November 2017
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eye contact is intensely intimate and nourishing for me


I find it easy to make eye contact in conversation when the other person is talking, because it helps in listening -- I can sense what the person is meaning as well as hearing what they are saying. But if I'm talking I find it difficult because it's distracting -- I'm taking in emotional information and I want to concentrate on it rather than on what I'm saying. I also find it difficult because it intensifies the intimacy of whatever I'm saying, and if I'm not already emotionally intimate with the person it feels too intense. I think this might be annoying to others though, as I tend to look away when talking about anything of emotional significance or anything I haven't already said many times. I catch myself doing it and it bothers me, but even when I make a conscious effort I still find it almost impossible to look the person in the eyes.

There've been a few, VERY few, people whom I immediately found it easy to talk to while maintaining eye contact. Really just those I have spirit connections with -- I guess because we already have that sense of intimacy. Strangely, if I'm crushing on someone I tend to REALLY avoid eye contact because the longer I maintain it the more impossible it is for me to think about anything other than kissing and touching. It's easier if I have no romantic interest or if there are clear boundaries (like with a co-worker). Or if there is already intimacy there, because then I don't feel compelled to close the distance between us now-now-NOW!

I need prolonged eye contact like I need touch or communication. For me it IS a kind of touch, spirit touching spirit, and it is a kind of communication too, spirit speaking to spirit. At the last cuddle party I went to, we did an eye contact meditation which was INCREDIBLY profound for me, even more so than the actual cuddling was. The downside of this is if someone usually breaks eye contact quickly I feel shut out and rejected, like I would if they shook off my touch.

Oh, and another aspect of this is that I loathe glasses because they break that contact. Even though aesthetically they appeal to me, I really don't like for people to wear them -- like holding hands through gloves, it's just not the same.

How does eye contact affect you? I've never talked about this with anyone before ('cause this is a recent realization) and I'm curious.

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Comments
my_mundane_life ══╣╠══
Wow, so many things you talk about here really resonate with me, and this is yet another :) I make a lot of eye contact with people but sometimes I feel that it's making them uncomfortable and look away for their sakes - cos some people aren't so happy with it. I'm really intrigued by what you say about emotional intensity and spirit connections and will have to think about those things when I'm talking to people because I have a feeling it might well ring true for me too. Also, I'm jealous of your cuddle parties and meditations! I haven't come across such things in Belfast ;)
cunningbunny ══╣me╠══
I honestly think eye contact is one of the reasons I get accused of being "intimidating." I think eye contact is important, and I try my best to demonstrate my respect for a speaker by maintaining it while they talk. But I also hold a person's gaze when I'm speaking intensely about a subject, and I think it makes people nervous. There's a lot to that old saying about the eyes being the windows to the soul, and I think that in certain situations, people can handle it because it makes them feel like their soul is standing naked in front of the person they're speaking to. But I think we've established that that isn't a general problem with you anyway. :-P
camilleyun ══╣╠══
This. You said it way better than I could have but this is very much me.
radiantbaby ══╣dr who -- ten b&w geek glasses sexy╠══
Honestly, eye contact makes me extremely uncomfortable, even with people that I am usually comfortable around. I hate the intense vulnerability I feel with it, I suppose.

I know people probably think I'm rude as a result, but it honestly terrifies me most times. I'm not sure if it's something I can ever be comfortable with. I guess I'm weird that way.
jennifer19 ══╣╠══
I don't maintain eye contact for long but I make sure to do it as much as I can in a conversation. It makes me very nervous, not because of the other person, but because I constantly need to know what's going on around me. I am VERY uncomfortable not knowing who else is around me and I scan the room. A lot. It's a self defense thing, especially in situations where I'm already feeling uncomfortable. If I'm comfortable where i am it becomes less important so I'll make more eye contact with the person I'm talking to. I also will make eye contact with people walking towards me if I am walking alone on the street, particularly not-very-busy streets. Again, self defense.

