Do contact lenses make a difference to a guy
May 11, 2007 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Guys-in-glasses filter: do contact lenses make a difference to the social side of things?

I've worn glasses for a number of, erm, decades. Suddenly, a few weeks ago, by a concatenation of circumstances (I lost my glasses, was abroad, replacement pair broke) I found myself wearing lenses for three weeks (previously I wore them exclusively when swimming). In that time, I've noticed that my relationships with people have improved, slightly but perceptibly. I'm a bit bouncier, a bit more outgoing, a bit more fun to be around; and people seem to be easier and more relaxed with me. It's chicken-and-egg in that I don't know which comes first: am I generating this response in others, or are they making me feel good: but either way I put it down to the removal of that barrier between me and the world, aka my spectacles. Has anyone else been in my position and had this experience, or am I kidding myself? Women please contribute, but I'm especially interested in the male perception. FWIW I'm not really thinking here of flirting and forms of romantic contact, but of interaction with others in general
posted by londongeezer to Human Relations (47 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I found the opposite to be true. I got approached by far more women and had far more successful first dates (no, I mean leading to second dates you sick bastards) after I started wearing glasses. My theory is that I must have put off a much more respectable and dateable appearance with the specs.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:30 PM on May 11, 2007

I always feel a bit more shy and removed when I'm wearing my glasses, but I always attributed that to the fact that I don't wear my glasses very often. But the lack of decent peripheral vision does make me a bit more wary, and I think I fail to notice small things happening out of the corner of my eye that, were I wearing contacts, I would probably respond to.
posted by occhiblu at 1:32 PM on May 11, 2007

i'm a huge dork. my life improved drastically when i stopped looking the part so I'm pro-contacts.
posted by Stynxno at 1:32 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

When I wore my contact lenses regularly, I felt cooler and more confident in them than in my glasses, in the same way that I do when I am dressed my best. People respond better to you when you are confident and socially comfortable. For me, therefore, I think it was more about the effect that eyewear had on me rather than on anyone else. Perhaps you are similar?

FYI, now I wear my glasses almost exclusively; I found ways to feel good about myself in them and contacts were a pain in the ass for me.
posted by Kwine at 1:39 PM on May 11, 2007

I've found that a unique and stylist pair of specs does more for being an ice breaker than anything else I've done. I still go spec-less when going out, but my day to day is with specs and I feel just as hip and comfy like that.
posted by wile e at 1:43 PM on May 11, 2007

Wearing glasses makes me feel a little bit distanced from people - I don't need them to see casually, so I prefer to take them off in social situations. I also take them off when I eat because I feel as if they're somehow "in the way," which is physically true with some drinking glasses since my eyeglasses ride a little low.

So, yes, I have felt what you're talking about. It's not enough that I'm going to switch to contacts (which are incredibly uncomfortable and a general pain in the ass for me), but it may eventually be the tipping point for laser surgery some day.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:46 PM on May 11, 2007

I'm not sure if it changed how other people think of me, but switching to contacts changed my self-image and made me feel like less of a nerd, which was quite a boon for my confidence and willingness to interact with people.
posted by pravit at 1:55 PM on May 11, 2007

I find wearing shades all the time is helpful.
posted by spitbull at 1:55 PM on May 11, 2007

Best answer: I wear glasses in only certain situations (while driving - and they're over my contacts) that are very low power, so I've had a chance to go with and without glasses at various times. I've even done my own little experiment with them.

The first thing to note is that wearing glasses of a strong power definitely changes things. If your eyes are pretty bad the refractive angle on the lenses is high enough to distort your eyes from others and I think keeps people from making a connection with you. If that's not the case with you, then the point doesn't apply.

However, wearing lightly corrective glasses that do not really distort your eyes at all do makes a difference I think. The one incident that stands out in my mind is a couple of years back when I was taking a bio lab and happened to be wearing my low-power glasses. All the people at my table started commenting on how the glasses made me look "scholarly" and "studious" and random people started coming over and asking me how to do things. These were people I'd never even talked to before. The next week I decided not wear the glasses and lo and behold I didn't get the same reaction. People weren't coming over to ask me questions, and it seemed like any other week. Whether it was because I wasn't wearing glasses I have no clue, but it's a cool anecdote (thanks Ira Glass!)

I've also done interviews for jobs with and without glasses. I can't say that I've noticed any difference in how people treat me there, but to me I sometimes feel "smarter" when I'm wearing my glasses and I think it gives me more confidence sometimes.

