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The Levels of Eye Contact


Mark Manson

September 5,
2011

Eye contact is important, especially in dating and gauging peoples attraction to you. Everyone should have a basic
understanding of what each person is eye-coding them in any given situation, and it doesnt take a cryptographer to
figure it out. Or if it does, then fuck it, Im that cryptographer. Here is an entirely overly-analytical, and mostly-satircalbut-kinda-true-too guide to the levels of eye contact and what they mean.
Level (-1): No Contact (Intentional) Beyond the lowest level of eye contact, this is when someone is not only not
making eye contact with you, but theyre consciously making an effort to NOT look at you. In the heights of sexual
intimacy, Level (-1) is subterranean. Its a persons way of saying, Get away from me, creep, without, you know,
actually saying it. This eye contact (or lack thereof) is typically reserved for the horny mouth-breathers who stare at a
girls tits, obnoxious drunk guys in full-on bro-mode, the crazed ex-girlfriend stalker, or any other potential rapist in
ones vicinity. Level (-1) eye contact can also occur within a conversation. So just because he or she is responding to
you verbally doesnt mean youre out of the gates yet. Put simply, if someone is intentionally making an effort to NOT
look at you, theyre not interested. Its the anti-intimacy. The non-verbal cue for Give it up
That or you have some mustard on your face.
Level 0: No Contact (Unintentional) An unintentional absence of eye contact signals a lack of knowledge you
exist. It means nothing other than they havent noticed you. Either theyre busy and focusing on something else, or
youre about as intriguing to look at as grandmas new wallpaper.
Level 1: Glance (Unconscious) An unconscious glance is that moment when someone looks up at you and then
immediately looks away, although theyre not aware of what theyre looking at. Its basically when their eyes are
wandering around and coincidentally meet yours for a moment and then continue wandering. The key here is that he
or she is not aware of them meeting and therefore nothing is registering to them as particularly interesting or enticing
in that moment. Just like Level 0, this level of eye contact is neutral and theres not much to take away from it. Most
people arent paying attention to what theyre looking at most of the time.
Level 2: Glance (Conscious) The second level of eye contact is the first type of eye contact where youve possibly
made a positive impression on a person. This is when your eyes and theirs happen to meet and then they look away
immediately, except they look away consciously, whether it be shyness, awkwardness, or disinterest. Body language
studies claim that a person who breaks eye contact with you by looking down is intimidated (i.e., attracted) and a
person who breaks eye contact by looking to the side is indifferent (i.e., not attracted). I have no idea if this is true or
not. But if someone breaks eye contact with you quickly and intentionally, its usually a polarized response: theyre
either attracted and momentarily self-conscious by your presence, or theyre uninterested and avoiding making
contact altogether. Most people are not comfortable holding eye contact with strangers, what would signal the interest
here is that their eyes were drawn to you in the first place. So its not the breaking it so much that is important, whats
important is that they consciously looked at you.
Differentiating between Level 2 eye contact and Level 1 eye contact is subtle and hard to do consistently with any sort
of accuracy. Although you do pick up some acuity over time. Its impossible to ever be 100% certain what someone
elses intentions are, so why not just assume everyone who makes strong eye contact with you is attracted until
proven otherwise?
A good exercise for someone who is new or shy is to practice never breaking eye contact with people before they
break it with you. Walk around all day and make eye contact with people you find interesting or attractive. Youll feel

uncomfortable making eye contact with strangers, but thats the idea. Keep doing it until it feels natural. It will help
your confidence.
Level 3: Glance and a Half Level 3 is the first level where interest is conveyed, ever so slightly. Like the other
lower levels of eye contact, the glance and a half is subtle and difficult to notice without a lot of practice. Its when
someone looks at you and breaks eye contact as they normally do, but they hold the eye contact for a split second
longer than is normal. Im talking maybe 1/4 of a second longer. Whereas Level 2 eye contact may last half a second,
Level 3 will last 3/4 of a second. Its subtle, its short, and its unconscious. Humans are wired to spend more time
looking at things they find attractive on an unconscious level. So in their mind, theyre still breaking eye contact with
you, but in practice, theyre actually looking at you 50% longer than they would normally.
It took me a while to start picking up on Level 3 eye contact. Level 3 happens most often when they are consciously
focused on something else, such as on their cell phone or talking to somebody theyre with. They dont realize that
theyre looking at you as long as they are. Any eye contact from Level 3 and should be a strong incentive for the two
of you to at least have a conversation.
Level 4: Double Glance Heres a good habit to get yourself into once youre able to maintain eye contact with
people walking around. Any time you make eye contact with someone attractive and they look away, keep looking at
them for another few seconds. A percentage of them will look at you a second time. In my experience, this is a clear
sign of physical interest, and 95+% of the subsequent interactions you initiate with this person will be received warmly.

