How To Deal With Your Partner’s Wandering Eyes: 20 Tips

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It doesn’t feel good when your partner looks at other attractive people right in front of you.

This is what having a wandering eye basically means, but is it acceptable in a relationship? Could it even be considered cheating?

First of all, you are allowed to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. You’re not crazy to want your partner to only have eyes for you.

That being said, wandering eyes sometimes simply represent the natural acknowledgment of beauty. Noticing that another person is attractive doesn’t necessarily mean that you intend to cheat on your partner with that or any other person.

So why does it feel like cheating then?

Is it cheating if your partner checks out other people while they’re with you? Well, much like flirting, it depends on what exactly happens and the intention behind it.

When your partner gazes at an attractive person for a second and then quickly looks away, it can be even flattering. They have noticed that the other person is attractive, but they don’t want you to think that they would be into them, so they avoid staring at them.

On the other hand, when your partner consciously checks out another person from head to toe and keeps gazing at them in front of you, knowing that it bothers you, they might not be cheating, but there’s something very wrong.

Does it bother you, and do they care? This question is much more important than whether or not wandering eyes can be considered cheating. While wandering eyes are definitely not a sign that your partner is being unfaithful—at least not without other signs to indicate the same—it’s definitely disrespectful if they know that it bothers you.

In other words, they might not be technically crossing the line, but if they are breaking your personal boundary, it’s just as important to address it. Here’s how:

1. Don’t let it harm your self-esteem.

Your partner’s eyes would probably wander even if they were in a relationship with a supermodel. So, don’t think that this has anything to do with how attractive you are, to them or to anyone else. Try not to let it harm your self-esteem.

Even if your partner simply notices that some people are especially attractive, the problem is that, by doing that in front of you, they force you to notice these people too. So, you compare yourself to them, and it’s perfectly normal to feel self-conscious and jealous when that happens. Your self-esteem could take a big hit because of all this, so remind yourself of all your positive qualities.

Your partner is looking at these people, but they are choosing to be with you. Obviously, they are attracted to you, otherwise they wouldn’t be with you. So, don’t assume that you’re less attractive than the people they look at.

If your partner’s behavior is still harming your self-esteem, you’ll need to let them know about it. And they should respect you enough to restrain themselves from staring at other people in your presence.

It’s not the same thing when someone catches your partner’s eye for a second and when their eyes linger. They can’t prevent the first one, but they can control the second one. So, if it’s harming your self-esteem, they should care enough to try to control themselves.

2. Consider whether it could be entirely innocent.

While you do have the right to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling, consider whether you’re being rational or if you’re letting your insecurities get the best of you. A single look could hold a lot of meaning, but it also doesn’t have to mean anything.

How does your partner look at these people? They might simply be noticing that others are attractive without even imagining being with them. Would you notice if someone of your preferred gender suddenly walked in looking like a movie star? There’s nothing wrong with that.

However, if you were with your partner at the moment, you would probably try to hide the fact that you might be attracted to someone else. You wouldn’t make it obvious or even flirt with this person. If your partner simply notices beautiful people, there’s no need to panic because it’s completely innocent.

Even flirting can be innocent. However, when they are openly doing these things in front of you, it might mean that they don’t respect you or aren’t afraid of losing you. That might be innocent in terms of cheating, but it’s definitely not innocent in terms of relationship problems.

3. Consider how long it lasts.

Does your partner look away quickly, or do their eyes linger? Do they look at the person long enough that they’re more than just appreciating their beauty? Are they noticing attractive people when they show up or searching for them across the room?

Does it end with gazing for a while, or do they approach the person and even flirt with them? Do they look once, or do they keep looking at the person every now and then as if they’re trying to make eye contact or are thinking about approaching them?

Considering how long it lasts also means that you should think about whether your partner has always been doing this. Or has it started only recently? Maybe they only had eyes for you before, but lately you’ve been having relationship problems, and their eyes have started searching for a new potential partner.

On the other hand, maybe they always had wandering eyes because they see nothing wrong with what they’re doing. As you can see, a lot depends on your exact circumstances, so try to think about everything and be as objective as possible.

