“Why Do People Stare At Me?” A Qualified Answer

I got an interesting question a few days ago from a reader of the social confidence newsletter. He noticed that very frequently, in buses, on the street, in the supermarket, while waiting in line, people look intently at him. So he asked me: “Why do people stare at me?”

It’s not that “Dang! You’re hot!” kind of stare that a very attractive woman may get, it’s more like that “Wow! You’re weird!” kind of stare.

This isn’t by any means the first time someone asks me: “Why do people stare at me?” As a social confidence coach, I get this question a lot. In this article, I’d like to provide a thorough, qualified answer to it, and show you how to amend this situation to boot.

In my experience, there are 3 major reasons why people may gape at you. In more than 95% of cases, one or more of these reasons offer the complete explanation.

1. There Is Something Quite Odd about Your Appearance

First and foremost, your appearance may be markedly bizarre, and this is what gets people’s attention and makes them gawk.

I’m not talking about the way you look physically per se. Being fat, skinny, short, bold, Asian, Indian or whatever rarely gets stares in this multifaceted society. I’m talking about the way you dress and take care of yourself.

It’s common for people who get lots of stares to be utterly careless or clueless regarding clothing, grooming and personal style.

It’s like they never look in the mirror. They go out with unkempt hair and baggy clothes, they choose horrible clothing combinations, and their overall appearance is extremely sloppy. This is what gets noticed and it often makes others gawk.

staringNext time before you go out, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Note your clothes, their fit, your hair, your posture and your overall look. Try to observe yourself as if you’re observing another person that you’re seeing for the first time.

And notice: is something off about your appearance? Do you look eerie or unappealing in some way? If so, it’s time to start taking better care of the way you dress and present yourself visually.

You may be a very cool person on the inside, but if you dress sloppy, the first impression you create will be the very opposite of that.

2. Anxiety Is Messing Up the Message Your Project

It’s no coincidence that almost every person who perceives that others often stare at them feels nervous in social settings. Some of them have actually being diagnosed with social phobia or even AvPD.

You see, when you’re in a social setting and you feel anxiety, this will screw up your non-verbals, especially your facial expression. You’ll have this frozen, terrified look on your face, your eyes will be very wide open and your face color will likely be very pale.

This gets people’s attention and shocks them. So they’ll have the tendency to stare at you, perhaps even say to others: “Look at this guy/girl! He/she looks like they saw a ghost or something!”

Then you’ll realize others are gawking at you, which will make you self-conscious, which generates even more anxiety, so you look even more terrified, and the whole thing spirals.

In my experience, this is the most common reason why people stare at you. It is fundamentally an anxiety-related issue. And the only real solution is to deal with this root cause: to overcome your anxiety related to social settings.

Fortunately, effective, well-researched methods for overcoming anxiety exist today. Your job is to learn them and apply them.

I don’t want to go into this extensive topic here, but I do encourage you to check out this free presentation I designed, in which I cover this exact topic and I’ll show you the steps to take in order to build rock-solid social confidence. Please make sure you watch it.

3. It’s Largely Just In Your Head

It is also very possible that people in general don’t stare at you that much. No more than they stare at anybody else (yes everybody gets occasional stares), or at least not much more

However, your mind makes it seem that people stare at you all the time, when this actually occurs infrequently. What happens is that, since staring makes you feel uncomfortable, you notice it a lot and you remember it vividly.

You’re very aware of the situations when others gape at you, but completely unaware of the many situations when they don’t. This makes your mind overgeneralize and create the erroneous impression that people stare at you all the time.

Nevertheless, the reality is far from that.

This is something you can overcome by paying more attention to the situations where others do not gawk at you or they don’t even notice you, bearing them in mind, and then trying to objectively asses how frequently do others truly gawk at you.

You’ll likely find out it’s only in a small number of cases.

That’s it: my answer to the puzzling question: “why do people stare at me?” Take this info, put it into practice and see what happens. I think you’re gonna love the results you’ll achieve. And above all, work on building your social confidence. I will make the biggest difference.

