In the language of love stakes – the eye have it!

The eyes can speak a thousand words, but get the eye contact wrong and you could blow the chance of a second date according to experts.  With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, a body language survey [1] from Optegra specialist eye hospital group, unveils the positive and negative impact our eyes can have on a date.

An overwhelming 93 per cent believe making eye contact is vital when meeting someone for the first time. With more than a third of respondents, (39 per cent) saying eyes have the most impact on a date more than body position (20 per cent), body space (12 per cent) and even crossed arms (11 per cent).

But the Optegra survey also reveals the top five eye movements to avoid on dates – as Brits are put off by:
  • No eye contact (55 per cent)
  • Wandering eyes (46 per cent)
  • Staring (35 per cent)
  • Winking (25 per cent)
  • Too much blinking (21 per cent)
UK body language expert Robert Phipps explains: “Eye contact is one of the essentials when dating, as you see trust and empathy in the eyes, which are two vital ingredients of any good relationship. It’s also a reciprocal thing. We tend to like to receive about the same eye contact as we give, whether it’s positive or negative. But, too much eye contact can come across as too analytical, critical or even domineering.”

“Winking is usually a way of sending the message ‘you understand what I want, mean, expect’ and blinking too much is off-putting because we can’t read the eyes in the way we would normally, it makes the person look nervous and so can put us on edge.”

Phipps captures five ways to read your date’s eyes this Valentine’s Day:
  1. Eye Contact – The amount of eye contact you get should feel comfortable; if it makes you feel uncomfortable it is either too much or too little. If they’re looking over your shoulder all the time then they’re not giving you the attention you deserve.
  2. Eyes and Listening – We tend to give more eye contact when we are listening than we do when we’re talking. Check that your date is looking at you more of the time when you are talking and vice versa; when it’s their turn to talk you should give them more eye contact.
  3. Blink Rate – Blinking and eye contact go together as too high or low a blink rate can be off putting and even annoying. Unless they have an eye problem high blink rates are associated with nervousness or high stress. If it’s a first date they may well be a bit nervous but by the time you get to dates three and four this should be more normal, around 20-25 blinks per minute.
  4. Eyes and Smiles – Even though we smile with our mouths we also use our eyes when we smile. Genuine smiles activate a muscle that runs around the eye called the Orbicularis Oculi, which in turn works with the Zyugomatic muscle at the corners of our lips. That’s why genuine happy smiles are said to “Reach the eyes” because they do and over time lines form from the eye to the mouth.
  5. Eyes and Emotions – In order to express all manner of emotions we use our eyes in conjunction with other parts of the face, six of which are universal – happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. Your date should be using them appropriately at the right times to help build rapport, and so should you.
About Robert Phipps

Robert Phipps is one of the UK’s best known body language experts and has given his commentary and analysis of all the major news stories and party political leaders since 2002.

Resident expert on the “Trisha Goddard Show” for more than eight years with well over 100 appearances whilst also working for several years as guest analyst on Big Brother’s Little Brother.

His latest book “Body Language – It’s What You Don’t Say That Matters” currently #3 on Amazon UK.

A renowned platform speaker and trainer Robert is in constant demand by both the media and business worlds. He has written and commented for almost every national newspaper and magazine in the UK and has contributed to many trade specific journals both here and abroad.

Robert has worked on a wide range of projects with the Lone Workers Safety Conference, LA Childrens Hospital, Global Tolerance, Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, the Society of Occupational Medicine and the Institute of Business Advisors to name a few.

His work has been featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Business’ and was part of BBCs team for their prime time “Rogue Traders” show and is regularly called upon to comment on political events for many of the BBC’s radio and news broadcasts.


[1] This Optegra research was run by Censuswide, an online market research company, to 2,049 UK respondents

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