We're bringing you this Q&A from BUST's Sex section, featuring advice from sexlogist Dr. Carol Queen.
Whenever my significant other and I have sex in a position where we’re face to face, he keeps his eyes closed the entire time, and it makes me feel bad that he won’t look at me or into my eyes. Is there a good way to broach the topic without making him feel self-conscious? –Private Eyes
Dr: Carol Queen: You might just want to try saying something like, “Please look at me, I feel so close to you right now!” in the moment and follow up later with an explanation. He might not be aware he’s doing it, or he might be fantasizing; some people engage in fantasy only when alone, others do it whenever they’re aroused.
Eye contact can be difficult for some people with or without their pants on. It can be associated with shyness or social anxiety, surviving difficult experiences, and/or PTSD. It can also be a fact of life for some neurodivergent folks. Talking about eye contact might make him pretty uncomfortable, too, so be aware of that. Don’t initiate the conversation at a stressful time or when you’re having sex, but when you’re both relaxed and enjoying some togetherness.
Tell him you’ve noticed he keeps his eyes closed and that you find you enjoy sex more when the closeness of the moment can be shared with eye contact. He might find he can do it intermittently while you’re having sex; some reluctant eye-gazers find it’s easier to warm up to eye contact when they look very near the other person’s eyes.
If he’s down to explore, you might want to look at some of the practices enjoyed by our friends in the world of Tantra; eye-gazing is big with them! It’s done in a fairly ritualized way in workshops that might feel safer to explore, but for some deep-gaze avoiders, that could also be too much. See if he can express what his limits have been in the past and what he needs to feel safe to open up the windows to his soul—if not to you, at first, perhaps with a therapist.
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Carol Queen’s latest book (written with Shar Rednour) is The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone
Header Image courtesy Bird Box/Netflix
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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