Husband looks at photos of women, revisited Dear Annie
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2018
Dear Readers: Recently, I printed a letter from “Never Gonna Be Good Enough.” She was fed up with her husband’s looking at titillating photos of women online and was curious about how other readers have approached this issue in their marriages. The diversity of opinions is remarkable.
Dear Annie: You invited readers to respond about husbands’ “frequently looking at women.” Many women have complained about this to you. Could it be that most men are by nature attracted to viewing beautiful women without any intention of being unfaithful to their wives? Perhaps this is something wives (and girlfriends) just need to accept as natural and something they shouldn’t get offended by. — Realistic and Honest Man
Dear Realistic and Honest Man: I appreciate your honest perspective. Read on for a vastly different one.
Dear Annie: Your advice to “Never Gonna Be Good Enough” is worse than useless. He’s never going to change this habit that gives him pleasure, no matter how much pain it causes his wife. To answer her question, no, this is not just the way men are. It’s the way he is. A man who truly cares about his wife and sees her as an equal partner in their relationship does not treat her this way. A narcissist who lacks empathy and cares only about his own needs and desires is “never gonna be good enough” to be a real husband. There is no middle ground that would work for both as you suggest. There is only total capitulation by the wife (and its attendant misery). My advice: 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. — Old Enough to Know Better
Dear Old Enough to Know Better: I think the following letter addresses the same issue to which you speak — the husband’s apparent lack of concern for her feelings — but with a bit more hope for redemption. Take a look.
Dear Annie: I wonder why this man feels the need to tell his wife that she is being ridiculous for feeling insecure about his looking at pictures of women on the internet. Maybe it’s an attempt, albeit a clumsy one, to reassure her. But it’s disrespectful to judge someone’s feelings when she comes to you with a concern. I’m thinking that she might be more inclined to feel better after a genuine (and gentle) conversation about it.
Maybe looking at pictures of pretty women makes him happy. Why not just say so while reassuring her that he doesn’t find her any less attractive because of it? A simple “I’m so sorry, because it isn’t my intention to hurt you, and the issue isn’t that you’re not enough” would be a nice start. In fact, looking at those pictures may be enhancing his attraction to his wife. (We men are a little more complicated than we let on sometimes.)
If he’s smart, what he won’t say is that his wife is being silly for feeling a little hurt or insecure or anything else. Ever. — Greg in NYC
Dear Greg: Agreed. And I think the following letter underlines your point.
Dear Annie: What she should really be concerned about isn’t her husband’s actions. It’s his reaction. Some men like to look at women in that context; some don’t. But a significant other is expected to be understanding of his or her partner and to make compromises. Respect is the one boundary all relationships should have in common. — Respect Is the Name of the Game
Dear Respect Is the Name of the Game: have said it better myself.
Dear Annie: My problem isn’t new. I’m sure many women have experienced it. I love deeply a man I’ve known for 15 years. He’s been in and out of my life, but my heart’s been involved all along. Lately, I feel like a convenience to him. I feel he’s constantly on the prowl. He always brings up other women under the guise of talking about his “friends.” He labels us as “friends,” but I have been so much more.
He’s wanted to be with me in the past, yet when I have embraced the relationship, he has made plans with other people. I can’t win. He sees himself as a great man and is unwilling to apologize for any wrong or shortcomings. He’s got more excuses and tall tales than anyone I know. I do care about him, but I’m so confused. And when I try to share my doubts with him, I get blown off.
I have lessened my contact and have opened other options. But how do you just end 15 years of all of this — the hurt, support, hope? Do you think he’s a narcissist or a sociopath? How do you have a relationship with someone who only cares about himself? I guess I couldn’t you don’t — but then how do you get your heart free? I just want real love; is that so wrong? I feel stupid, but I still can’t help but feel hopeful. I’m strong and then weak. — Befuddled Doormat
Dear Befuddled Doormat: To your many questions, there is only one real answer, and you already know what it is. You need to drop this man like a bad habit. None of this “staying friends” business. He’d manipulate you into hoping for more. You need to quit him cold turkey. Block his number; block him online; avoid places he hangs out; distance yourself from mutual friends.
He’s not going to like it. After all, you’ve provided him validation for 15 years. You can bet that at some point, he’ll try wriggling his way into your life to get you back on the hook. Work on building up your selfesteem — through new hobbies, more time with friends or therapy — so when that day comes, you won’t take the bait.
Dear Annie: I have a question about sympathy cards. In many obituaries, it says, “In lieu of flowers, make a donation to (an organization).” If I do this, should I mention it on the card to the family? What is the proper thing to do? — Carolyn in Connecticut
Dear Carolyn: Many online donation forms will allow you to include both your name and the name of the person whom you’d like to commemorate with your contribution. If sending a check, you can add an “in memory of” note on the memo line. If you’d like to be sure the bereaved will be notified of your contribution, call and confirm it with the organization, or mention it in the card. That’s perfectly fine.
Dear Annie: I think you missed something in your response to “To Tour or Not to Tour,” and that is the privacy of the 16-year-old daughter. Neither you nor the mom mentioned whether or not the daughter’s bedroom and bathroom are part of the “top-to-bottom” tour. This daughter may just be experiencing “embarrassing-mom-itis,” or she may not want to admit to her house-proud mom that she wants her space to be just that: her space. — Sympathetic in Maryland
Dear Sympathetic: You’re right. I may have missed the diagnosis. “To Tour or Not to Tour” should try leaving her daughter’s bedroom off the tour to see whether that quells the symptoms of embarrassment. Send your questions for Annie Lane to: