Eye Contact Part 3: The Look of LovePosted: August 22, 2011
In the past two posts we’ve discussed using eye contact in the context of building interpersonal connections and creating attraction with others that we don’t know. Today I want to discuss using eye contact to amplify the attraction and emotional bond you already have with those you care about. The techniques here can be used very effectively to build intimacy, trust and love with anyone you know and like, but are especially powerful when used between you and your intimate partner.
The eyes have perhaps inspired more poetry and prose than any other subject, specifically because they are so closely tied to intimacy and our perceptions of love and passion. The sheer number of metaphors dedicated to the eyes filling volumes of pages certainly attests to the universal emotional power that they evoke. But there is truth in fiction here: academic studies have consistently shown eye contact to be the single most common theme in accounts of people falling in love across a variety of cultures. It seems that people all across the world get lost in the eyes of their lovers during moments of passion, blissfully swimming in the tide of emotions they see within them.
The fact is that eye contact between two lovers is the foundation of the dance of intimacy. For this reason it is crucial to nurture this connection in your intimate relationships. The more eye contact you have with your partner, the deeper the intimacy will develop. If eye contact is neglected however, intimacy will slowly diminish and eventually be starved out altogether. Just like your physical body, relationships need to be fed and tended to, and eye contact is the nourishment that allows relational intimacy and connection to blossom and flourish. The most effective way to nourish this intimacy is to take the time to practice deliberate prolonged eye contact.
Deliberate prolonged eye contact is not only a great way to build intimacy, but it also will tell you where both you and your partner are at in your connection. The eyes don’t lie. Despite any attempts to conceal your emotional state of mind, your eyes will reveal exactly where you are at and manifest that emotion physically. This is especially true when it comes to intimacy. If you desire greater intimacy you will naturally tend to look more into your partner’s eyes. Inversely, if you are looking to create separation or distance from your partner, your eyes will naturally avoid prolonged direct contact. The bottom line here is that if something doesn’t feel right while gazing into your partner’s eyes, you both will be able to sense that there is something off in your relationship.
The most important element of intimate eye contact is presence, for without it intimacy cannot survive. Presence is simply your full attention and awareness on the moment without thought or judgment. This means not being self-conscious or “in your head”, which by default is analysis or judgment. (Men are particularly guilty of this.) Your presence is the greatest gift you can give your partner, especially one who is in their feminine side, as the feminine thrives on and is nourished by the undivided attention of the masculine. Even when someone is physically present they may not be psychologically present, and their eyes reveal this subtly, appearing emotionally flat and lacking vitality in their gaze. Humans are wired to pick up the subtle cues determining a person’s attention level, and women are much more attuned to these cues than men are. If you are not present with her she will know it and she will feel neglected and alone, but when you are wholly in the moment with her she will blossom like a flower and the pathway to intimacy will open up for you both.
When gazing into the eyes of your loved one, ideally you want to primarily focus on their left eye. The left eye is linked with the emotional center of our brain and the right eye is linked to our thinking region. This is because each eye is connected to its opposing hemisphere: left eye to right hemisphere and vice versa. (Traditionally the right hemisphere is considered our emotional/creative side and the left our logical/analytical side. Despite that this view of the brain’s lateralization is considered to be highly simplified and controversial, it still works well for our purposes here. Let’s leave the debate to the neuroscientists.) I’ve seen a lot of advice suggesting that you want to look into someone’s right eye, especially when meeting them for the first time and in the context of business and sales. The argument is that by doing this you are not invading their comfort zone by looking directly into their emotional center. In my experience you actually are much better off looking into their left eye or not focusing on either eye in particular, as looking into someone’s right eye can feel adversarial if not downright aggressive. This is especially heightened when looking at someone of the same gender.*(See note below) When you look into the left eye you are tapping into all of that person’s emotional experience, going back as far as when their parents looked at them lovingly in the crib. The positive emotions they carry from their past will be transferred toward you, thus resulting in greater intimacy. This is magnified even further if you already have a connection with them.
Exercise: Intimate Eye Gazing
The following exercise comes from Michael Ellsberg in his fascinating book “The Power Of Eye Contact”, an in-depth look at human eye contact in a variety of contexts. It is a very powerful tool that couples can use to build and maintain intimacy and I urge you to try it with your chosen partner.
It is important to bear in mind that if there already is not reciprocated attraction between the two of you this technique will not work. It will not create attraction and connection out of thin air, but rather simply amplify it. On the other hand, if there is attraction already established between you and your partner (even if it’s relatively limited), this exercise can really rev things up, so be prepared!
1. Get private. Find a relatively isolated place where you both can get close enough to have each other’s sole attention. If you are in a public place where this is not possible use your body positions to isolate yourselves from the surrounding environment.
2. Lower the lights if possible. The pupils will expand in the low light to take more of each other in, plus it’s easier to focus on your partner when there is less attention on the environment.
3. Gaze softly. The idea is not to burn a hole in your partner’s brain, but rather take them in and appreciate their presence. To do this, simply relax your facial muscles and your focus will follow.
4. No talking, just gazing. Your instinct may be to laugh a bit at first to release the tension, but stick it out and give in to the meditative state of looking into your partner’s soul. Like meditation, let your thoughts pass through you rather than lingering on them.
5. Breathe slowly and deeply. You want to relax into this experience and not hold onto any tension. If you are relaxed your partner should begin to follow suit. You may even find that your breathing will start to synchronize.
6. Don’t judge. As the sexual tension builds and energy emerges from the connection you will begin to feel closer to your partner as you see their humanity. Simply perceive all that they are, allowing any thoughts and emotions that surface to pass through you without dwelling on them. You may see another side of your partner as they allow you into their own vulnerability. For this reason it is extremely important that you do not judge what you see and feel. That action will block any potential for the intimate connection to flourish.
7. Appreciate. Once you have eliminated any judgmental thoughts, focus on appreciating your partner. At first appreciate nothing more than who they are, as they are. From there start seeing the traits in your partner that they most wish to be appreciated for, the deep qualities of their heart rather than any superficial desires, and honor that part of them. Your appreciation for them will help you become even more present and create a positive feedback loop that will supercharge your connection.
Take just two or three minutes out of your busy day to practice intimate eye gazing with your partner. Every day upon waking is ideal, but even if it only happens a few times a week you will experience a powerful emotional bonding. Considering the value most of us place on our primary relationships (as well as the amount a grief we feel when they are not functioning properly) this is a very small investment compared to the rich rewards of intimacy, trust and love you receive in return.
*Don’t believe me? Try this quick exercise with a friend. Line up at an arm’s distance facing each other. Look into each other’s left eye for 10 to 20 seconds and notice how that feels. Once you have that assessed, quickly and simultaneously switch eyes so you both are looking in each other’s right eye. You should feel a vastly different emotion almost immediately. I’ve heard it described as icky, intense and weird, but whatever you feel it certainly will not be warm and fuzzy!
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