What does it mean when someone can't look you in the eye?

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  1. cianeko profile image83
    cianekoposted 11 years ago

    What does it mean when someone can't look you in the eye?

    My friend asked me this question and I would like to solicit for your answers because I do not have any definite answer for this:

    "This person and I always see each other. In fact we've become classmates in P.E, but we've never been acquainted to each other. I know him and I think he knows me too. Why is it that when we meet along the alleys of our school, he can't look me straight in the eye? What is he up to? "

    1. profile image0
      vinswinsposted 11 years ago

      When your acquaintance cannot look in your eye (avoids direct eye contact) there can be quite a few reasons behind it.

      1. He feels that you know a part of him that he is ashamed of.
      2. He feels guilty of something that he has been hiding from you.
      3. He is feeling shy about something that he wants to share with you (though it is a rare trait of guys) He may need to get something off his chest but you should give him his sweet time to process his feelings and not rush him.
      4. He feels uneasy with you
      5. He may be feeling inferior to you {OR}
      6. You did something that he is not able to approve of and thus he is trying to avoid you and the no eye contact is a hint for you to stay away.

      I believe you should remain cool, calm and confident with this so called friend of yours. He has right to privacy and if you believe he deserves your friendship, let him know that you are there for him in case he needs you.

      Once your friend has had his fair share of time to process his feelings and once he sees that you are comfortable in your own skin, he will return to normal behavior.

      If you can think of anything that you might have done something that did upset him, simply clear the air with him.

      Wish you all the very best, today and always..!

      1. profile image52
        Carol Conradposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        Another reason could be low self esteem.

    2. jrueff profile image67
      jrueffposted 11 years ago

      Sometimes it just means they aren't very confident. Humans can be similar to dogs in that way; prolonged eye contact can be taken as a challenge, and insecure individuals will take extra precautionary measures to avoid this conflict. Also, the saying "The eyes are windows to the soul" is a very accurate statement, and if someone wants to keep something from you, they may avoid eye contact in the effort to conceal their "soul", their innermost thoughts.

    3. lupine profile image64
      lupineposted 11 years ago

      My dad always said to look someone straight in the eyes when talking to them, or if they asked you a question. That way they know you are being very sincere and telling the truth. Same thing goes for other people, if they can't  look at you in the eyes when you talk to them or ask a specific question...they may not want to say the truth. If someone is looking right at you and they look away, or look down when you bring up a certain subject, they don't want to talk about it, or it could mean it makes them sad, You friend might be insecure, shy, or has problems he doen't want you to know about. Good Luck,

    4. lburmaster profile image74
      lburmasterposted 11 years ago

      Well, looking at you in the eye can mean many things, especially looking away. Everyone claims it means they don't like you, feel awkward, don't trust you, etc. Honestly, I hate looking people in the eye. It makes me feel uncomfortable and feel like they are asking so much of me. Once I lock on their eyes, I'm suck. I have difficulty looking away and noticing what their body is telling me. If I actually do look you in the eye, I'm lying to you. Because growing up I always heard that if you look someone in the eye, it's a sign of telling the truth. So you really don't want me to look you in the eye.

    5. Nicole Danielle profile image53
      Nicole Danielleposted 10 years ago

      Sometimes it's a sign of shyness or embarassment or just lack of confidence in themselves.

      1. lupine profile image64
        lupineposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        That's true, but it depends what they are talking about.

    6. lostohanababy profile image56
      lostohanababyposted 10 years ago

      If a person is clever,con, and dishonest, he or she won't look you in the eye!  But, it can also mean, they person likes you and trys to deal with personal 'feelings' they may have for you or may be thinking of someone else and can't tell you, without hurting your feelings.!

    7. profile image51
      Susan Riveraposted 9 years ago

      He may be shy or nervous around you.  Perhaps he feel embarrassed or insecure for some reason.  Break the ice and say hello, how are you doing or be forward and introduce yourself.

    8. Carol Reed profile image60
      Carol Reedposted 9 years ago

      My mother use to say, if a person doesn't look you in the eye, it means they are not trustworthy. I disagree. I have a very good friend that doesn't look you in the eye when she talks to you. I think this is a habit for her. I trust her and have been friends with her for over 38 years. However, my ex-husband, (when he was my husband), started out looking me in the eye but after a few years I learned, when he didn't look me in the eyes when he talked to me, he was being dishonest.
      Things that may effect this could be:
      1. shyness
      2. dishonesty
      3. Was never taught to look people in the eye when they speak.
      4. eye problems
      5. anxiety
      6. paranoid
      There may be more reasons then the above.
      Good - luck

      1. Aelbarsha profile image81
        Aelbarshaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

        That's a clear realistic explanation! I may add "feel it's of grandiosity" and underestimating of others.

