blogging · eye contact · life · perception · strangers

Sad Eyes

I am terrible at reading people’s emotions just by looking into their eyes. I attribute this to my poor social skills. However, once in a while I see someone and my gaze locks with theirs, and for whatever reason, it is not uncomfortable for me to maintain this eye contact for more than three seconds. No usual feeling of ill-ease or panic arises in me. Instead, it feels like the eye contact is akin to grazing a smooth marble in my mind’s eye. It is peaceful and gentle. I know that is a weird description but that’s the visual I get. I don’t know why this sort of perception only happens for me with certain people. Is it an emotional or psychological response? Am I perceiving something that is there for me in my mind but not for the other person? Is the response I have due to a chemical imbalance in my brain? Or am I recognizing a rare kinship with someone without even having to exchange words with them?

The last person I felt this way about was an older woman I saw some days ago. She had grayish hair and looked neither old or young. From the moment my gaze landed on her and she held my gaze, I couldn’t help but think, She has such sad eyes. I wondered if she saw the same thing reflected in my eyes. Is it really possible for emotion to transcend speech and for someone like me to guess, with plausible accuracy, that she had a sadness about her?

I’ve read lots of books where a character perceives how another character is feeling based on their own interpretation of the character. But perception is really subjective, especially if a person’s own emotions or feelings interfere with it. I could have thought the woman looked sad because that’s what I wanted to see. Or maybe I picked up on some emotion in her eyes that wasn’t sadness but I interpreted it as such.

9 thoughts on “Sad Eyes

  1. You can definitely tell someone’s emotions through their eyes and there are often times I meet I can’t stand eye contact with when with others’ it is fines.

    I actually wrote about a boy with sad eyes that I met junior year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess there is that certainty in seeing emotions in someone’s eyes just by looking at them, but I don’t trust myself to guess correctly lol. So I keep going back and forth in my head about if I misinterpreted what I saw in the woman’s eyes.

      I would be interested in reading that story about the boy. Which blog post of yours did you write it on?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This would be an interesting subject to research don’t you think? I used to think that I could read people, and maybe I can in a way, but it’s simply not an accurate way to identify others feelings or perceptions. I don’t know if you read my blog or not. I wrote about a girl that was in treatment with me. I referred to her as “ignore me” girl. The truth is, I still have no ideas what she thought of me then or now, or ever. I thought she couldn’t stand me till I learned that she was unable to look at people in the eyes. I need to look at a person in their eyes, I need that connection. Because she never looked at me, or looked away when I tried talking to her, or other various behaviors, I felt like she hated me and didn’t want me around. When I did have direct communication with her I was sure I was completely wrong because she was warm and engaging but because of previous experiences I felt like maybe she wasn’t being genuine. Who knows… maybe she was totally genuine. I will never know. I discharged and she went on her way. Then again, there are people I’ve made a close connection with, or so I thought! Ha, was I ever wrong on some of those!!

    What I try to do now is not make a judgement till after several interactions, no matter what my gut reaction is. I’ve recently invited someone to stay with me for weeks, maybe longer till she can get her life sorted. When we met I felt she hated me and I had all kinds of problems with her, all because I misinterpreted how I read her. We were just talking about it last evening. Who knew we’d end up being super close friends!

    I think the exception though is ‘sad eyes’. It’s difficult to not see that. One can never know what that sadness is but there is a very real connection, in my opinion, when two peoples eyes meet who’ve been through difficulties, sometimes tragedies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reading people is hard! I really do feel my perception of other people and myself cloud my judgement. I still don’t know what to make of the woman with the sad eyes. I am skeptical of whether I saw the correct emotion in her or not.

      Your story about the “ignore me” girl sounds like the girl is a bit like me lol. I make more of an effort with eye contact now despite how uncomfortable it is, but the old me would have stared at the floor even if I was talking to someone. Strange thing about eye contact… I once read that when you are meeting a dog for the first time, you’re not supposed to look directly into their eyes because it might make the dog nervous or aggressive because it’ll give the dog the impression he/she is being challenged. I find that fascinating since for people it’s the opposite. We feel the value in eye contact and need it. Eye contact scares me, but if someone refused to look at me during a conversation, I would feel ignored too even though I have that understanding of how eye contact can be anxiety provoking for some people.

      Wow, that is big of you to invite someone to stay over. I could never do that even if I lived on my own. With my parents, I break into a nervous sweat every time and anytime they invite someone over. Ugh! My dad just tried to do that today with the neighbors who are my mom’s. relatives visiting from Cambodia. Thankfully they said no thanks. I don’t want to be home when people are visiting or over. It makes things awkward for me because I’d rather be left alone to my own devices than being in the presence of people I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would never have been able to invite someone to stay in all the years previous to this year honestly. It’s been a huge journey and a lot of transitions but mostly it had to be just the right person; non threatening, safe, completely trustworthy, and so forth. A rare individual indeed. It’s hard to not think of her as a gift from the universe to help me heal. At some point she’ll be off on her own journey. Oddly, I’m starting to feel more safe that she is here. Maybe it’s because we were in the program together back in February/March. I don’t know, time will tell. I desperately need to learn how to set aside my pride and start learning to ask for help so this is a good opportunity to do it.

        I’m fairly certain you and ignore-me girl are nothing alike. She carried an air of superiority. I felt like I was considered lower class. There was another girl in the program though that might be closer to you. She arrived a week before I left and sat next to me at the dining table. She looked straight down into her plate and tried to be as invisible as a mouse. I gently asked her questions and engaged her in conversation. She never looked at me till the last day but it wasn’t the same as the other girl at all. I love mentioning her in conversation because she was so quiet and then would whip out this amazing poem in poetry group, or elaborate brilliantly on some topic in group when she got the courage to talk. When I had my discharge ceremony she looked me dead in the eye and told me how much it all meant. Honestly, I hadn’t realized any of that. I was just being a compassionate human being. I felt quite honored that she would set aside her fears to wish me well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Nice to know that you feel safe around her and have an understanding with her from being in the same program together. Will you guys still keep in contact after she leaves?

        Ah, you got me there with your description of the quiet girl. I definitely need some prodding and gentle encouragement from a person to be able to open up.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’d like to think we’ll always be in contact but that’s just not reality. In fact, it’s rare to have life long friends. I will enjoy our friendship as long as it lasts. If it continues than great! If not, that’s okay too. People say life is short but it isn’t. It’s actually quite long so there are loads of people to meet. If you paid me a million dollars I still wouldn’t have guessed (last year) what my life is like now so how can I know what it’ll be like a year from now. That keeps me grounded and helps with anxiety too. I’m sure I was anxious about something on this very day last year but can I remember it? Nope. That’s what I try to remember to tell myself, “you won’t even remember this next year.”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s a good mentality to have about not putting too much value on whatever you are worried about now and being able to look into a future where the worry has passed. I could benefit from thinking this way as well. I think I absorb everything too much and analyze every single mistake or perceived mistake I made on a social level. Then it becomes a painful memory that attaches itself inside me and I can’t let go of it.

        Liked by 1 person

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