Boyfriend Won’t Make Eye Contact

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

what does it mean when a guy doesn’t make eye contact with you when talking in a group, but does with everyone else in the group?
I’ve been with my man for a couple of years now and generally everything is fine, but this really bugs me. If it’s just us talking he’ll always make eye contact with me but if there’s anyone else there, he’ll maintain eye contact with them when he’s talking but won’t look at me at all. I find myself staring at his eyes to get him to look at me and he doesn’t, and there are times I’ve just left a group conversation because I’ve felt on the outside of it for this reason. If other people in the group are talking it’s not the case (i.e. they will make eye contact with all of us, as is normal), it’s just when he’s talking. I wonder if other people notice it too. I mean my best friend has pointed it out but no-one else has ever mentioned it.

Thank you

A: As annoying as this is to you, it doesn’t sound to me like it’s personal. Some people have tremendous difficulty tracking more than one person at a time when in conversation. He maintains eye contact with the person he is talking to but has difficulty with the social skill of scanning the group to make sure everyone feels included.

If that is the case, criticizing or scolding him isn’t going to help. You might get his attention if you offer something to the conversation. Or you might be able to suggest that he make a game of it and just cast a quick glance your way every few minutes just to make sure you haven’t been abducted by aliens while he is so engrossed. But do understand that he may feel that even such a game will interfere with his ability to stay on track with what he’s talking about.

I hope that being the total focus of his attention when he is talking to you compensates for the times he seems like he is ignoring you. If everything else is fine, I think you should let it go.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Oct 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Boyfriend Won’t Make Eye Contact. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/10/01/boyfriend-wont-make-eye-contact/