The Power of Eye Contact During Intimate Moments
Whether youre talking, flirting, kissing or having sex, eye contact is one of the most intimate things you can do with your partner that breeds ultimate closeness. You know what they say, eyes are the windows to the soul and they are able to express things even before you ever say them. Learning to embrace eye contact will help you and your partner become better communicators. A lot of people have a difficult time making eye contact, especially during intimate moments. It can often feel a lot easier to look away or let your eyes wander around the room, or do anything but look your partner right in the eye.
In an age of social media and technological communication where a lot of our interactions dont happen in person, it can seem harder than ever before to embrace eye contact. But, its important to work on making eye contact with your partner even if it feels uncomfortable at first. Making eye contact helps establish intimacy and promote trust, which are key facets of any healthy relationship. If you are intimidated by eye contact, you can focus on making eye contact while talking, then incorporating eye contact into more innately intimate things like kissing and sex. There is a lot of psychology that suggests that eye contact is really important for establishing and maintaining closeness in your relationships.
Here are a few ways that eye embracing eye contact can improve your relationship:
Eye contact is a super important form of visual communication that indicates honesty and openness. Even if you are telling the truth, people are more likely to think that you are lying or being shady if you avoid eye contact with them. Being able to make eye contact is an important life skill in general, but its also very important in your romantic relationships. Making eye contact will make you seem more trustworthy and sincere to your partner, which will encourage more open and honest communication between the two of you. Studies also show that maintaining eye contact in a conversation encourages the other person to be more honest as well.
In addition to increasing overall honesty, research shows that making eye contact also makes you seem more warm, personable and likeable. All of these things will inspire better conversation with your partner, which will improve your communication and overall relationship. Its important to distinguish intentional lack of eye contact from eye contact avoidance. An intentional lack of eye contact might indicate dishonesty, or nervousness and can be a red flag in your relationship. Unintentional lack of eye contact is not purposeful, and rather than indicating untrustworthiness, can just indicate that the person is less aware of their use of eye contact, or is caught off guard by your use of eye contact. It can be important to discuss a lack of eye contact with your partner so that you can troubleshoot and help them feel comfortable enough to engage in prolonged eye contact.
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Proves that youre paying attention
Eye contact is not only important when you are talking, but its also important when you are listening. Making eye contact with your partner when you are listening to them is super important, because it shows that they have your undivided attention. If your partner is trying to communicate something but youre on your phone, watching TV or zoning out, they may feel as if you are not listening to them, which can cause them to feel unheard or unseen in the relationship. Whether your partner is talking about their day, the weather, or something more important, they deserve your attention, and you can show them they have your attention by making eye contact with them and being an active listener.
Flirting is an important (and super fun) part of every relationship. And eye contact can play a huge part in your flirtation. I mean whats sexier than a flirty glance from across the room, holding eye contact a second longer than usual or a quick little up/down look. Using your eyes can add a whole new dimension to your flirting, which can increase both the playfulness and the sexual intrigue in your relationship. If you and your partner are not used to prolonged eye contact, you can start off with this type of playful eye contact. Flirtatious eye contact doesnt require the deep intimacy of other types of prolonged eye contact, but it can help you become more comfortable with eye contact in general, so that you can eventually work your way up to prolonged gazing (see below).
Believe it or not, a lot of relationship therapists and intimacy coaches recommend eye contact exercises to help couples that are having a hard time connecting. Eye contact exercises normally entail sitting across from your partner (in a comfortable spot of course), setting a timer for a certain amount of time (anywhere for five to ten minutes) and staring into each others eyes for the entire time. These exercises are often called eye gazing exercises and are used to increase feelings of closeness, compassion and support in a relationship.
Again, this kind of thing can be very difficult and even awkward at first (if youre anything like me you might even start to laugh at the beginning, purely out of nervousness), but committing to gazing for the duration of the timer will force you to literally and figuratively see your partner, build trust and establish emotional closeness. The eyes really are the window to the soul, and focusing on your partners eyes for this much time will create a deeper sense of connection. If you are intimidated by the idea of a five minute gazing session, start out with more manageable amounts of time. Experts recommend gazing for at least two minutes, but that is also something you can work up to if you arent able to right off the bat.
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Increases romantic chemistry
A study conducted in 1989 found that sustained eye contact (eye contact for at least two minutes) causes the human body to produce phenylethylamine, a chemical that is associated with falling in love. Phenylethylamine, known as PEA, is a natural amphetamine produced by the body that manifests in the heart-racing sensation of new love. The phrases drunk in love and high on love refer to the exhilarating feeling of PEA that can sweep you off your feet. PEA also stimulates the release of dopamine (a pleasure hormone) and norepinephrine (a stress/flight hormone) that also play a role in this feeling of love and excitement. So while PEA probably isnt enough to keep you in love, there is chemical proof that eye contact can increase romantic chemistry, at least for a little while!
While it may feel more natural to lean into a kiss with your eyes closed, there are actually a lot of benefits to keeping your eyes open from time to time. Making eye contact while you kiss can increase the intimacy and affection you feel for your partner. In the beginning it might feel odd to stare into your partners eyes as you make out, but working in short glances and even more prolonged eye contact can make kissing more intimate and more steamy at the same time.
Improves sexual chemistry
Some studies show that intense eye contact can actually stimulate sexual arousal. People like feeling seen and understood. Intense or prolonged eye contact helps people feel seen and can make them feel confident and even aroused. Not only can eye contact heat things up, but it can also make sex more intimate. Eye contact can replace verbal communication in the bedroom (though verbal communication is also very important!), and you can use it to indicate to your partner what feels good. Maintaining eye contact while having sex also increases feelings of vulnerability, which tbh may sound like a bad thing at first, but is actually 100% positive.
Increased vulnerability leads to more bonding, which increases feelings of trust and connectedness and can lead you to being more in sync with your partner. And like we noted above, eye contact can trigger the release of the pleasure hormone, dopamine, which can make your sex not only more intimate, but more pleasurable and exciting as well. It can be difficult to incorporate eye contact during sex if its not something youre used to, and it can even be surprising to your partner if you just start starring into their eyes. It can be helpful to talk about increasing eye contact during sex beforehand, or working up to holding eye contact for longer and longer during sex. Short spells of intimate eye contact can be a good starting place. Like anything, this can take a little practice, but the payoff is worth it!
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By Caitlin Killoren on Nov 27, 2020
With a degree in Psychology and over a decade of experience, Caitlin has made improving people's relationships both her career and her passion. Her work has been featured in publications like Bustle, Well + Good, and Goalcast, and she currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and giant fluffy dog, Remy.