Dealing with a partner who has a wandering eye can be difficult. You may worry that they are not that interested in you or that they may leave the relationship for someone else.
There are ways to cope with men with roaming eyes, so you can determine if the relationship can be saved. It can also be helpful to understand this is a problem and when it is not.
Each situation is different, but in many cases, it may just be a natural reaction to beauty, and you and your partner should be able to understand the situation.
What does it mean to have a wandering eye?
Before you determine whether your partner’s roaming eye may be a problem, it is helpful to understand what is a wandering eye.
The number one indicator that someone has a roaming eye is that they can be seen checking out other people. Essentially, they will notice other attractive people and look their way.
Roaming eyes do not always have to occur in person. As such, people may also follow attractive people on social media.
Whether it occurs in person or on the Internet, a simple way to explain the wandering eye meaning is that it involves your partner noticing people who are physically attractive.
What causes a wandering eye in a relationship?
If you are dealing with such a person, you may be asking yourself what causes this behavior.
Having a wandering eye is simply a natural reaction to seeing attractive people. When it is only a quick glance in the direction of a particularly attractive person, a roaming eye can just signify a normal appreciation of beauty.
Psychologists have even spent time researching the underlying causes, and they have concluded that when something catches our attention as humans, we unintentionally look in its direction.
Simply put, we are easily distracted, and looking at an attractive person is a natural reaction to something distracting in the environment.
That being said, it is not always a problem. It can simply be your partner’s gut reaction to beauty and nothing more.
On the other hand, if your partner is openly ogling other people or going so far as to comment on their appearance or flirt with them, this case may be a red flag that signals deeper issues.
Does having a wandering eye mean your partner is cheating?
Roaming eyes can be a source of concern in some relationships, and whether it signals cheating depends on the situation. As previously stated, it is often a natural reaction for people to glance in the direction of an attractive person.
You may even find that you tend to look in the direction of members of the same sex who happen to be beautiful. You are simply noticing and appreciating beauty, which is human nature.
When it is a quick glance and nothing more, it is probably nothing to worry about and likely does not mean your significant other is cheating. We cannot expect our partners to wear blinders and avoid acknowledging other people.
If your partner notices people of the opposite sex but quickly turns attention back to you, this behavior is usually totally acceptable.
On the other hand, there are cases where it can be indicative of a larger problem. In fact, people who view others as attractive are more likely to stray in their relationships. That being said, having a wandering eye is not the only indication that someone is at risk of cheating.
Other factors, including being dissatisfied with the relationship, are linked to cheating. Furthermore, the link between cheating and a roaming eye is seen among people who have difficulty looking away from attractive people.
What all of this means is that quick glances that occur in reaction to an attractive person do not typically mean your partner is cheating.
On the other hand, when a roaming eye becomes excessive, and it seems like your partner cannot help himself but continue to gawk, something more may be going on here, especially if he openly flirts with or talks about how hot other people are.
5 signs your partner’s wandering eye may be cheating
If you are worried your partner’s problem may mean that he is cheating, there are some telltale signs to be aware of that might confirm your suspicions. Here are five to consider:
1. Their habits with technology have changed
If your partner is suddenly hooked on the phone and seems to be scrolling through Facebook and responding to texts and emails at all hours, the roaming eye may have turned into cheating, and he is using the phone to connect with a person who caught his eye more than once.
2. Your partner is suddenly highly critical of you
If your partner seems to find something wrong with everything you do, it may be that the honeymoon stage of the relationship has passed, and they are too immature to handle your quirks.
Instead of working through this with you, they may have turned to someone else.
3. There has been a change in your sexual relationship
If a roaming eye has led your partner astray, you may find that your sexual relationship changes. In some cases, your partner may stop having sex with you because he feels guilty.
On the other hand, adding new habits to the bedroom could mean he has learned new tricks outside of the relationship.
While there can be other reasons for changes to your sex life, when these changes are sudden and are paired with a roaming eye and other signs of cheating, it can be cause for suspicion.
4. Emotional intimacy has shut down as well
Physical intimacy is not the only form of closeness needed in a successful relationship.
If you find that you and your partner are no longer communicating or connecting, or they seem to be distant and unwilling to have personal conversations or discussions about the future with you, the issue may have turned into an affair.
5. Your partner is changing their style or way of dressing
When your significant other has a roaming eye and has suddenly started dressing up or trying out a new style, they may have found a new mate who has caught their attention. Dramatic shifts in style can be a sign that they are trying to impress someone else.
If the situation has been excessive and they are displaying one or more of the above signs, it may be time to consider the possibility of cheating.
Men with wandering eyes can be frustrating, but the answer to how to fix a wandering eye depends upon the situation. If it is harmless, you may not necessarily need to stop the situation but rather change the way you look at it.
For example, if your significant other occasionally glances in the direction of an attractive person but returns his attention to you and shows no signs of cheating, this may be an innocent, natural response.
