In “Triple Play?” I recently wrote, “[My husband and boyfriend are] also excited for themselves since they’ll be the beneficiaries of my increased sexual energy,” and that reminded my boyfriend of something he intended to write about.
If, like me, you’re a guy who’s sexually attracted to female-presenting people, chances are good you’ve been out with a partner and gotten caught looking at another woman. This doesn’t end well if it’s taken as an indication that you’re not invested in/paying attention to/sensitive to the feelings of your partner.
If you’re a woman who has caught your guy looking at another woman, you ought to cut him some slack. What you may not appreciate is that a man’s lizard brain — that vestigial walnut that operates beneath the level of conscious thought — is evolutionarily programmed by the biological imperative to preserve the species.
I can only speak directly of my own experience, and I know that my lizard brain notices some women before they’ve registered in my visual cortex — before I’m consciously aware of seeing them. My lizard brain is particularly attuned to recognizing and responding to lordosis, an anatomical signal of sexual readiness. High heels impart lordosis, and I’m sure that’s why I’m a big fan of heels.
When the sight of an attractive woman tickles my lizard brain, my lizard brain responds by zapping my loins. It’s my simplistic overly optimistic lizard brain telling me, “she’s down for sex, get busy.” The zaps are quite delightful. Free from a disproving partner, those zaps build up over time. If I see an intimate partner before those zaps fade away, she stands to be the lucky recipient of that pent-up sexual energy.
The HauteWife understands this. She understands it so well that she will point out women who I may not have already seen. She knows what’s attractive to me and enjoys teasing me this way. When she adds an “I’d do her” under her breath, she knows it gives me another zap. She’s winding me up and chances are good it will lead to mutually enjoyable pursuits when we get home.
My ex-wife, on the other hand, was threatened — in that “not invested in/paying attention to/sensitive to the feelings of” way — by me noticing other women. To preserve the peace I made mighty efforts to not notice other women or at least hide my tells. And when an attractive one inevitably slipped past the mental goalie to the lizard brain’s notice, I learned to suppress the zaps. The predictable result was that there were never any zaps to fuel my desire for her. By shutting down my fleeting enjoyment of other women, she put a serious damper on my long-term enjoyment of her.
Don’t take this as an endorsement of bad behavior. Guys, when you ought to be paying attention to your partner, pay attention to her. Your lizard brain is going to do its lizard brain thing, but don’t let it derail your engagement with her. If she’s cool and knows the benefits of pointing out attractive women to you, enjoy that when it’s appropriate and stop well short of being a drooling horny knuckle-dragger about it. When shit needs to get serious, be serious. Ignoring your peripheral vision comes naturally when you focus an abundance of genuine concern on another person.
And women who like guys, I hope you have the self-confidence to understand that your guy noticing another woman doesn’t mean he’s ready to jump ship (unless you’re pushing him). When you understand how his lizard brain works, you can rest assured that his brief unberated appreciation of an attractive woman means he’s more likely to jump your bones.