What does it mean when a person won't look you in the eyes?

@deejean06 (1953)
United States
May 7, 2009 9:05am CST
Does it have a significance when someone won't look you in the eyes when they're speaking to you? Is it embarrassment? Is it guilt? It makes me uncomfortable when someone won't look me in the eyes when they are speaking with me. It makes me think there is something I don't know that is happening. What do you think? What do you do?
8 people like this
39 responses
@WebMann (4734)
• Canada
7 May 09
Maybe it's a lack of self confidence. I spent my childhood from age 5 until I ran away at age 15 being moved from one bad experience to another. Eventually I just ran away and became a street kid living in Toronto. That experience has affected me to this day and even though I am a man, 56 years old, I have never over come the feeling that go all the way back to childhood. I don't look people in the eyes because I don't trust people.
@deejean06 (1953)
• United States
7 May 09
Hi WebMann..I never thought of that - thanks for the suggestion. I'm sorry you had a rough childhood and I hope you can trust even a few people in your life. I appreciate your honesty and I thank you for the response.
1 person likes this
8 May 09
Yeah I have got same experience about this problem, it's mainly because a lot of people didn't help me to give them a certain amount of trust and then subconsiously i started to avoid their looks, there is many factors on side of it which accumulated to that kind of behavior and its often hard to control. it's related to our fear and precautions of not being rejected again. in fact this is what is causing another chain reaction of other people who are not sure of our toughts just because we didn't look into their eyes. I am glad i did understood this problem and after long time i did changed my looks to the people for more confident. But its still there and quite regretful, sad memories. Cheers to everyone who has got same issue, smile a lot and don't be afraid of others!
• India
8 May 09
i know mostly it happens if we are not sure of the other person's trust. hey!! i know lots of people have very difficult childhood but it deos'nt mean that you have to carry it all your life. try to over come the feeling and it will help if there is someone who loves you unconditionally. the world is beautiful and its meant to be lived. generally most people are good at heart. its only bad experiences that make them bitter.
2 people like this
@luvandpower (2049)
• United States
7 May 09
As an Early Childhood advocate we are too always show eye contact to a child, yet, when it is adult to adult you make a very valid point. There is no " constant eye contact" Eye contact is always broken. I guess it is because by the age of adulthood, we look at the world in our own judgment.
2 people like this
@deejean06 (1953)
• United States
7 May 09
Hi luv and power... I do always make eye contact - I think it's very important especially in a professional environment. I understand your comment that eye contact is always broken but do you look at the person when you're speaking with them? Or do you avert your eyes? It's interesting that you say it's a matter of judgement. Thanks for the response.
1 person likes this
• United States
7 May 09
I believe that eye contact should be used as much as possible, and that it does as you said show a professional motive. I would never want to talk to my boss and not look at him. I think there is a certain amount of time that needs to be given throughout a conversation where eye contact is used to show " I understand. "
2 people like this
@CJscott (4187)
• Canada
9 May 09
These are very valid points. There are many reasons for breaking eye contact during a conversation. I feel every conversation should start with and end with eye contact, and a smile. It makes the conversations feel better. You should of course, try to look at and listen to who it is that is doing the talking as well. And looking into the eyes of the person you are speaking too can help you judge their receptiveness. But it is not a widely utilized concept. And many people feel they are being evaluated by eye contact and this creates discomfort, so you do have to break it occasionally. Just when talking to girls, focus on something above and behind them, or to the right or left, not down. They seem to take offense at that.
1 person likes this
@tammytwo (4297)
• United States
7 May 09
If I don't like someone I have a hard time looking them in the eye. People also tend to have a difficult time looking someone in the face if they are lying. But I would say that isn't always the case even though it tends to be a great deal of the time. I have also heard that people look to the left when they are lying. Not sure if it's true or not but could be.
2 people like this
@CJscott (4187)
• Canada
9 May 09
Interesting point of view, and all valid points in my opinion. I can look anyone straight in the eye and say anything, though, when I am hiding something from a loved one, I for some reason can not help but giggle. I guess it means the truth always comes out.
1 person likes this
@deejean06 (1953)
• United States
21 May 09
Hi tammy...I understand that you don't like eye contact if you don't like a person. And that could certainly be the case here. However I have never shied away from eye contact in a professional setting whether I liked the person or not. I just think it's rude and unprofessional. Thanks for the response.
@locolou (111)
• Spain
7 May 09
Want be some different things... shyness for example, or lier person... I like look into the eyes when i speak, it's an intimidation measure, psicological warfare... :P
2 people like this
@CJscott (4187)
• Canada
9 May 09
LOL. I always found it a act of respect. Nothing to be feared or to cause fear by. The desire to create fear, is a negative aspect of life I hope you out grow it one day.
@jdyrj777 (6564)
• United States
10 May 09
Well i certianly would be questoning the trust issue.
@deejean06 (1953)
• United States
21 May 09
Hi jd...So who doesn't trust who? Does the person who is looking away not trust the person on the other end of the conversation? Or is it the opposite? Does the person speaking know that the other person doesn't trust the speaker?
@jdyrj777 (6564)
• United States
21 May 09
I would think the person that can look in the eye is telling the truth.
@2wicelot (2949)
9 May 09
I think it is a cultural thing. There are some cultures where it is considered rude to look in to the eyes of elders when you speak to them. You are expected to bow your head and keep it that way while they talk to you or you talk to them. They consider it a way of showing the elders respect and honour. And there are other cultures where the opposite totally applies. Only if there is a way to tell the difference.
1 person likes this
@deejean06 (1953)
• United States
21 May 09
Hi 2wicelot...You brought up an interesting point. I never even thought of it as a cultural thing. However I don't think this is the case in my case. I think that as co-workers in my culture there should be eye contact. Thanks for the different point of view and thanks for the response!