Here are the ways for dealing with someone with a wandering eye when the situation is harmless:
1. Accept it for what it is
Recognize that acknowledging someone else as being attractive is normal and does not mean your partner doesn’t love or respect you. If it’s just a quick glance, it is part of human nature.
2. Have some confidence about it
Your gut reaction may be to feel that your partner does not find you attractive if they have the issue, but remember that they have chosen to be with you, out of all the beautiful people in the world.
While his natural reaction may be to glance in the direction of an attractive woman, they still choose to stay with you. Showing confidence in this fact will make you appear even more attractive to him.
3. Take time to recognize your own good qualities
We all want to be loved and desired by our partners, so when we catch them looking at someone else, it may make us feel less than. Try not to think this way, and instead, remember your own good qualities. It takes more than just physical attractiveness to have a successful relationship.
You and your partner have a connection that runs ways deeper than a momentary glance. You have built a life together and have interests in common, and your partner probably values your personality and the spiritual connection the two of you have.
Given all of this, a quick glance in someone else’s direction typically does not undermine all that your partner values about you.
In the video below, Andrea Crump talks about how the roaming eyes of a person can cause insecurities in their partner. She provides tips to handle it. Take a look:
4. Confront your partner
If you have considered the above, and your partner’s issue still makes you uncomfortable, it may be time to have a conversation.
For example, if your partner spends so much time checking out others when you two are together that you feel you do not have his attention, it may be time to have an honest conversation about the fact that it bothers you. Be careful not to be too harsh or critical.
You may start the conversation by saying, “You may not even notice that you are doing this, but when we are together, you sometimes spend so much time staring at other girls that I feel like you do not even notice me.”
5. Play along
Another way to fix a wandering eye is to play along with your partner.
For instance, if you see him looking another woman up and down, you may comment, “She has a great smile, doesn’t she?”
Maybe your partner didn’t even realize he was spending so much time noticeably admiring others, and this method will draw his attention to it so that he is more mindful of it in the future.
If your partner’s issue is making you uncomfortable and they continue to make no effort to change their behavior, there may be something more going on, especially if there are other red flags, such as emotional distance between the two of you.
It may be time to have a heartfelt conversation about the status of the relationship.
Perhaps your partner isn’t getting what they need from you, and instead of doing the right thing and addressing it, they are wondering what it might be like to be with someone else. In this case, it has become a bigger problem.
If you find that you have to nag your partner to stop staring at others, it may be time to seek professional intervention, such as couple’s therapy, to determine if there are underlying issues that can be resolved.
If it has become a big enough problem that it requires fixing to keep you happy in the relationship, there are some tips that can make the process easier for you. When having a conversation about your partner’s problem, consider the following advice:
1. Avoid making dramatic requests
You cannot expect your partner to never look at other people, and making huge requests, such as telling him he cannot be around other women, is likely to result in him tuning you out.
Instead, you might calmly state that you would prefer he not spend time openly ogling other people when you are together.
2. State your own feelings without being harsh or critical
Remember that sometimes, it is just a natural, innocent reaction to beauty. Instead of criticizing your partner by calling names or suggesting that they have selfish or malicious motives, use “I” statements and focus on how you feel.
3. Acknowledge that you know the behavior can be totally normal
Your partner’s defenses will be heightened if you have unreasonable expectations, so it can be helpful to begin the conversation by acknowledging that you know it is only natural for beautiful women to catch their attention.
This shows him that you are not asking him to go against his nature but rather to be more mindful of his behavior to not come across as disrespectful to you.
In a healthy, secure relationship, you should be able to have a heartfelt conversation about your partner’s problem if it has become a problem for you.
If the conversation doesn’t go well, it may be time to dive deeper into your relationship issues through additional conversation or professional intervention.
How to deal with such a partner can certainly depend upon the situation. We are all drawn to attractive people, and in many cases, it can just be human nature. When we see someone beautiful, we are inclined to look in their direction. Chances are, you may even have an innocent wandering eye yourself from time-to-time.
When your partner glances at others in public or on social media, it is probably nothing to worry about. The world is full of attractive people, and someone else’s beauty does not take away from your own.
If your partner remains committed to you, meets your needs, and seems happy with you, you can be confident in the fact that he has chosen you among all the beautiful people in the world.
Remember, it is a momentary acknowledgment of someone else’s attractiveness in many cases, but your partner spends many more moments with you.
On the other hand, if it becomes a problem, you may notice that your partner is openly ogling other women, commenting on their beauty, or even flirting while in a relationship.
If this is the case, an honest conversation about your feelings may resolve the issue. Perhaps your partner was unaware of the behavior or its effect on you. If it continues to be a problem, it could be signs of relationship trouble, especially if other red flags are involved.
You have every right to discuss this with your partner or to request couples counseling if you have ongoing troubles in your relationship.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.