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.


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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  1. 31

    Boys will be boys? Harden up! This is nothing unusual.

  2. 32

    Personally, as a professional myself working with mostly men, I would leave the company immediately if I find anyone post anything sexually inappropriate in my workplace and the management tries to defend it. It is unlawful and it is an insult to my profession.

  3. 33

    I think worrying about a poster (which can be ripped off the wall) is silly. She’s allowing this minor situaltion to allow her to miss out on the other issues she needs to be attentive to. Hell, the man lives alone, he has a right to have a poster. It’s not like it’s his ex girlriend or something. Of all the complications that relationships can bring, a poster should be the least bit of her worries. You need to look at the bigger picture. Does this mean meet your needs? Is this man the type of man you see in your future? Is he a family man? Can you have children with this man? Does this man makes me feel like a natural woman, etc. Stop worrying about a silly poster that can be torn off a wall. And if you’re expecting to be with a man that’s perfect, that’s not going to happen. You want to go into a relationship with false notions. If a poster can bother you so much, then, perhaps, you have deeper issues. Or, perhaps, you have not come to realize that relationships in itself can be very difficult, and a poster is not even 1 percent of it.

  4. 34

    Or, perhaps, Trixie is jealous because she has low self-esteem and the nude woman in the picture look nothing like her. Hell, if my bf had a naked picture up and i know i look just as good, it would really bother me, because i am confident. Still, i think Trixie has deeper issues than that nudie picture.

  5. 35

    Kenley, the fact that he has and treasures the poster enough to have a look every time he opens his closet say something about what he finds appealing. And what he finds appealing is a young woman who’s willing to display herself in order to be the object of strangers’ lewd and often disgusting fantasies. She may have pretty boobs, but what does this say about her, the person? And what does it say about the person who finds that kind of person attractive?
    I can certainly understand being distracted by a bod, and appreciative of it. But if an interest in the actual person in the bod doesn’t show up very swiftly afterwards, I’d say something’s wrong.
    Most of my boyfriends — good, smart guys — have found this very frustrating. They see a hot woman — good! — and then very quickly realize that she’s terribly abject, or dumb as a rock, and they find it so sad or off-putting that they just don’t find her sexy anymore. Which is why they don’t have the posters or the porn files or the magazines. They’re just not interested in objectifying these women, find it a loathesome thing to do. What they want is a real, live, smart, funny, healthy woman in the bed. Or at least one to chase. That kind of fantasy they can live with.

  6. 36

    I don’t think sexually explicit material posted in a work environment is relevant to the OP’s concern. She found 1 poster in her boyfriend’s home in his closet — a location, where I suspect, he didn’t think anyone would see it there but him. It might even be the case that it’s been there so long, he doesn’t really even notice it anymore. I remember I read this book that recommended putting little notes of encouragement to yourself in various locations. So, I have this note inside my medicine cabinet reminding of my goal weight. The note has been there for about 3 years and I swear I only noticed again a month ago. If he’s like me, he might not really even notice it anymore.
    One of the reasons I may be more willing to than some women to cut men some slack on pornography is because for many years, I was a romance novel junkie. My addiction started as a teen and continued until I was about 40. Romance novels are a HUGE industry for women, and you know what, most of today’s romance novels are soft porn — plain and simple. Yes, I read the novels for the story but also for the stimulation and excitement — that’s why women read romance novels — to get turned on. And, romance novels also set up very unrealistic expectations about the relationships between men and women. The reason I actually stopped reading them is because when I started dating again in my forties, I realized that the idealized man in the romance novel just did not exist and my thought that he did was getting me into a lot of trouble. I think the biggest myth in romance novels is that when you have sex with a man, you are now a couple. As we all know, that is not true in the real world. So, I stopped reading romance novels cold turkey.
    I know some are going to complain that I am comparing apples and oranges, and I will acknowledge that there are differences. However, my boyfriends could NEVER measure up to the men in those romance novels — which is often the complaint women have about women in porn. At the end of the day, both are fantasies that are tailored to how each gender likes to be stimulated. If a guy is respectful to my wants and needs in every way both in public and private, I’m just not going to be bothered if he looks at pornography.

  7. 37

    I think you have a very interesting voice and perspective. I think, however, we just see the world differently. First, there wasn’t anything in the OP’s note that indicated this guy “cherised” the poster. As I indicated in my previous post, sometime things are hanging around for so long we don’t even notice them anymore. Like a few others have mentioned, why didn’t the OP ask the guy about it since it bothered her so much?
    Second, I don’t believe that every man who likes to look at a naked woman in a magazine has disgusting and lewd thoughts.
    Third, the notion that if you don’t want to get to know a person you find physically attractive, then there is something wrong with you, makes no sense to me. I see hot men at my gym and on the street everyday, and I don’t have a desire to get to know them as people. Does that mean there is something wrong with me? Why?
    Fourth, there is a difference between fantasy and reality. To suggest that a man’s fantasy can only be what his reality is seems oppressive to me.
    To me, what this all seems to boil down to is that women who aren’t turned on by naked bodies don’t want men to be turned on by naked bodies either. I don’t think that is fair or realistic.

