"I've just started dating a great guy. However, during sex he stares at me, unblinking, really intensely. It's so off-putting. I just shut my eyes, but whenever I open them he's still staring. Do I just have to get used to it? Or avoid missionary position?"
Being stared at is definitely very off-putting, whether in the boardroom or the bedroom. Research has shown that it interferes with working memory and attention - and I can well imagine that an intense stare would be very off-putting when having sex.
It could well be the case that your new man thinks that eye contact is sexy. And it can be - for a few seconds, at least, or as part of a furtive flirt. Eye contact is an important form of communication and connection - however it can, when wrongly employed, become creepily intense.
Until recently no one had defined what constituted "normal" eye contact, but a 2016 study at London's Queen Mary University found that on average staring becomes uncomfortable after 3.3 seconds.
Staring makes us feel self conscious because it triggers activity in the parts of the brain that are involved in social cognition, the ways that we think about ourselves and others. During sex, self consciousness creates psychological barriers to pleasure because it distracts you from engaging with the sensations you are feeling.
There is a possibility that your boyfriend is keeping his eyes open as a way of making sex more mindful. Some people believe that opening your eyes is linked to opening your heart and that seeing and being seen in a naked, vulnerable state deepens the connection between two people. But since you make no mention of this, I suspect that your boyfriend is staring at you is because he is trying to read your sexual responses.
We can glean a great deal of information about how someone feels simply by looking at them. Eye expression can reveal complex emotions and even involuntary twitching of the eye muscles or widening and narrowing of the eyes can betray feelings of love or disgust. If you don't communicate verbally during sex, reassuring him or complementing his performance will build trust and increase his confidence.
Of course, you could try speaking to him, but this is a situation where I'd try and avoid that. He's not actually doing anything wrong and it would make for a very awkward discussion, not least because he likely has no idea that he does it. There are other things to try first. An obvious way to stop him staring at you is to have sex in positions that deny him eye contact.
Another way is to get him to wear a blindfold during sex. To get the most out of this experience, he needs to feel relaxed and you need to be prepared. Use the occasion to activate all of his senses. Kiss him with a mouthful of champagne or feed him something. Play romantic music. Perfume the room with scented candles and trail different textures, from fabrics to feathers, across his body.
Whisper in his ears, kiss his feet and mix up the experience so that he does not know where you are or what is going to happen next. Wearing a blindfold will help him to "see" how screening out visual stimulation makes it easier to tune in to sensory stimulation.
And if that doesn't work, you can always wear the blindfold yourself.
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