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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I can't stand it. The only way I can look into another person's eyes comfortably is if I trust that person a whole lot. And even then, sometimes my eyes just begs to look someplace else out of embarrassment or shyness.

How does an INFP overcome this? :frustrating:
 

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I don't know how to overcome it, but I can totally relate.
Me and my friend were just talking about this earlier today!
she's an ESFP..
but we both said we couldn't look people in the eyes usually..
especially other people's parents..
during conversations i usually look at my hands.
 

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I look into people's eyes preemptively, to unsettle them/make them frightened of me/establish dominance, so they don't take advantage of me.

I also do it to connect to them more deeply / dive into their soul-wells.
 

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The only way I can sometimes is by being completely aware of it and forcing eye contact. It is difficult, but I think of it like trying to better your posture by forcing yourself to sit/stand straight.. eventually, it will become habit.

Although..now I can only habitually keep eye contact with strangers and SO's, but can't with friends/family :p
 

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This has been a problem in my life, and I sought to fix it because I think not making eye contact with people really shows vulnerability and submissiveness. It also helps to connect with them better. Even if you may not want to connect with this person per say, at least you will be able to read them better with eye contact. I think it's important in conversation, and to make the other participant feel like you're really listening to them and trying to understand them.

I've gotten also really tired of unconsciously projecting the image that I am a shy, afraid, little girl as a defense mechanism and default manipulation tool. At the same time, making eye contact makes me less focused and less able to think about what I really want to say. It's too much data intake and too much focus on the other person; so much so that I can't think about what I'm trying to say. I need to let my eyes bounce around the room, and that's why it's nice when e.g. you're sitting in a car and can't see really make eye contact. You have an excuse. I've noticed, though, that apparently my gaze can be a bit intense and too serious for some people, or maybe eye contact distracts them as much as it distracts me when I'm trying to think.

I mostly make eye contact really with friends a lot, and sometimes strangers, not really my parents.
 

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I learned how to initiate and maintain eye-contact while I was going through my nursing training. I needed to learn it because it demonstrated confidence and that I knew what I was doing, even if that wasn't true, I still had to make a show of it so that I could work with that patient. It got to be where I was more and more comfortable with eye contact, though not for extended periods of time.

Some short cuts I discovered including focusing on the bridge of the nose or eyebrow or glasses or ears or mouth rather than the person's eyes. They're close enough to work, and I can always claim that it's easier to make sure I'm hearing a person correctly by verifying that their lips match what I'm hearing.

I've also found that it can help a lot in my current job because it's hard to maintain eye contact when you're not interested in hearing what a person is saying. I have discovered that it's only necessary for a short period of time before a person feels comfortable, and then I can let my gaze wander to the wall or lamp next to them or whatnot, and it gives them permission to look elsewhere, which is something that most people appreciate, especially if they're talking about personal/uncomfortable things. They want to know that it's okay to ask for support (being able to look into another person's eyes who can give them empathy and support) but also to know that it's okay for them to pull in a bit and protect themselves as well.

It's a little bit harder for me when I'm meeting a person for the first time and I don't have my "professional" or "nurse" hat on. In those cases, I tend to do a lot of peeks and looking at noses/mouths instead. If I can look at their face at all rather than the floor or an interesting table or spot on the wall behind them. To be honest, I'll actually keep my "nurse" hat on or put it on in social situations because I'm a lot more confident and easy going, but it's really draining and hard to maintain that for long. And my friends wonder why I don't like to go out and "just meet people."
 

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My whole life I have avoided eye contact. I think what led to that, though, was that from a child I always avoided "I" contact. What I mean is that I never felt comfortable with myself, or who I was, or saw a purpose in my existence, so I always avoided that real part of myself, the core that needed self-validation. I would spend my conscious time skimming the periphery of self, but I avoided that real "I" contact, the conscious process of learning to say to myself, "I matter. I am here for a reason, and I have the right to believe it."

So because of this, and because the eyes represent the physical portal to a person's mind and soul, I avoided eye contact, because if people looked into me would they see this insufficient human I believed I was, or possibly see things about me that I wasn't aware of? To avert my eyes was meant to prevent it from happening.