  8. 38

    @Kenley #36 I tend to agree with you.
    I don’t consider looking at or enjoying erotic/pornographic material deviant (or even questionable) behavior for men or women.
    I do understand that on this board that seems to be the minority point of view though.

  9. 39

    Hi, Kenley,
    I’d say that if you go home fantasizing about the hot bods in the gym, and then come back and watch them working out for more hot fantasy, and it doesn’t cross your mind to wonder who these people are, then yes, that’s a problem; you’re using them, objectifying them. Turning them into sex toys. And they aren’t sex toys; they’re people. On the whole men don’t like being objectified any better than women do — it’s total disrespect and humiliation.
    On the whole, though, the guys in the gym aren’t dressing (or not dressing) for you. They’re doing it for themselves, and they’re dressed sensibly for their sport. Which is why I thought it was sad & prurient that people got all over Brandi Chastain when she ripped off her shirt after that big Olympic win. And men generally are not sexually vulnerable in the way that women are — although when they find that they’re in a vulnerable position, like when a straight guy finds he’s in a locker room full of gay guys on the hunt, I think you’ll find they get modest in a hurry.
    No, not every man who looks at porn and girlie stuff is thinking disgusting things, but you know that some of them are. And that the woman who’s done the posing is inviting that very kind of thing, because that’s the purpose of those shots. To be used. For her body, or body parts, to be used as an object of fantasy.
    You write:
    “To suggest that a man’s fantasy can only be what his reality is seems oppressive to me.”
    I’d suggest that imagination opens the door very wide. :) Try again. A lot of people are hot, hot, hot — because they themselves, not this chunk or that chunk of the flesh — are hot.
    “To me, what this all seems to boil down to is that women who aren’t turned on by naked bodies don’t want men to be turned on by naked bodies either. I don’t think that is fair or realistic.”
    Or true. I just don’t want to be involved with a man who thinks it’s fine to separate body from person, and use that body for sexual pleasure.

  10. 40

    What I find unfathomable is Trixie has known this man for 18 years; he’s leaving a great job to move to be with her (in this economy); they are buying a house together and apparently trying to conceive and YET she can’t even bring herself to talk to him about a poster he had hanging, in his closet, as a single guy, she finds objectionable. WTF???

    I think the lack of ability to communicate is far and away the more serious problem than a poster hanging out of site. I think Trixie better stay on birth control until she learns how talk to this man about things that bother her. And he’s better off keeping his job and staying put until she does.

  11. 41


  12. 42

    But Evan- the sky is red. At sunset. :-)

  13. 43

    like I’ve said before- men like playmates/models, etc. etc. Women like rock stars.

  14. 44

    You can drift his attention by doing something special. Put on something sexy that you normally don’t do. This will surprise him and completely throw him off of his feet. Capturing his attention is very important in a relationship. Keep his attention by showing him what hot and sexy is. If you do it enough constantly, he will eventually just only be attracted to you only.

  15. 45

    There’s something very simple that I think guys should consider, and it will help with many (though not all) their arguments with women over other nude women:

    We know that you’re going to ogle other women, nude or not.  We just wish you would look at us (your GF/SO/wife) with the same obvious appreciation. 

    Think about it.  If your tongue’s hanging out of your mouth, and you keep touching your pants, and we have the misfortune of hearing you say to your friend on the phone, “There was this good-looking chick I saw the other day…” and meanwhile we’re standing there after having put on makeup, shaved, wearing that perfume we thought you like, plus exposing a little cleavage, and with all the immediate chores done… Why WOULDN’T you appreciate the effort that the real life woman in your life put in for you?  Why would you make her feel second place?  Why wouldn’t you instead look your wife up and down when she enters a room and then say, “Come here, you,” and show her just how hot you are for her?

    ‘What about the good-looking chick who’s standing right in front of you?’ most of us would think.  And then later when you ask us why we’re sad, we say ‘Nothing’ because we’re told that if it bothers us that you ogle them instead of us, then we’re insecure.  And that admitting insecurity is a turn-off, instead of seen as being honest.

    It hurts a lot less that you’re visually fucking her (not to say it doesn’t still hurt, especially if you’re rubbing it in our faces), if you’ve already made your wife feel like she’s the hottest girl in the whole world.  Try it sometime: we’ll feel a lot less like you “settled” for us, and more like you “won” us.  That’s how more of us should feel.