1 person likes this
@2wicelot (2949)
21 May 09
I see what you mean. Since in your case it is acceptable to look people in the eye all the time then there must be something wrong. Hope everything works out well.
@BestTeam (54)
• United States
8 May 09
I look people in the eye, one of my sons does not do that much since he has Aspergers Syndrome, a type of Autism. One of the things about people with Autism is that they are often not comfortable making eye contact.
1 person likes this
@deejean06 (1953)
• United States
21 May 09
Hi Best Team and welcome to mylot...I in no way wanted this discussion to be cruel to people with certain conditions such as autism. The person about whom I'm speaking does not have any such condition, nor would I care if someone with that condition looked me in the eye or not. I never intended to bring that into the discussion and apologize if you thought so. This person is a fully functioning adult who does not have any such condition - just a habit which strikes me as very rude. However there are different takes on the issue, which is wonderful here at mylot. Again, thanks for the response and I apologize if you took offense.
@bestboy19 (5482)
• United States
8 May 09
I really don't know what it means. I've wondered if the person is shy or lacks confidence.
@deejean06 (1953)
• United States
21 May 09
Hi bestboy...I don't think in this particular case the person is shy but you may be on to something when you state that it could be a confidence issue. Thanks for the response.
@waseem86 (138)
• Lithuania
7 May 09
sometimes they are busy, maybe they do another job while talking to you, sometimes lie to you, for some people its just a habit and for others its lack of self confidence, it depends on situation.
1 person likes this
@deejean06 (1953)
• United States
21 May 09
Hi waseem and welcome to mylot...You're right - it's different each and every time. Sometimes people are doing other things while talking to you but sometimes it's something else entirely. I always thought that it's rude to not look at someone when you're speaking to them, especially in an office setting. Thanks for the different points and thanks for your response.
@gr8life (6254)
• Malaysia
17 May 09
Hello deejean06, At times, I don't like to look at a person right in the eyes cause I feel shy myself. I just don't have enough courage to talk like that. I always try not to look straight at the face of that person and sometimes, my eyes just looking at something else - the table, my cell phone or anything except the face of the person I talk to. I feel uncomfortable when someone look at me.
1 person likes this
@Kavitina (89)
• India
9 May 09
To me when a person does not look into the eye when talking means that the person is lying to me and is guilty about something. It indicates that the person does not want you to know the actual truth.
1 person likes this
@sangsi (50)
• China
8 May 09
My younger sister also thinks so, She say:At the time that I talk, eyes always hoped toward other places, She tells me, so of way of doing in fact is not the high regard talk of person, but I noticed before thus of affair, until he suddenly brings up, all I have together feeling, afterwards sought to descend answer on the net, also such of parlance.
1 person likes this
@bing28 (3801)
• Philippines
8 May 09
If a person won't look in the eyes, I think he is hiding somethimg. A feeling of guilt perhaps if he had done something wrong or he might be disappointed of anything against the person he can't look in the eyes. Simply because, maybe he is ashamed or has an inferiority complex, that he's avoiding their eyes meet.
@wahmivy (778)
• Philippines
7 May 09
It could be anything from guilt to shame to mannerism to the fact that they're hiding something... LOL, Personally though, I could never look my crushes in the eye (obviously I'd blush or look really giddy if I didn't already... anyway, I'd be sure to look stupid, if I didn't already, lol)
1 person likes this
@eztuner (451)
• United States
7 May 09
Yes, it is difficult to trust someone who won't look at you in the eyes. Could be they are shy or just deceiving. What ever their reasons are for the interlocutor, it is just uncomfortable.
@mikeysmom (2096)
• United States
7 May 09
i do not put much stock into this because i thinks sometimes people are just not comfortable around others or that they are shy or perhaps embarrassed. i know sometimes i feel intimidated by others and i find it hard to look them in the eye. i am sure there are some instances where guilt enters into it but not in general and i am sure at times it is a sign that someone may be lying. but i do not believe in generalities as there are different situations and different people.
1 person likes this
• United States
7 May 09
if someone won't look me in the eyes, my first thought is that they are lying to me. sometimes when you feel uncomfortable either with the person or the subject you are speaking about you have trouble making eye contact. generally i am mistrustful of anyone who won't look me in the eye.
• United States
7 May 09
Some people are really uncomfortable talking to other people. Some people really lack self-confidence. Most of your dishonest people have learned to lie while looking you in the eye, so unless you are dealing with a child I wouldn't bank on a guilty conscious being the reason for them avoiding eye contact.
1 person likes this
@arkasen (748)
• India
7 May 09
Yes it definitely have a significance. You know our body language tell so many thing about us. While someone talking to you and do not looking in your eye this could mean lots of things. It might be that the person is guilty and that's why he does not have the curage to look into your eyes. It could also mean that the person is not confident about what he is talking. It could also be that the person is not taking interest in conversation with you. It might me that he is feeling uncomfortable talking with you. These are the possible cases while the other person is not looking at your eyes while talking.
1 person likes this
@yonkie (441)
• Philippines
7 May 09
Usually, a stranger can not look directly into my eyes when I am talking to him/her. I think embarrassment is the reason. If it my partner who cannot make eye contact on me, I am sure he is telling a lie or there is guilt that he is feeling. When I am talking to someone, whoever he/she is, a big time person like a mayor or anybody else, I will look into their eyes. I believe, in order to be convincing or sincere, an eye to eye contact is necessary. If a person can relate me something straight while talking is not inventing a story but is telling the truth with the exception to those who are experts in lying.
1 person likes this