To Ogle or Not To Ogle

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Is it okay for him to have a wandering eye while you're nearby?

Can Men Check Out Other Women?The hot-button question at our office today, from a newly-married guy: Was he allowed to look at other women in his wife's presence?

"Nooooo," one woman squealed. "Ab-so-lu-tely not!"

"And you don't need to crane your neck for her to notice," cautioned another. "We can detect if your very retinas shift slightly right or left."

(It's true: one friend I know says the best way to determine if her date's gay or straight is watching to see if he takes microglances at her cleavage.)

Other couples seem to solve the dilemma by ogling together: The other night, I watched a live boxing match with my boyfriend and another couple we know. The boys sipped beers and waited anxiously for round 3, "when the chicks would fight." And fight they did. While I was busy wondering how a girl with that much muscle mass could clock in at a mere 119 pounds, it was almost as if this pint-sized boxer could smell the men wanting to know what she looked like under all those pads.

After easily besting her opponent, she turned her back to the crowd, removed her gloves, and, seemingly in slo-mo, shook loose a wall of high-gloss auburn hair that swung to and fro, before settling in a shiny curtain which hung halfway down her back. It was clearly a calculated move: the likes of her locks were stuff seen only on Pantene commercials. And with one deft hair toss she struck every man in the house dumb.

We all stood staring for a moment, not knowing how to react.

Finally, my friend took matters into her own hands. "She is hot!" she declared, stating the obvious to her boyfriend, too glassy-eyed to do anything but nod.

"But we can't help it!" my coworker protested, after I related the story. For guys, he says, it's an involuntary reaction: If an attractive woman walks by, it's as if a man's head goes on auto-swivel.

Essentially he was invoking the evolutionary "it's-deeply-engrained-that-we-need-to-spread-our-seed" defense. But was that just? We were divided. So what we want to know is: Is checking out other girls in your presence utterly neanderthal—or not bothersome at all?

For more rulings on questionable male etiquette, check out A Guide To Judging Men (By Their Manners).

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  • In Anglo Saxon times, a man could divorce his wife on the grounds that she was too passionate.