    …Along with a healthy dose of, “We chose to be won.”

  16. 46

    It is totally off the mark for the first posted reply to say ‘this ones’ on you’ to Trixie who asked the original question.
    That is lamely saying that Trixie needs to shoulder her boyfriends concerns and dismiss his behaviour.  No it is not okay to objectify women and as soon as society gets a grip on that, the better for all relationships accross the globe.
    Women are to be treasured in a relationship.

  17. 47

    Evan your replies are actually quite sick making to a healthy attractive successful woman.  I mean this in the nicest possible way as I hope you will take my feedback on board when you are coaching women.
    Your job to coach women -should you continue in this field, comes with the responsibility of attaining some real wisdom, not simply to try and offer what you think is the median male perspective.
    It is not wise to tell a woman that nude posters and objectification of women is okay.  It is better to stand up be a strong make role model and “say okay you know what, women need to be treasured and that means that men need to check their behaviour before entering into long term commitments, and during relationships and marriages.”  This means saying no to nude posters.
    Case in point it is upsetting to any women who comes accross one as she knows it is wrong and hopes that behaviour will not be there in the first place so she does not have to have her romance spoiled and ‘mother’ and train her boyfriend into some proper behaviour.

  18. 48

    I must say Evan that it is clear by your marketing that you are putting the entire owness on women to please men.  That is very sexist and old fashioned nobody wants to see this.  I hope this message changes.

  19. 49

    I think all men are disgusting. Grow up! its okay to notice women just like women notice men.
    But to sit and look at naked women is disgusting. Maybe they need to look at the women there with and get heated. Us women need the attention and to know that our men would prefer to look at there women. I get so tired of hearing that its all normal for men. Than I can say its normal for all women to go out and get attention from somewhere else. excuses excuses for men.

  20. 50

    Sonia pegged my situation. Except that I’m honestly hotter thAn most the girls he sees anywhere … And I still have this battle of insecurity. We have discussed how other women turn him on and he tells me I’m beautiful, but it’s like I just have to grin and bear this part of the relationship because it’s ‘natural’

    And hes a lot better at sex (in his mind) with these fantasy women than with me… which only amplifies the issues  

  21. 51

    Some women also enjoying seeing of attractive guys !!

  22. 52

    You sound like you feel uneasy about the whole thing anyway. That’s a bad sign I can tell you! I was in a very similar situation to you a few years back. Met up with an old boyfriend from 20 years ago. Back in our late teens and twenties we had an on/off thing going on and at that time I felt the same as you…I wasn’t feeling the vibe on his part and stayed guarded. I was looking to be somebody’s number 1 at that age of course…and I felt he could take me or leave me , so I never took him too seriously and protected my heart.

    Anyway fast forward 20 years, and life happened in between. I got married and then divorced, and he never married but played the field etc. and we finally found each other again and hooked up. He told me EVERYTHING I wanted to hear! All the feelings he had back in the day which he never got to say because he said he felt I was out of his league! It was amazing! A second chance I thought! Our time had come …blah blah blah! I felt 20 years younger all over again and got completely drawn in! He said he felt the same. I went to his apartment for the first time and just thought wow! He was living like a teenager really. None of the nudie pics or anything but a trashy place with TOO much beer and games console, sofa and  bed… and not much else really? I felt a bit sorry for him! I wanted to save him. He had spent all his life single pretty much,  and in and out of  a few relationships,  but no real commitment beyond 3 years. He hadn’t met the right girl I thought! But here I am now…I’m back..and I will show him what he’s been missing! I ignored the fact that he was actually just one big, selfish, immature loser! I ignored the fact that actually he was quite an angry guy these days and felt like the world owed him a favour! Of course he was still single because life had been unkind to him  (*rolls eyes) and he’d gotten no good breaks! He was such a victim! Nothing was his fault! But the truth was…whilst everyone else was growing up and settling down, he was playing the leading role in Peter Pan!

    So ignoring the red flags, and getting completely carried away with my need to save him,  and in mid-life crisis territory to feel 20 years younger again, I rushed into a relationship with him and we planned our future. It surprises me now to realise that my 20 year old self was FAR wiser than the 40 year old version!

    So for the next 6 months things were mind blowing! Sex, affection, attention, words, actions..everything! He was a little jealous and possessive, but it was kind of sweet I thought? Since all those years ago he seemed so indifferent towards me. I was happy that he was passionate for me. He went all out to win me over! Of course he did…he had reached this ripe age without achieving anything, and I was pretty much sorted. I was still attractive and looking a lot younger than my years, I had a good job and a great bank account and lifestyle. In hindsight I WAS completely out of his league and his 20 year old self was wiser too it seems!

    So I shared everything I had with him…what’s mine is yours and all that.

