Dear Amy: My wife and I love the beach. We walk on the beach, kayak and picnic, and in the summer we swim.
When it's hot, and the beach is crowded, my wife invariably asks me, "Are you checking out that girl in the bikini?"
I always say no, which is a lie she sees right through. An argument ensues, dampening our otherwise beautiful day.
I am in my 50s. I have no delusions of long-term futures with young girls (or anyone else) on the beach, but I love to look at attractive females. I try, apparently unsuccessfully, to be discreet, but my natural instinct is to stand and applaud. I know I sound like a dirty old man, but I doubt I am alone.
So, how can I be honest and not hurt my wife? And can we still go to the beach?This would be my response:
-- Lying on the Beach
Dear Lying: You're not alone. First, get a pair of dark, wrap-around sunglasses. A hat is not enough to protect your eyes from the sun, a lot of which is reflected off the water and sand. Plus, they'll afford you some privacy from your creepy wife.
Yes, I think your wife is creepy. Here's a woman who, situated in a relaxing natural environment, is too obsessed with what you're thinking to pay much attention to the limitless sand and surf, the sea breeze, the variety of people. This tells me that she is way too insecure or she wants to pick a fight with you.
Here's how I would react. First I would blatantly admit (without being defensive) that I was checking out the girl in the bikini. Then I'd follow up with one or more of the following (or something similar):
“That polka dot bikini she's wearing reminds me of that old song....” (1) And then I'd start to sing the song.
“I wonder if Tommy Hilfiger carries around a bag with her name on it.”
“Doesn't she work at the library/coffee shop/drug store/church?”
“Don't get jealous. She's not at all my type – she's just too old.”
But then it's important to follow up with, “Why do you ask?” Not gruffly, or with an annoyed tone, or as a “piss-off” type of reprimand. Ask with genuine concern. Because it's a very good question. Why is she so tuned in to you in this wonderful environment?
And what's so bad about looking at a woman who is essentially walking around in brightly-colored underwear, which is precisely what a two-piece bathing suit is?
If your wife's erratic behavior continues or gets worse, mention this to her primary care doctor. She might need the help of an endocrinologist to treat the effects of menopause, or a mental health professional to deal with insecurity.
Note that while I'm siding with you, it's under the assumption that:
(1) Don't try this on a nude beach.
- You're only looking and not actually standing and applauding, nor are you fondling yourself, or whistling, or making lewd comments like, “Ooo, what a piece of ass...”
- You're not checking out young girls but rather young women.
Here's the advice seeker's letter but with some minor changes:
Dear Amy: My husband and I love the beach. We walk on the beach, kayak and picnic, and in the summer we swim.
When it's hot, and the beach is crowded, my husband invariably asks me, "Are you checking out that guy in the Speedo?"
I always say no, which is a lie he sees right through. An argument ensues, dampening our otherwise beautiful day.
I am in my 50s. I have no delusions of long-term futures with young guys (or anyone else) on the beach, but I love to look at well-built men. I try, apparently unsuccessfully, to be discreet, but my natural instinct is to stand and applaud. I know I sound like a cougar, but I doubt I am alone.
So, how can I be honest and not hurt my husband? And can we still go to the beach?
-- Lying on the Beach
In this version of the letter, the husband sounds jealous and maybe a bit possessive and scary. The first step on the road to being a victim of spousal abuse is to rearrange your thinking and behavior to placate your partner, even if you've done nothing wrong.
Ms. Dickinson's response seemed to imply that the husband was actually standing up and applauding. She writes, "All 'attractive females' know when they're being checked out. Some may enjoy the attention, but even if they do, the last thing they want on their day at the beach is a round of applause from you." [My emphasis] And the title of the web page is "Man at the beach gives bikinis a round of applause." Huh?
The page also features a video with the caption, "Sexually objectifying girls and women leads to aggression toward them, a recent study has found." Amy, I look at attractive things -- artwork, flowers, cars, architecture, and, yes, women. It doesn't mean I want to have sex with them.