Whats funny is that even on Level 4 eye contact, most people are not conscious that theyre doing it. Ive approached
women who have looked at me twice in a row and I mentioned that I saw them look at me, and they seriously didnt
remember looking at me. Ive even said, We did an eye contact thing. We made eye contact like three times in a row,

you didnt notice? And they didnt or they were lying scumbags. Either way, just goes to show how most people are
off in their own little world not thinking about any of this stuff. Regardless, the unconscious mind is always seeking out
things it finds interesting or intriguing, so if their eyes keep falling on you, its a sign.
Level 5: The Gaze The gaze is the last level that can occur unconsciously although its usually conscious. This is
when someone looks at you and just keeps looking at you past the normal look away moment. This is a solid 2-3
seconds of eye contact without them breaking it. When undesired, this becomes the infamous creep stare. But in the
cases of desirable people looking at you, this is why its so important to get in the habit of being able to hold eye
contact, because otherwise youll miss out on all of the people giving you Level 3-5 eye contact. The gaze is a clear
and large sign of interest. Youd be pretty dumb to pass up this signal.

Level 6: The Smile The sixth level of eye contact is The Gaze plus a smile. If the gaze is a clear sign telling you
that theyre interested, throwing a smile on top of it may as well be a neon flashing billboard. If someone you find
attractive gives you Level 6 and you dont talk to them, not only are you an idiot, but you probably have some serious
anxiety going on.
Level 7: The Eye Fuck This is someone who makes eye contact, holds it, smiles, and then never stops. They just
keep staring and smiling, and staring and smiling, sometimes for minutes at a time. Eye fucking is the first level of eye
contact that makes the leap from interested/curious to they want to have sex with me. Eye fucking doesnt withhold
any intentions. Its about as much interest as one can possibly display through eye contact alone. If you get eye
fucked by an attractive person and dont act on it, youre probably blind or mid-seizure. I cant think of any other
reasonable explanation.
When undesired, the eye fuck is exceedingly creep. If youre a man and you regularly eye fuck women who do not

reciprocate or smile back, then you likely have pepper spray in your near future.
Eye fuckers will often end up approaching you if you dont approach. Although many of them will give up if you dont
approach for a few minutes and assume youre not interested. If youre a man and a woman is eye fucking you, the
hint should be clear: she wants you to talk to her.
Level 8: Dreamboat The dreamboat happens when someone has fallen for you. This is when you wake up in the
morning to someone staring at you with that dreamy smile like theyre drunk or stayed up all night sniffing glue. Its the
way two people look at each other when cuddling and making cutesy noises while rubbing their noses together. The
dreamboat almost never happens before youve had sex with someone, and if it does, theyre either Amish or its a
giant red flag. Usually it starts happening after a month or two into a new relationship, although it can happen in as
little as a couple nights together (or in rare circumstances, one).

Assuming the feeling is mutual, the Dreamboat is amazing. Its the most validating eye contact a person can give you.
Centuries of literature and million-dollar films have thrived off of what the Dreamboat stare signifies. Its what we
humans are obsessed with on some level. And whether we like to admit it or not, its what most of us are after in the
long-run. So when you find it, enjoy it.
But if the feeling is not mutual, if the Dreamboat is a one-way street, its not always such a pleasant experience.
Unrequited love is no fun for anybody. Nobody likes to break a heart and make those eyes cry. Just be honest and
upfront, break things off with respect and dignity, and hope that her eyes dont morph into

Level 9: The Crazies The 10th and final level of eye


contact cannot be explained as much as experienced.
When you experience The Crazies, a person doesnt
even have to be present to see them. They haunt you.
Theyre everywhere and nowhere. Its the guy who
wakes you up by banging on your window at 3AM crying
that you never called him back. Or the girl who faked
being pregnant because she thought itd get you to get
back together with her. Or the guy who carved your
name into his arm as a birthday present. Theyre the
eyes that look at you in earnest when they say they want
to quit their job and move to Tahiti so that you two can be
together perfectly alone forever. The Crazies signify
delusion, hopeless emotion, and the complete loss of a
grip on reality. The Crazies often come with a restraining
order.
People who have seen The Crazies and lived to tell
about it do so with a level of humility and despondence.
Most have dealt with their share of irrational and
dramatic relationships. Some have perhaps witnessed
The Crazies for fleeting moments an enraged
girlfriend who ran around at him with a baseball bat, the
guy who left her 43 angry voicemails in one night and
these people pass these stories of insanity around
almost as a badge of honor. But those who have seen
the depths, looked into the eyes and seen the true
amorous insanity behind them, like any true veteran they
prefer to keep the pain and horror stowed away in their
hearts, not to see the light of day. They say all is fair in love and war, and in certain places and at certain times, the
two dont feel so differently. And like any war story, living it and telling it do neither justice.

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