What Makes Eye Contact Hard for A Lot of Us? - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-21-2020, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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What Makes Eye Contact Hard for A Lot of Us?

Eye contact has been a pervasive issue in my life since I was probably eleven. It is so intense that for the longest time I believed that if I could eliminate my eye contact anxiety, every other social struggle I have would evaporate (not true).
I can't stand in crowded rooms without feeling paralyzed from the fear of catching a glance with someone. I either look down or my field of view shrinks to tunnel vision so I'm only looking at one specific point in the room and not someone else. I can't sit down and have a face to face conversation with someone without intense discomfort. There are a select few people that I have less eye contact anxiety with though, and I think it varies depending how accepted feel by them.

What sort of psychological mechanisms do you think are going on that make a person afraid of eye contact?

I think for me it seems to be a trust/acceptance issue. I assume that people have some sort of innate dislike of me, or maybe I think they already see everything wrong with me and it's partly shame related. All I know is it's hard for me to look another person in their eyes.

I have very visible physical reactions because of my anxiety, which creates it's own layer anxiety. My eyes might twitch, I stop blinking automatically and I have to manually blink, and my anxiety basically becomes very visible on my face and people frequently misinterpret my facial expressions because of this. I'm not sure if eye contact is the problem so much as restoring my basic trust of people and somehow feeling less irrational shame and self-loathing.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-22-2020, 05:05 AM
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When talking - I have to sometimes look away from people or direct my glance somewhere away from their eyes. Makes me feel nervous and I can't quite focus on the flow of my words and I might stutter or forget what words I need to say. I think because my brain starts analyzing their reaction. Are they interested? Do they think its funny? Is this boring? So it ruins my own thought process.

When listening - I've actually gotten really good at looking people directly in the eyes when listening to them. Unless they're looking intently right at me then I can't compete. People typically deviate their eyes so that's fine.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-22-2020, 03:07 PM
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I don't know, for me eye contact was immensely difficult as a kid/teenager. I think it's because of a deeply rooted fear of being judged. My therapist tells me I'm something of an HSP (highly sensitive person), which I'm struggling to accept. But apparently a lot of introverts are HSPs so it shouldn't be that surprising. Anyway, HSPs are hard wired to be more sensitive towards the whole gamut of human emotions (including the pain one feels when rejected from a job interview, a potential partner, etc). For me, it runs much much deeper than those things. Even being left on read really hurts like you wouldn't imagine.

Anyway, to answer the original question, making eye contact is scary because what if they're not interested in what you have to say? What if they're secretly judging you the whole time and looking down on you, thinking of you as a weirdo? Looking at their mouth is so much easier for some reason. There's just something so.. confrontational about looking someone in the eyes.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-23-2020, 05:34 PM
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Lack of confidence + eye contact is something genetic related. I've suffered with it since elementary school and it never gets better. Faking it to you make it doesn't work. Just makes you more weirded out and awkward. Has anyone here ever used therapy to get over eye contact issues?
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-24-2020, 02:19 AM
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Maybe the fear of reading negative judgment or feelings through what others display from their eyes. Most people can read eyes of others better than they think.

^^^ Gibberish ^^^

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