So Confused About Ogling. Can Anyone Explain It?

Discussion in 'Significant Other Journals' started by Susannah, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

    Sorry this post is so long, but I'm new here and have a lot to get off my chest, I guess. My husband has been ogling women for about 50 years (by his estimate). His behavior is actually predatory (I believe), in that he will enter a room or any kind of indoor or outdoor space and immediately scan the environment for targets. He starts with young women (callously discarding those who are even a little overweight), then climbs what call a hierarchy of women. If there are no young women present, he will start looking for 25 years olds, then 30 year olds, etc. He will give them the up and down scan, then keep surreptitiously glancing at them for as long as we are there. He will often pick a "favorite" and become fixated on her. I have also observed him memorizing where moving women are, then positioning himself to be able to view them best when they arrive at a certain spot or emerge from behind a building, etc. He triangulates where they are in order to get glimpses of them. It is very creepy. He claims he often isn't aware he is doing all this. And he claims he has never actually followed a woman through a store or anything, but if he "isn't aware", how would he know? For that matter, if he isn't aware, why does he take pains to try to conceal it? (As a side note, when reading through forums here, I often find it funny when men claim that, of course, THEY are discreet in their ogling, unlike those other obvious oglers). He has even gone so low as to lean in to kiss or hug me so that he can get a better look at a girl without me knowing it. And in fact, he has actually admitted this to me. Addiction or not, this upset me very much and I told him to NEVER do that or anything like it again. He is not allowed to use my body to stare at someone else's. So basically, there is no place he won't ogle and it has resulted in us being virtually trapped in our home. On many occasions I have exhibited PTSD symptoms (although it took a while for me to realize what those were) while with him in public...rapid pulse, weird aural and visual phenomena, dizziness, faint, panic, etc. I used to force myself to stay in those situations because I didn't want to be weak or ridiculous. But after a few full-blown panic attacks (the first of my life - I never knew what they were but now take them seriously) a therapist advised me to stop putting myself in those situations because repeated exposure would only aggravate my symptoms. Very frustrating since I used to be a rock-solid, cool-headed woman who was great in an emergency. Now I am a quivering shell.

    Although I have read lots about it and tried to lead gentle conversations about what it is like for him, I never really understand. He says it has something to do with distancing and even claims he doesn't really feel a strong sexual pull toward the women most of the time and can't remember or describe them afterward. It is more a "looking" behavior than a "seeing" behavior. He describes it as an subconscious scanning, then evaluating women for ogling potential, then feeling compelled to continue getting glimpses of them.

    He also says the same thing I read everywhere. His ogling is not a commentary on me or my desirability or deficits. It has nothing to do with me and he doesn't want to do it. But of course, IT DOES have to do with me. At those moments, I am embarrassed to be with a 65 year old man who is slobbering over 16 year old girls. I want to just melt under the table, because seriously, what kind of woman would put up with that? She must be pretty sick, too. Probably one of those women you hear about on the news who dutifully went into town to trap young women to feed her husband's serial killing habit.

    And then there's the crushing pain. At that moment he has diverted his attention from me to another woman. I cease to exist for him. Dinner conversation is over, touring is over, chatting during a walk in the park is over. Everything is over. I am over. I have disappeared. He will be completely preoccupied for the duration with his fixation on a stranger. For me, at first this feels like being repeatedly stabbed in the heart. Then I move on to anger at the disrespect of it all, then I end up with defiance and thoughts that there are plenty of men in the world for whom I might be the center of attention when we were out. But then I dream of feeling that my husband was engaged with me, interested in me instead of making me feel judged, found wanting, then publicly discarded.
    Butterfly1988, naonaise, Numb and 2 others like this.
  2. Wow. Woman, I think you need some self respect so you can grab your luggage and get out of that hell. It's driving you mad and your mental health is threatened. If he says "it's not on purpose" but he doesn't do something to fix it, or go to therapy or something, then he does it purpose or doesn't really care about hurting you. And why being with someone that doesn't care about you?
  3. Please forgive me, a male posting in the SO section. I was especially touched by this.

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Please take care of yourself and don’t let him give you these excuses. He’s very much in the wrong. Men CAN make the choice to not look. Men can do something to change their obsessive behavior. Instead he’s making excuses and clinging to his ways. And as Eleanor says, he doesn’t care about you if he’s not willing to do something to change a behavior that’s hurting you. Also, I get the sense the therapist is laying blame on you instead of calling out your husband. Don’t let that happen either.

    Perhaps you might need to separate to get him to wake up. If that doesn’t work then I’d leave him for good.

    I used to be exactly like him. I’m very sorry for my past life. I’m here to say that no woman should put up with the line, “I can’t help it”. If he really cared he’d do something. Lots of men have. He’s making the choice not to change.
    Butterfly1988 and de severn like this.
  4. I'm sorry you are going through this. Is your husband on the forum and seeking help? Many men behave this way. I have problems oggling too at times. SAA and this forum have been a huge help.
    Deleted Account likes this.
  5. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    Does your husband use porn?

    Thanks for posting this @Susannah, it is useful motivation for me. I had an ogling problem and I am now 227 days into trying to stop. But I'm 790 days into my porn sobriety and it's that discrepancy I wanted to talk about.

