Dating Essentials: Making Eye Contact

Here is a fact, people don’t make eye contact. They should and they do look at each other, but they look away when the other person looks back. Look at the commuters on a subway platform or in a subway carriage. They look at anything except each other. They use devices such as ads and books and papers so that they don’t look at each other. Why? Because when we look at each other and make eye contact something very personal happens. It is as if we can see inside each other and see what they are thinking. It is the opening to a conversation. Looking at strangers is a personal introduction.

Good, I am glad we have that out of the way. Because if we accept that we need to look at strangers to introduce ourselves, why then do we find ourselves not able to look people we find attractive in the eye? Well the answer may lie in the fact that we are scared when looking that we will instantly see disapproval for our glances and will be rejected. Being rejected affects our self-confidence levels so by not looking we protect ourselves.

We can glance from afar, even stare and appreciate, as long as they are not looking back. We can check out legs, hair, breasts, chest, ass, anything we can see, but we will then store that image instantly so that we can appreciate without getting caught. The instant the look back, we look away, and allow any form of appreciation in return. This leads to the glancing and return-glances scenario that forms the basic ritual of demonstrating interest.

Usually, one person , let’s say in a bar, sees someone they like and will check them out. Eye contact is made for the briefest instant and is followed by looking away. Glances will be made in either direction until eventually, if the feeling in both parties is mutual, the gaze will be held longer and this is then followed by a courtesy smile. Now, at this stage, approval being made via eye contact, it is time to do something about it. But in most cases, nothing happens. Why? Because the fear factor sets in and the man (usually the man) is put off by making a proper approach because she is in a group. A confident man will return the gaze and then move in.

The problem arises, that a man believes he has mistaken the glances and eye contact as accidental and will make mental excuses for this and then not make an approach. And the moment is lost. She may look at you once again as she moves on to another destination with friends. But unless you meet again in different circumstances you have lost because you showed yourself as having no wish to move in. Consequently you come across as a timid person. Fail.

So, men and women need to start knowing how to look at others and then know how to interpret eye contact correctly. First of all you need to begin by looking people in the eye and get used to it. Its no good looking oat the ground and then follow up with sly glances when they are not looking. Look at people and learn to smile at them. You may only be making new friends but who cares, get used to looking and being looked at. Being shy is not the way to a persons heart. Think of the expression “love at first sight” It’s never going to happen if you don’t get caught looking. As a man, should you look at a woman’s breasts and get caught. Sure you should. Don’t make it excessive, but if someone looks good, its nice to be appreciated, even if its just momentary and fleeting.

An old friend once told me that she found it difficult to look at men now she was single because an ex boyfriend had been so possessive that she had always looked at the ground when they were out. It took her years to learn to make eye contact with strangers again. So I can appreciate difficulties with eye contact. Shyness is another debilitating factor. Many of us are shy by degrees and making eye contact isn’t always easy but we should start practicing. Many are the people who had admirers but never knew it, simply because they never looked.

Another strange phenomenon is the common anxiety in people that when people look at them, they think it is an aggressive stance, not a friendly introduction. Men are often accused at staring at each other followed by the aggressive opener “what are you looking at !” Men with low self-esteem can view women in a similar vein by thinking that if a woman is looking at them, there must be something wrong. Women can feel insecure in the same way by men making eye contact with them.

A very interesting scenario occurred in the summer of 1996 when I was in a bar in Manchester, England and a gay friend of mine could instantly tell me which of the barmen were gay. I wanted to know the secret. Well he said that if you meet a girl you like, you will hold her gaze for a second or two longer than if you were talking to a man. As gay men were looking at you in the same way you look at a woman, he said, then the gay barman will look at you in a similar way by holding your gaze. I have tried this many times since to prove his point and it really does appear to work. What we learn from this is that eye contact is the way to instant attraction indication.

Then of course we have the physiological aspects to eye contact. Pupil dilation and the following of the eyes. On a date which is going well watch the eyes of your date carefully. If she or he is attracted to you, their eyes will dilate (get bigger) and they will hold your gaze as long as possible. But in the instant attraction scenario with a stranger across a crowded room, remember that the quick occasional glances will indicate initial interest so act upon it.

In summary, get used to looking at people and make deliberate eye contact with people you like. Try it in a shop, store or anywhere where you meet strangers. Try and hold the gaze of someone with a nice smile and watch the reaction. You will be surprised. I keep coming back to the same key ingredient in dating. Confidence. Eye contact means confidence and the more you practise, the better you will get. Finally, always remember that not everyone you meet will be attracted to you, so expect some glances never to be returned. Making eye contact is fun.

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