Image courtesy of Chibcha


  1. Just in general, your appearance doesn’t have to be unkempt or sloppy for it to be attention grabbing. You could just have interesting clothing/hair or nontraditional piercings or something along those lines. I think it’s silly to say attention-grabbing folks don’t care about their appearance; there are so many varieties of reasons to dress differently. Some people just like to express themselves outside traditional clothing.

  2. I’ve notice that when I’m out in public people would look at me in a dumb founded way, where there mouth is open slightly and they have a glaze look in their face. I’ve tried to speak to them and wave at them, but they have a droopy look on their face that I just don’t get, of why they are staring at me. Was it something I did to them or said to them? I just don’t know…

  3. I live in Mexico, and people here don’t consider it rude to stare. I think this is actually ok in many other countries. I feel it’s rude when people stare me down, an it’s very uncomfortable. I think that usually it is because of my accent or when I speak English, out of curiousity. Nonetheless, it is extremely uncomfortable when they stare, whisper amongst themselves and continue staring. If they are curious, they should just ask, it takes the level of anxiety down when they finally speak.

  4. I just remembered how this guy had to stare at me during church today. 3 times and I’m pissed. What the heck is his problem??? Does he need to feel tough by staring someone down or what?? I hate it when people stare at me I hate it I feel like ripping someone up right now. And I gave 2 years of experience of martial arts. I’m going to have to start asking “WHY ARE YOU STARING AT ME???!!!!!!!!!!” Straight up. I’m getting really tired of it.

  5. For me its my Afro that gets me the looks, I like my hair but if I’m with friends around town, shopping or Because I’m shy it can sometimes make me feel really awkward ecspecially the faq’s I get from total strangers about how I get it to stay up this is REALLY awkward.

  6. I love being stared at. People who stare at me brings up my confidence. It makes me want to dress better and look good. I am being noticed which is good and who ever hates being stared at than boo hoo for you. You will be stressed and mad all your life so live by letting people stare at you, staring is not a crime

  7. Lily Chester says:

    It is rude to stare at someone. I hate going anywhere. I receive the most attention from men. When the women stare, they roll their eyes at me; However, I don’t even want the attention of certain men. I like to dress nice, but I am of afraid of unwanted attention. I would rather have receive attention from someone I actually like. I cannot live my life in the closet, but I don’t know what to do.

  8. I hate to say it but i cant stand some of my own race.Im black and my people are the most rude,ignorant, mean judgemental people you will ever want to meet..Cant stand to be around them.Some are so Stupid.I feel more comfortable around other races than my own.

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Shetee,

      I feel the same i’m black and can’t stand their judgemental ways, i have had stress all my life for getting myself an education, good job and playing sports etc. I eventually realised the stress had changed me,my posture was terrible i walked with my head down and shoulders hunched. Which was making me look like i was angry, which is the opposite to how i feel, i had to change it with bodyweight exercises and Alexander Technique

    • Well I’m white guy and I feel the same about my own race. But at the same time I think of people as individuals so I chill with whomever I feel like I click with. But everyone’s different, especially me haha that’s why people state at me and that’s ok cause I know Imma good person and that’s all that matters.

  9. In some part of the world or country, where people are narrow minded, no well educated, stupid and self absorbed…they stare at people. According to them, they are superior. In face, it is inferiority is sugar coated with superiority crap. In low cultured societies, people stare more. They make it their business to tell people what to do, how to dress and how to behave…deep down it is all fear base behavior that they stare at other people. They are ignorant. Be like me or I make fun of you, this is their believe. They don’t know better. Just recently, I was in Tennessee and a woman from her car pointing towards me and saying laud that what is she thinking, she is wearing a warm vest in this heat and she was making fun of me in that thick Southern accent. When you consider the source, you know it doesn’t matter what they say or do. In most part of India, especially villages, people make fun of my sun visor. They call it a topee, meaning hat, in some other part of the world people are wondering, why I wear sneakers. They think sneakers are only for men. Women should wear high heal or some kind of feminine looking shoes…
    It doesn’t really matter!

