Why are we *so* stressed about our partners closing their eyes during sex? Experts weigh in on the stigma

Is closing your eyes during sex *really* the be-all-end-all of an intimate moment?

Closeup of a couple kissing with their eyes closed and biting each other's lips
(Image credit: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images)

Is closing your eyes during sex *really* as catastrophic as we've been led to believe? Those who are particularly stressed about intimacy seem to think that this reaction is a red flag during a passionate encounter. But does it spell disaster, or are we creating problems that don't exist? 

So, how did this negative stigma get started, and why are people on the fence about something so simple? Let's dive in. 

Marla Renee Stewart

Marla is a sexologist at Velvet Lips and Lovers, and a lecturer in gender and women's studies at Clayton State University. She's also written for a variety of academic publications and presented at conferences. Above all, her goal is to get people in touch with their body, mind and spirit.

Closing your eyes during sex: why are we stressed about it?

Firstly: according to sexperts, yes, we are overthinking the behavior and making something out of nothing. 

"There's nothing wrong with having your eyes closed or open; it's just a matter of preference and having a conversation about it ahead of time can thwart someone's insecurity about it," says Marla Renee Stewart, MA, sexpert for Lovers

Some people seem to think that without direct eye contact, an intimate moment is being overlooked, but if you ask Andy Duran, education director at sex-positive toy brand Good Vibes, it has nothing to do with poor manners. 

"I think partners sometimes worry that if they aren’t making eye contact during face-to-face sex it means they are mentally elsewhere, or fantasizing about someone else being there," he says. "Often, this is not at all why folks are closing their eyes. Sometimes closing our eyes is literally our natural response to being overstimulated and can help us to just focus more on the sensations."

Andy Duran

Andy Duran is an education director at Good Vibes, a sex-positive sexual health and wellness retailer in the US. The company prides itself on "creating a safe, welcoming, and non-judgmental environment where customers can shop for sex toys and books, as well as attend workshops and inspiring events."

Actually, giving your eyes a little rest during sexy time can be a good thing. It does not mean your mind is wandering or that you're losing steam.

"It heightens your other senses, making your partner’s sounds, touch, and other actions stand out more," Duran says. "They could tease and play with the anticipation factor of you not knowing their next move."

Likewise, Stewart agrees that a lil' shuteye could be a positive reaction. She adds, "It can help you to increase your vulnerability and therefore, you may become closer to your lover because you are trusting them with your other senses and depending on them to ensure your safety and security."

Are there cons to this approach? Of course, but like most things with sex and relationships, it's subjective. It could be a turn-off to some who want to take in their partner's reactions and vice versa. For some, having their eyes open is a sense of security.

"This can be particularly difficult for those who have experienced trauma and depend on their eyes to keep them aware and safe," Stewart notes. "Every touch that you experience might be jarring, especially if you're used to keeping your eyes open."

So what does this mean? There is no right or wrong answer. You should only focus on making yourself and your partner happy and shut out the outside world. That's why the professionals insist it's so important to talk about sex to get on the same page as your other half.

"There may be a negative stigma surrounding closing one’s eyes during sex due to societal expectations that emphasize consistent visual engagement [but] different people may want different things out of sex," says Sarah Cisar, PR and media director of personal lubricant brand COCONU. "It is important to communicate to find out what works best for BOTH of you."

Now, with all of this in mind, just do you! (And have a look at our sexpert-backed list of fall sex tips to spice things up this season.) 

Sarah Cisar

Sarah is the PR and media director of COCONU, which "facilitates, affirms, and celebrates good clean healthy sex."

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.