I have improved much more now. The more I confirm my belief that I am as acceptable and of purpose as anyone else, there is no reason not to have eye contact. But the mind games don't die easy. When making eye contact, it is natural for my mind to start thinking about how the other person is perceiving me, and to lose my train of thought...and when that happens, it may lead to awkwardness, leading to the temptation to feel insufficient again.

Eye Contact Experiment

Recently my INFP friend and I were walking on a trail and he mentioned that he found eye contact difficult, so I said to him, "Let's try something! Let's ask each other a question, and the other person must give their full answer without breaking eye contact at all." So we tried it. I asked him, "Who are you? Not just what you like, but who you are." We stood 4 feet apart and he looked me in the eyes, his voice stammering, and his eyes struggling to break free, and he responded, breaking eye contact fairly often, but after about 1 minute he settled in, his face relaxed, and he finished smoothly.

Then he asked me the same question. I was determined to hold eye contact, no matter how badly I answered. At first it was hard to think, but I held eye contact, but after a minute or so, I almost felt euphoric, because it was as if there was a sudden inner acceptance about the eye contact. My words flowed out freely and naturally, I gestured and expressed with ease, and held eye contact for about 8 minutes. It was as if the part of me that was reading him became unconscious, and my response was the fully conscious part. It was liberating. Try it with someone you trust. Really, try it.
 

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Sometimes I look at people so intently that they kind of freak out. This usually only happens with people I really know and am comfortable with.

Most times I can't look them in the eye. While I talk, my eyes wander to the sides, and often my words falter, and I am sure they know how strangely uncomfortable I am. I hope they don't, and one of my friends, when I pointed it out to her, told me it was in my head because I didn't seem weird at all to her or from what she could see, to others (we work together in a very small restaurant, so she sees me interacting with strangers all the time; I'm a waitress and she's a bartender).

This one time, this boy I knew drove me home, and I was about to get out of his car and go into my apartment when he told me he liked me. I looked straight ahead, out the windshield, while he was looking at me, telling me all of this stuff. And then when I went to say something, I still looked straight ahead. He was bothered and said something about it, and I said something along the lines of, "if I look at your eyes, then the words that come out won't be completely honest... the way your eyes look will manipulate my answer according to what I think you're feeling/it's easier for me to say the words I want to say when looking at something inanimate and neutral, like the road, so I'm not influenced..." or something equally as bullshitty. It sounds like it could be true, but really, it's not; actually it's the opposite: when I look into someone's eyes I actually find it harder not to tell the truth, as if, because my eyes are meeting theirs, a lie would be condemning and very immoral. And I felt like if I said "I just think of you as a friend," while looking into his eyes, that would have hurt him more than how I said it: while staring out the windshield.
 

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I tend to give eye contact with teachers and professors who are giving me eye contact. The real dominant professors I've talked to kind of stare you down, and I stare back... as if to say i'm not scared or intimidated.

I don't give it all the time, to a highly sensitive person (like me) it's too intense.... but I really like it. Giving eye contact demands that you focus completely on the other person. It feels fucking amazing. Are you a hsp, forsaken me? I think being so vulnerable is terrifying to me, add that with the intensity of staring someone in the eyes and as a hsp, you can either 'get off' on being under the pressure, or completely crack. I guess the only advice I can give, is just keep breathing. Don't stress. It may feel overwhelming, but just focus on the present moment and your breathing... not your thoughts.
 

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I look to the side or down, or try to look at their shoulder. I sometimes look at people for too long or too intensely because I am purposely trying to NOT avoid their eyes so they know I'm paying attention. Family and good friends know me well enough to know that when I am looking away while they're talking I am very much paying attention. I think it's uncomfortable for me to look at people like I would LIKE to, because I am looking into their heart and it's intense (I'm intense). I want to connect on a deeper level than they are comfortable with. I have better luck with people trusting me when I restrain my desire to pour my heart out.
 

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I must be weird.

I always give eye contact to whomever I speak to, unless I'm really distraught or worried, and usually I won't show that much visible worry.