    9. profile image0
      Larry Wallposted 8 years ago

      My son has an eye disease called Stargartd's Disease. It is similar to macular degeneration. He has no central vision. In addition, he was in a car accident and one eye was damage. He cannot look someone straight in the eye or he will not see you. He has to look slightly from the side. This is not the answer most were expecting, but sometimes there are reasons based in reality and not in opinion, The disease affects the rods and cones of his eye, so he is also color blind. He cannot drive and he had a hard time in school with the teachers not being overly cooperative. His home computer is equipped with large dual screen monitors and he does good graphic and Photoshop work, but no one hires a legally blind person. Glasses will not help.

      1. Dangerous Freedom profile image59
        Dangerous Freedomposted 8 years agoin reply to this

        I am sorry for this inconvenience to your son. It is tragic and terrible. Aside from that, this was not an answer to the question and frankly was a waste of time if someone was looking to be enlightened. Thank you for your opinion, and best of luck.

      2. profile image0
        Larry Wallposted 8 years agoin reply to this

        Teachers criticized my son for not looking them in the eye. It is not an inconvenience. He is virtually blind. Thus the answer is some people cannot physically control eye muscles. The issue goes beyond attitude and emotions.

    10. Ricki-Lee Keeley profile image67
      Ricki-Lee Keeleyposted 8 years ago

      When someone is lying they are more likely to maintain eye contact. From your description, it sounds like he likes you and is shy. Its very cute.

      Hope this helped,

      1. Tony Marsden profile image63
        Tony Marsdenposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        I agree. He likes you. Simple really

    11. passionatelearnr profile image84
      passionatelearnrposted 8 years ago

      either that person is hiding something or just can't bear to look at u

      1. profile image55
        sehrishkhan1990posted 8 years agoin reply to this

        According to psychology people who can not maintain eye contact there is possibilty that they are telling a lie at that time and they have fear that people might caught it...

    12. RLWalker LM profile image60
      RLWalker LMposted 8 years ago

      Maybe he has a grave in his backyard full of rotting corpses of all the victims he tortured and killed. Or maybe he's shy.

      His probably wondering why you're looking him in the eye so hard all the time, as if you're trying to determine why he can't look you in the eye all the time. Life is short, awkward and circular enough already.

      Even the people closest to me that know everything about me who I've known my whole life, I find hard to look in the eye when talking to. If I force it I lose track of what we're talking about. I also don't like when a person is very close to me and standing over me or is facing me. My brain doesn't function. Talking over the phone is similar.

      Does it mean I'm insecure. Duh! I'm the most insecure sob you'll ever meet. But I hate so much how some people will distrust me or assume something severe about my character or my past because they can read insecurity in body language. Some people will literally treat me like a criminal or low life, knowing nothing else about me except for the fact that I'm nervous and insecure. So that is in response to some of the answers that suggest he's avoiding eye contact for any specific reason.

    13. DebraHargrove profile image65
      DebraHargroveposted 8 years ago

      For the most part I feel it is basically due to shyness or maybe nervousness.  Having self confidence helps to be able to look a person in the eyes. Also being around people all the time helps to build up self confidence. It is not always easy for a shy person to look someone in the eyes.

    14. GreenEyes1607 profile image87
      GreenEyes1607posted 8 years ago

      Some people refuse to look others in the eye because they are shy and lack confidence. If a guy is into you he might be too shy to keep much eye contact in the beginning. Guilty people tend to avoid eye contact too because it could give them away. Look for other body language cues to figure it out. If you're interested I have a hub on how to read a mans body language. I hope this helps.

    15. fpherj48 profile image60
      fpherj48posted 8 years ago

      Arni....I believe we do ourselves and others an injustice by placing a "reason" on any type of what's commonly referred to as "body language."
      Speaking specifically on your question regarding eye contact, it simply does not always mean the same thing nor does any reason apply to all individuals.  This is a much too simplistic, lazy and an inaccurate gauge to place on such a behavior or habit.  STOP LISTENING TO THOSE PHONY BODY LANGUAGE SO-CALLED EXPERTS!

