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Eye Contact As Proof

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Look me in the eye and tell me you don't find me attractive
Look me in the heart and tell me you won't go
Look me in the eye and promise no love's like our love
Look me in the heart and un-break broken, it won't happen
Tegan & Sara, "Where Does the Good Go"

Figuring out someone else's true feelings can be difficult, especially if their words completely contradict their actions. One way to learn the truth is to invoke Eyes Never Lie. Namely, demand that the person look you in the eyes and state with no equivocation that they feel a certain way about the issue. Having to look someone in else in the eyes will force the person to truly consider how they feel, since eyes are the Windows of the Soul. In most situations, the person will refuse to repeat the statement and instead admit their true feelings. This is especially evoked when someone is trying to force a Love Confession. Bob will demand Alice look him in the eyes and tell him she doesn't love him. Alice will likely break down and admit that she can't bring herself to deny what is truly in their heart.

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This is both invoking and inverting Eyes Never Lie: invoked because one person is using this trope to learn or reveal the truth, and inverting because looking someone in the eyes reveals one's own truth rather the other person's. This is trope is more likely to appear in Western media, where eye contact is considered as sign of respect and trustworthiness. (Note that the page quote for Windows of the Soul is from Lorenzo de Medici, an Italian Renaissance leader.) In other contexts, long-term eye contact can be considered aggressive and disrespectful.

Subtrope of Eye Tropes and Truth and Lies. Contrast with Eyes Always Averted. Compare with Anguished Declaration of Love when used to force a Love Confession.


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Examples

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    Film - Animated 
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint's father is very worried about the effects of the food machine and demands his son look him in the eyes and tell him that he's got this under control and that it's not going to end in disaster. His father even lifts his bushy eyebrows and reveals his own eyes, so his son can look him in the eye. A clearly unsure Flint comically struggles for a long time to get his eyeballs to both look directly into his father's eyes. When he finally does, he gets them into position just long enough to very quickly say, "I'vegotthisundercontrol.It'snotgonnanendindisaster." His father reluctantly accepts his word.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas: After the Book of Peace is stolen, Sinbad is imprisoned on suspicion of having taken it. When his former friend Proteus confronts Sinbad on whether he took it, Sinbad looks him straight in the eye and says no. This is enough to convince Proteus to believe Sinbad's innocence, and take his sentence in his stead while Sinbad is ordered to retrieve the Book.
  • In The Smurfs 2, Patrick's stepfather Victor turns into a duck because Gargamel the wizard accidentally zapped him. When Patrick insults Victor, he says, "Look me in the eye and say that." Patrick replies, "I can't." Victor says, "See? Because it's not true!" and Patrick says, "No, I can't because your eyes are on the sides of your head!"

    Film - Live Action 
  • In First Knight, Lancelot tells Guinevere he'll leave Camelot if she tells him she doesn't love him. Guinevere looks away from him (until then she was looking him in the eye) and tells him she doesn't love him. When she finally does make eye contact again, she looks as though she is about to cry and walks away. Lancelot doesn't leave.
  • Defied in Good Will Hunting, when Skylar asks Will to move to California with her. When Will refuses, Skylar demands he look her in the eyes and tell her he doesn't love her, and if he does she will break up with him. Though Will is in love with her, he looks her directly in the eyes, tells her he he doesn't loves her, and leaves. Skylar is left in tears.

    Live-Action Television 
  • On Fear the Walking Dead, Morgan tells John to look him in the eye and tell him whether he really believes killing is the only way to survive the post-Zombie Apocalypse world. John says he doesn't ... or at least, he hopes he doesn't really believe that.
  • On Felicity, Sean tells Ben to look him in the eyes and say, "If I knew Felicity loved me, I wouldn't freak out." Ben refuses to say this, which Sean uses as evidence that Ben needs to break up with Felicity.
  • In the third season of Friends, Chandler is dating Janice, a woman he has dumped three times in a year. Eventually they get back together and Chandler seems happy. Too bad she really annoys Joey, who just wants to know when Chandler is breaking up with her. When Chandler insists this time he's going the distance with Janice, Joey isn't buying it.
    Joey: Okay. All right. You look me in the eye and tell me, without blinking, that you're not breaking up with her. No blinking.
    Chandler: (looks him in the eye) I'm not breaking up with her! (They stare at each other for a while, then Joey blows in his face.)
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    Music 
  • The bridge of "Where Does the Good Go" by Tegan & Sara is a series of demands of "look me in the eye" and "look me in the heart" and then make a denial or statement of love.
  • In "Are You Happy Now?" by Michelle Branch, she asks her ex to look her in the eye and tell her whether s/he is happy now.

    Real Life 
  • This trope is most likely to appear in Western contexts, where eye contact is a cultural norm, and refusing to do so is a sign of un-trustworthiness. In some Eastern contexts, this is the reverse. This psychological study of Japanese and Finnish participants finds that Japanese participants found pictures of people with a direct gaze to be more aggressive and unapproachable than the Finnish participants.

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