It’s perfectly normal to be intimidated by making direct eye contact, especially during the beginning stages of a relationship. Nerves, anxiety, and straight-up fear can prevent us from making a visual connection to a virtual stranger. Eye contact during a first date or the honeymoon phase of a relationship can feel different than, say, eye contact with your best friend. This is because we start to think about what is at stake if things don’t go well and, frankly, we turn into a massive ball of nerves. We subconsciously think if we avoid the eyes, we can avoid being vulnerable.
What is it about the eyes that make us so damn nervous? It’s simple. The eyes connect to the soul of a person. The eyes have their own special language and can even offer communication without ever speaking a word.
So how do we incorporate eye contact on a first date or in a relationship when our natural instinct is to look away? Keep reading for four tips to confidently connect through your peepers.
1. Common subject. It helps to have a common interest or subject in mind that you can bring up. Familiarity tends to lower guards and can draw your partner or date into the topic.
2. Short intervals. Try to be conscious of the time spent making eye contact with your date. Make the effort to look at your date for five seconds. Then glance away for a few seconds. Repeat.
3. Ask a question. It helps to have a handful of questions prepared prior to your date. A question pretty much demands eye contact so it’s a great way to connect.
4. Take a sip. Whether it’s a cocktail or warm cup of tea, having a beverage in front of you can be a lifesaver. When things get awkward, take a sip. This is a great way to refresh the eye contact. (Be aware of your sips of alcohol though!)
Eye contact on a date is incredibly important. The eyes show interest, compassion, and most importantly, presence. However, while some people are naturals at eye contact, others struggle with it, so remember to be mindful of potential difficulties and not take it too personally. Ease of eye contact comes with increased familiarity with a particular person. First dates and fresh relationships are new, with many emotions flowing, so it can take time to get to the stage of meaningful eye contact.
Interestingly, not receiving abundant eye contact on a date can actually be a good thing. “He’s so hot I could barely look at him!” or “She was so pretty I did not want to stare and creep her out” are very strong possibilities as to why there may be limited eye contact.
With time comes comfort. With comfort, the nerves start to dwindle and eye contact becomes more prevalent in the relationship. Often, we need to make a conscious effort to train ourselves to look into our partner’s eyes. Looking at your partner can “pull” them into you and create a sense of closeness and bond between you.
One of the greatest rewards of eye contact is acknowledgment and feeling “heard.” One of the first things we tell our children is, “Look at me when I’m talking to you.” There is a reason for that. This form of direct eye contact signifies acknowledgment and understanding. We do this because we want to confirm the child is absorbing what the parent is saying. This concept holds true for adult relationships as well.
Eye contact is just as important in an already established relationship, too. In this case, however, it really depends on the importance of the topic. At this level of the relationship, we are better equipped to ask for the eye contact we crave. “Babe, I’m running to the store” requires no eye contact, whereas, “We need to talk about our travel plans for the year” justifies a look into each other’s eyes. Eye contact can help affirm you are both on the same page as to the importance of the issue at hand.
Sex and eye contact may not necessarily be a match made in heaven. Eye contact during intimacy is deeply personal with truly no right or wrong answer. Think about it. We close our eyes when we kiss and it’s pure bliss. Closing our eyes allows us to get lost in the moment of pleasure. Closing our eyes can help to enhance the pleasure of intimacy. Not opening your eyes during sex in no way indicates you don’t have a deep sexual and emotional connection with your partner. On the other hand, eye contact during sex may help you to emotionally connect with your partner. In this arena, it’s all about personal choice!
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Michelle Afont is a relationship expert, divorce lawyer, and author of The Dang Factor. She has witnessed firsthand the reasons for the demise of over 50% of the marriages throughout the United States. Her vast experience in the world of breakups, heartbreak, makeups, and re-launching love is the reason she changes the way women love. Michelle has conducted extensive research on the intricacies of love, commitment, faithfulness, and what really makes a relationship work. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more relationship advice.
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