      There can be so many reasons why someone may not look into the eyes of a person they are speaking to/interacting with, I'm not sure where to begin or how many to list.

      Try please to dispel the myth that this always means "deceit and/or dishonesty" of some degree.  For most people, this is not the case at all.

      With the person you mention here, it may be a shyness in more public/crowded areas, a reluctance to appear dramatic or disingenuous and try to realize he may be a person whose mind is continually occupied with immediate issues.  (Just to add a personal note to consider:  I have been known to pass by people whom I know really well without acknowledging them.  This is NEVER (in my case) done to purposely ignore someone.  If I am in deep thought, for some reason, I do not focus on too much around me.)   LOL  I believe this also explains to me why I am easily startled!  When someone approaches me at particular times, I can scream out and jump from being startled.  This usually scares the other person more than it does me. LOL
      I would not think your friend is "up to something,"  unless and until he gives you good reason.  Peace,, Paula

    16. letstalkabouteduc profile image96
      letstalkabouteducposted 8 years ago

      If you asked me this question 16 years ago, I would naively say that the person has something to hide and should not be trusted. But 16 years ago, I had a child with autism and have since met dozens of people on the spectrum who have trouble with eye contact. They're good, trustworthy people but maintaining eye contact is difficult for them and takes practice.

    17. clivewilliams profile image71
      clivewilliamsposted 8 years ago

      they are lieing or shy. Normally thats what it means...or the person they loojking at is a bit on the not so good looking side

    18. Besarien profile image72
      Besarienposted 8 years ago

      It could mean a lot of things Some people are naturally shy. A women might not meet a man's eyes on purpose because she doesn't want to encourage his interest. Some men do it to avoid conflict because eye contact can be seen as a challenge. In certain cultures, eye contact is discouraged. Some people avoid eye contact because they want to be alone, not strike up a conversation with a stranger or even an acquaintance. People who have Asperger's also have a hard time making eye contact in social situations. Some people do it to avoid a tell when they are lying. However, a skilled liar can look you directly in the eye and tell you that the ground is the sky.

      1. alan raj profile image80
        alan rajposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        well said

      2. profile image51
        Norine Williamsposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        "However, a skilled liar can look you directly in the eye and tell you that the ground is the sky."


      3. alexarain379 profile image59
        alexarain379posted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Me also the ground is the sky,
        you look very serious in the picture

    19. profile image49
      uzairpagamerposted 8 years ago

      The person is most proberbly angry or hurt by the other person

    20. Shyron E Shenko profile image70
      Shyron E Shenkoposted 8 years ago

      Autistic people don't look people in the eye.

      1. TLilly15 profile image61
        TLilly15posted 7 years agoin reply to this

        I talk to people all of the time, and I don't look people in the eye, I have done this all my life, I have nothing to hide, I am not up to anything, I don't have any friends, and i don't let people get close to me.

      2. Shyron E Shenko profile image70
        Shyron E Shenkoposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        Joyce, I was not suggesting you are autistic.  My grandson is.
        I like to look at other people's eyes and see what I can read in them.
        Blessings to you.

    21. Virginia Allain profile image86
      Virginia Allainposted 8 years ago

      Some people are shy. I had to train myself when I was in college to really look at people. It is necessary to be socially accepted. Now I'm considered out-going, but as a kid, I was crippled by shyness.

      Some people have poor eyesight and don't recognize others. They need glasses but may be too vain to wear them.

    22. AkoSiMike profile image59
      AkoSiMikeposted 8 years ago

      It simply because both of you are not comfortable to each other and there might be other reason like anger or jealous but I think if I'm not that close to a particular person then I will feel awkwardness to that particular person and I will not care about that and just let him pass by me. One of the best thing to do is to approach that person so you can both understand each other and have clarification about that.

    23. profile image0
      ValKarasposted 8 years ago

      There could be a couple of possible reasons for that, but one that comes to mind is that he may be jealous of your popularity, your school performance, or even your looks. Another reason may be that he is by nature an introvert, closed in his own world and not particularly approachable.

      As you meet and he is avoiding an eye contact, he may be saying: "I am not ready/willing to get to know you better." It may help to know if he is generally like that with everyone, or just with you. If he is more open to some others, see who are those - like you  - that he is avoiding, and try to figure what you have in common with them.