4. Think about your definition of cheating.

Everyone is allowed to have their own definition of what is and isn’t cheating, but, in a relationship, you should agree on the same definition. This doesn’t always happen, and it can be difficult to draw the line.

For instance, flirting might be entirely innocent and even subconscious with no intention of letting it lead to anything more. On the other hand, your partner might flirt with someone with the intention to cheat. Even hugging, which is generally not even close to cheating, can be considered as betraying your partner if it’s a long, romantic hug.

The point is, while some things aren’t generally considered cheating, there are situations when they can be a sign of infidelity. At the very least, you can object to your partner doing them. So, consider your definition of cheating.

If you feel like your partner is betraying you by having wandering eyes, that’s okay, you have a right to feel that way. You are the one who decides what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable in your relationship, but your partner has to understand it too.

5. Look for signs of infidelity.

Wandering eyes aren’t indicative of cheating unless there are more signs. So, if you are worried that your partner is being unfaithful or is thinking about cheating, look for signs of infidelity.

Do they hide their phone from you? Are they secretive about where they’ve been and who they’ve been with? Have you caught them lying to you about where they’ve been and who they’ve been with? Are they already having an emotional affair that you know about? Do they look at any attractive people or someone in particular? Answering these questions will help you find out whether they’re cheating on you or not.

If your partner doesn’t show any signs of infidelity other than wandering eyes, don’t exaggerate the problem. It might still be an issue and/or indicate other problems, but don’t worry about your partner being unfaithful if they have given you no other reason to doubt them.

On the other hand, if they are cheating on you, or thinking about it, you should be able to tell by more than just their wandering eyes.

6. Consider how you see it.

From your partner’s point of view, it’s possible that nothing really happened. They talked to you, they noticed a beautiful person walk by, they talked to you again, and then they went on with their life and forgot all about the beautiful person. They still remember you though, so, what’s the big deal?

It’s always best to consider things from different perspectives. What happened from your point of view? Your partner disrespected you by openly checking out another person of their preferred gender and made you feel bad about yourself. Is that what happened? You are free to have your version!

If you are not sure that you have the right to your version of what happened, consider how it would look from the outside. What would some stranger who was watching you think? They’d notice that you’re a couple and that your partner notices other attractive people. Perhaps they’d assume that your partner’s not entirely committed and loyal to you, or perhaps they wouldn’t think anything of it. How you see it matters.

7. Consider how often it happens.

Can you live with your partner’s wandering eyes? How often do they look at other people? Does it happen every time someone wears something revealing or do they only notice extremely beautiful people? Do they constantly check out other people, or do they only occasionally notice someone attractive? Considering how often it happens could help you decide whether you can live with it if it doesn’t stop.

Be aware that, occasionally, everyone notices other attractive people even if they’re in a happy, committed relationship. It’s human. However, most people will try to restrain themselves from doing this in front of their partner not to hurt them.

If your partner occasionally slips up and checks out someone, that might not be such a big issue. However, if you’ve told them how it makes you feel and they often do it regardless of that, they are not treating you properly.

8. Check if others have noticed it too.

Have other people also noticed that your partner has wandering eyes? Talk to your friends and ask them about it. It’s important that you see all of this objectively. For that, you’ll need other people’s input too. Feel free to also ask for their opinion on that. Try to use their insights to see things as objectively as possible.

Different people will see this issue differently and they would all agree that it comes down to whether you find it acceptable or not. Either is fine, but it’s important that you are okay.

Others might also help you determine whether your partner is cheating on you or not. They can help you realize if you’re exaggerating things. Maybe you are insecure, and you noticed your partner looking at someone else once or twice. You got it in your head that they’re unfaithful while they might not have given it any thought at all. That too is possible, so talk to your loved ones and let them help you figure out which one it is.

9. Decide on where the line is for you.

Setting boundaries is important in a healthy relationship. Have you told your partner that it bothers you when they look at other people? Maybe you know that it’s probably nothing to worry about, so you don’t want to bring it up. However, if it eats you up inside and you’re upset over it, don’t keep it in. What does commitment and being loyal mean to you?