Whatever, it's my 2c. Take or leave my armchair sociological observations.
posted by jourman2 at 2:03 PM on May 11, 2007

No social change here. Main difference is that I find it a lot easier to check over my shoulder before changing lanes.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 2:04 PM on May 11, 2007

I would have thought a good set of designer glasses would look a lot better than just wearing contacts. Personally I'm attracted more to members of the opposite sex if they're wearing glasses, maybe it's just a strange fetish (I'm a guy, so might not apply in this case...). This usually only applies if they have a good set of glasses which suit their face and give off this 'creative' flare with makes them interesting to talk to... at least initially anyway.
posted by chrisbucks at 2:12 PM on May 11, 2007

I love guys in glasses, it makes them more attractive to me. The fact that YOU feel bouncier is whats improving the relationships. Do whatever make you feel bouncy!
posted by thebrokenmuse at 2:13 PM on May 11, 2007

As someone who has been on both sides of the fence, I think AGE is a big factor. I think 20s/30s yields the active, spontaneous look, while late 30s/40s/50s gives sophistication and refinement to an otherwise grizzling appearance.

I do think there is some self-psychological stuff going on but mainly related to field of vision... I feel like I'm suffering from tunnel vision with glasses on. Also glasses pinch my nose a bit and make me feel more nasally stuffy. None of that can possibly help.
posted by rolypolyman at 2:19 PM on May 11, 2007

When I wear my glasses, I more easily drift into a detached mindest because my peripheral vision is all but eliminated, and I can sense the glass lenses as a both a barrier and a facilitator between me and the outside world. When I take them off, the difference in the scope of my vision (and its lack of obstruction) really affects how I work and interact with people. After a few days of wearing contacts instead of glasses, I feel a little moodier, a little isolated. It's not because of how people are treating me-- it's because of my own unconscious adjustment to the level of our engagement.
posted by hermitosis at 2:24 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think it depends on what your face looks like. Glasses can make certain faces look more attractive but undermine the attractive features of other types of faces. I personally think that I look better without glasses, so I'm considering switching to contact lenses.

And I think I agree with the notion that glasses play little games with your head. I think they make me feel a little more inhibited, though that might just be because without glasses I see less. :p
posted by nihraguk at 2:32 PM on May 11, 2007

I have had people tell that they prefer my looks in glasses and others in contacts. However I feel there IS a stereotype people lean towards (they may not be aware of it) but its that people with glasses are more inteligent and "geeky" . Some woman like that, some don't. I prefer not to look geeky, because well... I kinda am. So I try and level the field so to speak.

I ALWAYS prefer to wear my contacts out on the town (as I will tonight). It definitely makes me feel more confident.

This confidence has come from the majority of pro contact comments through the years.

Good Question.
posted by crewshell at 2:44 PM on May 11, 2007

GRRRR Women*
posted by crewshell at 2:44 PM on May 11, 2007

I had a friend once who swore up and down that wearing contacts improved his posture. I began watching him more carefully after he said that, and it was true -- he stood up straighter almost immediately after taking his glasses off. It could be that you project more confidence without glasses for whatever reason, and that manifests itself physically somehow.
posted by danb at 3:14 PM on May 11, 2007

The summer after my first year in college was sort of life-changing for me, partially because I got contacts. I was definitely more outgoing, more confident. But I think the effect would wear off after a while (wearing contacts is too much of a hassle for my dry eyes)—it felt like wearing a costume, some mask that wasn't "really" me. Like when Garfield put that hat on, or Calvin wears his cape.
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:28 PM on May 11, 2007

Though I was in high school I would say that the day I started wearing contacts was a huge turning point in my life, in a social sense. You describe being 'bouncier' et cetera, and I would say I felt the same way
posted by nameless.k at 3:37 PM on May 11, 2007

I'm a woman in my early 40s who tends to prefer men on the intellectual/engineer/geek end of the scale. So I'm pro-glasses in general. Especially if they have nice stylish frames that look good on the person's face. I wear glasses too, and there's always that dorky and fun moment in making out where one or both of you has to take your glasses off so they don't knock together.
posted by matildaben at 3:55 PM on May 11, 2007

Many guys look better with glasses. I am not one of them I have really bad vision and glasses bend the light so much that parts of my face are entirely missing. Contacts make me look much better.
posted by I Foody at 4:10 PM on May 11, 2007

Dudes in glasses = Super Hot as long as said glasses are not shitty dorktacular glasses. Way more hot and noticeable than a guy in contacts. It's all "well, hello professor."

