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Eye contact IS important


Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I have always felt very uncomfortable NOT being able to hold eye contact for long, but always sensed that it is an important part of being aware of another's existance and giving them dignity.

Since finding out about aspergers, I have gotten better at eye contact, but mainly with ones I know. Still have trouble with strangers or ones who talk for a long time.

This is just sharing what is in my thoughts.
For me it also depends on how well I know the other person. If it's a complete stranger, it's physically uncomfortable to look them in the eyes, as if the light was too bright and I couldn't look up. When I'm close to a person I often don't even realize I'm looking in their eyes if I do. But as soon as I realize that eye contact is necessary, it becomes difficult again.

I know eye contact is important because that show people you trust them and stuff, and I'd gladly maintain it if I could. Watching people's faces is another thing, though, it's kind of like lip reading for me. I try to interpret their reactions and that helps me get a better hold on the conversation.
I have always felt very uncomfortable NOT being able to hold eye contact for long, but always sensed that it is an important part of being aware of another's existance and giving them dignity.

Since finding out about aspergers, I have gotten better at eye contact, but mainly with ones I know. Still have trouble with strangers or ones who talk for a long time.

This is just sharing what is in my thoughts.
I find it nearly impossible to make eye contact. It is anywhere from uncomfortable to disturbing, sometimes almost painful. The best I can do is for my line of vision to sweep across the other person's eyes when gazing from one spot to another. But only if they are not looking at my eyes.
My eye contact is a "stare" and I have long given up on it. I will tell people directly that it is something I cannot do.
I have the same issue, but I've been avoiding direct eye contact all of my life, so it feels normal to me. I'll look in the general direction at someone, but focus on the middle of the face. I'm listening, but the other person isn't quite sure. I think I might appear to be daydreaming since my eye focus target isn't clearly identified. I also tend to look aside, or up if I am answering a question that requires remembering or obtaining details I am unsure of. I keep a copy of the front cover book jacket of John Elder Robinson's book "Look me in the Eye" on the bulletin board above my desk.
I usually gaze mostly at the mouth, that way the person is being looked at and I can understand what they're saying more clearly. Sometimes a direct look into the eyes is required for a few seconds to gauge expression or emotion, but looking at the mouth or nose is fine and doesn't unnerve me. :)
I always look at people in the eye when I'm talking to them; it's one of those things that's considered a social courtesy and means you're paying attention to them and letting in what they have to say.
I make a point of making eye contact, I think it would make the person I'm speaking to more comfortable.

I wonder if my attempts to do so are worse than not doing it all, looking away and back and away and fidgeting and squirming out of self-consciousness caused by the repeated failures to maintain eye contact then when I do get it I can't seem to stop and just stare and stare and they stare back and I wonder if them maintaining eye contact this long means it's an appropriate length of time to maintain eye contact or if they're only doing it because I am but then how do we ever stop and isn't that just a staring contest nobody agreed to?? o_O

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I have found that a lot of people think that you are not listening to them if you do not make eye contact. This is not true, but I still make eye contact if I am having a important conversation with someone.
I WISH that eye contact was not needed and so, it makes me feel uncomfortable when I find it difficult to meet eye to eye.

Also find myself apologising for not looking at the person.
I never thought about the not making eye contact until it was brought to my attention by a social worker
who thought I should be tested for Aspergers.
It was just natural not to look them in the eyes. Sometimes I glance at the eyes naturally, but it often
turns to a stare and I don't know how long that's suppose to last.
If I have to think about looking them in the eyes my concentration gets lost.
So I do what comes naturally and don't worry about it.
To look or not to look...that is the question! :oops:
My son had stopped making any eye contact at around 2 years old. We had discovered that he loved alphabet flash-cards, and then that he liked it when we said the letter on the flash-card that he was looking at. Then one day my wife didn't respond immediately as he was looking at flash-cards, and he turned to look at her. We had discovered a scenario in which he would seek eye contact, so we would periodically pause before we said a letter name, wait for him to look at us, and then say the name, and he would be happy. We slowly used this to reinforce to him that he could get his desired response if he made eye contact. While his eye contact is currently sub-optimal, he does often make eye contact when he first sees someone, or if they say his name, or if he wants something.

I would also like to add that I myself am not a fan of eye contact during a long conversation, people that get into my space or stare directly into my eyeball during every second of a conversation make me uncomfortable, so I often treat the situation like an invisible audience, I look at various imaginary people and then the person I am talking to and then back around the imaginary audience.
My tactic? Always have some small completely non-important task at hand, just so you can use it as a pretense to not look anyone in the eye. "See, I have to prepare my teabag, I cannot possibly take the time to look at you."
Yes, eye contact is important to most people. It is instinctual to them. It may be uncomfortable for us, like two same poles of a magnet trying to meet, but if you don't give eye contact, people tend to assume that you're not listening or not interested, or even that you are dishonest. I always turn and look at people when talking to them, but not usually directly at their eyes, or I give fleeting eye contact, then look away, I find it too hard to maintain.
Read an article yesterday about a small study showing that eye contact isn't, in fact, necessary to having satisfactory conversations. I've never been good at eye contact, but didn't know it was supposed to be a problem until learned about it as a disability in autism. I've certainly never felt uncomfortable about it.

Don't remember where the article was, but I imagine a Google search would pull it up.
Since I have always felt as if somebody is judging me harder when I maintain eye contact for prolonged periods of time, I usually start feeling uncomfortable. So as to remedy this issue, I just look around for a brief period of time for 30 or so seconds (as to not let my ADHD make me lose focus too much), and then resume eye contact for another 30 or so seconds before temporarily discontinuing it again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

If I am meeting a new person and standing up while doing so, I just start looking at his/her face/head, and then work my line of sight all the way down to their feet slowly, using a gentle downwards head movement and slow eye movement. I should be able to make a vague, but still somewhat specific description of the person in my head after I have done this.

This, along with what I told in the other paragraph, help to keep me relaxed in social situations.
I catch myself not making eye contact with my husband all the time now that I am aware of it.

I knew that I had struggled with making eye contact with people unfamiliar to me but I have worked on improving that. But I was susprised to realize that I sometimes do not make eye contact with my husband. Poor husband.

Also, I have found that looking at mouths or eyebrows seems to make people think I am looking at their eyes. At least I think that they think I am looking at their eyes.
So I know that struggling to maintain eye contact is a big symptom(?) of Asperger's, but my entire life I've had the opposite problem: I maintain eye contact to the point of discomfort for others and don't really know when to look away, which has gotten me accused of "staring someone down" and in trouble in the past.

I always thought I did it just to be polite because I was raised with the idea that "eye contact is good," but I can never tell when it's too much. Is this a social cue thing?

Does this have anything to do with Asperger's and how do I know when to stop?

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