Do you find difficulty in "making eye contact"?

When having a conversation I often find it hard to look the other person in the eye. I feel "embarrassed" or "uncomfortable" and often look at the floor or in a different direction. Is this a fibromyalgia "thing"? Or is it my timid personality? I often feel very self-conscious. How can I "learn" to improve my eye contact? All suggestions welcome!! Xx

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  • I am the same phlebo. I think its because of fibro as fibro has slowly eaten away at my self confidence and self worth and i think thats why i dont look at peoples faces if i can help it...even my OH says i do this when talking to him and hes lovely. My 15 year old son has high functioning Aspergers Syndrome which is a form of autism. He wont make eye contact when talking but thats a different kettle of fish altogether xx

  • I get that way when im really tired and hungry and people turn up for a visit.

  • I guess we're all like that, Ermintrude - I certainly am!

    i don't think fibro actually causes this problem, but it does eat away at your self-confidence, and that can make it difficult to interact normally with others.

    The other day, someone mentioned Assertiveness Training, and the more I think about it, the more I think it's a good idea for most of us.

    These classes are available in most districts, but there's usually a charge. Well worth it if you can spare the pennies, in my opinion!

    Moffy x

  • Only because I am very short..... No seriously I don't but then I have had years with fibro to grow a thick skin... Though as a child I was painfully shy....

  • I'm not like it but then I'd never have worked in industry I did I used to be like it as a child I'd cry if ppl looked or talked to me but now no

  • I've always been ultra confident, and can talk to whoever I meet, as in old workmate 'friend of old' whichever, but I limit my conversation, its as if I tell myself as soon as I see them 'Right, 5 mins no more', and I'm so glad when I make myself keep to that, and dont let them see 'me' suffering inside with this illness, telling them I'm not too bad and shifting the conversation onto to them, no matter how glad or happy I am actually to see them, seems to be a necessity for me. I 'feel' too much inside, and dont want to tell them "Well actually because of this illness I feel like topping myself quite frequently actually", who wants to hear that. lol

  • Hiya Claire - I too am pretty confident but have found that having ME/fibro has reduced my capacity for casual conversations with neighbours etc as start to feel panicky, and I think 'stop talking to me!'. I can only bear conversations with people i know really well and even then it can be exhausting leaving me trembly and hyper. I find that i make jokes about my condition such as 'no i don't work any more, I'm a registered demic' ok maybe not very light hearted lol but you have to keep people at bay sometimes as some of them are just plain nosy and looking for gossip. really feel for you in your condition as i know its plain bloody horrible and the effort of keeping a smile on your face can be overwhelming. take care of yourself xxx

  • Gosh V-G just realised I was also painfully ( not a pun!!) Shy as a child......must have been a sign of things to come.

  • Yes Claire I think a lot of us feel that others do not wish to to hear about our aches and pains so we "pretend" to be Well on the outside and keep all our suffering inside. Take care xx

  • Yes Phlebo123, you hit the nail on the head, I am afraid if they look too close into my eyes I'll have to tell them I'm not too well at all, and honestly, dont want my old workmates going into work with another 10 minute tale (I guess!) about my illness, I figure I'm too flipping sick for an audience, so I think I've the right idea for me anyway.

    Also I had cataract operations and have less than 50% vision in one eye so it hurts my eyes to talk intently with anyone, while looking in their eyes, I also cant stand too close to anyone while talking to them, unless of course my family, but even then I think everyone needs their space about them, and hates it being invaded, I think people are naturally private. Sure we could write a book between us all xx Thank you

  • I'm not like it but then I'd never have worked in industry I did I used to be like it as a child I'd cry if ppl looked or talked to me but now no

  • Hi,, this is something that's effected me for years n years probably since I was in my early 20s Infact many people have drawn attention to it. I have to say people have known me do it and eventually take no notice ,, family personal friends . I forget I do it and when I go to interviews I make sure I keep good eye contact because I'm conscious I may do it. If I can remember that is. Sometimes I actually get a headache if I'm trying to keep good eye contact for sometime . About five years ago I got diagnosed with a squint that I most probably had since childhood they never picked up on it at the opticians. So I don't know if that had anything to do with it. Also if I'm stood close up to someone there's no way I can keep good eye contact unless I take two steps back . I'm not sure why . The best way I can cope is , if I'm sat opposite someone I take and try to nod my head when agreeable or perhaps straighten my skirt then I can look back directly at them it is difficult to do. It's not like I'm shy or under confident I don't understand why I find it hard only that I do and like I said if I'm stood to close its vertually impossible lol x

  • this is a very interesting blog, i would love to see more members replies......x

  • Yes I have this. I often wonder if I have Aspergers. Always been shy (apart from manic episodes). Interesting to find this talked about here.

