I moved into a building with a great view of the city and residential building across from me. When I sit at my desk, I notice an attractive woman in the building. I find myself looking out and hoping to see her and privately wishing she’d notice me. I have a feeling this voyeurism isn’t the healthiest behavior. I’m shy and know I could never land a girl like that, but I have fun admiring her. She seems so nice. What do you suggest?
Before you label your behavior voyeuristic, know what that is. It’s having intense sexually arousing fantasies, urges or behaviors while observing an unsuspecting person who is nude, disrobing or having sex. Based on your question, I don’t suspect that’s the case. Though I do have concerns that your behavior is fantasy-fueled and limits you from going out into the real world where you might actually meet someone similar to your neighbor. Know that underneath every fantasy is a desire for change and an opportunity for growth. Here’s what to do:
Think about common social etiquette such as respecting neighbors. Would you want someone gawking at you or a loved one? Of course not, so don’t be that guy.
Take action. You have options as to how to set up your apartment. Move your desk to a different area.
Address the underlying issue. Do you privately admire this fantasy neighbor because you’d like to have someone like her as a friend or lover? If so, know that as long as you sit home you’ll continue to be alone, but if you get out there in the real world you’ll at least have the potential to meet someone.
Examine your thinking. What’s the fantasy that this behavior is supporting? “She seems so nice” — what’s this based on? Your observation of her routine isn’t enough evidence to suggest she’s nice. An alternative way of thinking would be something like this: “She’s attractive, but I know nothing about her.” Write down alternative ways of thinking and ways you can use your time other than glued to the window. And if she does notice you looking, it isn’t going to get you anywhere but her thinking you’re creepy.
–Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. E-mail him your questions at email@example.com
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