Prolonged Eye Contact: What It Means And How's It Important (2023)

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The eyes are the heart's mirror, but you must learn how to decode what they say.

Reviewed by Dr. Margaret Ann Dixon, PhD


rohan sinha, BBA

Prolonged Eye Contact: What It Means And How's It Important (1)

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In This Article

“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

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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.

(Video) Eye Contact Rules - How Eye Contact Conveys Interest Trust & Attraction - Eye Contact & Culture

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

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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 looking into your eyes while talking to his friends, they might be talking about you.

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 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

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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 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.

(Video) 9 EYE CONTACT Signs of Attraction

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.

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

Image: Shutterstock

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.

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.

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.

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.

(Video) Eye Contact and Women (evolution truth) - Jordan Peterson

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What does eye contact mean and why is it important? ›

It shows attentiveness and interest in what is being said. Eye contact is similar to a conversation; it goes back and forth between those individuals who are engaged in a discussion, dialogue, or chat. But remember, just as maintaining eye contact is important, be sure not to stare!

Does a lot of eye contact mean attraction? ›

Like touch, eye contact triggers the release of oxytocin. When someone is attracted to you, they subconsciously will try engaging in lots of mutual eye contact. They do this to feel closer to you, and because they are interested in you and what you are saying.

What does long eye contact with a guy mean? ›

When a guy stares into your eyes and doesn't look away, he may be trying to size you up. Intently staring can be a good thing and might mean that he likes what he sees. Research indicates that in many cases of prolonged eye contact, both parties are interested in each other or maybe aroused.

What eye contact says about a person? ›

Eye contact is one of the critical components of non-verbal communication and it carries several subtle rules of engagement. The presence or lack of eye contact can communicate dominance, submission, honesty, interest, passion, respect, or even hostility. It also shows we are an active listener.

Can eye contact make people fall in love? ›

Eye contact is a powerful stimulator of affection. A study published in the Journal of Research and Personality in which two opposite sex strangers were asked to gaze into each other's eyes for two minutes found that this was enough in some cases to produce passionate feelings for each other.

Can you sense when someone is attracted to you? ›

Can you feel when someone is attracted to you? Yes. When someone feels you are an attractive person, some things come up between you that aren't there otherwise. The clues aren't always obvious, but you can see some of them by paying attention.

How do you know you have chemistry with someone? ›

Key Takeaways. The instant attraction and that ”spark” you feel with someone is a tell-tale sign of chemistry between you two. If you find yourself making intense eye contact, flirting, and always smiling at someone, you probably have good chemistry with them.

Why would someone stare at you for a long time? ›

A new study by University of London's Hannah Scott and colleagues (2018) is based on the idea that people stare, because “faces, and in particular, the eyes, provide lots of useful non-verbal information about a person's mental state.” The eyes contain “socially relevant information,” they go on to explain, because ...

What happens when you lock eyes with someone? ›

Eye-lock is a very powerful level of eye contact attraction; it has the power to convey deep feelings and emotions. When you lock eyes with someone, it shows you have strong feelings of attraction towards this person.

How do you know if a guy is into you? ›

22 Subtle Signs A Guy Likes You, From Dating Experts
  1. He leans toward you during conversation. ...
  2. He angles his body toward you in the room. ...
  3. He finds small ways to compliment you. ...
  4. He makes eye contact. ...
  5. He steals a glance at you. ...
  6. He singles you out in a group. ...
  7. He seems drawn to you in the room.
Nov 26, 2021

How can you tell if someone is smart by their eyes? ›

Now work conducted in our laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that baseline pupil size is closely related to individual differences in intelligence. The larger the pupils, the higher the intelligence, as measured by tests of reasoning, attention and memory.

What does it mean when you can t stop thinking about someone? ›

If you are unable to stop thinking about someone, you most likely have 'anxious attachment'. You might push and pull in relationships to get a break from the anxiety they cause you. But if the other person leaves, you panic.

