Friends avoiding eye contact in conversation

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HarryEzra
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29 Mar 2019, 10:20 am

I've noticed that a lot of my non-autistic friends rarely make eye contact with me when we're talking, and usually look to the side or down or whatever. I've been a bit confused as to why this is, and the only thing I can think of is that they are aware I may find eye contact distracting/awkward so are trying to make me feel more comfortable by avoiding it themselves. I was wondering if anybody else has friends who do this, or can suggest why mine might be doing it? It isn't really a problem, I just find it odd.



shadowtag
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29 Mar 2019, 10:56 am

Perhaps it's a byproduct of society increasingly connecting through indirect means, such as the internet; or related to the fact that our social contact is more often mediated through screens in general.

The constant intrusion and stimulation from all our "devices" can overload us cognitively; in addition to mentally isolating us. Overtime it might make direct social contact increasingly difficult and awkward, autistic or not.

Just a guess, though it may not apply to your friends' individual context. Maybe they are simply trying to make you feel more comfortable.


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jimmy m
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29 Mar 2019, 10:59 am

First off, Welcome to Wrong Planet.

Most Aspies (but not all) exhibit introvert qualities. Around fifty percent of the people in the world are introverts and the other half are extroverts.

So the lack of eye contact may be related to whether the person is an introvert or extrovert. A quick search on the internet around the question "Do introverts avoid eye contact?" provides an answer by Paramita Biswas, a psychologist:

I have lot of introvert clients and I can tell you that in general, introverts may not make eye contact with you as much as extroverts. This is because they don’t feel the need to partake in social norms and rituals as much as extroverts, not because they’re “scared”. Introversion is an inborn personality type that you can’t change. Many people falsely believe that introverts can (or want to) “unlearn” their quiet, passive tendencies and transform into extroverts and can make.a super eye contact. It is not clearly possible. Sometimes introverts avoid eye contact that doesn't mean they are shy or feel inferior. Many time it depends on our pupil. Pupil dilation, blink rates, direction of gaze, widening of the eyes all send very clear messages that good or bad eye contact always don't classify introvert or extrovert.

Source: Do introverts avoid eye contact?


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Sweetleaf
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29 Mar 2019, 11:09 am

How is your eye contact? Perhaps they are reacting to your lack of eye contact. I suspect it would be hard to maintain eye contact with someone who is not maintaining it themselves...so you may end up then not trying to make eye contact with the person as much.


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shadowtag
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29 Mar 2019, 12:09 pm

Sweetleaf wrote:
How is your eye contact? Perhaps they are reacting to your lack of eye contact. I suspect it would be hard to maintain eye contact with someone who is not maintaining it themselves...so you may end up then not trying to make eye contact with the person as much.


Ah, like a sort of mutual awkwardness?


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HarryEzra
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29 Mar 2019, 1:01 pm

shadowtag wrote:
Perhaps it's a byproduct of society increasingly connecting through indirect means, such as the internet; or related to the fact that our social contact is more often mediated through screens in general.

The constant intrusion and stimulation from all our "devices" can overload us cognitively; in addition to mentally isolating us. Overtime it might make direct social contact increasingly difficult and awkward, autistic or not.

Just a guess, though it may not apply to your friends' individual context. Maybe they are simply trying to make you feel more comfortable.

That's an interesting point, I hadn't thought of that. Not sure it is relevant in the situations I was thinking of because usually my friends aren't on their phones etc., but it's a useful thing to be aware of and might play a role for sure.



HarryEzra
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29 Mar 2019, 1:04 pm

jimmy m wrote:
First off, Welcome to Wrong Planet.

Most Aspies (but not all) exhibit introvert qualities. Around fifty percent of the people in the world are introverts and the other half are extroverts.

So the lack of eye contact may be related to whether the person is an introvert or extrovert. A quick search on the internet around the question "Do introverts avoid eye contact?" provides an answer by Paramita Biswas, a psychologist:

I have lot of introvert clients and I can tell you that in general, introverts may not make eye contact with you as much as extroverts. This is because they don’t feel the need to partake in social norms and rituals as much as extroverts, not because they’re “scared”. Introversion is an inborn personality type that you can’t change. Many people falsely believe that introverts can (or want to) “unlearn” their quiet, passive tendencies and transform into extroverts and can make.a super eye contact. It is not clearly possible. Sometimes introverts avoid eye contact that doesn't mean they are shy or feel inferior. Many time it depends on our pupil. Pupil dilation, blink rates, direction of gaze, widening of the eyes all send very clear messages that good or bad eye contact always don't classify introvert or extrovert.


Very interesting, thank you - I didn't know this! Might well be relevant as I expected many of my friends would classify as introverts - thank you :)



HarryEzra
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29 Mar 2019, 1:06 pm

Sweetleaf wrote:
How is your eye contact? Perhaps they are reacting to your lack of eye contact. I suspect it would be hard to maintain eye contact with someone who is not maintaining it themselves...so you may end up then not trying to make eye contact with the person as much.

The thing that confuses me about the situation is that I had thought I was relatively good at doing eye contact, and nobody has ever commented on it in the past...which is what makes me think perhaps my friends know about the AS eye contact symptom and are avoiding it for that reason, but I don't know. I did wonder if it was because of my own eye contact and it easily might be tbh



Autiste
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03 Apr 2019, 9:02 am

I know that some of my more aware friends deliberately make sure to try not to overwhelm me with too much eye contact.

OTOH I have one friend, 20 years older than me (I'm 45), who does know quite a bit about autism, but often her eye contact s overwhelming and she doesn't let up, even though my gaze will be sliding around all over and I must be obviously uncomfortable. But she's a great person for me to know in many ways,so I have to accept the discomfort for the other benefits.



jimmyjazzuk
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13 Apr 2019, 3:33 pm

Maybe your staring intensely or have a lack of expression. If you are dead still with no body language can be off Putting to NTs.



shortfatbalduglyman
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14 Apr 2019, 9:34 pm

Mirroring


Some idiots had the nerve to ask me "what the f**k are you looking at?"


Some idiots had the nerve to tell me "look at me when I am talking to you"


36 years old and only one person has ever asked if I wanted him to make more or less eye contact


It was a volunteer counselor


One out of 35 counselors are



Socraates
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05 May 2019, 10:41 am

There are very real difference between men vs. women. Direct eye contact, especially if sustained, between men is a serious threat posture. You'll often see men staring off into space most of the time, or both facing the same direction, during a friendly chat. Women on the other hand are almost always facing each other directly and engage in a lot of eye contact. If you don't do so when talking to most women they are offended -- they think you're hiding something.

Learning to read faces is very important. There are a number of books on the subject. Body language books are also very helpful.