      But then again, we are all different, and it's hard to generalize why someone does what they do. If I were you, I would ask myself why it's such a big deal in the first place. I am not "everyone's type", and it's perfectly fine with me that some folks have no interest in me. It doesn't cost me any ego-pains.

    24. Rabadi profile image76
      Rabadiposted 8 years ago

      Many things, they may be insecure, afraid, not telling the truth, the list goes on and on smile

    25. Morgan Anthony profile image61
      Morgan Anthonyposted 8 years ago

      I personally believe that when someone can't look you in the eye, they are either

      a) afraid of you
      b) find you intimidating
      c) could be from a culture where it's considered rude

    26. redrose65 profile image61
      redrose65posted 8 years ago

      when a person can't look you in the eye, it usally means they are lying to you

      1. fpherj48 profile image60
        fpherj48posted 8 years agoin reply to this

        red...This is a serious misconception. Do not fall for this inaccuracy. A Bona-fide FACT:  Compulsive/Pathological LIARS, always & effortlessly LOOK PEOPLE DIRECTLY IN THE EYES, while every syllable that comes from their mouths is a LIE.

    27. profile image0
      CCBakerposted 8 years ago

      They're lying, they're frightened of you, they're shy, or they're all seeing, and when they look at you, they see your death. People not being able to look you in the eye could mean a lot of different things, not that they're a sketchy person, which I assume, you assumed. I could be wrong, but if it was me, I'd be thinking that, but I would try to remain neutral until I was sure.

    28. profile image0
      LoliHeyposted 8 years ago

      I agree with all of the reasons listed here.  There are many reasons. Sometimes a guy won't look at a girl he finds unattractive.  He does not like looking at her.  Girls may do that do, to avoid the guy.  I would say that this guy is not interested in you at all, either as a friend or anything.  Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is ride out the crush, or forget him.

    29. aesta1 profile image91
      aesta1posted 8 years ago

      I am not sure why the person is reacting to you in that way but I have to tell you, this is an issue between my husband and I. As a child, we were trained not to look at our parents when they talk to us. It is rude. We have to look down, at our toes better. Since then, I am not really comfortable looking at people straight in the eye. I feel rude when I do it.

      Maybe, the person in this case is shy and since he does not know you well, he cringes when you look at him.

    30. Jodah profile image90
      Jodahposted 8 years ago

      The person is either shy, lacks confidence, or is feeling guilty for some deed or mistruth. Then again maybe they just find you unpleasant to look at smile

    31. Mickji profile image72
      Mickjiposted 8 years ago

      Or he can simply have asperger syndrome. It's quite spread nowadays and there is no need to search for some emotional reasons ...

    32. profile image0
      lisasuniquevoiceposted 8 years ago


      It means they're either painfully shy, or they've got something to hide. It's easy to tell if someone is shy, but try and find out what they've got to hide and you've got a job on your hands.

    33. sitebuilders profile image59
      sitebuildersposted 8 years ago

      To tell the truth, I don’t trust people, who cannot look into my eyes, especially if we know each other for quite a long time. This is because it seems unnatural when someone does not look at you during the conversation. Psychologists say that people, who avoid looking into the eyes of people during the interaction, frequently conceal something. This is really so sometimes and I’ve met such people in my life. Another reason for such a behavior is that a person may feel shy or guilty for something. Try to analyze your relationships just to find out what exactly could have happened between you. If there is nothing you can recollect, then why not just ask the person directly? This is quite normal if you know each other. Maybe, there is something that person tries to tell you, but doesn’t know how to do that. Or, maybe, this is the way that person behaves with all communication partners and you just waste your time and effort thinking about the potential reasons. Don’t be afraid – just make the first step and inquire!

    34. profile image0
      Diana Abrahamsonposted 8 years ago

      There is something disconcerting when you are not able to have eye contact with the other person. There are a lot of relationships on Facebook where no one has eye contact.

    35. profile image49
      DMitri Plattposted 8 years ago

      I honestly thinks it mean that the person feels uncomfortable looking you in the eye or either they can't tell you the truth if they not looking you in the eye.

    36. profile image54
      shafihaposted 8 years ago

      Certain people do not have the courage to talk by looking at the other persons eyes.   they may feel uncomfortable. This actually does not mean that they are scared to talk with us. We just have to interact with them in such a way that they would be able to see our eyes when we talk with them. We should make them feel at ease. We should propagate with them in such a way that they would be interacting more. Ask more questions rather then Answering to the questions which they are asking.bring them to  places which has a calm atmosphere such as the beach, park where they would be feeling peaceness and it would be easier for them to interact with you when they are in such surroundings. Always have the thought of not giving up and surely one day they will look into your eyes and they will ask you certain questions which you would not be able to answer by looking into their eyes.

