Spring is coming but it’s still cold and you’re bored. So, you head out to your local coffee shop armed with a book and ready for a hot caramel macchiato. As you settle in to your little corner of the room, you notice a man at another table glancing at you. Well, actually, he might be staring at you. Not in a creepy way, but a friendly, smiling type of way.
You look away. Back to your book that isn’t as interesting as this man who keeps glancing at you. At least you think he is interested. But you won’t stare back. However, out of the corner of your eye, you notice his broken gaze keeps coming back your way. It’s a little exciting, but is there anything to this? Have you watched too many Rom-Coms to think this guy could be interested in you?
Actually, there is something important going on in this brief scenario. Eye-to-eye contact is powerful. In fact, eye contact is one way to build attraction or show interest in a person.
Staring can lead to attraction
A number of years ago, researchers Kellerman, Lewis and Laird randomly assigned opposite sex pairs of strangers to stare into each other’s eyes. After 2 minutes of mutual staring, the stranger couples were asked how they felt about each other. Those who gazed into each other’s eyes for 2 minutes reported feeling passionate love for each other.
Really? We can build attraction just by opening the windows of the soul? What is going on here? A lot, including your biochemistry. Turns out, that when you stare lovingly into a person’s eyes, you release phenylethylamine, a chemical responsible for feelings of attraction (FYI, also found in chocolate!). And the love chemical, oxytocin, responsible for feelings of bonding and commitment, get released as well.
In addition to this biochemical reaction, you may be thinking, do I signal something else with my glances?
Staring reduces uncertainty
Researchers Croes et al conducted an experiment to learn more about eye contact with strangers. They studied couples who were speed dating. In their study, romantic attraction didn’t develop, but eye contact resulted in lowering feelings of uncertainty and increased self-disclosure. They concluded that eye contact allows people to open up and disclose things about their lives.
In fact, they found eye contact to be more powerful than asking a bunch of questions. Now, it is true that you get to know someone by asking questions. But you may prompt self-disclosure earlier by using eye contact.
Make love last
Finally, years ago, researcher Zick Rubin discovered that couples who sustained love over the years made eye contact around 75% of the time when they talked to each other. Their regular gazing into each other’s eyes helped to sustain love. All those chemicals discussed above are stimulating and intimacy continues to build. Hey, this is a win-win strategy to make love last; it doesn’t cost money nor a lot of time.
So, if strangers feel passion and love for those who stare at them, what could this do for intentional relationships? Perhaps eye contact is a missing emphasis in love relationships. Fortunately, it is one you can easily correct. So, if you want to boost your relationship in a very easy way, stare lovingly into your partner’s eyes. And adding an, “I love you,” couldn’t hurt either.
Finally, if you want to read a beautiful biblical expression of love between a bride and bridegroom, read the Song of Solomon. There are numerous references to expressions of love and beauty. In fact, the eyes are mentioned often. Consider reading these passages to each other and verbalizing your expressions of love:
Song of Solomon
Behold, there he stands, behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice (v. 2:9)
Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil (v. 4:2)
You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. (v. 4:9)
Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim. (v. 7:4)Secrets of like and love