Eyes Wide Open: The Role of Eye Contact in Building Romantic Connections

Eye Contact between Man and Woman

We’ve all heard the adage, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” If you haven’t, take a moment to appreciate this profound saying that states, quite dramatically, if we might add, the impact that eye contact can create, especially when it comes to dating.

Eye contact is so much more than just looking at each other; it quietly delivers feelings and even thoughts without saying a word.

Let’s talk about the simple yet oh-so-powerful act of looking someone in the eyes, especially when it comes to dating. Eye contact is not just looking; it soundlessly says, “I see you and I’m paying attention.”

Eye contact is important in all social and personal relationships, but we are focusing on why it’s pivotal when it comes to romantic ones and, for those introverts out there or anyone who has a hard time making or maintaining eye contact, how to get better at it when it pertains to dating!

Why Eye Contact Is So Important

Let’s start off simple: Looking someone in the eyes when you talk is showing them that you are present and actively listening—and it’s kind of like a wordless compliment. It shows you are engaged and into what’s happening between you and your date. And on these occasions, this is a big deal! After all, this could be someone who could possibly end up as your better half.

Your eyes are a form of body language that can say that you’re happy to be there and that you’re really listening.

  • It’s Like a Smile, but with Your Eyes: When you look someone in the eyes, it’s a warm welcome. It says you’re glad to be with them and that you’re hoping to connect.
  • A Nod to Your Confidence: Being able to keep eye contact shows you’re comfy with who you are, and you’re genuinely interested in the person in front of you.

NOTE: We know we sound like a broken record on this issue, but there is such a thing as too much eye contact. Not breaking it is unnerving at best and creepy at worst, so even though the eyes are the windows to the soul, lower the shades (blink or look elsewhere) every few minutes—no one wants to feel like their windows are being stalked by a peeping Tom.

Secret Language

Your eyes can speak many emotional languages, showing kindness, curiosity, excitement, or disinterest. Here’s what your optic organs can say:

  • I’m Honest and Genuine: Steady eye contact can communicate that you’re trustworthy and you mean what you’re saying.
  • I Respect You”: Listening and looking into someone’s eyes is telling them that their words and feelings matter to you.

Understanding the Looks

Decoding what someone else’s eyes are saying isn’t as easy as we are making it sound—it honestly depends on the person.

Are they shy, bored, or just really that into the menu? Because if you take them to the Cheesecake Factory, they could be focused on that carte du jour that doubles as a novel. Seriously, have you seen that mammoth thing? It’s as thick as ‘War and Peace!’

So, if you aren’t at the aforementioned restaurant, let’s talk about how to figure out what their peepers are saying so you can better understand what might be going on in your date’s mind—you could always ask them, but that can get awkward.

  • Avoiding Eyes = Maybe Not Interested: If your date isn’t looking at you much (or at all), they might not be that into the conversation or you. It might not be that—they could be really shy or have trouble with eye contact, which a lot of people struggle with, but it’s hard to know unless you ask. We say err on the side of caution and assume the worst. If you’re wrong, they could speak up if they don’t want to let you get away!
  • Constant Staring = Too Much: Like we said earlier, always staring is way too intense. Balance is key, so give your eyeballs a break and take it down several notches.

Now that you know what to look for (lol, we see what we did there), we have a few suggestions on how to work out your peepers—you can get better at eye contact with practice!

Easy Tips to Get Better at Eye Contact

Making and holding eye contact can be hard, especially with someone you like! So, how do you do it without feeling like a weirdo for staring at someone dead in the eyes? Let’s explore a few simple eyeball exercises to help you get better at it so you can prep for your next date!

  • Practice with Friends: Try to maintain eye contact when talking to your friends—it’s great practice in a low-pressure situation. Even better, tell your bestie or best bud that you’re having trouble and want to practice; they’ll help you out, and not only will you improve your skills, but you’ll laugh a lot at the ridiculousness of the eye-contact exercise.
  • Practice The 50/70 Rule: Try to make eye contact about half the time you’re talking and about 70% of the time you’re listening. It shows you are actively listening without crossing over into creeper territory. There’s a fine line between good eye contact and staring—be mindful of that!
  • Be Genuine: Your eyes should express your true feelings. If you’re happy or excited to be with your date, let your eyes show it!

Concluding Thoughts

Eye contact is a simple, non-verbal way to show you’re interested in who you’re with, and it’s a sign of respect, making it a major player when it comes to dating. So, when you’re on your next romantic outing, remember: Your eyes can talk; when they do, make sure they’re being cool and not blowing it for you!

Molly Davis
Molly Davis

Molly is an East Coast writer who lives on West Coast time. She’s been in the journalism field for over 20 years — newspapers are her first love but she’s finding digital media to be just as fun and challenging as print! When she’s not giving therapist-quality dating advice, she’s curled up watching movies, reading, or volunteering at local dog shelters.