    6 months into it he  suddenly changed.. A LOT! Or maybe I just refused to see it sooner? Well the anger issues were there from the off, but the complete 180 degree turn was a real blow. Suddenly he went off sex and turned cold overnight in all the intimate ways you can think of. Didn’t want to do anything with me, didn’t want affection or hugs, wouldn’t talk about anything to me. If I tried to broach the subject I would get met with rage and violence! He was drinking a lot, back to playing games consoles every spare mount and I was completely and cruelly shut out and shut down. Rejection after rejection followed and my self esteem nose dived. Within another 6 months I became someone I didn’t recognise …and my family and friends certainly didn’t! This is all condensed of course as there isn’t enough time to explain so much that went wrong. I found text messages to women, social media messages, he went out on benders and I wouldn’t see him for a night and day or 2. He told lies for the sake of lying. Lie after lie. He was a slob to live with, messy and piggish beyond belief!

    Despite it all I continued this way for another 2 years! I’d invested so much of myself,  and I really thought it would get better. I loved him more than anyone I’d ever loved in my life and I just didn’t get it? At my age to be given this second chance and to feel this strongly for the first time too? It was far too special for me to just quit on it! Besides…I felt like my heart would break into a thousand pieces every time we had a fight and he left. I felt too old to start over my life AGAIN! I just wanted the guy I met? He would come back soon…he’s just finding the transition from a life long ‘singleton’ to being in a committed, normal relationship a bit difficult to adjust to.

    During the next 2 years it was a roller coaster. I lost so much weight and suddenly all those years that I aged quite well before I met him… seemed to catch up with me in that short space of time from the sheer stress! I can honestly say the stress of those last 3 years were more stressful that my entire life stresses all added up together ..and then some! I was a wreck! He stole my confidence and kicked me off that pedestal he put me on good and proper! It was almost like he had no self esteem himself, and so wanted to steal all of mine. I felt like he was jealous of me in a competitive way? Like he wanted to tear me down and stamp all over me for daring to be better than him. Which of course was all in HIS mind not mine! People would ask how he managed to get such a beautiful girlfriend when we were out socialising and I hated it! So rude! He would laugh it off and hide his feelings but I know it affected him. We’d get home and he’d sneer at me how much I loved it when people said that! But I didn’t! And I guess I felt sorry for him , and bad for him,  and I would put myself down in his eyes then, to compensate… by pointing out all of my own flaws. I maybe did too good a job of it because now I was just a piece of shit to him! Maybe that was his plan? To destroy me for being ‘out of his league’ I don’t know, all I know is at the time he tied me up in so many knots and manipulated me so much that my head was spinning. He would gaslight me and deny conversations we had and twist things UNBELIEVABLE! I couldn’t see the woods for the trees. I stayed though and hung in there. I ended up feeling as though he was too good for me, and that I was ugly and old and he would probably leave me for someone much more attractive. With this in mind I kept striving to make him happy…happy enough to stay with me. I bought him expensive gifts and cooked for him and pampered him like a spoilt child. Pushing him further away really. I was a complete doormat!

    The intimacy never regained. He only wanted sex once a fortnight as a release no more…it was never about me. Suddenly he was as indifferent to me as he was 20 years ago! (a leopard and their spots?) He would never respond to my advances only when HE wanted to and that would be a ‘quickie’ for his own satisfaction. No doubt he had casuals to fill the gaps in between! The rage issues escalated so much that I stopped fighting. I stopped requesting happiness and love, and I ignored all of my own needs  in order to avoid his outbursts. I put up with misery and accepted it as my life.

    How could this happen to someone at my age? At any age really. How could a strong, confident woman end up this way in such a short space of time? I was always the one to say I would NEVER put up with an abusive relationship. I could never understand victims and how they got there and why they didn’t just leave? He cleaned out everything I had. Money, love, and my strength …all gone. I guess he came along when I was vulnerable really and thats a big part of my downfall… divorcing, ageing, afraid of being alone maybe? Also these things never start the way they end up …it sneaks up on you. The boundaries get pushed further and further. You start off putting up with something you feel is quite unnaceptable … but you do it out of love? Fear? Then things get worse little by little and  then THAT thing doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore and you accept it as no big deal! and so on so forth…inch by inch your boundaries are pushed! Its a crazy process that screws with your mind!

    I’m not saying this relationship is going to turn out anywhere near as bad mine did lol…but I only wish I’d listened to my wise ’20 year old’ intuition! Who said with age comes wisdom lol?? All my life I harboured a secret ‘what if?’ for him. Wondered where he was and what he was doing?  Here and there I would hear snippets about him… but I never imagined we’d be together. Just a secret little fantasy that I kept to myself.

    Be careful what you wish for.

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