During this season’s launch episode, the girls kept citing a lack of eye contact as their reason for not stepping forward for certain boys.
And it didn’t take long for the memes to start rolling in.
But how important is eye contact when you’re dating? Maintaining eye contact with a prospective date is a good idea, according to Jo Coker, a counselling psychologist who works with the College of Sex and Relationship Therapy – but it isn’t the be-all-end-all.
“Eye contact is a form of communication and making eye contact with another suggests respect and that you are a good listener, as you are looking to pick up the cues in body language,” she tells HuffPost UK. “Also that you are interested in the other person. It’s also bonding and has a neurological effect on our brains releasing dopamine and oxytocin, the feel good hormones.”
Poor or no eye contact can certainly be a sign someone’s “disinterested in what you are saying or not interested or attracted to you,” she warns. It can also indicate that someone is “hiding, lying or feeling guilty” about something.
However, there are plenty of oter reasons why someone may not clock eyes with you, even if they’re totally into you. In fact, those who struggle with shyness – as Sharon seems to think Hugo does in the villa – may be avoiding your gaze precisely because they’re into you.
“They may feel threatened or wary and unsafe,” says Coker. “They may be anxious or they may have low self esteem.”
In short, it’s a really good sign if someone is maintaining lots of eye contact on a first date – and you should try to reciprocate. But if those eyes aren’t immediately fixed on you, that alone isn’t a reason to rule them out.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.