Look Me in the Eye!

I’ve written before about the fact men communicate better with less eye contact. Emerson talks about this in the Love and Respect Live Marriage Conference DVDs we have been watching. Since I heard him discuss this a couple months ago, I have been paying special attention to eye contact in my conversations and while watching others. (Being a people watcher is an occupational hazard!)

When I talk with other men across a table, we glance at each other occasionally, but we make very little eye contact. Most men would rather talk shoulder to shoulder – while walking or in a car. In these situations, we will go for an hour without looking at each other’s faces. I have noticed shoulder-to-shoulder conversations are deeper and better than face-to-face conversations. Men feel more comfortable getting “emotionally naked” when they are shoulder to shoulder. I see the same dynamics when I watch other men talk, be they adults, teens, or kids. Face-to-face is awkward and limiting, shoulder-to-shoulder is preferred.

When I watch women talk, I see something very different. Eye contact seems necessary. Women lean in to get close – literally “in your face”. Put two women in a car side by side and they will still take face to face – even if one is driving! In a group of women, all eyes are on the one talking. Heads turn each time the speaker changes and no one is looking out the window or at the table. Whereas male communication benefits from not being face-to-face, female communication is limited by not being eye-to-eye.

Side by side in bed © Ambro | freedigitalphotos.net

When I talk with my favourite gal, I try to look her in the eye a good deal. I know it matters to her, and because I care about her I want to honour that. However, I still find it easier to discuss difficult things laying in the dark together. It is as if I have only so much energy, and using some of it to look her in the eye leaves me less energy to get emotionally naked. This has certainly gotten better over our marriage, but even after 30 years, it still exists.

I understand why you want your husband to look you in the eye when you talk. God made you this way, it is normal for you. However, God made your husband differently. For him more eye contact means more difficulty discussing difficult or emotional issues. So which is more important to you – eye contact, or more open communication?

The next time you want to have a good discussion, try snuggling up to him in the dark. Take it slow, giving him time to think before he responds. I think you will be pleased with the results.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and prolonged eye contact makes me uncomfortable.

By the way : At the bottom right of each post are two links – Shop Amazon and Shop to give links page. Using these when you shop will earn us a bit of money, and add nothing to your cost. Thanks for the help!

Links may be monetised
Image Credit: © Ambro | freedigitalphotos.net

Shop AmazonShop to give links page

5 Comments on “Look Me in the Eye!

  1. Thank you for saying this! I learned it several years ago — how much it can relieve the tension of an already-tense situation to let your husband not look you in the eye! Our natural response is to believe lack of eye contact means inattention or disrespect, but it doesn’t for men. In my marriage, we’ve had some of our best conversations walking side-by-side or lying in bed together.

    I’ve since shared this truth with quite a few women, and I think it’s been an eye-opener for many of them. What a great tip, Paul!
    J. Parker (@HotHolyHumorous) recently posted…When My Marriage Seemed Hopeless, What Made Me Stay?My Profile

    • I caught myself doing this very thing the other day. Lori and I were discussing a couple we are praying for. As we discussed “his side’ and “her side” I found it increasingly difficult to look her in the eye. We were not in conflict with each other, but we were discussing a situation full of conflict, and it affected me.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Less Busy => Better MarriageMy Profile

  2. Paul,

    Don’t you think men feel confrontational when looking other men (and women) eye to eye?
    It just seems that our culture and perhaps our “wiring” creates this confrontational stance?

    Have a great day my friend!


  3. We have shared some of our most intimate conversations in bed after sex. We are both feeling connected and open to being vulnerable by the circumstances and when you add the bonus of not having to make constant eye contact things seem to flow more naturally. For the most part, I think men use eye-to-eye to gauge the response of the other to what has been said.
    Dan recently posted…A Romantic Gift for Him: Gift 2My Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: