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What is the psychological love-eye trick? It is the notion that by using your eyes in a certain way, you can make someone fall in love with you. If you have ever fallen in love with a movie star, you know that some exceptional people can act (fake) in a way to set your passions running.
Is it wise to trick someone in to falling in love with you, in real life? Is it ethical? Is it an act of emotional abuse? You decide after knowing this: it is a behaviour pattern of con-artists, sociopaths, and psychopaths.
Note of caution: no ethical or reasonable person would seek to ‘trick’ someone into thinking they were loved. People do not want to feel used, and certainly don’t want to feel tricked.
If you want to find deep and lasting love, seeking to trick someone into thinking they are loved is not a good start. Love has ethics; breach them at your peril. Assuming you are ethical and reasonable, you might want to know: how and why do ‘love-eyes’ influence or play a part in falling in love.
That might not be the right question. Maybe something comes first. Maybe we have love-eyes after we have fallen in love, and they confirm and our emotional state. Or, maybe when we are genuinely interested in someone, we look at them with what are read as love-eyes. Maybe, too, when we show interest, our eye-expressed interest, is read as love-eyes, and that alerts the other person to our emotional state towards them, which then encourages, or at least invites, them to be interested in us. If expressed, their eye-statements then confirm for us that there is mutual interest, and the self-reinforcing cycle continues its journey towards love.
People fall in love with people whom they think understand and appreciate them. The only way you can hope to understand anyone is by listening to them.
‘Listening’ involves a lot more than using your ears. You can listen with your other senses, too. We unconsciously ‘listen’ with our noses – we smell and respond to pheromones.
Much of our ‘listening’ is conducted visually; by our eyes. We ‘listen’ to body language, facial expressions, eye movements, where someone is focusing their attention, and so on. Effective listening is a whole mind and body process, not just one of the ears and eyes.
People want to feel listened to, validated, encouraged, supported, understood, and needed. By listening with your whole existence, you send many attractive signals:
- I find you interesting.
- I value you.
- Your thoughts and opinions matter to me.
- You are the most important person in the world.
- I find you attractive.
Is that how love-eye works? Yes, when you give compassionate eye-contact, looking into and around someone’s eyes, while talking it sends the above signals.
What effect do those signals have, if they are welcome?
- Listening to people gives them the chance to express themselves, fully.
- Expression, sought and well-received, builds trust.
- Building trust leads to better understanding.
- Enhanced understanding leads to respect and appreciation.
- All are on a trajectory towards love, or at least, mutual liking and admiration.
How does that work? Since we can’t even define consciousness, or understand how one consciousness can impact another through communication, it will be a long time before we can give an accurate answer to that question. For now, we have to rely on observations to explain what is going on. Here are some near universal observations to develop our understanding:
- We listen to people who listen to us.
- We seek to understand people who seek to understand us.
- We trust people we understand and who trust and understand us.
- We respect and appreciate people who respect and appreciate us.
By starting the listening cycle, we make reciprocation possible, and that makes mutual appreciation, and more, possible. If love-eye is really about sending the signals of listening, what do people who fall in love listen for?
No one thing in particular, but understanding in total. What are the person’s interests, hobbies, passions? What are their opinions, thoughts, values, beliefs, likes, dislikes? When people feel that someone is really listening to them, really trying to understand, they tend to start opening up. When their emotionally risky self-disclosure is met with rewarding feedback, they tend to open up even more.
Most people are terrible listeners. When we stumble across an excellent listener, that person really stands out – by virtue of their rarity. Excellent listeners are rewarding listeners – they make it easy and safe for us to talk -they emotionally reward us for talking. As a result, they are able to form rapport faster and deeper than other people. How?
- By making good eye contact, as described before.
- By asking pick and carry on questions. When we raise a topic, the rewarding listener picks it up and asks questions about it to encourage us to carry on with the topic. Most of us find that rewarding – it tells us that they are listening and trying to understand.
- By giving us appropriate praise. When they spot something, they genuinely appreciate about us, or in what we express, and they show their appreciation – we feel rewarded.
This is where the love-eye ‘trick’ seems to have originated. Presumably some manipulative people thought that by the use of the eyes alone it is possible to make someone fall in love. Let’s test that theory.
- If someone gives you love-eye but doesn’t seem to follow what you are saying, will you be impressed? No.
- If someone follows what you are saying, while giving you love-eye, but doesn’t ask you any questions, will you be impressed? No.
- If someone follows what you are saying, while giving you love-eye, asks questions about what you are saying, and then changes subject after each time you have answered, will you be impressed? No.
Why? Because it takes a lot more than love-eye to form rapport, and much more than that to fall in love. Does love-eye work on its own? Very unlikely. Can good, and appreciative eye contact help with rapport formation? Yes, definitely.
Professor Nigel MacLennan runs PsyPerform, a leadership coaching practice. He is a visiting professor at the University of Bolton.