  • I've never had much self confidence but I hide it very well. I find that I don't like big groups of people. I'm fine with a few friends but big groups make me uncomfortable and I start to panic. Don't know if it's me, my age or my fibro!!! XX

  • My eye contact is very poor when Im talking to people. Ive always been like that. My mother made me feel useless and inadequate when I was growing up, so I have an inferiority complex anyway. But I also think I have either had Fibro since I was a child or even born with it, so I suppose in a horrible sort of way, I WAS pretty useless. I was never as lively or enthusiastic or as clever as my older brother, (Im dyslexic as well, which didnt help, only found out for sure when I was 50 - 55 now) which gave my self confidence a real bashing. So when I talk to people, I dont think Im worthy of being listened to. So with me I think its part Fibro, part confidence, which could go hand in hand.

  • Sorry to hear about you Mother bumblebee57, my Mam could be a lunatic too, it does have an affect on you doesnt it?, as much as you try and put it behind you and remember the good of people, take care love xxx

  • Hi bumblebee, your mother sounds like mine was - she died when i was 15 in 1975 but the damage she caused has lasted a long time. I felt the same way as you until i had a nervous breakdown about 15 years ago when i just let go of all the rubbish and found a way to go forward. i know how difficult it is to love yourself when your own mother says you're useless and dismisses you constantly as a nuisance. I had some therapy when i was mentally ill and discovered that most of my problems related to how my mother treated me and that her problems were visited on me, so to speak. never think you're unworthy bumblebee. take care and gentle hugs xxx

  • Thank you carella. I too have had therapy and my probs definitely stemmed from my childhood. Im waiting to try CBT now. My probs are so deep rooted and I KNOW I should let go but if you're told something often enough, you believe it. I decided to get my "mother" out of my life 15 years ago when I was 40 and life is much better, but those little niggles still haunt me. I think I need really deep therapy like hypnotism. Have a good day.xx

  • Thanks for all your interesting replies -- I am going to make a real effort to make eye contact -- I will keep reminding myself when having a conversation -- perhaps I will pretend to myself that I am looking what colour their eyes are!! Xx

  • This is an interesting topic. and what is 'good eye contact' is maybe hard to define. Natural-seeming eye contact is not sustained, but is look - look away - look - look away etc. the length of each segment varies during the course of the conversation, and with whether you are speaking or listening. In group conversations we use eye contact to signal speaking turns. As well as personal differences, it is also culturally dependant.

    Too much eye contact is as off putting to the other person as not enough. Think of that sustained glare when you are having a heated disagreement!!

    I find I vary the amount of eye contact I use depending on who I speak to. Not consciously, I think we all pick clues up from each other. Low levels of eye contact are generally perceived to be a sign of low self confidence, so it may affect the way people respond to you. It is good to be aware of, but unless you make NO eye contact at all, unlikely to be a major problem. Getting feedback from people who know you well, is likely to be a better marker of whether your eye contact falls within the range of what is considered 'normal' or is something you might want to work on.

  • I've been told that,, when someone is having a conversation with me, ,, when I reply with my part of the conversation I often , not always,, glance to their shoulder , whilst still in conversation .I am not even conscious that I'm actually doing it. I used to do it a lot. I am sometimes aware of what I've just done, (glancing over their shoulder when I'm still talking to them ,),, think its mostly because they look to see what I am looking at. I used to feel really silly about myself. Infact I've had spells where i really got worried about it. Interesting I have now marked a coincidence . On occasion I've done this a for a very long time since I was a teenager and always thought it was nerves . The coincidence I've marked is that it happens when I'm either ill or tired . Infact nobody had paid attention to this for years till recently a couple if months ago my boss said something to my friend about my eye contact problem, whom was a work friend also . My Daughter has started doing it too. I've told her because I know how off putting it is when people tell you so she can be prepared . So either it's a genetic thing nerves or a poorly thing or all. The thing is ,she is my daughter , so it's not confidence , shyness or anything like that , perhaps genetic ,, but I do know I find it virtually impossible if someone is stood close and it's not because I'm shy it's because my eyes hurt and I have to take two steps back . I can't keep eye contact for too long when in a lengthy disscution, its like i have ADHD ,,I've tried all methods I've observed other people to see how long they can keep eye contact, ect,,only so I can work in mine lol .