Hm...never thought about it before. lol.
ladywind ══╣redcap╠══
If it's a one-to-one conversation and you're talking, I'm looking at your mouth. One too many front row seats at festivals, and great gaping holes in my eardrums mean I don't hear speaking-voices as well as other folk, so lipreading often makes the difference between my understanding you or not. Personal pet peeve is folk who don't enunciate or who talk from behind a hand. :D

If it's a one-to-one conversation and I'm talking? I look away to compose thoughts or to get through a mental tangle to phrase something just right; I look back to make sure you haven't checked out and to shift topic if you have.

Walking down a street full of strangers, it's head up and aware, eye contact with everyone who'll pass within reach of me, a nod, murmured greeting, keep moving. "I do see you, you are a person, so am I, don't mess with me."
kiwi ══╣╠══
Eye contact is a tough one for me. I somehow adopted the Asian style of not making direct eye contact (it's considered a defiant, challenging gesture in a lot of Asian cultures, like Japanese) but find that when I'm with a small group of friends whom I trust and care about, I can make eye contact fine. The tough one for me is at work because often, I'm in a one-on-one situation (me and patient) and I want to make it clear that I am listening, that I am taking in everything that they're saying, and that I am completely and totally non-judgemental and empathetic to what they're telling me. Which means I need to make eye contact when they're talking. Which I can do to an extent but this small part of me is screaming "stop it! You're making them uncomfortable!" which I could very well be doing so I'll generally break away and jot down some notes or something. But it's really something I've had to work REALLY hard with. Really, painfully hard.

I think a lot of my nearest and dearest are used to this in me at this point. They're also used to the fact that this is something that's evolving, much like me and hugging. I guess at this point, I just worry so much about making someone else feel uncomfortable, though I wonder if that's just me (who hates being in the center of attention) projecting my own feelings onto others...huh.
tralfamadore ══╣Zuni - *hides*╠══
I'm afraid that eye contact is something extremely difficult for me. Only recently have I begun to explore the specifics of why this might be, and I've come to some really interesting conclusions. For as far back as I remember, I have always struggled to initiate and maintain eye contact with someone when engaged in conversation. As a child, I really avoided making eye contact at any and all costs. I specifically remember this being in relation to adults. I couldn't look into their eyes; I just couldn't manage it.

Slowly, inchingly really, I began to force myself to make eye contact as I came to realize that people took my lack thereof as a sign of rudeness, or some signifier that I wasn't listening. Though in reality, it never meant either in my mind. I just learned that to look at someone when speaking to them was somehow the better option to being accused of all the things people thought went along with my lack of eye contact.

When I began working with kids on the autism spectrum, I came to realize what a huge part of the so-called "issue" (blech) eye contact seems to be. It made me really begin to explore my own problems with looking at people, and I finally started coming to some conclusions as to why that was. Mostly what I realized was this -- I can't hear when I am looking someone in the eye. Odd as it may sound, it's just too much. Something about having to maintain that look in the eye is too much work for me. It's too difficult, and it takes away from my ability to properly hear, understand, and process the information that I'm being given. When I can look away, look anywhere else in the world, that's when I can genuinely engage myself with the conversation at hand.

I understand that it frustrates others often that I don't make direct eye contact when speaking, but honestly... It's really better for me that I don't. I'm much more focused and alert when I'm able to sort of "do my own thing" and don't have to put up the look of being right there.
clown_frog ══╣╠══
It was interesting reading this :-)

For myself - I also find it hard to keep eye contact while talking, but I'm not sure if its for quite the same reason. Similar perhaps: if I'm thinking while talking (I don't always!), reasoning as I'm going along, then I can't make eye contact. I do the usual thing of looking up and to the right (another upwards movement type thing: people tend to look up when thinking in abstract kind of dimensions, interesting stuff!). But I think with myself it is also a shyness thing, an embarassment, I don't want to see that I am being listened to. The exception to this is job interviews, where I will purposefully keep eye contact! Use every psychological advantage... Very conscious effort there though.

When listening I do keep eye contact - except if I'm completely uninterested, and then sometimes my eyes wander (along with my thoughts). When I'm interested I keep eye contact, nod, smile: as you say, it helps in listening, in getting the meaning. It is an interaction. Although sometimes that in itself is distracting - can get lost in someones eyes, in observing their animation and the way they are talking rather than listening! I would say that happens when I'm attracted to them.