If you are crazy about your partner and only have eyes for them, it’s natural to be bothered when they check out other people in your presence.  

The two of you need to agree on your definition of fidelity. Maybe your partner doesn’t consider it cheating if they think about being with someone else as long as they don’t do anything about it. Or, they think flirting is fine as long as you don’t sleep with the person.

Maybe they only consider sex as cheating, while kissing doesn’t matter that much. Anything is possible, so you need to talk to your partner about your definitions of fidelity and cheating if you haven’t done that already.

10. Tell them how it makes you feel without forbidding them anything.

Does this behavior bother you? Is your partner aware of it? This is the most important question. Don’t assume that they know if you haven’t told them. Don’t nag them about it or forbid them from doing it. Don’t accuse or criticize them. Simply talk about how it makes you feel.

Talk about your point of view and your feelings. Let them know that you understand that it’s natural to notice beautiful people but that it makes you feel ugly when they do it in front of you. There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with what they’re doing for it to hurt you and for them to avoid it because it upsets you.

At the very least, once you’ve had this conversation, you’ll know that they’re aware that it bothers you. Will they understand your point of view though? Will they care?

11. See if they understand your point of view and care about it.

Your partner might accuse you of being jealous and overreacting. They might not acknowledge the issue at all. They may not see anything wrong with what they’re doing.

In the end, they might not care about your point of view and your feelings. If this is the case, you have a bigger problem than their wandering eyes. They should at least hear you out and try to understand your point of view.

If you can’t communicate well with your partner, this will keep causing you problems or make problems harder to resolve.

It’s really not that difficult to understand your point of view, especially if you don’t really notice other attractive people yourself. While your partner’s behavior might be entirely innocent, they should be able to understand how it can seem disrespectful at the very least.

12. Find out whether they know it’s wrong.

Do they see something wrong with having wandering eyes? Maybe they’ve always been like this, and it’s a part of how they were raised. If this is the case, it might make sense why they can’t understand your point of view.

Maybe they consider this as normal behavior, and they might really think that you’re just overly jealous. Are they otherwise loyal and respectful? If so, you might have to learn to live with wandering eyes.

Consider your entire relationship before freaking out about your partner looking at someone else. If they otherwise treat you well, show you love and respect, and make you happy, and you know that they’re not cheating on you, maybe you can find a way to accept that looking at others is not such a big deal.

Maybe you could let it slide. In fact, maybe there really isn’t anything wrong with what they’re doing. On the other hand, if they are unfaithful or disrespectful, wandering eyes are just a small issue that indicates that.

13. See whether they’ll try to restrain themselves from doing it.

When your partner knows that something bothers you, they should try to restrain themselves from doing it, even if they don’t understand your point of view. So, see whether your partner will act differently after you’ve told them about how it makes you feel.

Maybe they’ll still notice a beautiful person, but now they’ll quickly look away when they do instead of checking the person out from head to toe. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely something. It shows that your partner is trying to be considerate of your feelings and doesn’t want to hurt you. That’s a great sign!

If your partner doesn’t change their behavior and just keeps openly checking out other people in front of you, try talking to them again. Maybe they don’t understand that it’s hurting you or that there’s something wrong with it. It’s either that or there are other problems in your relationship. Your partner might not respect you, or they’re taking you for granted.

14. Consider whether there are underlying issues in your relationship.

Are there other problems in your relationship other than or related to wandering eyes? Maybe there’s something else that requires your focus much more than wandering eyes, especially if your partner only recently started looking at other attractive people. If the two of you have been unhappy in the relationship, your partner may be looking for a way out of it, even if unconsciously.

Don’t sweep your problems under the rug. Talk about them, and if you’re having trouble communicating efficiently, get the help of a therapist. If your partner is disrespectful toward you in general, that’s also something that you can work on during couples counseling.

15. Consider whether your partner respects you.

By now, you already know that your partner’s behavior can be interpreted as a sign of disrespect. So, is your partner otherwise respectful? Do they value your opinions and want to hear your thoughts? Do they turn to you for advice? Do they treat you properly? Do they respect your choices and boundaries?

