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Last night, I was having dinner with a bunch of friends and they were looking through the new book, It’s Not Him, It’s You, which I’d just received in the mail. They’d looked through the section I wrote on eye contact and we got into a discussion about it – who’s good at it, who’s bad at it, etc. People understand on an intuitive level that eye contact is important. But why?

Eighty percent of human communication is non-verbal. That’s an important point when you consider that humans are the only species that talks. There are many ways to communicate non-verbally, and eye contact is a big one. A person’s eyes can tell you so much about their feelings and current state of mind, often without them even realizing they’re transmitting so much information. Being able to read people is important in any area of life, but paying attention to eye contact is key in dating.

One of the challenges of dating is detecting if someone is interested in you. Once you get past this barrier, things get easier. Eye contact is way to tell if someone’s interested. Overall, the more often a person makes eye contact with you, and the longer they do it for, the more likely they’re interested. Brief eye contact (1 second or less) only indicates an acknowledgment or hello, but eye contact lasting more than 2 seconds can be powerful stuff. This isn’t iron-clad — sometimes eye contact indicates that someone recognizes you from somewhere, and shy people are not so great at eye contact even if interested.

I remember when I first learned the importance of eye contact. Years ago, I was at my gym and noticed a guy I thought was smokin’ hot, but didn’t really make much of it. Some time later, I saw him again. This time, we passed one another, and he made eye contact with me that was so strong and lasted so long that I immediately felt nervous and flustered. That’s another thing — pay attention to how the eye contact makes you feel. I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did until I did some research on eye contact. It turns out Mr. Smokin’ Hot was communicating with me and waiting to see how I would respond. Being clueless as I was, I didn’t respond, and nothing happened. If I’d smiled at him or said hello, I may have scored a date with him.

Eye contact is POWERFUL. This is why people avoid looking at each other in elevators or on the subway. Use it to communicate your interest. That person will either respond, or they won’t.