11 surprising reasons he stares at you when you’re not looking

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Maybe he thinks you haven’t noticed, but you have. He stares at you when you’re not looking.

But why?

Staring is a really powerful form of nonverbal communication that occurs between people.

There are several reasons why he might stare at you, which range from flirting, curiosity, and attraction to intimidation.

I’ve been in this situation plenty of times before. I often wondered why men stared at me constantly. Is it because I’m good-looking? Do I look weird? Is there something on my face?

It’s never easy to have these doubts running through your mind, so that’s why I’ve spent time recently researching why men stare and what it means.

Once you know the real reasons, not only will you understand men better, but you’ll be less likely to doubt yourself as well.

You see, here at Hack Spirit, we’re all about providing no-nonsense advice to help you with your relationships, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this article.

We’ll talk about why he might be staring and what it means.

Let’s go.

1) He’s checking you out

In most cases, intentionally looking at someone for a prolonged period tends to signal physical attraction.

So if he has been giving you the eye for more than a few seconds, chances are he notices something about you, and likes what he sees.

I know for me, my first instinct when I notice a man staring at me is that they’re probably physically attracted to me.

It doesn’t take a genuis to figure that out.

He thinks you are good-looking, admires certain physical features you have, and now he is taking it all in.

So don’t get self-conscious. Even if you may not like guys looking at you this way (I know I don’t!), at least it is for a positive reason. You’re an attractive girl, and men tend to like what they see.

By staring at you when you’re not looking, he is also trying to do it in a respectful way.

You might notice his eyes scan your body when he thinks you are looking away. If you get the sense that he is checking you out, he is most likely.

While you might think it’s strange that men check you out so much, it’s important to remember than men check out women more than women check out men.

As Louann Brizendine, M.D explains in an article on CNN, “men have a sexual pursuit area that is 2.5 times larger than the ones in the female brain”.

Brizendine also says that “men produce 20 to 25-fold more testosterone than they did during pre-adolescence.”

This suggests that men might be programmed to always be on the lookout for new partners.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that every man that checks you out wants to mate with you, it’s just an instictive response to check you out.

As Brizendine says, “I wish I could say that men can stop themselves from entering this trance. But the truth is, they can’t.”

2) He has a crush on you

Having a crush on someone is sort of different from just thinking they are good-looking.

After all, we can admire someone’s physical features, but still not particularly want anything from them.

As Brizendine mentions, “Men look at attractive women the way we look at pretty butterflies. They catch the male brain’s attention for a second, but then they flit out of his mind.”

But if you notice that his glances are more than just a one-off, it could be that he has developed a crush.

Maybe it’s a friend of yours who hasn’t revealed his feelings. Perhaps it’s a classmate that always looks at you from afar. It might be a colleague who tries to discreetly watch you in the office.

If you have caught him staring at you more than once when he thinks you’re not looking, you could be dealing with a secret crush.

I think we all have an experience like this when we were in high school. I know I did.

There was one boy in particular who couldn’t stop looking at me in Maths class in year 7. At first, I thought it was creepy, but one month later he gathered up enough courage to eventually ask me out.

Unfortunately, being the shy teenager I was, I rejected his advances.

Needless to say, Maths class got pretty awkward for the rest of the year!

3) He feels too shy to approach you

Eye contact is such a strong sign of attraction. Psychology Today highlights how one study:

“Recognized eye contact as a critical, natural component of communication used to convey liking and attraction and note that perhaps not surprisingly, mutual romantic attraction sparks more eye contact.

So if it’s a sign of attraction, why would he be looking when you aren’t? Why does he stare when he thinks I’m not looking?

The answer often comes down to confidence. If you’re dealing with a shy guy, he might be too embarrassed to show you his interest.

He feels awkward about his attraction to you. So instead, he only looks at you when you are looking away.

He hasn’t found the courage to either approach you or tell you how he feels. So he secretly tries to look at you when he thinks you might not be watching.

As women, sometimes we tend to think that all men are confident, but it’s simply not the case. I’ve dated guys before who I thought was extremely confident, but actually, they revealed to me after we started dating that they were actually scared to approach and ask me out.

This is why they would stare at me when I wasn’t looking, but as soon as I look back at them, they get scared and look away!

After all, rejection hurts and if you’re the type of girl who doesn’t seem very approachable, then they might be scared you will reject him.

