04 June 2004

Eye contact rules for straight men

These rules apply everywhere in the United States I have ever been: Manhattan and Montana, weddings and bondage demonstrations.

  1. Nine times out of ten, eye contact with a woman is just an end in itself, a happy little miracle, and nothing more. You didn't miss the chance, you captured it for what it is worth. A day that includes one of these is a good day, period.
  2. If that first occasion of eye contact lasts a really long time, then the normal rules are suspended and you should do as suits you — but don't forget rule #1.
  3. Typically, after a few sustained moments of eye contact, Mademoiselle will look away. She will now reflect on her state of mind, and you may try to catch her eye again.
  4. If you get a second sustained stretch of eye contact, different things can happen:
    1. If Mademoiselle smiles, you have been invited to approach and greet her. Mademoiselle may not want to talk to you for long, but she does want to talk to you. Smile back, and go say “hi.” It is rude if you do not approach her.
    2. If Mademoiselle does not smile, you should smile anyway. If she smiles in return, then you have permission to approach and greet her. Permission is different from an invitation: Mademoiselle is open to the possibility that you will surprise her with your charm, but has not actually expressed interest. Theoretically, the next step is at your discretion, as she should not consider you rude whether or not you approach her ... but in practice she will feel slighted and look upon you with disfavor if you don't. Go say “hi.”
    3. If you smile on that second eye contact and Mademoiselle looks away, it is rude to approach her — she is either uninterested or too shy.
  5. You may try for a third eye contact, which obeys the same rules as the second.
  6. You may not try for a fourth eye contact.
  7. Don't forget rule #1.

Mistress Matisse offers a more detailed post on the same subject. She gets into some good subtleties about space and time.

Among other things, she makes me conscious that my phrasing of Rule #2 is a little vague. Allow me to clarify. If that first eye contact lingers with Mademoiselle looking any kind of anxious, then you're being Creepy Staring Stalker Guy, which is, y'know, bad. I was assuming that the sustained first eye contact there is happening such that it's very clearly pleasant for Mademoiselle. This is very rare, even if you're as devilishly handsome as Yours Truly, but magic when it does happen. Unless you're very sure that this is what you have happening, it's wisest to presume on a long first eye contact that you've simply jumped ahead to Rule #4.


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