Using Eye Contact Attraction To Build A Relationship

By Sarah Fader |Updated June 13, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Nicole J. Johnson, LCSW

If you're looking for ways to develop a relationship, you're not alone. While social relationships may come easily to some of us even at an early age, plenty of people turn to relationship therapists for help. A therapist can help you develop healthy relationships, identify goals inside and out of relationships, and build communication skills.

Are you looking for that one secret weapon that will help you form and maintain a relationship easily? Well, there's no secret weapon, but there is one thing that can make a big difference, and that's the power of eye contact. Believe it or not, holding someone’s gaze can say a lot about your interest in them, and you can learn more about body language and the messages they send through online therapy.

Maintaining eye contact is a powerful form of communication for humans. In cinema, the initial moment of eye contact between two potential love interests plays an important role in the plot or the countless images of a mother’s face when holding a newborn baby for the first time. After all, the eyes are often considered the windows to the soul.

You can use this information about this essential skill to your advantage as you get to know someone and try to build lasting bonds with them. Using it to improve your dating life doesn’t hurt either.

Before getting into detail about eye contact attraction and its role in all relationships, it’s important to note that this article generally applies to people who are neurotypical. People who are neurotypical do not display any atypical thought patterns or behaviors, whereas people who are neurodivergent (like people with ADHD or autism) do. Sometimes people who are neurodivergent avoid eye contact altogether, or engage in direct eye contact for longer periods than someone who is neurotypical might. This is not wrong or bad, just different - they simply don’t have the same neurons and other brain functioning, and interact with the world differently.

Eye Contact And Attraction

It can be important to maintain a steady level of eye contact when communicating with others. People like being noticed. They like feeling important, even to just a small group, or only one other person. Simply put, most people like some external validation. Using a direct gaze can convey your interest in what someone else is saying. For many people, it’s a sign of interest when people maintain good eye contact with them while they listen to them talk. Holding someone’s gaze is one of the easiest ways to acknowledge to another person that you notice their existence and consider them a valuable human.

So it's no wonder that making eye contact with someone immediately boosts your attractiveness in their perception. People tend to like those who like them. Not only that, holding eye contact is one of the most effective ways to deepen a relationship with someone.

The Science Of How It Works

It’s easy to understand why eye contact skills are so important to human relationships. It's all about our evolution. Human eyes are designed to attract attention, to draw another's gaze to ours. Did you know that we are some of the only primates with white eyes? Our eyes not only see, but they are also meant to be visible and be seen by others.

Studies show that making good eye contact helps people to remember what you say and do. In fact, when you couple eye contact with body language, it makes them pay even more attention to you.

Maintaining eye contact also encourages people to be more honest with you. And that can be a big advantage when you're building a relationship with someone. If you want to know what kind of emotions someone is feeling, looking into their eyes can give you a lot of information. It's pretty hard to lie with your eyes.

This isn't just about building romantic relationships with the same or opposite sex either. Physical actions don’t talk alone without some level of eye contact. Maintaining an appropriate amount of eye contact (that doesn't mean staring) is beneficial to any relationship, including those with children, friends, colleagues, and clients.

Levels Of Eye Contact

Maybe you're not particularly good at reading people's eyes or making prolonged eye contact. You're probably better than you think, but there are some easily recognizable levels or types of eye contact. Once you realize the signals that eye contact creates, you can be better prepared to understand the nonverbal messages people are sending your way. And once you know what they're (not) saying, you can formulate an appropriate response of how to interact with them.

Intentional Lack Of Eye Contact

When someone is intentionally avoiding eye contact with you, that's not a good sign in the relationship category. If this is someone you already know or are already in a relationship with, intentionally avoiding making eye contact is a sign that something is wrong or they are keeping something from you.

Try not to jump to conclusions though. It may not mean something as serious as, "They're cheating on me and haven't told me yet." It could be as simple as, "They have a cold and feel bad that we'll have to cancel our date." Breaking bad news can be nerve wracking for some people. If you already know the person and don’t notice unintentional eye contact avoidance, it's time to talk and find out what they're feeling.

If someone you don't know yet is avoiding your gaze when you try to make more eye contact, that means they're uninterested and don't want to talk to you. They want you to go away. This can even be the message they are sending if they start talking to you verbally. If they are saying words but not looking at you, they probably don't want to be having a conversation with you. Find someone you have a better chance of getting along with.

Unintentional Lack Of Eye Contact

Don’t feel bad if someone is engaging in an unintentional lack of eye contact. In fact, this level of eye contact may not be as bad as an intentional lack of eye contact. It could simply mean they're not aware you are there. If you don't know them, it's reasonable for them not to notice you.