  10. I have social anxiety and I always feel nervous and paranoid if someone stares at me, but if a good looking guy stares at me it doesn’t bother me as much. 😀

  11. People stare at me,I hate it extremely. I consider myself as good-looking, so people gape at me.I have had forward head posture and hunched shoulders, eventually realised people used to gape for this reason.But, people still stare at me wherever I’m.

  12. Alaska young says:

    so I’m at a holiday in london and i’m randomly being stared at, and i’m not pretty and i don’t really wear anything other than blue and black, and i have REALLY low self-esteem and i’m super conscious, and i am stared at everywhere so i keep thinking there’s something wrong with my hair, and i keep needing to check my reflection and it’s really annoying.

  13. I don’t know what it is but it never used to happen or I didn’t notice it, but now it is hard for me to even leave my house because I sense everyone staring at me and some people move away from me if I am on public transit and I guess its because I seem uncomfortable but its just so awful having it mirrored by other people, especially when it’s something I don’t feel like I can control (feeling uncomfortable). Social anxiety feels like having a disease or something I hate it. I have always been told I am attractive or whatever but this experience is making me feel horribly ugly.

  14. I get starred at too and I thought it was only me but your posts have helped me. I think some people enjoy making others feel uncomfortable because they have low self esteem. I have to travel on the plane a lot to work and at the airport I look down to avoid the stares. I know I have been told I am attractive but the stares are rude usually from men I am married they can see that I think by my ring so I think they continue to stare to intimidate me and make me. So I hate going out when I do I just focus on something I like in my mind also pray. One person said they love people watching as a sport so to them this is just fun. Usually they look away if you try to look confident so I practice that which I am confident I just believe staring us rude. You can look at a person and acknowledge their presence without fixing your eyes in a gaze that they cant figure out why you are staring

  15. I feel terrible when people stare at me.

  16. I am a mixed culture background light skin girl with Liberian heritage living in Ghana, I have gotten stared at my entire life by these people, it’s like they never get used to me…. I have seen other lighter skin, even prettier girls than me, but they don’t get stared at, I dress mostly modestly, am plum shaped in the body, and pretty narrow face and kinda serious looking, but really friendly inside. I always dress decently before leaving the house, but I have no ideal why esp Ghanaians stare me so much, it’s causing me some emotional 😣problems

  17. gary whittaker says:

    I live in London , im a six foot, bald guy with fair skin and blue eyes with a small beard who gyms and swims everyday and i truly feel i dont stand out from the norm at all , but id say i get stared at ,at least three times a day …maybe more , London now has a massive arab population and in their culture its ok to stare ,but it grates on me loads , other reasons that people stare is because they find you attractive or you just “stand out” (my partner says the last one about me) ultimately , these people that stare dont really know the real you , and as long as your family, friends and partner love you , to hell with what people think

  18. Destiny says:

    I always get stared at. I don’t know what it is about me, I dress fine, hair groomed and I smile. But people always stare and frown up at me for no reason at all. I don’t judge people, or look down upon people, or think about them in a bad way but it’s the opposite for me I get looked down upon stared at very rudely and sometimes even judged, but I don’t do to others not at all. I even get laughed at. What is it with people because it’s not me. I love the outdoors but the people are hard to deal with, I love being around people especially when my day is going along fine but people are so rude and disrespectful. Maybe something is going on in their life but you don’t have to take it out on me to by staring at me, frowning up at me, and laughing at me but please don’t take it out on me!!

  19. I always feel like people stare too much and I dont know why. I have anxiety and that just makes me more anxious to the point where I pull out my compact to see if I have something on my face. It’s very frustrating. Sometimes it seems people are being rude and I want to tell them wtf is their problem. But I try to be calm and ignore it even though I can’t.

  20. Keep in mind, a lot of people feel breaking eye contact is a sign of weakness so often times when you catch someone looking at you they will refuse to look away until you do. Most people brush this off or get into a staring contest until something interupts one of you, of course this could be confusing and traumatizing to someone who is already insecure and uncomforitable. Also keep in mind when you think people are staring at you, you actually look for it, you yourself make more eye contact than you otherwise would and end up creating the scenarios in which your being stared at because people may notice you looking nervously at them.

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