept my mouth shut, thinking, “OK, he’s a man, maybe it’s healthy sexuality,” etc. I’d lived with other men and had never had this in the house before, but OK.
    What snapped me out of that was my male friends, who said, “He has what? Ew!” They thought it was gross, and sad, and abject, and a bunch of other things, too. Turned out they were right, and I was wrong.
    I wouldn’t date a guy who kept porn around and girlie stuff around or even found it sexy. Apart from my own experience, I have too many friends whose husbands had “healthy outlets” that somehow turned into hookups with 15-year-olds, near-rape experiences, and other sexual sicknesses. I think Trixie’s gut feeling about this is right on target. I also think you’re right in telling her to slow down.

  25. 26
    Roger

    I think you are worrying about the wrong problem. Your boyfriend seems to be making all the right moves-relocating to be with you, buying a house together, starting a family, communicating his feelings. Unless there is another reason you don’t trust him, I see no reason to worry so much about the poster.
    I am curious to know why you can’t talk to him about it? Considering the problems that come up in a life together, the fact that you haven’t discussed it suggests that YOU need to work on discussing your feelings.
    I can’t speak for your boyfriend, but if my girlfriend were to espress displeasure at such a poster, I would immediately get rid of it with a sincere apology.

  26. 27
    Curly Girl

    Michael: It seems that all PEOPLE are “influenced” by the way other PEOPLE look. Most people are aroused by visual erotic material, according to certain studies (legitimate scientific studies on human response–you know, ones that adhere to accepted research methods–not just something that’s tossed about online).

    But we aren’t talking about attraction or arousal. We’re talking about a decision to seek out a certain type of stimulation absent any emotional connection to the presumed “partner”; a certain predilection toward fantasy that leads to an action without regard for the consequences of that action (in this case, how it might offend or hurt someone he presumably cares about); and the rather immature content of the photo.

    Red flags, if you want an equal, mutually satisfying physical relationship.

  27. 28
    Curly Girl

    Agree with Jenny and Amy!

    And Mara, no doubt there are male-dominated environments where this behavior goes unchecked. The question is, what woman WANTS to be in that situation? Hardly any, I would suppose, which is why those environments are male-dominated. As I said before, they are hostile toward women. That some (or even many) women go along to get along (as EMK and some other guys on here are advising Trixie) doesn’t mean that women like the stuff or wouldn’t prefer environments that are free of it.

    But here’s an interesting question for the defenders of this behavior: If it’s so meaningless and irrelevant and not important and no a big deal, then why not just get rid of it or not buy it, now that you know how off-putting it is to what seems to be a substantial portion of the female population?

  28. 29
    Kenley

    I re-read the letter and the OP indicated that her guy had 1 poster not a stash of porn. Moreover, he hadn’t brought it to “their house,” it was his house — a house, by the way, this woman was never going to live in. I don’t know why some people have assumed that 1 poster makes this guy a porn addict. I’d need to have more proof than 1 poster to declare him that.
    I don’t know if she should stay with this man or not, but if she loves him and he does everything through both words and action to indicate that he loves her, breaking up with him over a poster seems to be an overreaction. But sometimes, people don’t tell the whole story, so there actually may be something else that is bothering her about this guy. If that’s true, then she should slow down. She just needs to be completely honest with herself and if something is telling her he’s not the right guy, then he probably isn’t.

  29. 30
    Jennifer

    The most shocking and disturbing part of this story to me has nothing to do with the poster, but rather that the OP was bothered enough by this poster to say that it drove her crazy the whole weekend, yet she could not bring her self to say anything about it and this is a man that she has known for several years, is in a serious relationship with, and is moving cross country to live with her. If she can’t even bring up this rather simple issue, i can’t see it boding well for the relationship. People shouldn’t be that scared to talk to their siginificant others.

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