4) You trigger his hero instinct

If your crush stares at you when you’re not looking, there is a really good chance you are triggering something very primitive and instinctive within him.

You may be doing it without even knowing. You see, for guys, it’s all about triggering their inner hero.

I learned about this from the hero instinct. Coined by relationship expert James Bauer, this fascinating concept is about what really drives men in romantic situations and relationships, which is ingrained in their DNA.

Once triggered, these drivers make men into the heroes of their own lives. They feel better, love harder, and fall harder when they find someone who knows how to trigger it.

Hence why he can’t help but stare at you.

Now, you may be wondering why it’s called “the hero instinct”? Do guys really need to feel like superheroes to commit to a woman?

Not at all. Forget about Marvel. You won’t need to play the damsel in distress or buy your man a cape.

The easiest thing to do is to check out James Bauer’s excellent free video here. He shares some easy tips to get you started and reveals all to help you better understand this hidden drive in men.

Because that’s the beauty of the hero instinct. It’s only a matter of knowing the right things to say to draw in the guys you want.

Click here to watch the free video.

5) He craves your attention

If you’re wondering why does he stare at me so intensely? Then it could be that he wants you to notice his glances.

Maybe he wants to catch your eye. He might be staring at you because he wants you to look his way.

Perhaps even though you are looking away, he knows that you have noticed him and the fact that he is looking.

Either way, it could be that he is looking at you because he wants to get your attention.

It’s a way of silently signaling to you his interest. And he is hoping that you notice him back and look his way.

After all, if you look his way, then it might give him a chance to smile at you. If you respond positively to that smile, then he’ll be on his way to approach you!

6) He’s trying to figure you out

There is a chance that he isn’t consciously staring at you. He might be absentmindedly doing it whilst he thinks.

And the reason is that he is trying to figure you out.

Sometimes we may look at people more purposefully and intently when we’re wondering certain things in our head about them.

He could be curious about what makes you tick. What kind of person are you? He wants to learn more about you.

He might be lost in his thoughts and so ends up staring at you. He might also be thinking and wondering if you like him too.

7) He’s head over heels for you

Maybe it’s not an acquaintance, stranger, or friend of yours who is doing the staring.

Perhaps you’ve noticed your boyfriend stares at you when you’re not looking, or a guy that you are dating.

Whenever you get those longing stares and puppy dog glances from a guy you are romantically involved with it’s time to pop the champagne, he’s clearly head over heels for you.

I’m guessing there is something that you have been doing that makes him feel good about himself. This relates back to the unique concept I mentioned earlier: the hero instinct.

When a man feels respected, useful, and needed, he’s more likely to fall for you.

And the best part is, triggering his hero instinct can be as simple as knowing the right thing to say over a text.

You can learn exactly what to do by watching this simple and genuine video by James Bauer.

8) He’s socially awkward

Socially awkward is slightly different from just being shy.

Whilst being shy is more of a personality trait, being socially awkward is more about not understanding generally accepted social norms and ways of behaving.

Rather than staring at you because he is into you and too shy to do anything about it, he could be totally clueless about the unspoken rules of romance and dating.

That could be:

That he doesn’t particularly know how to approach his attraction to you, so instead just stares at you.

That he doesn’t quite get that staring at someone can be seen as strange or uncomfortable, and so does it without realizing the meaning.

Hack Spirit founder Lachlan Brown has talked about his struggle with social awkwardness before. As he mentions in his article here, for socially awkward people, it can be difficult to figure out what is socially acceptable behavior.

If a guy is staing at you when you’re not looking, he may think there is nothing wrong with it, which is why he holds his gaze even when you look back.

9) It’s a power play

At some point or another, many of us have found ourselves on the receiving end of some unwanted attention.

Whether it’s the lingering gaze of a guy we’re not into or the eyes of a stranger bearing into us.

If their eyes lock on you any longer than what feels socially acceptable, it can start to make you feel incredibly uncomfortable. Especially when you don’t know why they’re doing it.

Sadly some guys even end up staring at you in what feels like a creepy way as some part of a weird power trip.

It’s a part of exerting his dominance over you.

Whilst all relationships involve give and take and an exchange of power, too much can be indicative of someone who is both manipulative and playing games with you.

