Is it Rude To Look at Someone?

Everyone looks at other people… or how else would we be able to communicate? But, when does a look turn into a stare? 

More importantly, is it rude, and if so when, to look at someone, in general? Read on and find out below!

Is it Rude to Look at Someone?

Looking at someone isn’t rude in itself, but a look may quickly turn into a stare (and everyone knows that staring is rude). All of our mothers taught us not to stare at people, why? Because it is rude.

So, looking at someone, in general, isn’t rude. But, looking for too long, and staring, is indeed rude. The trick is to understand how to look at someone, without making them feel uncomfortable as well as know for how long.

How Rude Is it?


Looking at someone, in general, rates 1 out of 10 on the rude meter. It is the long and hard look, pointed at someone, that transforms into a blatant stare that is rude. So long as you don’t stare, looking at someone is A-OK (in most people’s books).

Why is it Rude?

Merely looking at someone is not rude, it is looking for too long without looking away that is viewed as rude by most people. Likewise, looking at someone, when they are feeling hurt or vulnerable can make them feel even worse, and for that it is rude. 

Why is it Not Rude?

It is not rude to look at someone. In fact, in many cultures (most cultures), not looking at someone is an extremely rude insult (especially when said person is talking directly to you).

Other Options to Do Instead

There is no real need to find other options to do instead of looking at someone, rather you may consider these few pointers to keep in mind while looking at someone:

  • Never let your look turn into a full-on stare
  • Look away every now and then
  • Don’t forget to blink
  • Make sure you are smiling
  • Keep your eyes on their eyes (not their mouth or forehead)

Common Questions

Why is looking at people rude?

Looking at people is not rude. What is rude is staring at people. The difference between looking and staring at people is in the amount of time your eyes are on the person and where your eyes are directly focused.

How to react to someone looking at you?

The best way to react to someone looking at you is to acknowledge them with a nod, hello, or other greeting or acknowledgment. Depending on the situation, you may also choose to ignore them altogether. On the other hand, you may also reach into your purse and hit the safety switch on your firearm or pepper spray – just in case.

How long should you look at someone?

You should never look at someone for too long, as it may be viewed as rude behavior. But, how long is too long? In most people’s opinion, more than a few seconds is seen as a bit much. Everyone differs, however, so be mindful and look away at least every few seconds.