We’ve all done it. We’ve all checked someone out without them being aware. Even girls do it to check our rival females or a particularly hunky guy. Women think men are the only ones, but that is only because science has show us that men’s peripheral vision is so much less broad then women’s. Since women can see much more of what is going on without other’s being aware, they appear less obvious and get caught less easily. When men look, they zero in as if they are tracking a prey animal and so appear to stare. As a sexy women walks past, men’s eyes almost universally drop down to the women’s behind. However, if men could sacrifice just one gaze and keep it affixed to the women they are with, they will notice that they too have noticed the other women’s behind. The only point of difference is that while men only notice the rear end, women noticed both the rear end and also that her man’s eyes dropped to check it out! If women didn’t really notice both, how would they know what men were actually looking at!

Stealing looks can happen more discretely too. Out of the corner of our eye, we spot a sexy blonde or tall handsome man so our eyes look to the side quickly while our head remains motionless. Without skipping a beat we continue in our conversation because we don’t want to acknowledge our shallow curiousity. We might even drop our heads to inspect our hands (a slight of hand in magic) or our meal in order to divert witnesses. Then, if desired we cast our eyes back if we feel particularly compelled to act sneaky. More often though, we steal looks in an effort not to be noticed by the ones we steal from.

What is the hidden meaning behind stealing a look? The answer is simple, it’s context specific! Performed by a married man checking out attractive woman, for example, it can indicate sexual interest under secrecy. In this case, the interest is normally benign; the look is concealed such that he wants no one to know because he does not intend to pursue his interest. In other words, it’s just an idle curiosity. For a woman checking out another woman, it might indicate jealousy or competitiveness as she is seen as a rival. If it occurs in combination with down-turned eyebrows, furrowed brows, or a frown it could mean hostility, suspicion or a critical attitude. With the combination of the lips pressed firmly together it might indicate a suspicious or questioning attitude. The eyes might also be used to subtly draw the attention of our company onto the others without them being aware so we might include them in negative conversation or gossip. As in, “I heard about the new girl Julie (in a whispering voice)” then motioning twice in succession with the eyes in the direction of Julie to indicate exactly who is being spoken about. Finally, stealing looks might be simply used to satisfy a flat out curiousity of which we don’t want others from which we steal from to notice. In this case, we don’t want them to have the satisfaction of knowing that they peak our interest so it might build their confidence even further while making us appear desperate or of lower status. Obviously this is just a small list of the possible reasons for look stealing, each one being context specific and requiring additional cues to properly solve.