The Eyes Have It!


When we are in the romantic stage of our relationship – we gaze at one another – inducing a feeling of being connected. This is an appropriate response as our brain chemistry is ignited by “love drugs” that look for the other, find novelty with each other, enjoying the process of being found.

The mechanism of “being found” is what is required in early childhood for healthy development of the brain, engaging our neural process to come online for connection and empathy.  Like all mammals, the eye gaze also helps to interactively regulate our nervous system and emotions.   This gaze helps us to move into “real time” with one another, feeling the presence, the attention and attunement of the other.

What many of my couples in my practice and workshops don’t know that they are missing or yearning for is the “eye gaze” with their intimate partner.  They may have received it in the early months of being together and then stopped when the conflict arose. When I invite them to turn and face each other – they very quickly connect though the eyes and begin to soften, relax, often sharing smiles with one another.  This stance of “being found” reminds the couple that they love each other and are loved, resulting in regulation of their nervous systems.

By gazing I don’t mean staring or looking through or looking inward; by gazing I mean being fully present in the eyes of your loved one. If we maintain presence – something our partner can see – we become anchored in real time, (ie the present moment). If we look into our partner’s’ eyes, we can see him or her and are able to tune into what the other may be thinking and feeling. This enhances the intimacy and level of connection.

This process of finding one another includes losing one another. It is not a one-time event. Finding our partner involves the mutual interaction of seeking and being found, just as the mother and infant do. Finding one another enhances the novelty and helps us to remember the uniqueness and complexity of each other. It invites curiousity and play, an older version of “peek-a-boo”. When found, our sense of self and the other emerges and becomes refreshed.

However, we must have interest in finding one other! This disinterest may have originated in the parents or past partners not being interested in finding them either as babies or lovers.  Other partners or parents may have been overly invested in finding but not being found.  Both leave wounds or injuries. However, when our partner gazes attentively with us today, he or she can find us despite our attempts to be unknown and found.  It is wired in the brain to do so!  So, this occasion – take up the interest in being found and finding the other. Watch how this small attention to eye gazing will become effortless over time and re-ignite the neurotransmitters in the brain for connection!

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