James W. Hicks, M.D.

The Eyes as a Sexual Organ

In Flexercises on July 28, 2010 at 10:02 am

Your eyes may be your most important sexual organs.

When we make eye contact with someone we find attractive, the shared gaze triggers an automatic smile, and our brains release hormones that contribute to the feeling that we have made a personal connection. These hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, are also released during sexual arousal, at orgasm, during breast-feeding, and when parents gaze at their newborn babies. They seem to be responsible for emotional bonding.

When two people are “hot” for each other, it is because these hormones have triggered the release of dopamine in the brain, creating a feeling of excitement, confidence, focus, euphoria, and passion. These are the same feelings we experience when using drugs or gambling, and the mechanism is the same. This is why Romeo and Juliet, who fell in love after catching each other’s gaze from across the room, remain the quintessential example of passionate love. After all, what did they know about each other, aside from what they could gather from their eyes?

You can be as randy as a cat in heat, but no one will know if you are uncomfortable making eye contact. By meeting the gaze of another man or woman and holding it for a fraction of a second longer than usual, you can signal your interest. Most of us are culturally conditioned to avoid staring, and if someone glances at us, we quickly look away. This instinct is even more pronounced in East Asian cultures, which value privacy, deference, and saving face. A penetrating gaze is more acceptable, at least for men, in many Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and South Asian cultures.

If you stare at someone who catches your interest, you run the risk that they will not reciprocate and may feel uncomfortable. After all, not everyone enjoys being the target of someone else’s sexual interest. There are many social contexts in which it would be unwise to stare, because you may be perceived as predatory. For example, you do not want to sexually harass your colleagues at work. But eye contact is a fairly safe method of testing the waters, because if your target is not sexually interested, he or she will likely not even notice or look away quickly rather than return your gaze.

Try making eye contact with men and women whom you find attractive. You may already be doing so with the opposite sex, but you will be surprised to find how many of the same sex will also return your gaze. Some may hold eye contact out of curiosity rather than desire, but that at least indicates a certain amount of comfort on the other person’s part. Others may look surprised, flattered, or disinterested.

Once you start making eye contact, you will notice that many women and men have been looking at you too and will smile when you reciprocate. You cannot reasonably judge a person’s character just by making eye contact, but you can at least begin to assess whether they are as interested in you as you are in them.

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