Can You Fall In Love Simply By Holding Eye Contact?

couple having an intimate eye to eye contact

Once upon a time, I took a Landmark Education class, in which we were told to silently hold eye contact with a stranger for 5 minutes. I did the exercise twice.

Once, I was paired with a woman 25 years older, and by the end of the exercise, I wanted to kiss her. Why? Probably because the only people I’ve ever looked at for that long are people I’ve kissed.

The next time, I was paired with a guy. The beginning felt like a boxing staredown – the other man gazing coolly into my eyes as if itching for a fight. I couldn’t help but to smile at how he was trying to exude toughness in an exercise designed to foster intimacy. Thankfully, by the end of 5 minutes, no punches were exchanged (no kisses either), but we did feel artificially close, even without exchanging any words.

Which brings me to the point of today’s post. If you’re a New York Times reader, or, more likely, a regular on Facebook, you’ve probably seen this Modern Love piece from a few weeks back. It’s an audacious concept that asserts that we can fall in love just by holding eye contact and asking a series of increasingly intimate questions.

You want to create an intimate bond with a man? Look into his eyes, be authentic, listen to his stories with intent, and share without fear.

The author, Mandy Len Catron, tried this experiment by Dr. Arthur Aron, on a colleague at the university at which she was employed, and, sure enough, fell in love with him.

It makes for a great story, even if it’s somewhat anomalous, as the author acknowledges.

“It’s true you can’t choose who loves you, although I’ve spent years hoping otherwise, and you can’t create romantic feelings based on convenience alone. Science tells us biology matters; our pheromones and hormones do a lot of work behind the scenes.

But despite all this, I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible – simple, even – to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.

Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.”

Your takeaway should not be to grab your crush, stare into his eyes and demand he take a 36-question quiz with you, but rather, to realize that love is predicated on trust, vulnerability, mutual sharing, and emotional intimacy.

You want to create an intimate bond with a man? Look into his eyes, be authentic, listen to his stories with intent, and share without fear. Who knows? You may not fall in love, but at least you’ll have a great date.

Your thoughts, below, are always appreciated.

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  1. 1

    “…realize that love is predicated on trust, vulnerability, mutual sharing, and emotional intimacy.

    You want to create an intimate bond with a man? Look into his eyes, be authentic, listen to his stories with intent, and share without fear. ”

    During many years of serial monogamy my sub-conscious M.O. was always to “protect” myself and therefore eventually sabotage relationships. I gradually let my guard down in my last previous relationship and, though it took a long time to get there, I finally said yes to his proposal. Sadly, he passed away and I was single for two years. Quite unexpectedly, I met somebody last year and right about when we were getting serious, I saw Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability and it was then and there that I made a decision and a commitment that I was going to do this relationship differently — exactly as Evan described above — being open, vulnerable and authentic, no matter how uncomfortable and terrified I was doing so. Amazingly, it has been the happiest, most joyful, liberating, emotionally intimate, and rewarding relationship (six months so far) of my life, and aside from trust, honesty, etc., I attribute our mutual joy largely to our being willing to be vulnerable, open and authentic.

  2. 2

    Interesting article, can’t wait to try it out. Even discussion of it would lead to interesting conversations.

  3. 3

    funnily enough, even without this article I did just that on a date I went on just last Sunday…

    Yep, great date (good chemistry, good humour, each of us intently listening to the other… and yes, he told me I have beautiful eyes.. 🙂 At the end of the date we even shared a kiss, he walked me to my car… I called him on his way home to let him know I really enjoyed meeting him (likewise, he said). Have I heard from him since..? Will pigs fly on El Al on a Shabbat first?
    Well, as Evan said… we had a great date..

    1. 3.1

      JulesP, your mistake was in calling him on the way home. After the date you’re supposed to wait by the phone and let him decide how your life will be. Ah well, next time you’ll know better!

      1. 3.1.1

        Wendy…:-))) yep, that’s what I’ll have to do next time.

        I reckon he simply got cold feet. I should probably mention that I’m 53, he’s 52. We’re both divorced with kids and… his wife died a year ago.

        1. Joe

          Just sounds like he’s not ready to date yet.

  4. 4

    I like the quote about “You’re in love because you’ve made the choice to be”. I really think there’s a lot of truth to that. As Pipe John Paul ll said (along with some other people, I’m sure), “Love is an action, not just a feeling”.

  5. 5

    I think this also should remind us that “love is not enough.” This experiment demonstrates that one could gaze into the eyes of Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Stalin (if they were alive, of course – LOL) and fall in love with these evil men just because of visual contact. It stands to reason that most of us fall in love with people who are (probably!) not genocidal maniacs but who are totally wrong for us in other ways; we should not to be swayed too much by the feeling of love. Traits like kindness, respectfulness and an ability/willingness to communicate need to be present if this delightful feeling of love is to translate into a healthy, stable relationship.

  6. 6

    I can totally relate to this article. I recently dated a man for just 3 short weeks, about 8 dates in all. For me there was a connection. Primarily due to him gazing into my eyes for long period of times. It was as if he was trying to read my mind and search my soul. Three weeks and I became attached to a man, with no physical intimacy. The vulnerability and differing personalities eventually is what stopped us from moving forward. Opposites attract and sometimes it’s just too much. The whole introvert and extrovert are polar opposites and don’t always translate into a successful relationship. Love is a choice and an action.

  7. 7

    Did it for one hour while talking to an acquaitance who I really like and yep, I fell in love.

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