Given my recent interview, I thought this would be a good thing to address today.
You would never guess that I have autism based on my eye contact. I can look at someone for an entire conversation without looking away. But the thing is that I’m really not looking into their eyes during that time. I am completely faking it.
In fact, I fake it so well that I even manage to convince myself. In the past couple weeks though I have realized something that has nearly made me laugh out loud during my conversations. I almost never actually make eye contact. (That’s not the funny part.) The funny part is that people think I’m making eye contact. I find it hilarious that people have no idea that I’m not actually looking into their eyes.
What’s my secret?
I look at people’s eye lashes or the skin just beneath their eyes or their nose or their eye lid. Only every once in a while do I get caught in actual eye contact with someone and need to look away.
How do I know that people think I’m making eye contact?
Your eyes can’t focus on two places at once. Therefore it is impossible to look someone in both eyes at one time. So to compensate for this, your eyes move back and forth between looking at each eye. When someone is looking into your eyes you can sometimes see this back and forth movement. However, if someone isn’t looking into your eyes, their eyes probably won’t move back and forth because they are not constantly shifting focus between your eyes.
So I can sometimes notice someone’s eyes moving back and forth between mine and realize that they’re actually looking into my eyes, but I’m not really looking into theirs. In fact, this is a trick many people use without realizing it. If you get caught up looking into someone’s eyes it can be a very intense experience, but if you simply look at someone’s eyes it doesn’t have the same emotional effect.