Also I loved lying in bed next to someone, looking in zir eyes. Close up. Could do that for a long time. Meditation.
eyesonfire83 ══╣JJL╠══
I'm not great at keeping eye contact with random people, its only people I am close to. When somebody is speaking to me I tend to look everywhere but their face. I am sure it makes me look like I'm not paying attention but I really am. Or when I'm speaking to somebody I really TRY to look into their eyes but I have problems doing that. I'm not sure why, I've always been that way. Its not with everyone but the majority of the time I look everywhere but AT them.
motiondemon ══╣╠══
I definitely prefer copious eye contact, but do try to pay attention to whether it makes someone uncomfortable. That connection is usually necessary for me to interact with someone in a focused way, as if we were the only two people who exist.

I've been told by many people (both by those who regard it as a positive and those who look at it as a negative) that I have a very intense gaze. Intentionally turning it off is my way of disappearing into the crowd, I guess.

musicandmisery ══╣x-files - you don't remember anything?╠══
I think the only person I can maintain eye contact with is my sister. And that's only because were so close and comfortable with each other.

Besides her, I am HORRID at keeping eye contact. While I feel very much respected and interested in and cared about when people keep eye contact with me, it's almost impossible for me to do it. I can look someone in the eyes for a few seconds and then consciously drift away and break the contact and sort of roll my eyes and try to make it look natural, but I know it's not. I don't know why I do this. It's something that I so want to fix in myself. It's almost painful for me to look someone in the eyes for more than a few seconds. Gahhh. It's horrible.
phoenixdreaming ══╣╠══
On thinking about it, I'm not sure how well or often I keep eye contact. Usually it depends who I'm talking to and how comfortable they are - I know quite a few people who become uncomfortable with eye contact (particularly common for anyone on the autistic spectrum) and I know that it's often seen as aggressive. At school, people often tried to intimidate me out of making eye contact (the old "what are /you/ looking at" and variations), so it literally felt dangerous to catch anyone's eye, but as my confidence has increased, I initiate and hold eye contact. I'm always very conscious of it as a possible an act of aggression, though, so I'm careful with my eyes. Looking down, softening my gaze, other things that signal "I'm not going to attack or challenge you". Unless I do mean that, in which case, I'll say it with my eyes first.
callmebee ══╣╠══
I once had a friend, someone who I loved and wanted to be with in at least a physical way, who would engage in these long periods of looking into each other's eyes. It started out as a, "How long can we look at one another without kissing?" game, but turned into one of the most intimate experiences I've ever had.

So eye contact? I get it. I don't engage in it as often as maybe I would like to, but I get it. It affects me. It matters. I need it.
camilleyun ══╣╠══
I've come to the realization that I don't always know what my face is doing. I'm also easily overstimulated so I tend to look around a lot and people often confuse this with distraction. I've been known to maintain such intense eye contact that people have declared it uncomfortable. Apparently I haven't found a happy center.
sidheblessed ══╣Pagan╠══
I'm strange with eye contact in that I find it difficult to talk to strangers while making eye contact. I find it especially difficult with cashiers for some reason. I think it's because I'm trying to count my money, collect my receipt and grab my shopping all at once, adding eye contact just makes it harder somehow. I do try to remember though because I think eye contact is a sign of respect.

When it comes to people I know well, I like eye contact. I beleive that eyes are the windows to the soul and I love knowing what eye colour people have. It's important to me for some reason I don't yet understand.

Unfortunately I do wear glasses and I can't get through the day without them, so if we ever met I'd have to take them off briefly here and thee but keep them on most of the time. My eyes become incredibly sore and tired when I don't wear them for more than twenty minutes or so.
clown_frog ══╣╠══
Over 10 days since last Belenen post! I don't like... I miss reading you... :-(

(Just so's you know - I'd be cheeky to bug you about posting given my extended leave of absenses!)

Hope you're having a fabulous day :-)
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.