Prolonged Eye Contact: What It Means And How's It Important

“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 deeply 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 simple act of glancing.

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.

In This Article

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 someone staring or looking intently at you from a distance — not once but several times. What could 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

Interested in conversation
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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

Eye contact while gossiping
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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 giving you a penetrating look while talking to his friends, they might be talking about you.

protip_icon Quick tip
If you start feeling uncomfortable due to the prolonged eye contact, take action. Either interrupt their gaze by initiating a conversation, express your discomfort, or you may even choose to walk away.

8. They are falling for you

Their eyes soften and brighten when they stare at you. When you smile, they are entranced and 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 gauging 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

Prolonged eye contact reflect feelings
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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 is ogling at you or 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 and are captivated by your beauty. 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

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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.

14. They are trying to build trust and intimacy

Prolonged eye contact can foster intimacy and trust. It enables you to sense and empathize with their emotions and help connect with them deeply. It brings you closer and helps you understand each other’s feelings better. Maintaining eye contact not only reflects a stronger connection but also contributes to building trust, a vital element in the foundation of healthy relationships.

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
Respectful eye contact
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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.

To make it more comprehensive, an anonymous blogger mentions in their blog how important eye contact is for them and why they think it is nourishing. They write, “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.”

However, they also mention finding it a bit difficult to maintain eye contact with someone whom they are not comfortable with. They explain, “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).”

  • 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can we fall in love by locking eyes?

Locking eyes with someone can make you fall in love. Eye contact triggers a powerful connection that may escalate attraction. Mutual gaze is a sign of attraction and a good predictor of two individuals being in love.

2. Why does a girl look down after eye contact?

If a girl looks down after making eye contact, it can signify attraction and invite you to make the first move. It may also mean they are interested but are too shy or nervous.

3. What is the difference between normal and prolonged eye contact?

Normal eye contact can be considered the brief and unintentional locking of eyes while talking or listening to someone, whereas prolonged eye contact is intentional. It may signify attraction, romantic interest, or used to show dominance. Prolonged eye contact can often last for several seconds.

4. How can prolonged eye contact be used to build intimacy?

Eye contact is a form of nonverbal communication. Intentional prolonged eye contact indicates that your attention is on them and you are listening. It can establish trust, enhance emotional connection, and allows you to understand the person better through their facial expressions.

5. What are the effects of prolonged eye contact?

Prolonged eye contact may imply interest or attraction to the other person. However, it also has its downside; if you are staring at someone for too long, it may come off as creepy and may make the other person feel uncomfortable.

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.

Infographic: What Does Prolonged Eye Contact Mean?

Making eye contact when conversing is good communication etiquette and a sign of confidence; however, when someone does it for an extended time, the opposite person could get uncomfortable. Explore more about what prolonged eye contact could mean in the infographic below.

probable reasons why someone makes a prolonged eye contact (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

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Key Pointers

  • 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.
prolonged eye contact_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Eye contact is an important part of communication. Learn about the psychology of eye contact and how it can affect our relationships.

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