How to Show Attraction: Eye Contact Is Key

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "How to Talk to Anyone" by Leil Lowndes. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do you show someone you’re attracted to them? How does eye contact communicate attraction?

If you’re attracted to someone, instead of playing coy, hold their gaze for as long as possible. That doesn’t mean staring though. If you want to show attraction, eye contact should be intermittent—let your eyes bounce between your recipient and back.

Here’s how prolonged eye contact encourages attraction.

Hold Their Gaze to Convey Attraction

When it comes to communicating attraction, eye contact is key. Strong eye contact is more likely to invite a positive response because it makes the recipient feel like she’s captivated by you. Your obvious interest in her triggers a nervous, biological response that’s similar to what happens when people fall in love: It increases her heartbeat and pumps adrenaline into her bloodstream. Because she’s not conscious of why she’s experiencing this nervous physical reaction, she interprets it as a sign of mutual attraction and intimacy.

To encourage attraction, maintain eye contact with your recipient even when others in your group are speaking. If you must look away, do so slowly and reluctantly—as if you’re so enthralled that you can’t look away.

Lowndes warns that intense eye contact should be used with caution. If your intended recipient has already decided that she’s not attracted to you, she’ll interpret your attention as arrogance and won’t respond well. (Shortform note: Additionally, research shows that maintaining eye contact with too much intensity makes you come across as a psychopath.)

How Prolonged Eye Contact Impacts You

Research backs up Lowndes’s claim that holding someone’s gaze is an effective way to encourage mutual attraction and reveals why prolonged eye contact has such a profound impact:

– It immediately triggers a state of increased self-consciousness and this makes you more aware of your own body—which makes you feel as if your heart’s beating faster than usual.

– It consumes extra brainpower and this makes it difficult to talk about or process complicated topics—which might make you feel tongue-tied and nervous (the uncomfortable side-effect of infatuation).

– It influences how you perceive other people’s emotions—the more eye contact, the more intensely you experience what they’re feeling.

While it’s obvious that the amount of eye contact you make does influence others, there’s also another aspect to this—what people see in your eyes. Subconsciously, people pay attention to what your pupils are doing to further interpret your intentions.

Dilated pupils: People interpret this as a sign of attraction and emotional arousal and they judge you to be more trustworthy. Further, their pupils tend to mimic yours and show similar dilation.

Constricted pupils: People interpret this as a sign of fear and they judge you to be less trustworthy.

How to Show Attraction: Eye Contact Is Key

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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