Meeting eye to eye may seen as invitation to romance
by Karen Kreps
Is it hard for you to meet people and to connect personally? You certainly aren’t alone, but you’ve got what it takes to have a radically different experience. You’re naturally endowed with the right tools and only need to learn to use them.
The keys to unlock the invisible gate of your cloister lay right between your ears! I’m talking about the most sensitive and expressive organs in your body: your eyes.
Making eye contact is so intimate, it’s almost like mind reading. Much can be communicated in a glance: curiosity, playfulness, desire, pleasure, sensuality and love. As the proverb goes, the eyes are the windows of the soul.
Don’t confuse making eye contact with staring. Staring is rude and may be intimidating. Rather, offering eye contact involves a gentle, personal invitation that says, “Hello, in there. I’m interested in you and invite you to know me.”
Try gazing at someone’s eyes in silence and you can concentrate without worrying about your words. Or make eye contact when you talk, and you’ll be taken more credibly.
You need not lock eyes at every moment. Your vision may blur if you look too long without blinking. It is okay to glance away and then reconnect. The longer you can sustain a mutual gaze, the deeper your connection will grow.
Eye contact may be shared with someone you just met or with your life partner. As good as it can be between platonic acquaintances, when there is sexual attraction a prolonged look becomes exceptionally alluring. Lovers may lock eyes and lose sight of all else.
Sharing extended eye contact produces powerful mojo for a couple. Try looking into the eyes of your partner, not for a second or two but for a few minutes. As you search into your sweetheart’s soul, think of the beauty that exists in that being and focus on the love you feel.
It’s thought that men kiss with their eyes open, since visual stimulation is important to their sexual response. Women tend to close their eyes and drift into romantic reverie when they pucker up.
During lovemaking, it’s easy to become self-absorbed in your own experience. If you open your eyes, it can be revelatory and stimulating to see your lover so close, providing undivided attention. Your enjoyment and desire will be reflected in your eyes, and your partner will feel pulled toward you.
Rather than thinking of eye contact as something you do, hold it as something you share, like a dance. Enjoy this intimate waltz with another, precious being who is human, like yourself.
Eye contact can lead you to a relationship. When introduced, it sends information about you to your new acquaintance. In Western culture, it is polite to make eye contact with strangers. But keep it brief and offer a nod and a smile, if you don’t want to seem like a creep. Look for a sign of welcome, a signal to remain engaged.
Eye contact can be challenging. We may worry that, if someone looks at us, we’ll be criticized or that demands will be made on us. Bashful, we hesitate before looking at others, fearing that our direct look will make us seem overly forward and provoke rejection. Not wanting to risk getting a dirty look in response, we pull back and hide our interest with indirect glances. We cut ourselves off. Many distractions command our attention, depriving us of sweet intimacy.
Some cultures even shun the practice. In Japan, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, people are taught to avert their eyes as a sign of respect, particularly when dealing with their superiors. In some Muslim countries, women are veiled to prevent public access to their eyes. And in the West, until Catholic orders and attitudes liberalized in the late nineteen-sixties, wimples worn by nuns made it difficult for others to see their eyes.
You may wonder why a stranger averts your gaze. Is this person shy? Nervous? Withdrawn? What does he want to hide? Or you may take it personally. Is there something ugly about you she doesn’t want to see? Why won’t he give you the time of day?
Avoiding eye contact is just as powerful a communication tool as maintaining eye contact. In social situations, we often encounter people with whom we would rather not speak. A refusal to return eye contact sends a message that we are uninterested.
When people meet through on-line personal ads, they may see a photo of the other, but pictures are never enough to let us know who the person really is. It’s not the same thing as seeing where their eyes go and how easily they engage.
Where we focus is fundamental to how we interact with other people. It takes time to become comfortable looking into someone’s eyes. Experiment and practice with everyone you can. Not everyone will respond, but you’ll be surprised and delighted by how many will.
I’ve enjoyed practicing with a group of people who meet for The Joy Experience. This weekly training, developed by Alan Steinborn, teaches how to sustain prolonged eye contact and be truly present to others. It inspires us to be confident and magnetic, great listeners and powerful communicators. It provides a comfortable environment in which to experience support and learn about others. We’re given the opportunity to talk, but encouraged to not talk all the time. Just look. It’s a delightful, joyous experience.