Using Eye Contact Attraction To Build A Relationship
By Sarah Fader
Updated June 04, 2019
Reviewer Nicole J. Johnson
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 eye contact.
It turns out that where and how we use our eyes is an extremely potent form of human communication. And you can use that to your advantage as you get to know someone and try to build lasting bonds with them.
Take a look at what we know about eye contact attraction and its role in relationships.
Eye Contact And Attraction
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. Eye contact 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
Here's why eye contact is 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 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 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 either. 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. You're probably better than you think, but there are some easily recognizable levels of eye contact. Once you realize what they are, 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." If you already know the person and notice intentional 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, that means they're not interested 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 are verbally talking to you. 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 Eye Contact
This one may not be as bad as 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. 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.
In general, the unconscious glance is neutral. The person's eyes are wandering 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 the 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 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. 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!
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
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, it can help you understand whether a situation is worth pursuing or not.
Second, 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, 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, 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, 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 feeling more confident about eye contact and approaching people, a professional therapist can be useful in reducing social anxiety.