The Levels of Eye Contact

Eye contact is important, especially in dating and gauging people’s attraction to you. Everyone should have a basic understanding of what each person is eye-coding to them in any given situation, and it doesn’t take a cryptographer to figure it out. Or if it does, then fuck it, I’m that cryptographer.

The Power of Eye Contact

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard the saying, “The eyes are the window to the soul,” or some cheesy variation thereof.

  1. It captures and holds attention. If you want to catch someone’s attention, suddenly looking at them (even if you don’t move your head at all) will tend to do the trick.3 And if you want the person you’re having a conversation with to not be distracted, look them in the eye.4
  2. It makes people believe you. When you tell someone something they don’t know to be true, they’ll tend to believe it if you look them in the eye. Even if it were something they know not to be true, they’ll still be slower to disagree.5
  3. It makes people think you’re smart. We generally judge people who make eye contact with us to be smarter and more competent.6
  4. It makes you appear more sincere. You’re in the bar hanging with your friends. The hottie from the back of the room who’s watching you will think you’re more sincere, less anxious, and more relaxed the more they see you look at your friends while interacting with them.7

(Don’t) Avert Your Eyes!

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re not entirely comfortable making eye contact with others. And that’s perfectly normal.

The Levels of Eye Contact

Here is an entirely overly-analytical, and mostly-satirical-but-kinda-true-too guide to the levels of eye contact and what sort of attraction it means.

Level (-1): No Eye Contact (Intentional)

Beyond the lowest level of eye contact, this is when someone is not only not making eye contact with you, but they’re consciously making an effort to NOT look at you. In the heights of sexual intimacy, Level (-1) is subterranean. It’s a person’s way of saying, “Get away from me, creep,” without, you know, actually saying it.

Level 0: No Eye Contact (Unintentional)

An unintentional absence of eye contact signals a lack of knowledge you exist. It means nothing other than they haven’t noticed you. Either they’re busy and focusing on something else, or you’re about as intriguing to look at as grandma’s wallpaper.

Level 1: Glance (Unconscious)

An unconscious glance is that moment when someone looks up at you and then immediately looks away, although they’re not aware of what they’re looking at. It’s basically when their eyes are wandering around and coincidentally meet yours for a moment and then continue wandering.

Level 2: Glance (Conscious)

The second level of eye contact is the first type of eye contact where you’ve possibly made a positive impression on a person. This is when your eyes and theirs happen to meet and then they look away immediately, except they look away consciously, whether it be because of shyness, awkwardness, or disinterest.

Level 3: Glance and a Half

Level 3 is the first level where interest is conveyed, ever so slightly. Like the other lower levels of eye contact, the glance-and-a-half is subtle and difficult to notice without a lot of practice. It’s when someone looks at you and breaks eye contact as they normally do, but they hold the eye contact for a split second longer than is normal. I’m talking maybe 1/4 of a second longer.

Level 4: Double Glance

Here’s a good habit to get yourself into once you’re able to maintain eye contact with people walking around. Any time you make eye contact with someone attractive and they look away, keep looking at them for another few seconds. A percentage of them will look at you a second time. In my experience, this is a clear sign of physical interest, and 95%+ of the subsequent interactions you initiate with this person will be received warmly.

Level 5: The Gaze

The Gaze is the last level that can occur unconsciously although it’s usually conscious. This is when someone looks at you and just keeps looking at you past the normal “look away” moment. This is a solid 2–3 seconds of eye contact without them breaking it. When undesired, this becomes the infamous “creep stare.” But in the cases of desirable people looking at you, this is extremely good news.

Level 6: The Smile

The sixth level of eye contact is The Gaze plus a smile. If The Gaze is a clear sign telling you that they’re interested, throwing a smile on top of it may as well be a neon flashing billboard. If someone you find attractive gives you Level 6 and you don’t talk to them, not only are you an idiot, but you probably have some serious anxiety going on.

Level 7: The Eye Fuck

This is someone who makes eye contact, holds it, smiles, and then never stops. They just keep staring and smiling, and staring and smiling, sometimes for minutes at a time.

Level 8: The Dreamboat

The Dreamboat happens when someone has fallen for you. This is when you wake up in the morning to someone staring at you with that dreamy smile like they’re drunk or stayed up all night sniffing glue. It’s the way two people look at each other when cuddling and making cutesy noises while rubbing their noses together.

Level 9: The Crazies

The 9th and final level of eye contact cannot be explained as much as experienced.

What Do You See?

Humans have a tendency to make things more difficult than they have to be. When we’re not sure we can do something, we put it off. We turn whatever “it” is into a 12-headed hydra that haunts our every waking moment. But if we’d just gone ahead and done it, we would have discovered “it” wasn’t so bad after all.

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Author of #1 NYTimes Bestseller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’. OG Blogger. Psychology Nerd. I enjoy cats and whiskey. But not at the same time.

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