I like looking to people's eyes, most people don't realize that their eyes look AMAZING. Not only that, but as cliched as it is, I can truly read others emotions through their eyes. To me, eye contact shows both respect and concern and I really think it helps others when it comes to speaking their mind. Not like staring holes in their eyes and scaring them off, but overall showing that you're giving them your undivided attention.

...Sad eyes never lie.

Edit: I think the only way to really help this is through practice. Maybe you can try giving your family more eye contact? That's probably a safe way and effective way to practice.
 

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Oh my GOD, always been an issue. It's weird, but when I make a point of performing eye contact, I feel two things... a) incredibly vulnerable, and b) that I must be the only person who has to make an effort to make eye contact when it seems to come so easily to everyone else.

I agree with the poster where it comes from a sense of inferiority... not sure how, maybe we quietly think that the person we're talking to would be better off spending their time interacting with someone else? If so, how do we change that so we *know* that at that point in time, there's no-one else in the world that is more important to that person than us?
 

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i've never viewed a person's lack of eye contact to be a sign of weakness or anything like that... rather, i've always looked at it as... well, no offense to the eye-starers out there (i know you dont mean it like this), but i've always looked at staring into a person's eyes as *rude*. to look into someone's eyes without averting the gaze is a very emotional thing to do, in my view, and should only be done if you're angry and challenging the person, or if you're on intimate terms with them and are trying to make their heart melt. they say the eyes are the gateway into the soul, and i've never much liked people poking their gazes around my "soul" so casually.

...well, i've learned that the society i've been born into doesnt seem to share my sentiments. i try to meet people half-way by looking into their eyes briefly, then looking away (hopefully in a natural-looking manner).

unfortunately, i dont have any particularly good advice on how to deal with your problem (not that i'd consider it a fault, myself). if it's very much against your nature, and is a matter of shyness or lack of self confidence... well, it's not very *clear* advice, but it always helps to just stop caring. grumble a bit, tell the world it can screw itself, and stab your gaze through someone's eyes like a stilletto. that'll learn 'em. :wink:
 
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I usually will pretend to be looking at something else and occasionally look them in the eyes when I feel it's appropriate... but I can't the whole conversation because I just feel I'm intruding on them or something
 

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i usually can only look into someone else's eyes if i have romantic feelings for them.
i purposely keep eye contact with her in the hopes that somehow through deep eye contact all my inward feelings for her will transfer into her and she'll understand how intensely i feel for her.
other than that i can't maintain eye contact with anyone else, if i do it's very brief just so they know i'm paying attention.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Someone asked if I am a HSP... I am. I think this is a concern for me as well. It makes sense, though... When people stare at me, it gives me the creeps, so why should I do the same?
 

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Oh my GOD, always been an issue. It's weird, but when I make a point of performing eye contact, I feel two things... a) incredibly vulnerable, and b) that I must be the only person who has to make an effort to make eye contact when it seems to come so easily to everyone else.

I agree with the poster where it comes from a sense of inferiority... not sure how, maybe we quietly think that the person we're talking to would be better off spending their time interacting with someone else? If so, how do we change that so we *know* that at that point in time, there's no-one else in the world that is more important to that person than us?
Yes, sometimes I tend to feel like the person I'm talking to is thinking to themselves that they would rather be somewhere else with someone else. Looking at someone's eyes triggers all sorts of mind reading reactions in me naturally. But here, I believe, is the key: Sometimes it is actually true that the person we are talking to is not particularly enthused by talking with us, and sometimes he or she would rather be doing something else...and that's ok. The fact is, we can learn to do without the assurance that we are other people's highest priority or interest at a given time.

When I look at this honestly, I can recall that on many occasions when I've been talking to people I know, I just want the conversation to end, and I'd rather be somewhere else. With only occasional exceptions, this isn't out of a diminished value for that person, but because of my own internal state or preoccupations. Sometimes I am worked up about things inside and I cannot very well tolerate certain people's conversational approaches at that time. Yet...I feel offended if others would feel the same way with me!

Sending the Right Signals

A lesson I've learned from these understandings is that if I don't feel dependent upon another person's regard of me as highest priority, I send off much better signals to others. If a person sends off signals that say, "I need you to like me...I need you to show me interest and approval right now," it actually makes people uncomfortable, and most people detect it whether consciously or unconsciously. I have noticed that the people I am most interested in talking to and coming to understand are those who are engaging but show no desperation about being noticed or accepted.

