Discouraging Your Partner’s Wandering Eye Can Lead to Even Greater Problems

By Emily Murray

Whether you’re a man or a woman, it never feels good when you see your partner checking out the new neighbor or that guy in the gym. Human nature leads us to see these things as betrayal and open up that “am I not enough for you?” flood gate. A new study however suggests that it may actually save your relationship if you simply go with the flow.

According to a new study recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the old “you always want what you can’t have” is proven to rear it’s ugly head with a significant other berates you when you get caught checking someone out. The more you are told not to, the more you are going to want to – it’s just how we are wired. Think about the last time a friend started a sentence with “don’t look know but…” Wasn’t the first thing you did was to turn and look? The following is a statement from the study which was also recently feature in a TIME article.

“Just as people want jobs they cannot have, salaries they cannot earn, and cars they cannot afford, people may desire attractive alternatives more and desire their current relationship partner less when they are placed in situations that limit their ability to attend to attractive alternatives.”

In order to reach these findings, researchers studied 42 undergraduate students (25 of whom were women). One quarter of these students said they were in casual relationships and 3/4 reported being in committed relationships with only a few of these couples being married. The test began with students observing a series of photos of faces – one face attractive and the other average. During this exercise, one face was replaced with a letter which was flashed over the face of the attractive person in a select group of the study participants in order to divert attention away without the participant consciously realizing this.

The next step was to fill out a questionnaire which dealt with how each partner in the study felt about their commitment to their partner, their level of happiness and their thoughts on infidelity. Strangely enough, those who had been blocked from seeing the attractive faces reported higher levels of dissatisfaction in their relationships. Strangely enough in another experiment those who were only allowed to sneak a quick peak at an attractive man or women actually remembered them more vividly than those who were able to openly look.

So do this really prove that not berating your partner from looking the way of an attractive person mean you are helping your relationship? For most it seems counterintuitive but in certain circumstances where no infidelity is involved and glancing remains just that, allowing your partner to look freely helps remove “the forbidden fruit” effect, as mentioned in the TIME article. The less of a deal you make when these things happen, the better your relationship will be in the end.

Your partner may enjoy looking at the scenery around him/her but at the end of it it all, you are partners and glancing at an attractive person is not going to change that.