I can trace back to the exact moment I fell in love with my wife. We were having ‘not-a-date’ dinner to talk about a project we were both involved with. We got to sharing our life stories in that way you do when there is nothing to lose or gain with someone you have no idea if you will meet again. At one fleeting moment of eye contact we both were simply unable to look away. The fleeting moment turned into seconds maybe even minutes. Who knows? Time stopped. We joined together in a way more intimate than sex. And that was it. No turning back.
I wonder if most couples can trace their relationship back to a split second of eye contact when you saw the other with all barriers dropped. There is no hiding when someone looks deeply into your soul through the window of the eyes. There is something magical about mindful eye contact that transports us to a place where we can connect beyond words.
It is not simply sentimental nonsense. The eye is somehow the closest way we have of seeing into our partner. Our visual sense is very strong in human beings so looking into the eye is intimate in a very different way than, for example, staring into our loved one’s open mouth or up their nose.
We experience so much of the world through visual information that joining eyes is as close as we can get to an essential experience of being the other. The black pupil at the centre of our eye gives an air of the unknown and the hidden. When the exploration is mutual we are at once seeing and being seen, giving and taking.
As such eyes are a more intimate and vulnerable way of connection than pretty much any other way. They are central to a relationship based on desire.
In preparing for this article I scanned some of the research on eye contact, and it starts early. One of the ways in which mothers bond with newborn babies is through the eyes and this way of bonding with other people continues throughout our lives.
A study in 1974 (Rubin) showed that couples who are strongly in love look at their partner more and have more eye contact. This makes perfect sense to me as if you love someone then you want to see them more.
A 1989 study (Kellerman, Lewis and Laird) found that 2 minutes of eye gazing between pairs of strangers significantly increased their feelings of passionate love and liking for each other as well as increasing their general disposition of love. While more extended eye gazing of 10 minutes can actually make you lose contact with reality (Caputo, 2015).
In other words looking into your loved one’s eyes will increase your desire for him/her. Desire is one of the foundations of an intimate relationship and more is definitely better.
If, for some reason, the vulnerability of direct eye contact is too much for you then you might take comfort from some 2019 research (Rogers) that shows we are actually not that sensitive to picking up direct eye contact. Looking at your partners’ face is enough to be percieved as eye contact. I don’t encourage substituting forehead gazing because the eyes of your loved one are exquisitely beautiful – but if this what you can manage, then at least it’s a start.
Eye Contact Relationship Hacks
Eye contact makes for a perfect relationship hack because it’s simple, easy to access and quick. You can use it for an immediate boost to your desire or develop it into a habit for more sustained increase to connection and love.
Here are five ideas:
1. Daily practice
Start every day with 2 or 3 minutes of conscious eye contact with your loved one. Find a quiet and uninterrupted place and just sit in front of each other and gaze into each-other’s eyes.
2. Eye gazing exercise
Set aside 5 minutes and study your partner’s eyes in detail. Stay silent while doing this as you allow yourself to become fascinated with the colours, the texture, variety and depth of their eyes. Look into their pupils and beyond into their very being.
3. Look at each other when talking
Whenever you are talking to each other about anything at all, notice where your gaze is. Make a conscious intention to look into your partner’s eyes and whenever you catch your gaze wandering, gently bring it back.
4. Gazing in a Mirror
Look deeply into your own eyes in a mirror for as long as you can. See yourself. Explore yourself in this way and do it regularly. If you didn’t do this before then you will probably find it challenging at first.
5. When making love
Next time you make love make sure there is light and that you can see each other’s face. Focus your attention on their eyes throughout and set an intention together to keep eye contact at all times – and especially during moments of climax.
And Finally ….
I love this short video that touched me deeply when I saw it first. Enjoy ….