For instance, my INTJ friend is interesting and engaging, but sometimes he is elusive, and he never makes me feel like there is pressure upon me to validate him. Without this pressure, it actually makes me feel free to validate him freely, and that makes me want to. And his elusiveness plays upon my desire to know more. To be honest, I believe it's a subtle form of manipulation by him, to draw me in to validate him...but I don't mind, because whether I choose to or not, he doesn't pressure me or go into desperation. So the crux of my point is this...that the less pressured the other person feels to care for and validate your emotional state, the more likely they will be to be drawn naturally to you.

Aloofness

I think that sometimes being slightly aloof can be healthy. I don't mean making it a game, or playing hard to get, but for the purpose of detachment...to avoid falling into emotional entanglement, and to let the other person recognize the space and make a free decision about what to do with that space. For example, when a topic of particular interest or pertinence to you comes up, instead of suddenly opening the flood gates and explaining all of your feelings about it to the other person, give a short answer that is like giving someone a sample of chocolate cake, and then ask them a question related to the subject, and in response they will likely give you a sample. But their curiosity will likely be activated, and they may pursue you for the rest of the cake. And if they don't, it's ok, because in time one of the samples will draw them in.

Have you ever noticed how when someone with Approval Dependency wants you to have some food they made, and they watch intently as you eat it, and you feel all of this pressure about how you need to respond to make them happy? When that happens, it's almost impossible to enjoy the food, and I think it's like that with people who do the same with their emotions and things they say.

Back to Eye Contact

Though I mentioned the experiment of maintaining constant eye contact with someone, I don't think that such a method is healthy in all social situations, but the point is to be able to hold eye contact satisfactorily whenever you want to or need to. But what about the moments when you are not? How do you maintain confidence?

I have developed a method recently to help me when I am having difficulty with maintaining eye contact. As I talk, I avoid looking down most of the time, because it often shows insecurity, though in certain situations it can also indicate deep emotional reflection. It all depends on context and the characteristics of the downward eyes. What I do instead is I will look to the side, and also look upward to the side. At the same time I vocally accentuate certain words, and use hand gestures to draw out what I'm saying, intermittently giving direct eye contact. What this all accomplishes is a subliminal suggestion that I am painting my words and thoughts for the other person to the side and slightly above us. When a person is drawn to look upwards or think upwards, it is associated with interest, intrigue, and wonder.

And so when I look to the side and upwards, use my hands, and throw in vocal accentuations, the person's mind unconsciously associates my thoughts and words with this spot slightly above and to the side of them, triggering their interest. When you are looking toward the floor often, their mind may associate your thoughts and words with something basic, weak, and untrustworthy. Think about it. If someone is trying to logically prove a difficult point to you, and they are repeatedly looking toward the floor as they make their argument, wouldn't you be less assured their logic is sound? But if they look upwards as they draw out their thoughts, it will add to the impression that they are selecting information that is high/wise. It's subtle, but it works.

So to conclude this...I am not always successful in keeping people interested, and sometimes the other person seems like they want to be somewhere else, but I don't decide to feel inadequate, I just take it as a challenge to understand how to draw a person into the conversation while still leaving them unpressured so they can freely join in and express themselves as well. My ENFJ aunt is a great example to me for this. She is a very expressive speaker, and she often looks upwards when she talks and uses wide hand motions. When she looks upwards, she always has a look on her face like there's some great memory or fascinating idea up there, and I hang on her every word.
 

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I always look people in the eyes. That's the only way I can really get a feel of who they are and what aura they give off. Sometimes, I blush and get embarrassed because looking people in the eyes very closely seems to be somewhat intimate (especially if you like the person).
 

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My problem before would be that i would look at either 1 of their eyes or both at the same time for a while and either feel uncomfortable or they would feel uncomfortable and break eye contact. What i've learned is that if i constantly switch between looking from one eye to their other eye every half second or so, the eye contact is a lot less awkward for both of us.

U will notice that most people constantly alternate their focus to each of your eyes as well. A little trick i noticed last year:tongue:
 
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