General Question

Blackberry's avatar

Why is it weird when you look into someone's eyes too long?

Asked by Blackberry (29396 points ) January 20th, 2011

Not a significant other, but just some stranger or aquaintance. I just want to make sure I’m not the only one. I look in people’s eyes, but I also switch to the mouth as well, but if you look at the eyes too long, there’s some strange, uncomfortable moment, and people usually look away or down.. Does anyone know what I mean and why this is?

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9 Answers

syz's avatar

It’s an evolutionary remnant – extended eye contact is an aggressive action.

(Researchers working with mountain gorillas, for example, will avert their gaze when approached by a dominant male, avoiding confrontation. In my field, extended eye contact with an aggressive dog can result in an attack.)

picante's avatar

I think this is very common. Even my dog won’t hold prolonged eye contact.

My own opinion is that eye contact is very intimate. You (people) don’t want to appear too forward by staring longingly at someone with whom you’re not intimate. And beyond intimacy, it’s a sign of agression, as others have now commented.

Blackberry's avatar

@syz I was thinking the same thing….that could be it, even if your intentions are benevolent, it still seems aggressive to do it.

xjustxxclaudiax's avatar

Its just creepy…I cant stand it when someone does it to me….And I usually never make eye contact with others for long periods of time unless I’m trying to connect with them emotionally….

thorninmud's avatar

That direct eye contact feels very revelatory; almost too much subtle information is conveyed. There’s the sense that the person looking into our eyes may be be picking up on the private layer of thought that’s always under the public layer. We usually only want our closest relations to have access to that private layer.

It’s especially uncomfortable when nothing’s being said, of course. When I’m talking, I feel like you’ll probably be mostly tuned in to my words. But when the words stop, an unbroken gaze feels like you’re now looking into my secrets. And we all have secrets.

faye's avatar

My aunt does that and it made me uncomfortable for years so I decided I had to hold her gaze until she looked away. I just babbled about something and it worked but hasn’t made me any less uncomfortable as she still does it!!

Kardamom's avatar

It’s creepy and it feels like the person is being aggressive towards you. Kind of like a peeper. Either that, or you think the person might know you, but you for some reason don’t know them, like they’re stalking you. Or it makes you feel like you have some horribly ugly thing on your face and you are worried thinking about what it might be.

It’s very rude.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s an intimate act, and you have to trust the good intentions of the other person. If that’s not there, or if you are just uncomfortable, then it becomes a competition or dominance thing, and that’s just plain weird.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

I don’t think there is a very good answer to that question. Everyone has their opinions on why it happens so mind would have to be…

But I am gonna go with… its common and happens to everyone. I think its because in some countries it may be rude to stare in the eyes so as soon as you catch someone’s eyes, look into them for quite some time then you usually get the weird feeling and then just look away.

hope this makes sense somehow :)

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