When friends talk to one another they aren’t trying to peer into their souls, rather, they gaze. The gaze is non-threatening and like the intimate gaze, which follows, the eyes travel over the face in a specific pattern. In the friendly gaze, the eyes travel in a triangular pattern from eye to eye then to the mouth with some infrequent looks to the rest of the body. The reason we cast our eyes infrequently over other parts of the body is simply due to the reason that it is of less interest and of less value in friendship which is just the opposite of that which happens in the intimate gaze. With friends, gaze is brief, lasting only about three seconds followed by looking away. The research tells us that about seventy-five percent of the time eyes travel through the triangular pattern from the eyes to the mouth, ten percent of the time is spent on forays to the forehead and hair, and five percent to the chin, with the remaining time split on various other features.
After a period of gaze or mutual eye-contact both people will avert their eyes downward instead of left, right or upward. But if you are really in a comedic mood and want to put the fright into someone, break your eye contact by quickly looking up and taking a step backwards! They will most certainly think that something is about to fall on them which is the likely reason we rarely look up when breaking eye contact. Looking down, on the other hand is a symbol of submission whereas looking left or right can imply disinterest (or interest in something else), or a desire to withdraw from the conversation. Looking past or ‘through’ someone, by having an expressionless face, and unblinking eyes has the same affect, it places importance on other things aside from the conversation at hand. Of course, and as mentioned previously, feelings associated with improper eye contact is noted and held subconsciously, since for most people they are out of the normal range of awareness. That being said, people will attach powerful feelings and judgments to us based on how we use eye contact during conversation regardless of our true personalities.
The extreme end of negative thoughts and feelings related to eye contact comes from prolonged periods of unbroken eye contact – staring!