The meaning of eye contact in relation to attraction
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and they’re not wrong. There’s a reason why looking into your partner’s eyes is such a common trope in fiction, as is the idea of a connection the moment your eyes meet – eye contact and attraction are very strongly linked.
How eye contact influences attraction: the science behind it
Eye contact plays a role in all kinds of human interactions, platonic and otherwise. Studies show making prolonged eye contact, especially when paired with body language, makes them much more likely to pay attention to you. It’s also, at least in Western culture, a sign you’re being honest and trustworthy – two things that deepen emotional attraction.
According to a study by Aberdeen University, eye contact also creates attraction and gives smiling, touching and listening more of an impact.
In another study, participants were randomly paired into opposite-sex couples and told to either look at their partner’s hands, gaze into their eyes, or count the number of eye blinks for two minutes, after which they filled in a questionnaire. The results? Couples who shared mutual eye contact reported stronger feelings than couples doing any other activity.
Levels of eye contact and what they mean
From casual glances to deep eye contact, human beings display a range of behaviours when it comes to using eye contact to show attraction. Generally speaking, though, there are roughly five levels of different glances:
Level 1: The conscious glance
This level of eye contact is the most common and happens every day with strangers. Someone is looking around the room, your eyes meet, and they look away. While this could be a sign of attraction, it’s equally possible that it’s the opposite, that that person doesn’t want to look at you or it was simply an accident. So, look to body language for clues, or wait for them to catch your eye again.
Level 2: The glance and a half
It’s like a friendly handshake or a hug that lingers a touch too long, except it’s all in the eyes. Staring isn’t cool, so they look at you then look away… but that initial look is a fraction of a second longer than a normal glance. It’s really hard to distinguish between a normal glance and a glance and a half – even the person doing it may not be aware – but with practice, you’ll be able to tell.
Level 3: The double glance
Now this is where it gets spicy. Someone who’s definitely interested will look at you, look away… then look at you a second time. A good habit when you feel an attraction to someone is to actively make eye contact. So, keep looking at someone you’re interested in. But don’t stare creepily! If the interest is mutual, they’ll soon look your way again and you can be reassured that any overtures you make will be well received.
Level 4: The gaze and smile
This is that romance novel, only-in-Hollywood moment, when they can’t keep their eyes off you – a solid two or three seconds of prolonged eye contact. If it’s not something you want, it can be really uncomfortable, but if you do? It’s the greatest feeling and a really clear sign – think billboards and skywriting – of interest.
Level 5: The eye you-know-what
This is the nuclear option, and much more likely (and more acceptable, frankly) with someone you’ve been dating a while. It’s that intense look, the one that sets your insides on fire and feels like you’re being undressed right there. It’s the look that makes you want to throw propriety to the winds and find the nearest place with a locked door.
How men and women use eye contact differently for attraction
It’s a well-worn cliché that men and women might as well be from different planets, but every cliché has an iota of truth and in this case, men and women really do use eye contact differently.
For women, direct eye contact is a way to signal attraction, to connect and to develop a relationship. It’s also a show of assertiveness and trust – they use eye contact to check in and get an idea of how they’re being perceived.
When a man holds your gaze, however, there’s also an element of challenge to it, even in a romantic context. He’s waiting on you to tell him it’s okay to make the next move.
Using eye contact attraction to further your dating success
If you want to attract a man or a woman, your eyes are one of the most important tools in your arsenal. Used well, eye contact can kick off or increase attraction, show your partner how you feel, and help you deepen your connection with him or her. And while you won’t be able to use eye contact right away with eharmony, you can definitely find someone to practise with.