    37. aryan_cool profile image58
      aryan_coolposted 8 years ago

      In one simple line, he/she is hiding something from you .


    38. Mithun Nair profile image60
      Mithun Nairposted 8 years ago

      It means that the particular person is hiding something from you or it can also mean that the particular person does not wish to communicate with you in the particular time.

    39. cebutouristspot profile image76
      cebutouristspotposted 8 years ago

      You are right there is no definite answer.

      First of all as you said you never really gotten acquainted and simply assuming that he knows you.

      He may simply don't notice you.  I sometimes don't notice people when I am deep in thoughts.  Yes. Sometimes people are in auto pilot (walking along the alley may qualify to this) when they are thinking of something important.

      Overall, you dont have a friendship relationship with this person looking at your eye is awkward and may be taken as a challenge by some.

    40. profile image52
      rajashahzadnasirposted 8 years ago

      A person can't look at you in the eyes because he/she may be lying. In romantic .... It does not mean they are lying when they don't look you in the eyes.

    41. Seshagopalan profile image67
      Seshagopalanposted 8 years ago

      When you CAN look into someone's eye, it means you are bold and your views are strong on what you are speaking.

    42. roselinsojan profile image60
      roselinsojanposted 8 years ago

      I think he maybe feeling inferior to you.it is his inferiority complex.

    43. Happylovejoy profile image91
      Happylovejoyposted 8 years ago

      I think there are many reasons (as most hubbers here already mentioned). So it really depends on your history with this individual (e.g. Did you or him had an argument before?) and his personality (e.g. Maybe he is genuinely show and doesn't look at anybody in eye much anyway). I don't think you should be too bothered by it..

    44. yecall profile image72
      yecallposted 8 years ago

      Maybe he has Autism.  People with Autism have difficulty looking others in the eye.  It doesn't mean anything at all, except that they become overwhelmed.  He knows you and probably is friends with you perfectly fine.  He just has a neurological disorder and its not his fault.

    45. Junegirl58 profile image65
      Junegirl58posted 8 years ago

      I totally agree with everything that was answered below and really cannot add much more except to say if you are really liking this person, then maybe he is not the person you really thought he was. 

      I wrote a hub on the same thing, not directly on your question, but with the traffic I got on it, might be worth reading.

      Hopefully since your question was three years ago, things have gotten better since then!

    46. Dakk profile image85
      Dakkposted 8 years ago

      It may not mean much or it may mean a lot. This is one kind of behavior that can mean a whole slew of things depending on who is exhibiting it. Some people have a natural anxiety of looking people in the eyes and therefore just avoid it with anyone, even people they know and trust.
      Other people only do it with certain people they dislike or distrust, or at just embarassed to talk to. It can mean they like them, that they dislike them, etc.

      Human behavior varies a lot from person to person, so don't assume they're demonstrating a specific feeling just because they behave in a certain way. There are people who react to pain by laughing, for example.

      So basically, since you know this person, and therefore his/her personality, you and people who know him/her are the only people that can truly determine why he/she avoids eye contact.

    47. profile image51
      Dillon Schantzposted 7 years ago

      Intimidation or otherwise, just feeling awkward and shy. These characteristics usually revolve around high school students.

    48. Hannah Patton profile image61
      Hannah Pattonposted 7 years ago

      In my opinion it can mean many different things. It could be a cultural thing. In many cultures it is considered impolite to look someone in the eye. Perhaps this person is shy and introverted and is uncomfortable with looking at someone intently. It is very common for introverts to avoid looking at someone in the eye. Then again, Western culture would have us believe that all people who do not look at someone directly in the eye is shady and secretive. I personally find eye contact difficult and often look away when talking with friends and family. This is because I am shy and tend to think before I speak. If he is avoiding eye contact and displays other negative body language traits then perhaps he is not a confident person and feels awkward when he sees you. Perhaps approach him in PE class and mention that you have seen him in the alley and see how he reacts.

    49. Tracey Henton profile image56
      Tracey Hentonposted 7 years ago

      I was always told if you can't look a person in the eye they're not very truthful


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