Eye Contact in a Group Setting

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

About a year ago, one of my male friends began showing interest in me and we occasionally began hooking up at social events hosted by friends (this only ever happened under the influence of alcohol). We did very little communicating outside of the setting of our friend group, and did not want to make anything serious out of it seeing as we would be leaving for college in the fall. Our relationship did, however, end up being sexual. The only times we spoke throughout the academic year were when we came home during breaks and hung out as a group, and this is when I began noticing something. Whenever he is telling a story to our group of friends (about 6 people), he only maintains eye contact with me. It is as if he is only speaking to me, he will not look at anyone else. I am not the first person to notice this, seeing as everyone else feels slightly awkward given the fact that he barely acknowledges their presence when he is speaking. What could this say about how he feels in relation to me? Could this mean he feels as if I am the dominant person in the room, or that he is genuinely concerned with my opinion of him?

A: Thank you for sending this to us. Obviously it is hard for me to know for sure, but my guess is he may not be fully aware of it. After years of studying groups and the reactions of people in them I have learned that people are often unaware of their actions and reactions. You may want to read an article about how unaware folks can be in group here.

I would simply talk to him about it. It may be time to find out more about how he feels about you — and you about him. If you’re having a sexual relationship with him discussing his eye contact should not be a problem.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Jul 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Eye Contact in a Group Setting. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/07/13/eye-contact-in-a-group-setting/