A shy man wonders how he can perfect the eye-gazing required in romantic love.
Dear Sexes: I’ve never really felt comfortable with eye contact, and have picked up a little thing where I’ll duck my eyes off every 3 seconds or so. This is normally not too much of a problem, but now I have a new girl in my life and I feel like it’s having an affect on things. Any tips to help me perform those loving stares?
She Said: We’re all different and have different ways of communicating and showing love. Hopefully your girlfriend gets that. This eye-gazing thing might just not be your thing. However, it is a social norm to keep eye contact, and that contact shows confidence, respect, honesty and connection. Not a stare, but a meaningful and relaxed gaze.
Interestingly, people keep eye contact more when they’re listening as opposed to when they’re talking. When we’re talking we tend to look around, look up to try to remember things, and communicate parts of our story with our eyes. But when we’re intently listening, we tend to stare straight into the eyes of the speaker, even when he or she isn’t looking into ours.
So while the romantic gaze may be what you think you need, it could be this engaged listening that’s even more important to her.
As far as not darting your eyes away… I think that’s mostly about being relaxed and looking at the old story that originally made you do the eye-dart. What was that story? Remind yourself of the source of it, then remind yourself regularly that that story is done, and that you have a whole new narrative about yourself and the world. Not “rah-rah” self-talk, just simple observations like, “I’m a grown man with a good life and a girlfriend.”
It doesn’t work right away, but if you can stop telling yourself the old story that’s kept that bad mojo looming over you, I bet the darting eyes will resolve too. If not, then just remind your girlfriend that this is who you are, you love her and you find her attractive and interesting and smart, and then tell her all the ways you show her that apart from what may be mainstream.
He Said: The eyes hold an incredible amount of power and influence, and they can communicate so many emotions. Don’t give away that authority. If you really want to solve this problem, you have to ask yourself what you’re afraid of, or what makes you uncomfortable, when staring into your lover’s eyes. Is this a challenge you have with all people, or just with your girlfriend? Are you embarrassed by the loving looks she gives you, or are you afraid of the honesty her long stares require?
My dad always says, “you can’t trust anyone who’s afraid to look you in the eyes”. You want your girlfriend to trust you so… here’s a little tip (for those nervous about eye contact) – when sharing a gaze with your girlfriend (or anyone), concentrate on the bridge of that person’s nose. It will look like you’re looking intently at the windows to their soul, but actually you’ll just be staring at the area of skin where glasses normally rest. I still think this is an issue you should ultimately tackle head on (or eye to eye), but the bridge of the nose isn’t that far off. Think of it as a gateway to intimacy. And remember, if you’re good enough to be stared at, you can be strong enough to stare back.
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