Becoming a young woman in the 1970’s, I believed that it was completely normal to be whistled at or cat-called as I walked to school. I never viewed it as an insult but I didn’t enjoy it either – it was just an unfortunate fact of life. However, most women were angered by this “appreciation” of female beauty. It was after all, an attempt to objectify a woman. Today, many women now crudely express their attraction to the male form. I hear young women and even older women talking about men as if they were objects or making suggestions of sexual escapades with them. They use labels such as man candy or phrases like “he can put his boots under my bed anytime”. Ironically, many women view attention from men as repulsive – something to strive against. Remember the meme floating across Facebook, advertising hairy stockings for women or how about the woman that added a third breast to repel men? We have become a hyper-sexualized society.
This really boils down to the issue of respecting another human being. Yes, we notice when another person is attractive because most of us are blessed with eyesight. No, it is not wrong to pay a compliment to a person of the opposite sex, when done in a polite and respectful way and taking care to not hurt your significant other. A polite compliment might be “you look very nice today” or even “you look beautiful” or “you look very handsome” or “an attractive woman like yourself …”. You get the idea – just think pre-sexual harassment lawsuit era.
Now, if your significant other seems to be threatened by the fact that you have eyes that see, you definitely are in dangerous waters and need to be careful but I do believe that there is a balance. It should be acceptable to say “she is an attractive, intelligent and sweet woman” but definitely not a good idea to say “wow, that woman is hot” and the same idea applies to a woman speaking of a man. I have noticed that men can feel shamed into keeping their opinion within their mind. When a man admires another woman for her appearance, character and/or demeanor and is forced to keep it hidden from his wife or fiancée, this is a breeding ground for trouble and can become an area of struggle for him. I would much rather have my husband discuss these thoughts with me and as long as I react in a healthy non-threatened manner, he will feel safe in doing so.
If you are the person that feels threatened because your significant other notices a well-put-together person of the opposite sex, you must determine what your fears are based on. Does your significant other have a habit of wandering or do you have your own insecurities? Often our insecurities are our own responsibility and determining the root will help you to deal with them and have a more balanced approach to life. It is vital that you realize that their admiration and feelings for another human being is not automatically a threat to you. They chose you and if they have assured you of their commitment to you, don’t suffocate them or force them to hide their feelings and do not be the iceberg in the dangerous waters.
Men, you might be wondering, how is it possible that a man can think highly of another woman and actually express this thought out loud? Well, since I don’t know your woman, I can only give you some general rules. Don’t be too obvious about looking at another woman. I realize that men were created to notice female beauty but sometimes men are just not very good at being discreet. Don’t tell your lady that you wish that she would dress like that or look like that. If you praise another woman on her cooking, mothering, housekeeping and/or appearance, never word it in a way that it appears to be a comparison. On a slightly different note, I’ve heard men express that they are afraid to compliment a woman. They worry that women don’t take these sentiments the way that they are intended. They fear that she will accuse him of being strange or having ill motives. A normal mentally healthy woman will not read too much into the kind words and she will be flattered. You may even make her day or better yet, her week. So assess the situation and be a gentleman and compliment a lady.
If you’ve done a really good job at making your significant other feel secure and you remark positively about another person of the opposite sex, you’ll probably be alright. If you find them getting upset, you need to get back to work. Let’s bring back the art of the genteel compliment.
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