Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

Ogling Women Is A Troubling Sign Of Addiction (Says Science)

Photo: WeHeartIt
sex addiction
Sex, Self

Just because 'looking' is natural doesn't mean it's healthy.

Can "looking" or ogling be a symptom of your sex addiction? Does looking trigger you into deep fantasy leading to compulsive sexual thoughts that won't stop until you act out? 

Often times, "ogling" is a step in the wrong direction for sex addicts, leading to other unhealthy sexual behavior. It hurts spouses, too, as the web is chock full of articles from the woman's perspective, describing the hurt caused by excessive ogling. Even a Google search for "ogling and cheating" pulls up ads for the cheating website Ashley Madison.

Excessive ogling is not healthy for either partner, especially when you involve sex addiction. That's why we developed a series of tools to help sex addicts avoid this trap. Is looking a compulsive behavior—one associated with a sexual addiction?

The science behind "ogling" dates back to our primal instincts to find a worthy mate.

Science says that an evolutionary mechanism rooted in our biology and quest for the right mate (to ensure offspring) is the cause of checking someone out, says Robert L. Trivers in his book "Parental Investment and Sexual Selection". His theory predicts which sex will be the fast, indiscriminate mating sex, and which sex will be the more discriminating sex.

Another study claimed that ogling triggers the brain's reward system, and men react to women's bodies the same way they do to drugs and alcohol. They literally get high. This is particularly significant for sex addicts. Afterall, just because it happens "naturally" doesn't mean it's healthy! 

What are the traits of a serial "looker"?

We've all seen that guy. Maybe you are that guy—the one who rubbernecks while driving to look at attractive women; The guy who routinely cranes his neck in the restaurant to follow somebody's form as they make their way to their seat or to the exit.

Men are visually-based creatures and respond to what they see more strongly than women. Science says this behavior dates back to evolutionary biology.

When we work with clients who struggle with a porn or sex addiction, a common trait is an overactive "looker." We make distinctions between just noticing somebody and actually looking in a fixated kind of way.

For an addict, looking takes on more of an obsessive energy; it feels almost impossible NOT to look. Someone dealing with sex addiction tends to objectify the person (or people) they are looking at, viewing their body parts as a collection ("Wow. Would you look at that <insert body part>?).

Lookers think they possess what we call "x-ray vision," a fictional belief they can actually see what is under women's clothing! Our clients notice that during these times they stare the longest and fall more deeply into a trance.

Oftentimes, they're not even aware they are staring at somebody. Wives or partners of the sexually addicted person often complain about this looking behavior and how they feel it reflects on them. We try to help our clients understand how this "looking" makes their significant other feel.

How to work with an overactive "looker."

Like most problems, you can't change anything unless you are first aware that there is a problem. When we work with men with sexually addictive behavior, we examine this looking element as part of the compulsive behavior.

Men who struggle with a porn addiction, for example, may obsessively look at women as a form of foreplay, or a way to "research" so they can later find a picture, movie, or webcam girl who resembles that person. Essentially, they use looking as a tool to further their compulsive behavior.

Here are some tools we give our clients to avoid objectifying women and triggering addictive thoughts and behaviors:

1. The "two-second" rule.

A simple intervention is using the two-second rule. This is a self-monitoring tool to establish some control and boundaries around the looking. If this sounds awfully close to something you would do with a child—setting limits on computer use, watching television—you're right.

This behavior is young and regressive. Most avid, adult lookers have been doing so since childhood. When a person notices that he is looking too much, he then gives himself "permission" to look one time and one time only ... but ONLY up to two seconds. If you are aware enough to slap a limit on the looking, then you are aware you are crossing the line.

2. Another woman's body parts are NOT your business.

Reminding our clients they are not involved with the body parts of women presents another valuable reflection. Men reveal they often feel obligated to look as if it's a job, or they worry they will miss out on something.

A simple reminder, or mantra, is to remind yourself that a woman with whom you are not intimately involved is none of your business. She may not even know you; She DID NOTwear those clothes for you; She does not welcome you. You do not need to look.

3. She is a person, just like you.

Obsessive ogling usually involves objectifying. Notice what you are saying (internally or out loud): "Look at those breasts!" "How about that butt," or "Check out those legs." The list goes on.

Remind yourself that the object of your fascination is a real person by lending her some humanity. Remember that she is somebody's daughter, sister, or mother. She is somebody; she is not an object.

Noticing when you cross the line—or if your "looking" takes on a more obsessive, out of control bent—requires awareness, practical tools, and interventions to snap yourself out of this trance. Letting this behavior continue unchecked will only hurt your relationships and your recovery from sex addiction.

George Collins, Founder of Compulsion Solutions has spent the last 30-years helping porn/sex addicts to reclaim their lives, self-esteem and relationships. His book is the Amazon #1 Best Seller in the industry. Get 1-on-1 help from George, or simply get the first chapter of his book, free, by clicking here.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.


Explore YourTango