Meeting New People

Every culture has its patterns of communication but eye contact, at least in Western culture, seems to be important in establishing relationships. Since young women learn informally that men expect them to give the come-on signal, they lower their eyes and engage in provocative body language. High heels for women facilitate the swinging hips which signal attraction. That is not universal, however. I remember visiting the studio of the artist R.C. Gorman in Taos, New Mexico. None of the women in his paintings or lithographs were facing the viewer. I was uncomfortable about the fact that this artist never depicted women giving eye contact. I wondered about this until I researched this phenomenon and learned that in some cultures women are not allowed to initiate such contact.

In the animal kingdom eye contact is often considered a threat and that fact when honored may be a protection when meeting an animal in the wild. Young children may not maintain eye contact with adults when pondering a question put to them. You may have witnessed parents saying to a child, “Look at me when I am speaking to you.” It takes an understanding of children to realize that it is not in their comfort zone to maintain eye contact with an adult interrogator.

There is something special about eyes. Some look tired and blank while others have a lively sparkle. A friend of mine has huge blue eyes which serve as an attraction when conversing with others. I was fascinated by the deep dark flashing eyes of the people in India. Indian women who were married wore the red spot between the eyes at eyebrow level. It is called a Bindi which symbolizes female energy. Men throughout history did not usually advertise their marital status and could go about freely in the world, sometimes having more than one wife or having affairs outside of marriage. No matter whether others believe in open marriages or open relationships I have insisted on being monogamous.

Getting back to the importance of eyes in relationships, let’s consider the fact that some people meet on line without ever looking into each other’s eyes. There is a danger in being drawn in by texting without the real presence of a person to interact with. Flowery words can sometimes mask the personality. I must admit that I began an email relationship with my new companion before we met in person. In time, however, we began face to face communication. “Getting to Know You” is a song that brings out the need for not only seeing eye-to-eye but learning about the life patterns of another.

My philosophy has always been to let my spirit shine out of my eyes. It is a sad phenomenon that sometimes nagging pain is reflected in the eyes and dampens communication. Fortunately I have retained what some people would call a lively spirit when I am out in polite company. I have my down moments but I never go out in public carrying those moments into the world. Perhaps my grown children would say otherwise as I tend to let down with family. After I was widowed I was grieving and then became lonely. When I found companionship my son remarked one day that I seemed happier than I had been for a long time. There are adjustments to be made when pairing with another, however. Some people would rather not make adjustments in their lives in order to have companionship. Some may have given up hope and have decided to live without pairing up with another. If one wishes to find a partner, however, it is necessary to respond to overtures from others who initiate connection. Otherwise one choice might be to live alone in the wilderness like the fellow who retreated from community to carve out a life in the Twin Lakes area of Alaska in order to test his own ingenuity and courage. Even though we are amazed by his accomplishments, not many of us would choose to follow in his footsteps.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at gnkunkel@comcast.net or 206-935-8663.

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