Is eye contact a form of intimacy? ›

Eye contact helps build intimacy in your relationship. When you look into your partner's eyes and share their feelings and emotions, you connect with them on an emotional level. It's essential for bonding and keeps the attraction alive over time.

How do you know someone loves you? ›

You feel safe with them

Safety is a cornerstone of loving relationships. A partner who loves you won't physically hurt you or damage your possessions. They also won't threaten or pressure you into doing things you don't want to do, make decisions for you, or cut you off from your social support.

What is intense attraction to someone? ›

Lust. This describes intense feelings of passion, desire, affection, or attraction toward someone.

When the attraction is too strong? ›

Immediately having very intense sexual feelings for someone often comes from a primitive — and dysfunctional — set of feelings and beliefs. People who feel extreme sexual attraction often have a history of psychological trauma, neglect, or addictive tendencies.

What happens to your body when you are attracted to someone? ›

High levels of dopamine and a related hormone, norepinephrine, are released during attraction. These chemicals make us giddy, energetic, and euphoric, even leading to decreased appetite and insomnia – which means you actually can be so “in love” that you can't eat and can't sleep.

How do you know when two people are in love? ›

In short, while there's no single way to fall in love, you'll probably notice a few key physical and emotional signs:
  1. Your thoughts return to them regularly. ...
  2. You feel safe with them. ...
  3. Life feels more exciting. ...
  4. You want to spend a lot of time together. ...
  5. You feel a little jealous of other people in their life.

What makes a man feel connected to a woman? ›

Men Need Love and Affection

In plain language: Men often feel most loved by the women in their lives when their partners hug them, kiss them, smile at them, and explicitly offer gratitude, praise, and words of affection. Men also feel loved and connected through sexuality, often to a greater degree than women do.

What does lack of eye contact indicate? ›

In the United States, avoiding eye contact sends the message that you are uncomfortable in the situation. You may be perceived as rude, unfriendly or even arrogant. Depending on the circumstances, you may appear to be submissive or overly dominant.

What does it mean when someone doesn't look in your eyes? ›

For one, when a person constantly avoids looking you in the eye, it could suggest that they don't want to engage with you (or whatever is in front of them) or that they would rather be somewhere else.

What kind of person avoids eye contact? ›

For those without a diagnosed mental health condition, avoidance of eye contact could be related to shyness or a lack of confidence. Looking someone in the eye while speaking can feel uncomfortable for those without a lot of practice making conversation or who tend to prefer not being in the spotlight.

What does it mean when someone looks away when you look at them? ›

This means they aren't interested in you, at all. This sign of eye contact means that the person is consciously making an effort to avoid looking at you. This can mean that the person is least interested in you and is doing everything in their power to avoid any romantic relationship.

What does it mean if a girl holds eye contact? ›

Eye contact is a subtle but strong sign. If she holds eye contact with you, that could be a sign she's interested. Let's say you're in a social setting and a woman across the room looks at you. If she looks at you and then instantly turns away, it may be because she is shy or doesn't want to get caught looking at you.

What does it mean when someone talks to you but doesn t look at you? ›

When people look away from you while talking, it is most commonly referred to being disrespectful. Likewise, Craig told INSIDER that it could mean that they are just not connected to you. "Many times people who are not particularly fond of you have a hard time making eye contact," Craig said.

Why does he look at me when I'm not looking? ›

What does it mean when a guy stares at you without you looking? He's curious about you. If he's curious to know more about you, he'll generally stare intently at you to indicate his interest. He may also approach and strike up a conversation, asking you thoughtful, open-ended personal questions to get to know you.


1. How to master the art of keeping eye contact
2. How to Spot Sexual Attraction in Eyes | Body Language
3. Eye contact has potential to change your life | Jessica Leavitt | TEDxSavannah
(TEDx Talks)
4. How long can you keep eye contact before it gets weird
(Insider Tech)
5. The Most Common Body Language Problem - Eye Contact
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6. 5 Eye Contact Tips | How To Communicate With Your Eyes
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