Every season, Love Island is full of cliches, whether it’s putting all your eggs in one basket, having a type ‘on paper,’ or laying it on factor 50.
This year, viewers have picked up on the islanders constantly complimenting each other’s ‘good eye contact,’ and, for some, it’s getting annoying.
‘Why can no one gaze into anyone’s eyes without saying GOOD EYE CONTACT’, asked one frustrated viewer.
But there’s a basis in what they’re saying – and feeling – especially when it comes to dating.
Research has found that people who maintain eye contact are often more confident and have higher self-esteem than people who tend to avert their gaze.
Another study found that holding eye contact leads to increased ‘feelings of passionate love, dispositional love, and liking’ for their partner.
And crucially, making eye contact denotes interest in the conversation. Yes, this is pretty much the bare minimum in a dating setting, but it’s important.
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‘The most important thing to know about eye contact is that it gives us some clues about how well a date is going,’ Dipti Tait, a relationship psychotherapist, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘If the person you are talking to looks away a little bit too often, this may suggest they are distracted and not entirely engaged or paying attention, and this won’t be conducive to keeping a nice rapport going.’
Of course, too intense eye contact can feel, well, weird.
‘On the flip side, too much eye contact can feel rather intrusive and uncomfortable,’ says Dipti.
Some people might find eye contact intimidating, but in a good way – this is pretty evident in Love Island, with many contestants saying the intense eye contact makes them feel shy and nervous.
Dennis Relojo-Howell, a researcher in clinical psychology and the managing director of the psychology website Psychreg, explains that this is because ‘eye contact can help to convey confidence and assertiveness, which can be attractive qualities in a potential partner.’
However, it’s important to remember that eye contact isn’t for everyone.
‘Maintaining natural eye contact is something that neurotypical people can do without thinking,’ says Dipti. ‘It’s only when we feel nervous, we may begin to overthink our eye contact, and this will then begin to feel unnatural and forced.’
For people on the autistic spectrum, for example, or those dealing with anxiety, PTSD or shyness, it’s not as simple.
‘One person’s friendly and knowing eye contact could be another person’s uncomfortable or even terrifying moment,’ psychologist Anna Sergent tells us.
‘At times eye contact could be perceived as invasive and makes the person unable to follow the conversation and focus on building rapport.’
It’s important to be mindful of this when you’re meticulously analysing your date’s eye contact levels.
And, if you’re worrying about not maintaining your date’s eye contact enough – don’t.
Instead, just focus on relaxing and being yourself. That way, says Dipti, ‘you can let your eyes do the talking in a natural and relaxed way’.
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