Or, does your partner put you down and make you feel bad about yourself?

If your partner doesn’t respect you, it will be difficult to have a healthy relationship. Maybe they love you, but they also need to be respectful, and if they can’t do that, their love probably isn’t going to be enough to make things work between you.

Set healthy boundaries and demand respect from your partner. Speak up when they try to put you down or disrespect your boundaries.

16. Consider whether your partner takes you for granted.

Maybe your partner’s behavior isn’t disrespectful, but they act that way because they assume you’d never leave them no matter what they do.

It’s possible that your partner takes you for granted and thinks that they can do whatever they want because you’ll still love them. If you haven’t set boundaries from the beginning of the relationship, it might have been this way from the very start.

Does your partner think that they could never lose you? If so, you might want to remind them that it is definitely possible if they treat you badly. Make them realize that you are going to walk away if they push your boundaries.

Don’t let things slide all the time, learn to say “no,” stick to your boundaries, and don’t tolerate disrespect. Make them take you seriously.

17. Start acknowledging beautiful people.

You could start acknowledging beautiful people before they do. Mention that a person looks hot before they get the chance to notice them. Look at attractive people of your preferred gender just like they do. If there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing, you’re allowed to do it too.

This may help you understand them better. Who knows, maybe you’d be fine with commenting on people together and checking out attractive people as they pass by. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. See what works best for you.

Try doing the same as your partner, and even beat them to it. If there’s nothing wrong with it, it won’t feel awkward when you join them. If they do feel awkward about it, it might make them stop doing it. But, hey, maybe you’d be fine with the whole thing!

18. Consider whether you could be okay with it.

Could you just accept that your partner has wandering eyes? If they’re otherwise loving, respectful, and loyal, that might not be such a big deal.

Even if they’re not, you might not care so much about them looking at other people, you just don’t want them to cheat on you. Are there any other signs of infidelity? If not, they’re not cheating on you, so let them look.

Does it still make you feel bad though? Trust your instincts and do what your heart tells you. If you can be okay with your partner checking out other people, accept them the way they are. If you can’t live with it and they’re not changing after you’ve talked to them several times, consider leaving the relationship.

19. Consider ending the relationship.

Wandering eyes aren’t something that you end a relationship over, but what if it’s just the tip of the iceberg? What if you’re generally unhappy with how your partner treats you, and they are unlikely to change? If that is so, consider ending the relationship.

You don’t have to wait for your partner to cheat on you to have a good enough reason to end things with them. If you can’t trust them, that’s a serious issue, even if they gave you no reason to doubt them. You can’t be with someone you can’t trust, even if it’s because of your own trust issues.

So, if you and your partner don’t want to try couples therapy to sort out your problems, consider going your separate ways. If you want someone who only has eyes for you, you can find that person. Not everyone has wandering eyes, and it’s okay not to find that acceptable.

20. Try couples therapy.

Whether this is the only problem in your relationship or there are more of them, a therapist can help. As long as you’re both willing to put in the work, your relationship stands a chance. So, don’t give up if you want to stay together. Talk to someone who can help you get back on track and resolve your issues.

You can talk to a therapist even without your partner. They can help you with the right advice for your specific situation. While this article can give you some clarity, tailored advice will differ depending on the specifics of your situation.

As you’ve already learned, there are many reasons why a person in a committed relationship might have wandering eyes. If this behavior is causing problems between you and your partner, you can work to find solutions. So talk to someone who will listen to your whole story and give you tailored advice.

A good place to get help is the website Relationship Hero – here, you’ll be able to connect with a relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.

While you can try to work through this situation yourself or as a couple, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can fix. And if it is affecting your relationship and mental well-being, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people – both couples and individuals – try to muddle through and do their best to solve problems that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, speaking to a relationship expert is 100% the best way forward.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service Relationship Hero provide and the process of getting started.

You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to an expert. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.

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About Author

Ana Vakos enjoys writing about love and all the problems that come with it. Everyone has experiences with love, and everyone needs dating advice, so giving these topics more attention and spreading the word means a lot to her.