“The eyes shout what the lips fear to say.” – William Henry
Prolonged eye contact can mean different things. In romantic movies, you often see couples gazing into each other’s eyes, and time seems to stop when they do. The world around them fades as they get lost in each other’s eyes.
However, sometimes, you may catch a stranger gazing at you, and you may unintentionally lock eyes with them. In such a situation, it is natural to feel curious, confused, and maybe a little awkward. Nevertheless, you may be eager to construe the meaning behind that gaze and find out if it was more than just a casual glance.
In this post, we attempt to understand the hidden meanings behind a gaze. Read on as we tell you why eye contact is important and what prolonged eye contact could mean.
What Does Prolonged Eye Contact Mean?
If someone makes prolonged eye contact with you, it could mean any of the following.
1. They are checking you out
You are out with your friends, and you catch a person staring at you from a distance — not once but several times. What does the stare mean? It most likely means they find you attractive and are checking you out. They might be trying to look for an opening to approach you. If this continues for a while, there is a chance they are still mustering up the courage to approach you. If you find the person attractive too, look back when you see them staring. The person might get the message and come over.
2. They are interested in the conversation
Whenever we engage in a conversation with someone we like and respect, we look into their eyes and listen attentively. So, if you are talking with someone and they are staring at you, it suggests they are paying attention and giving importance to what you are saying. They most likely value your opinions and don’t want to miss anything you say.
3. They want to persuade you about their views
Prolonged eye contact is a great way to make someone believe in your words. We gauge the honesty of someone’s words by looking at the person’s eyes. If a person makes intense eye-contact while sharing something with you, they probably want to convince you about the veracity of their words.
4. They want you to notice them
Eye contact is a great form of non-verbal communication. In a crowded room where voices can’t be discerned, eye contact can be used to share information. So, if you are in a crowded room and a person stares at you from across the room, they may be trying to catch your eye to communicate something to you. If you look back at the person and they start using gestures/ hand signs, you can be sure they are trying to tell you something.
5. They are trying to make a good impression
It is human nature to trust a person who makes direct eye contact with you. Lack of eye contact indicates the person is hiding something. Hence, we intuitively don’t trust people who don’t look into our eyes. Eye contact evokes confidence, credibility, and sincerity. A person might make prolonged eye contact to create a strong and positive impression in your mind about them.
6. They are flirting with you
Eye contact plays an important role when flirting. A person can say a lot with their eyes without using any words. Someone who is trying to flirt with you will use their eyes the best way they can. Hence, if someone stares at you with playfulness in their eyes and gives you a mischievous smile, they are most likely making their flirtatious intentions clear. If you want to be sure, smile back. The spark in their eyes might tell you the truth.
7. They are discussing things about you
A person is talking to a group of friends, and you catch them staring at you occasionally. The conversation is happening in hushed tones, and you see their friends giving you discreet looks. The person holds onto your gaze when you catch them looking at you. If he keeps looking into your eyes while talking to his friends, they might be talking about you.
8. They are falling for you
Their eyes soften and brighten when they stare at you. When you smile, they can’t take their eyes off of you. They trust you and are comfortable enough to initiate intense eye contact with you many times. They drop hints about their feelings and give you a long searching look to gauge your reaction. If you react positively, you can see the joy in their eyes. All these indicate that they have most likely fallen for you and want you to know. They might be just waiting for the right moment to profess their feelings for you.
9. They want to make love to you
Intense eye-contact might signify sexual attraction. When you sexually desire someone, you stare at the person to communicate your feelings and understand if they want you. It is difficult to hide the longing in your eyes. So, if someone gives you long sexy stares, gazes at your lips quite often, makes sexual innuendos, and finds ways to touch you, the person has the hots for you and is probably communicating with their eyes that they want you badly. If you want to be sure, check their pupils. Dilated pupils are a sign of attraction and arousal.
10. They are lost in their own thoughts
Sometimes when we are lost in thought or are day-dreaming, we tend to focus on one particular point at length. While our eyes may gaze in one direction, we don’t consciously see anything, since mentally, we are far away. Similarly, when someone is day-dreaming, you might assume they are making eye contact with you. Hence, it is important to interpret eye-contact correctly. To make sure, observe the person discreetly for a while. If they are day-dreaming, they will snap out of it and then not look back at you.
11. They are asserting dominance
Prolonged eye contact is a powerful body language that can be used to show dominance and power. Many people resort to bold and direct eye contact with the opposite sex to show their blatant interest. They also try to stand straight to appear taller. This kind of intense gaze can make you uncomfortable if you are not interested. If you turn away from the gaze, they may assume you are shy or submissive, which can further encourage them.
12. They are trying to influence you
Eye contact is a powerful tool that can sometimes be misused. Some people with narcissistic personality disorder use eye contact to manipulate a person. Narcissists can be extremely charming and captivate you with their bold gaze. They can then take the help of this intense gaze to test your limits. After charming you with their lethal gaze, such people might try to influence you and make you do something uncomfortable.
13. You are attracting looks
Sometimes, your actions make you susceptible to looks from people. Speaking loudly, dressing in an offbeat manner, or behaving in any other way that doesn’t fit into the social context around you may attract eye contact. So, if you catch a person staring at you, check if you are attracting looks from other people.
Why Is Eye Contact So Important?
Now that you know the different interpretations of prolonged eye contact, let’s understand why eye-contact is so important
- The eyes are the windows to the soul
Our eyes can communicate a lot about our feelings, thoughts, and emotional state. Eyes sparkle with joy when we are happy and widen when we are surprised. Also, our eyebrows arch when we are angry, and our eyelids drop when we are sad. We might try to hide our feelings, but our eyes always reveal the truth. All these make eye contact an integral part of non-verbal as well as verbal communication.
- Eye contact signals respect and understanding
When you make eye contact during a conversation, it indicates that all your attention is on that person. Your sincerity and understanding are reflected in your eyes. The person feels appreciated and important. Eye contact while talking is a great way to tell someone you respect them and their opinions. It also helps in establishing the importance of key points while talking.
- Eye contact helps create a strong bond
Eye contact is responsible for firing up the mirror neurons in our brain, which are essential for our social interactions. So, if we see a person performing any action — for example, eating a cake — looking at them, the same neurons stimulated in the brain of that person are triggered in our brain. This connects our emotional states and generates empathy for the person. Hence, prolonged eye contact can cause you to feel what the other person is feeling. This creates a close bond between the two of you.
Prolonged eye contact may indicate different emotions. A romantic or attractive gaze can be gentle and often lasts a few seconds, and an aggressive gaze can be longer. You may look for facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice to understand the meaning of gaze when you are unsure. Prolonged eye contact can also be used to show dominance and power. Some people with narcissistic personality disorder also look into your eyes to manipulate you. Eye contact could tell someone’s interests and deepen bonds between partners in a relationship.
- Eye contact is a powerful means of expressing your feelings.
- Prolonged eye contact may signify asserting dominance or a way to influence you.
- It can simply be a way to flirt or communicate romantic feelings.
- At times, it can also come from a person lost in thought.