And whilst this doesn’t excuse it, these so-called ‘games’ are often part of our social conditioning when it comes to how we think we have to act in dating someone new or maintaining their interest.

Check out Rudá Iandê’s free Love and Intimacy Masterclass for more info on this devilish misconceptions you might be internalising when it comes to how you give and receive love.

Often, these slip under the radar.

It’s not until we properly sit down and engage with written activities and exercises such as the ones Rudá poses that we actually come to grasp these toxic expectations many of us subconsciously carry.

Rudá’s also a world renowned shaman who not only helps us better understand ourselves, but also has decades of experience in helping people to navigate their relationships with others.

He really is the best to guide you when it comes to undoing some of these preconceived expectations society instils within us.

Click here to access the free masterclass.

If his incessant staring makes you feel uncomfortable or if he appears to be staring at you in an intimidating or invasive way, you might get a clearer idea of why he’s behaving in this way after finishing the class. 

10) It’s all in your head

This needs to be mentioned. Sometimes, we can think that someone is staring at us, but they’re actually not.

Research led by the University of Sydney has suggested that people often think that other people are staring at them even when they aren’t.

In this study, the researchers created images of faces and asked people to observe where the faces were looking.

They made it difficult for the observers to see where the eyes were pointed, but even so, most participants believed that they were staring at them.

Professor Clifford concluded that “we’re hard-wired to believe that others are staring at us, especially when we’re uncertain”.

So it could be possible that a guy isn’t staring at you even when you think he is.

Oftentimes, we ladies get so used to guys staring at us that we assume every guy is!

But as this study suggests, we might need to take a step back and objectively observe if a guy truly is staring at us.

What to do when a guy stares at you

If you’re interested in him:

1) Glance at him and smile

Once you know that he is looking at you, if you have a crush on him too, it’s a good idea to subtly let him know you are interested.

A really simple way to do this might be to let him see that you have noticed him watching you. Turn to glance at him and give him a soft smile.

Rather than hold his gaze, which can feel quite intense, you can just hold it for a few seconds before looking away.

This combined with the smile should be enough to let him know that you like him too. You can also look over at him again and repeat the process just to make it extra clear.

2) Go and talk to him

If you’re feeling confident and brave, you can always go over to him and strike up a conversation.

You don’t have to mention that you’ve seen him looking at you. Just say hello, ask him something casual, and then try to start a conversation.

And if you’re not feeling confident, don’t sweat it!

This doesn’t have to stop you from striking up a conversation with a potential new flame, but I get the jitters too so I know how it feels.

If self-confidence issues are however really getting in the way of your love life, consider trying out Rudá’s Free Your Mind Masterclass focused around helping you to learn to radically love yourself. 

We all sometimes need a little guidance, a little helping hand to get us in the right direction when it comes to finding that confidence to talk to people we’re interested in.

And when we hold grudges against ourselves, that becomes pretty difficult.

So if your confident is getting in the way of levelling up your relationship, consider trying out the class for yourself.

Click here to access the free masterclass.

3) Try to get closer to him

If he really is the shy type and you’re worried about scaring him off or if you’re the shy type and don’t want to approach him, you can always try to get subtly closer to him.

That might mean sitting at a nearby table to him. It could be passing by him a few times if you’re out in a bar. Basically, try to increase your proximity to him.

This gives him more opportunity to try to talk to you if he is plucking up the courage to do so.

If you’re not interested in him:

1) Ignore him

Admittedly it’s not ideal when you’re getting unwanted attention, but sometimes your best approach can be to ignore it.

If he sees that you are doing nothing to encourage him, he may just give up and stop staring.

Particularly if his stares don’t bother you, you might decide it’s better to simply avoid his eye contact and pretend like you haven’t noticed until he gets the message.

2) Report harassment

People checking us out or looking at us because they have a crush is one thing, but harassment is quite another.

If you feel threatened, intimidated, or uncomfortable in any way because of a man’s unwanted stares then that is unacceptable.

In these instances you might want to:

  • Remove yourself from the situation or seek help from someone else (especially if you feel unsafe).
  • Report inappropriate behavior (for example, tell a staff member in a bar, tell a teacher at school, or tell your boss at work).

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

12 reasons he is hiding his relationship (and why none of them are acceptable)

17 signs that lost feelings can come back