Eye contact is like a magnet for neurotypicals – Autism and Eye Contact
He goes “I feel that you have my attention”.
He was criticizing the way I don’t make eye contact with people as many others had, but this time he gave me a stunning explanation, which led to a revelation.
Up to that point of my 28 or so years of living on planet earth, I never thought of it that way. Afterall, neurotypical behavior and thoughts have always been on my edge of understanding.
This single quote is one of the biggest revelations in eye contact for me. Ironically, it took observant neurotypical to spell it out for me.
In retrospect it makes complete sense – I as an autistic person would never get it.
Eye contact is like a magnet for neurotypicals, they feel compelled to place their focus on you when you do it.
When a neurotypical receives eye contact, he or she feels both a need to give you attention and also that you deserve attention. It’s a signal that you have something important to say directly, and they experience it in a way where they want to give you attention.
When you don’t they generally feel ignored and uncomfortable. It can also be taken as a sign of disrespect or weakness (lack of social status), depending on the context of the eye contact.
Making People Uncomfortable
I used to make people feel uncomfortable all the time by not giving eye contact, and generally not facing them.
I imagine a lot of autistic people or shy people don’t do it not because they don’t want to, but because it feels uncomfortable for them, and they also don’t see the reason for it.
Autistic people think “why does it matter?”. They work out that just because they don’t give eye contact, it doesn’t mean anything really. You can love someone without looking them in the eye after all. This is the reasoning autistic people use for many social cues.
Autistic people don’t get how insanely important little mechanical cues are to neurotypicals.
When you don’t make eye contact with normal people get a feeling that you are not looking to “connect” with them, or your thoughts are somewhere else. They don’t logically think that, but they feel the need to dismiss you.
The countless amount of times that people have seemingly been dismissive of me or treat me invisible. My presence simply wasn’t known because i didn’t give them any eye contact, not even a glancing one.
I would do that to protect my own sense of wellbeing really. For me eye contact is uncomfortable, a sensory overload, a self-awareness that I have a thousand yard stare. I feared people realizing I couldn’t do this eye contact thing right.
I see faces as a thing/object, just kind of like how I see everything else. I can see the emotions, but I’m more aware of the physical action of the eye contact rather than the social implications.
I couldn’t handle eye contact for more than 2 seconds either, that didn’t help at all.
I could hold it sometimes if i really want to show i can connect or experience empathy but it can be very tiring and draining. Over the years I learned a trick that was still tiring , which was tunnel focusing on the whole face, and mirroring it on my own,
So I invented a hack.
The Eye Contact Hack
There is a specific point on the face you can look at that you always look like you are giving an acknowledging eye contact signal without feeling overwhelmed. It also alleviates the problem of weirding people out by your autistic laser like focus and stare.
You can start practicing by giving people 2 second glances on this point on their face. Start by doing it with people on the streets. Afterwards proceed to do it on people you are having conversations with.
You can see it as like a client software pinging a server on the internet. Every few seconds you have to check in to signal you are still with this person. Humans are social machines.
Secondly, after another person is taking always give them eye contact for 2 seconds before talking. This is to communicate you have received their “social reach out”. Explained in image below:
If you want to display empathy, it’s best to focus on the entire face, something the Oxytocin Nasal Spray is very good at doing. In fact you probably won’t need this hack if you had the spray.
When is a good time to display empathy? When you or the person are talking about something emotional and personal. Generally if the person is telling a story about himself or herself, it’s a good idea to use your will power to focus on his or her whole face, regardless how hard it is.
The hack is designed to occupy all the times you just need a quick cheat, it’s not designed to replace genuine eye contact.
Advanced – The Window to Others Souls
Don’t zone into this “thing” called eye contact, once you start thinking eye contact as purely a social mechanic, people notice.
Getting their attention is only the beginning. Eyes are the way people develop connection and peer into each other’s soul. When you don’t look at people’s eyes they just assume you don’t care about their soul…and in return they don’t care much for yours.
It’s one of many ways of socially communicating with each other for neurotypicals.
I never like mandatory social signaling either, but we are the minority here.
Autistic people need to understand neurotypicals are wholly driven by the social brain. They will select friends and dismiss people, or even bully them based on whether they feel a connection or not via social mechanics like eye contact.
Yes it’s silly of course you care, but that’s not the point. The point is you want friends right?
Once you start reaping the rewards of eye contact of improved likability with everyone you meet, you won’t believe how much you have been missing out on.
I used to wonder why many people would never seek to meet with me again after a great initial meeting.
Now I know – They didn’t feel the “connection”.
The Benefits I Found of Oxytocin Nasal Spray for Autism and Eye Contact
Since taking Oxytocin Nasal Spray, I have relied less and less on hacks.
I have found everything I learned about social cues mechanically have been enhanced with Oxytocin Nasal Spray. Let me try to explain why.
Oxytocin Nasal Spray for me works instantly, there is a very specific way to use it. I email a full set of instruction to everyone who buys one.
I used to not know where to look, now I just naturally focus on the whole face. I’m just interested – I enjoy looking at faces, something I never used to do.
I can now see the little cues of facial movements as emotions I feel, rather than analyzing it in a mechanical manner.
Before I would zone into peoples eyes, or zone out, or just be plain uncomfortable looking at people’s faces. Now it feels comfortable to look people in the eye.
In fact you know what? It just didn’t feel like a thing at all, “eye contact” is such a mechanical way of describing something that is organic and fine tuned.
When I am on Oxytocin I don’t even have to think about it.
I’ve spent years trying to learn the art of body language, and stuff whilst they helped. I always felt like an “actor”, with Oxytocin I no longer feel like an “actor”.
I genuinely feel like I care for other people and I enjoy social interactions. That’s important, because it makes social activities enjoyable.
Before Oxytocin spray social interactions were like a torture, well not quite, but you get the idea. It was draining, at best it was intellectually enlightening,
It’s a weird experience to really feel what other people are trying to say. I don’t have words to describe it. I don’t think I as an autistic person doesn’t “feel”, but Oxytocin brings it to the next level for me. A layer which was not accessible before.
At first I felt superior, but then I realized this is how it is for socially talented people. They must have high levels of Oxytocin.
No wonder it’s so easy for others to make friends and find relationships.