In western society, eye contact is considered an important part of non-verbal communication. While I understand that eye contact is socially expected there are times when I cannot maintain this.
If I can’t look at you while you are speaking it’s not because I’m not listening or because I’m not interested. I’m not ignoring you and it’s not because I don’t like you.
If I can’t maintain eye contact it’s probably because I have too much going on inside my head and I’m trying to find some order in it. I’m processing everything else that’s going on around me, especially if I’m in a noisy or crowded area.
Sometimes we might be talking about something that is difficult for me and I’m avoiding eye contact so I can try and hold back tears and remain calm. If you also notice me taking deep breaths this is probably the case. I could just need a minute to understand my thoughts before I can respond appropriately. I might be thinking of a way to explain something to you that I find hard to put into words.
For the majority of the time, when I’m avoiding eye contact, it has nothing at all to do with you, and everything to do with me trying to sort things out in my own head.