Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Passing Eye

I often wonder what etiquette there is, if any, when you pass someone on the street.  Specifically when passing someone of the opposite gender.  Do you make eye contact or not? Smile? Say hello? 


For reasons I don’t know I find myself averting the eyes of men I pass on the street.  I even find myself looking down and completely avoiding even looking at them.  I am not sure why I do this.  The house I was raised in wasn't one where the male is supreme and my marriage is not like that.  Ask my hubby if I defer to him. 

Pardon me while I laugh.  We are equals (as I feel it should be).

So why do I avert my eyes?  I know I don't want to have anyone ask me a question I might not be able to understand or to answer. I do find this is far more common when I'm alone or just with my kids and my husband isn't with us. I never used to have quite such a problem with this.

I don’t understand what it is that compels me to look down or away.  People don’t intimidate me, at least I don’t think so.  It is more likely for me to do this when passing a man than a woman though. 


It doesn't seem to matter if they are taller than me or not. If it's more than one person or not. I even usually wait for a man to address me first (even the dad at school whom I've spoken to numerous times). I can't figure out why I do that.

If it isn’t something I recognize from my upbringing is it because of the media (tv, magazines, books etc)? Do you find yourself avoiding eye contact with someone of the opposite gender on the street?  Do you greet someone of the opposite gender first or wait?   

I’d love to hear from both men and women!

Venus and Mars


"Cookie" said... normally depends on my mood. If I'm just strolling along, I tend to make eye contact and give a small smile. If I'm rushed and not in the mood, get out of my way! :) No eye contact no smile...nada. But I'm a firm believer in holding the door if someone is right behind if you're entering a matter the mood. And when say hold...I'll wait on you but wont' stand there and be your doorman.

Barbaloot said...

I generally avert my eyes when I see men...that could be a large part of the explanation as to why I'm single.

dadshouse said...

I'm a single dad, so I'm constantly making eye contact with women. Or trying - a lot times, women won't look. It's almost as if they know I'm looking, and they refuse to meet my gaze? Why? Are they afraid to flirt? Maybe they are married or have a boyfriend, and don't want to give me an opening?

When I meet a woman who looks back, if her gaze is smoldering and I turn first, I've lost it - she knows I'm not the alpha to her, and I'll never have a chance to date her!

wendy said...

I don't think I avert my eyes-----I usually say HI -------or smile-----I sometimes am way to friendly I think.(is there such a thing??)

Missty said...

Great subject. I look at people. One day a few years back I decided to say hello and smile at each person who I passed while doing my errands. It was really fun.

As for if a guy looks at me, or says hello first. I always look at him, and say hello back. Doesnt matter who it is to me.

I almost always make eye contact.

Jodie said...

I usually make eye contact and smile. I guess it is my way of faking that I have confidence.

MakingChanges said...

Growing up in SoCal I think the area I lived in you didn't look ANYONE in the eyes.

Went away to college- small town and you always looked at people, smiled at least and maybe said Hi. I have kept that going and still today love to look at people. I think I am more apt to look away if it is a girl. If it is a guy, I love to look, smile and say Hi. Maybe I am interested in what kind of reaction I am going to get or maybe I just love to look at men. Don't know which one...doesn't really matter.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's me then. Eh, who knows. I feel weird or something like if I look a man in the eye as I pass he'll assume I want something from him.

Cookie -I hold the door, that I don't have a problem with.

Barbaloot -You're not alone in the avoidance.

Dadshouse - For me it would have been shyness most likely to look at a flirting guy's eyes (when I was single no one freak out!) I think for me anyway I prefer a guy to be more the aggressor, the one to approach me. Though if I don't make eye contact that is an issue, lol.

Wendy - We need more people like you.

Missty - I think my issue is mostly about living here. I passed the same woman everyday walking my son to school and even though I smiled and nodded hello she never once did the same. In two years not a single time. Sad really.

Jodie - If you have to fake it oh well, at least you're trying!

Young - I hope that this habit disappears once we move home. I hate to think this isn't something that will stick with me.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Oh my goodness. I do this too~

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

I'm a big smiler. Don't know why. Just am.

TisforTonya said...

This is interesting, because I never USED to avert my eyes - I'm a short girl and learned very young to make eye contact and make sure I made my presence known. Hmmm... that explains a lot...

But recently (like last week) I realized that I hadn't made eye contact with anybody during an entire shopping trip... it hit me as I was avoiding the gaze of a usually very friendly checker... why? I have no idea - maybe I've been subconsciously self conscious about the fact that I ran out of my favorite green eyeliner... I don't have another reason for it!

SciFi Dad said...

I tend to avoid eye contact, but that probably has something to do with growing up in a place where making eye contact was an attempt at dominance.

Anonymous said...

T -I never used to be this way (not to this degree anyway) It started since we moved here.

SciFi - That would be a hard way to grow up (in my opinion). We have a large Muslim community where we live with woman in full burqua and I think maybe that is part of why I avoid looking at people. I guess I don't want people to take my friendliness the wrong way.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

You probably already figured this out about me... but I don't avoid eye contact! I love kind of seeing if I can get people... LIKE YOU... to look up. So I usually say HI really bright and cheerful!

I'm the same with guys! I love when you can tell they are surprised!!! lol!

I'm okay with eye contact.

tiarastantrums said...

too funny . . . I do this all the time - BUT I do it simply b/c I do not want to engage with anyone. It may seem rude, but I just do not have the time to stop and chit chat with every stranger that crosses my path. AND I also do this b/c I instill - no drill - now wait - I brainwash my children to NEVER - EVER - NEVER speak to a stranger. My children know that even if a stranger says hello to them - they are NOT allowed to respond.

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