The Unconscious Glance

This often happens with strangers. Someone looks up, your eyes meet, and then they look away at first sight. It may have just been an accident of your proximity to them. Sometimes, this is a great opportunity. You can try "accidentally" catching their gaze again and see if they smile or seem open to talking based on other possible facial expressions. But most people who make accidental eye contact don’t have any interest in flirting with you; their eyes wander aimlessly..

In general, the unconscious glance is neutral. The person's head and eyes are scanning the area, and they just happened to fall on yours for a moment. It doesn't mean anything. Except that humans are predisposed to looking at human eyes.

The Conscious Glance

A glance means that a person makes eye contact and then immediately looks away. It's looking away immediately that signals some form of verbal communication. The problem is that the conscious glance can mean opposite things.

The person may look away after catching your gaze because they are attracted to you, and seeing your eyes meet theirs makes them feel momentarily intimidated or self-conscious.

Unfortunately, you can't always assume this is the case. A person may also consciously remove their eye contact from yours because they are not attracted to you. In that case, the two of you meet eyes, and they break eye contact because they are indifferent to your presence. You may be able to read their other body language to cipher out which one of these nonverbal communication cues it is. Or you could try making intentional eye contact to see if they respond positively or avoid your gaze.

The Lingering Glance

Over time, you may be able to distinguish between quick or unconscious glances and those that last a fraction of a second longer. These lingering glances are the first sign of someone finding you attractive or interesting in some way. It's subtle. The person won't be staring at you.

A person who gives you a lingering glance may not even realize they are doing it. Humans simply look longer at things they like. But if you notice this glance, it's not a bad idea to try to start up a conversation if you want.

The Second Glance

If you're paying attention, you may notice that some people who accidentally make eye contact with you will look at you again after breaking eye contact. This is often a clear sign that they find you attractive or at least there is a significant increase in the odds of that being the case. Of course, it's also possible that they are not consciously aware that they keep looking at you. That's okay. Their unconscious or distracted mind is still gravitating towards something it finds interesting, and that may just be you.

Intense Eye Contact Attraction

Intense eye contact that indicates attraction is called gazing. When someone gazes at you, they maintain longer than usual eye contact. This usually means several seconds of them looking at you. They want you to notice that they are looking!

You’ve probably noticed by now how powerful eye contact can be. Beyond this, a person may add smiling to their eye contact. Gazing and smiling is a clear sign that someone would like you to talk to them. The longer they continue smiling and gazing, the stronger their interest likely is.

Using Eye Contact Attraction To Flirt

Being self aware and understanding those levels of eye contact gives you a lot to go on when it comes to flirting and trying to start a relationship. First of all, figuring out what eye contact actually means can help you understand whether a situation is worth pursuing or not. Eyes don’t indicate the potential of a relationship alone.

Second, learning the basic science behind it allows you to build a strategy for flirting with eye contact. The best way to do this is to practice making eye contact with everyone you pass that seems interesting or attractive to you. Don't worry too much about the results. Start paying attention to how people react to your eye contact.

If you notice any second glances or long gazes when you're making eye contact, then you're doing eye contact attraction the right way (and presumably noticing people who are into someone like you).

You shouldn't stare at anyone, but if you're interested in getting to know them and starting any kind of social interaction, make slightly prolonged eye contact. Pay attention to whether they respond. And if you get a smile, absolutely start a conversation with them.

Keep in mind that limiting your eye contact is like making someone work for your attention. And this can be a good thing. You don't want to come off as too quick to make a connection with just anyone. So make a balance between giving them "the look" and then looking off somewhere else.

Can You Tell A Lot About A Person From Their Eyes?

Whenever someone looks into your eyes and makes eye contact, they see how you feel in a given moment. And likewise, you are seeing what other people feel as you look into theirs. If you're willing to pay attention, yes, you really can tell a lot from a person's eye contact.

Building Your Relationship With Eye Contact

Beyond those glances and gazes that indicate interest, there is a deeper level of eye contact. This type of eye contact is what you see when someone who loves you looks at you. This is established relationship eye contact, and it makes pretty much anyone who receives it feel good about themselves. It means someone else is paying attention to them and likes what they see.

If you have trouble making eye contact with others, it can get in the way of forming lasting relationships. Of course, it could be that you have to know someone better before you can hold eye contact, and that's okay. If you want help improving your self awareness, feeling more confident about eye contact, and approaching people, a professional therapist can be useful in reducing social anxiety.

You can even practice eye contact with a video call with a therapist as well. Nonetheless, hopefully, you’ve learned the importance of eye contact by reading this article, and will find new and effective ways to apply it to all existing and potential social relationships in your life.

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