    Sorry this reply is so long too!

    I don't know if you want to read more but there's a post on my journal (here) where I'm trying to keep a list of all the interesting threads about ogling.

    But I was discreet! I have evidence, albeit sad evidence.

    I see it as a table:


    I think we all agree that the bottom left corner is almost empty, if a woman thinks you are ogling then you are ogling (i.e. there are very few false positives) but it's the right hand column I disagree with many wives here about. I know that you can see men ogling and that lots of the men you see ogling thought they were undetectable. But I think that some of the men you think are not ogling actually are, they are just better at being discreet about it. That's not where your husband is, but I think it was me.

    It took me a long time to realise that I had to stop ogling women, long after I'd decided to stop using porn. My D-day, when my wife told me that my porn use had to stop, was in autumn 2010. It wasn't until I joined here in October 2016 that I finally managed it. Then I started to notice threads about ogling. Threads like @Kenzi's The "feels" of ogling, a females perspective (here) talk about how horrible it is to be with a guy who is ogling other women, or to be at the receiving end of lascivious looks. Your post does a great job adding to that knowledge, so we men can hear what it feels like.

    I also found lots of men here trying to stop ogling. Some of them challenged me to stop. But I wasn't ready to stop. Why?

    There were three reasons why I thought my ogling was OK.
    1. I believed (and believe) that I was discreet, that the women I was looking at and fantasising about did not know.
    2. My ogling didn't harm anyone (unlike my porn use, porn is harmful)
    3. This third one's tricky. My dad was a psychologist, a Freudian one, and he taught me that the free association of ideas is the sign of a healthy mind. Our fantasies teach us about ourselves and policing them is a bad idea.

    I still have trouble letting go of that last one. In her book Mating in Captivity Esther Perel puts it well
    But I have stopped ogling, and I like myself better as a result. I decided to stop partly from what I read here and also because of one of my therapy sessions (I wrote about it here). When I decided to stop I was excited. It felt like a new phase in my recovery from porn addiction. So of course I told my wife. She was horrified. She had no idea that I had been ogling young women. She said she knew that I did when we were young (we started dating when I was 17 and I'm 53 now) but she thought I'd stopped decades and decades ago. That's how I know that I was discreet—because my wife did not know I was ogling. Of course I now wish I had followed my instincts and assumed she didn't know rather than accepting what women here say, that women always know, because I should have told my wife more gently. I'm glad I told her, honesty is important, but I was way too brash about it, I was hurtful.

    I have done this. I would often change my speed on the cycle home so that I could still see an attractive woman cycling in front of me. I've even been known to change route to maximise my chances of seeing pretty women. Often it was conscious. Sometimes the conscious decision was so fleeting I'd barely notice it and then the intent was subliminal. So while I don't agree with him that it is entirely subconscious, I can see what he means.

    For me one of the things that's made ogling surprisingly easy to stop is that initial conscious moment. I can spot that and quickly act. I've got a little arsenal of techniques I use to stop myself and they seem to be working. Since then I have added another do-not-do-that to my recovery: sexual fantasy. I'm am now trying to stop idle sexual daydreams. I'm finding that much harder to stop than ogling partly because there's no obvious conscious starter-pistol, I'm way into one before I realise. I'm getting there, but that's slower progress.

    Now that I've stopped ogling how do those three reasons I gave earlier look? I still think I was discreet but why risk it? When I read your post it is heart-breaking. I need my wife to know that she's the centre of my world, not just through what I say but through my everyday little actions. And another corollary of what you say is how I must look to others if they do notice.
    Suppose I'm wrong, and other women (and men) did notice my ogling. What does a 53 year old man ogling 21 year old women look like? Not like someone I'd respect. Not like someone I want to be. Along the same lines there's a post in one of the threads (though I cannot find it now) by @AnonymousAnnaXOXO (at least I think it was her) where she talks about how it feels to be ogled (rather than to be with an ogler). She draws out a timeline between the humiliation she felt as a girl being jeered (nasty everyday sexism stuff) through to the fear she feels when some random guy ogles her, she has to check where the exits are and make plans for how to escape if needed. That's horrible. I do not want to be part of making anyone's life like that. So much for doing no harm.

    The third one, that fantasies teach us useful things about ourselves, my therapist just does not buy. She thinks that our initial thought is beyond our control but where we take that thought is. So I have come to realise that seeing an attractive woman, recognising that, and then fantasising about her undressing is wrong. I know it seems obvious written down like that but you would be amazed how long it has taken me to see that as wrong, and even now I'm dangerously close to thinking it's OK.

    I'm running out of time but there were two further asides I wanted to add before signing off
    • Many men here give up ogling because it is triggering, i.e. it leads them back to porn. It wasn't for me. Well, it sort of was: often I'd wonder what search terms I could use in a porn site to find someone who looked like the woman I was ogling, but I did not follow through, it did not seem a big threat to my porn-sobriety. Or perhaps it was, perhaps it was preventing my recovery going deeper beyond merely not using porn?
    • Some men here realise very quickly that ogling is part of the problem. I was an accountability partner for one guy like this. His wife wanted to know every time he ogled someone so he'd text her through the day. She had a secret severity score and she'd keep a tally and let him know whether the day was a success or a failure. He was so stressed out about the failures, he really felt awful. But the weird thing was that his porn use had just stopped. He was struggling so hard with ogling that his porn addiction, the thing most of us sweat blood to overcome, just took care of itself. Interesting.