  • I've been told that,, when someone is having a conversation with me, ,, when I reply with my part of the conversation I often , not always,, glance to their shoulder , whilst still in conversation .I am not even conscious that I'm actually doing it. I used to do it a lot. I am sometimes aware of what I've just done, (glancing over their shoulder when I'm still talking to them ,),, think its mostly because they look to see what I am looking at. I used to feel really silly about myself. Infact I've had spells where i really got worried about it. Interesting I have now marked a coincidence . On occasion I've done this a for a very long time since I was a teenager and always thought it was nerves . The coincidence I've marked is that it happens when I'm either ill or tired . Infact nobody had paid attention to this for years till recently a couple if months ago my boss said something to my friend about my eye contact problem, whom was a work friend also . My Daughter has started doing it too. I've told her because I know how off putting it is when people tell you so she can be prepared . So either it's a genetic thing nerves or a poorly thing or all. The thing is ,she is my daughter , so it's not confidence , shyness or anything like that , perhaps genetic ,, but I do know I find it virtually impossible if someone is stood close and it's not because I'm shy it's because my eyes hurt and I have to take two steps back . I can't keep eye contact for too long when in a lengthy disscution, its like i have ADHD ,,I've tried all methods I've observed other people to see how long they can keep eye contact, ect,,only so I can work in mine lol .

  • hi everyone i find that i just fixate on their mouths, i always have done, trying to look some one in the eye just makes my stomach churn. years of abuse tought me dont look at his eyes otherwise he would see it as a sign of defiance and the abuse would be ten times worse.

    to say i was shy as a child is an understatement, my mother has often regaled me about the times she was sent for me because i would be in tears and no-one could calm me down, it ended with me never being invited to birthday parties or playing round some ones house.one thing i do know that right up into my thirties i was petrified of adults even though i had become one my self. then one day i realised that people dont know how i felt and slowly i lost the anxiety of adults but to this day no i still cant do the eye contact. mouths i can stare at when some one is talking to me. sometimes i wondered if they had notice my reaction to the state of there teeth they never said but i still kept staring at them and some people's mouths have been really rank. god forbid if they had food stuck inbetween the teeth i had no comprehension of what they were talking about because that bit of food held my fasination the whole time they spoke to me, but at least i would interupt a woman if it was lippy on the teeth.

    glad to find that im not on my own about eye contact.

  • I dont know if this is maybe linked to the eye contact thing, but for most of my life, Ive not used people's names when talking to them. Or if I want to get their attention, Id rather go up to them and talk, than call their name. I can write it in a letter/note/card but cant physically say it. Its somehow embarrassing or something. Although I have started to MAKE myself do it, because Ive realised I can. My mother made me feel so useless all my life, until I stopped seeing her 15 years ago, now I am free to live my life, a normal life, without being put down all the time. This has been an interesting conversation for me, so thank you phlebo for raising it and to everybody who joined in (I was going to say all your names but there are too many !!) xx

  • Hi Bumblebee -- how strange is this???? I was just about to post another question asking " Do you have difficulty remembering People's names?" I very rarely call people by their names (including my hubby who gets extremely annoyed because I never use his name!!) -- I am not sure whether it is because I often forget people's names and I am frightened that I might call them by the wrong name and get totally embarrassed!! Like you I have to really force myself to use a person's name. I like you had a parent who made me feel inadequate -- in my case it was my father -- I tried my hardest to please him by working hard at school -- but no matter how well I did (e.g. I would get 19/20 in a test) he would never say "well done" -- he would just say "what happened to the other mark?" I was also terrified of my father although he never physically ill-treated me.My husband has always said that my father had a "bad" influence on me and since my father died 6 years ago I have started to feel a little better about myself. Thanks bumblebee -- it has helped me to talk about this xx

  • I think with me, it was because my "mother" wanted my brother and me all to herself (after she'd pissed my Dad off so much with her jealousy, he left and she made sure he didn't see us in case we decided to go with him instead),so we would worship her and see what a "wonderful person" she was. Ooooops, plan failed, both my brother and I haven't seen her for years and neither of us ever liked her, never mind "loved" her. So while I was growing up, she would "dis" all my friends in the hope of me abandoning them. So if I didnt call people by their names,I couldn't accidentally mention anyone and they didnt exist inside the house. I wasn't afraid of her, it was just that I mistakenly thought if I kept her happy, she would treat me better. But that plan failed too. Result...screwed up in the head for rest of life. Thing is, she actually believes she's such a good mother, and puts the blame everywhere else, than where it actually is. Well rid, just wish my head would catch up.xx

  • Also forgot to say that I treat my own children in quite the opposite way ---- I give them praise for any small achievement or where praise is due, and support them totally in whatever they choose to do. Hopefully this encourages them to work hard at school but without feeling the pressure to overachieve.

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