    Does he want to talk to someone who has been through the same thing? If he's willing you could get him to join here, or private message me and we could set up a conversation between him and I. If it's helpful.

    Sorry again that this is such a long post, and that so much of it is me thinking aloud.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
  6. IGY

    IGY Fapstronaut
    NoFap Defender

    He is aware. He is aware! :eek:

    His claim of ignorance is, at best, because he is in denial and, at worst, because he is seeking to deceive you. So, give him an ultimatum: join this community and honestly disclose his porn, masturbation and ogling behaviours and change or you will leave him! Because if he is in denial or is deceiving you, for what reason would you want to stay with him? :(
    Deleted Account likes this.
  7. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    (N.B. I got this bit wrong:
    I was conflating two posts. One is by @AnonymousAnnaXOXO here and the other is by @SpouseofPA here.)
  8. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

    Thanks for your perspective. I never struggled with self-respect until this came along. I feel the erosion was very gradual and I am only now realizing how severe it was.
    Eleanor likes this.
  9. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

    Thank you. I think he does understand that he needs to stop and does understand it is hurting me, but feels overwhelmed by the problem and frankly, is lazy. I think he is still in stage where he is doing only as much as he feels is absolutely necessary to placate me. I know I have some decisions to make.
  10. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

    Thank you. No, he isn't on the forums. To be honest, I'm a bit afraid to lead him here, because for every SO who expresses a desire to stop ogling, there seems to be two more talking about how "natural" and even defensible it is. I fear my husband is in a place right now where he would latch on to those posts as evidence that what he is doing isn't really a problem. Argh..
  11. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

    Thank you for your reply. I admit it that the claims of being unaware are one of the most difficult things for me to understand. It seems impossible and illogical, yet I have read many men in these forums make similar claims. There seems to be a wide variety of experiences. Or, as you suggest, lots of denial and deception.
    Eleanor likes this.
  12. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

    Please don't apologize. I'm very touched by your willingness to put so much effort into helping me understand, and especially by your offer to communicate with my husband about his problem. I'm not sure he is ready for something like that, so I hope your offer doesn't have a time limit! I may take you up on it in the future.

    I am also heartened to hear that you have approached ogling so seriously, have turned your thoughts about it around, and have made progress toward eliminating it. It is anything BUT innocent fun.

    As for porn use - I don't really know. He says he has not used porn since our 2nd DDay, May 27th, 2018. But he has lied about this before, so who knows? I never will. What I do know is that he was a porn user for decades (before I knew him) and confessed to using porn 2-3 hours per night for a number of years. Knowing what I know about him, this is probably a gross underestimate. He's claimed that in more recent years (including in our time together) the porn use was more like a few minutes every other day. I am virtually certain that this is a gross underestimate and that he was either in denial about how much it really was or was trying to minimize so I wouldn't be so horrified. I know that during that time (and since DDay) he has made heavy use of porn substitutes and seems helpless against them. For instance, I have watched him read the news on his laptop. He scans the news websites exactly the way he scans a room or a streetscape - by looking down the page for titillating photos, photos of young or glamorous women, or stories with some sexual component. He will click first on those stories. When I have questioned him about his and pointed out that it is not helpful to respond to triggers, he claims the photo had nothing to do with it - he was just interested in the story. Right. He's very interested in what's going on in the Trump presidency. It's just a coincidence that all the stories he reads to educate himself are headlined with a photo of Melania or Ivanka Trump wearing tight dresses! I am getting myself worked up just typing these words so I need to stop. Grrr

    Lastly, I especially appreciate the part of your reply about fantasy. This is something I have never asked him about and am actually terrified to know. My assumption, however, is that he is preoccupied with sex practically every minute of the day, so it would not surprise me to learn that fantasy is a problem for him too.

    So, yours and others' comments about ogling have been illuminating, but I confess I still don't really understand it as a phenomenon and will continue to try to learn more, both as an empathy-building exercise and as a way to learn to not take it so personally.
  13. de severn

    de severn Moderator Assistant

    I’m curious...

    How long have you been married? How did you meet? How often do you have sex?
  14. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    A few thoughts
    1. Empathy building is amazing of you, it is definitely the vituous thing to do, but
    2. Lots of wives and girlfirends feel betrayed by our porn use (or, in the case of this thread ogling). That can be traumatic. Don't neglect your own trauma in your attempt to empathise. Fix yourself first. Remember what they tell you on flights: fit your own oxygen mask first.
    3. Please keep asking questions. Our comments have been illuminating for you, but they may also be illuminating for others in the same situation who come here later. And, to be honest, both your questions and the rigour of having to think through answers is helpful for us addicts in our recovery. So please do keep pushing us with your questions.
    EyesWideOpen likes this.

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