I think probably it's that you feel like you've gotten an upgrade - the same thing happens to me when I lose some weight. It is probably in all actuality not noticeable to anyone else, but you feel more attractive, which colors your interactions with everyone else.
posted by mckenney at 4:25 PM on May 11, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far (please keep them coming). There seems to be mild consensus that there's something in the idea that going spec-less improves the social life, if only a little, and no real consensus on why. Spitbull wrote: "I find wearing shades all the time is helpful": I will investigate this angle at some point! I also note several women who are of mckenney's "Dudes in glasses = Super Hot" persuasion. I like to think that's true, but how come I never met anyone who felt that way when I wore glasses? No-one ever said to me, ever, "You are super-hot in those glasses, dude". Maybe of course there is an inbuilt bias in the mefite users, or maybe being a londongeezer has more drawbacks than I knew.
posted by londongeezer at 4:42 PM on May 11, 2007

I think glasses are a barrier. I've noticed that I move my head and eyes differently with glasses on. My head has to move further left/right so I can see things in my peripheral. And I'm sensitive to the tiny additional weight. I've had abandon glasses that felt too heavy at the end of the day. So perhaps people are responding to your slightly different body language.

I regularly wear glasses. And like Londongeezer, I had two periods where I had to wear contacts. And both times, I met someone who soon after became my girlfriend. It's not that I never dated with my glasses, but initial dating phase did seem easier with contacts.

My last ex-gf made a comment about them once. She said that taking the trouble to put on contacts is like taking the trouble to wash up, comb your hair, put on make-up, wear ironed clothes, etc. She thought that it's a sign that you care about your appearance and were willing to go thru a bit more trouble to impress the other person. We broke up, but thankfully over bigger issues than my glasses. Hmm...I think...

And I've noticed that with the women I've dated, if she needed vision correction, then she'd use contacts early in the relationship. It wouldn't be until later, when she was more comfortable with me, that she'd wear her glasses. And then only late at night or after the contacts were irritating.

Now when I go out on dates, I tend to wear contacts because I've decided that every little bit helps.
posted by Cog at 4:54 PM on May 11, 2007

If I don't wear my glasses I'm more shy and reserved, because I can't see people's facial expressions.

I've worn glasses as far as I can remember, and I do not feel that they've hurt me in any way. (And I think along the way I've developed a mild glasses fetish.)

Maybe the important thing is to get glasses that you think make you look better? I find that if I think like good, people are more attracted to me.
posted by phliar at 5:15 PM on May 11, 2007

I like the kind of women who are attracted to me because of my glasses.

Also, I like my glasses. Glasses are great. They're like a part of your face that you get to choose for yourself.
posted by bingo at 5:21 PM on May 11, 2007

There is a huge caveat to all of the responses above which has not been mentioned. All glasses are not created equal. A small, dark, square pair of emo glasses will convey a very different vibe than the very large sizes favored 15 years back. On a woman cat eye glasses can be either sexy librarian or school marm depending on the specifics and how they are accessorized. Although many people do not get new glasses until necessity requires, an outdated pair of glasses will look as anachronistic as a giant 80's blazer with oversized shoulder pads. In addition I find that certain types of glasses styles are quite aging, while the right frames with the right styles can be just the opposite. I would wager that it's not that you are wearing glasses, but that you are wearing those glasses. Even the same frame shape in different materials and colors and styling can change the look from serious to casual and cool.

You say that you have been wearing glasses for decades, when was the last time you changed the style of your glasses? Maybe it's time to reevaluate if your current pair is really working for you. If you do decide to get a new pair, spend a really long time trying on everything with an open mind and take pictures to mull over. You might find that it's hard to get over the idea of certain styles that you are accustomed to wearing until you see yourself in photos instead of in a mirror. And then poll your friends. My money is on you being surprised by how much a change in frames will make.
posted by hindmost at 5:48 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am unable to wear contacts due to my lens prescription (I have prisms in my lenses), so I no experience with "the other side." I did have a job interview once where the interviewer asked 'Have you ever considered getting contact lenses? You'd be so much more attractive." Jerk.

As far as judging the opposite sex, it never mattered to me whether or not a man wore glasses or not. I always found John Lennon quite sexy with his round wire specs.
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:50 PM on May 11, 2007

No-one ever said to me, ever, "You are super-hot in those glasses, dude"

When I was wearing my old glasses people said "Oh! You wear glasses." and when I got my new frames people (many times the same people) said "Wow, you look super-hot in those glasses." and "Girls in glasses are super-hot." So even to people who profess to like girls in glasses require that they be the right ones.
posted by hindmost at 5:54 PM on May 11, 2007

I'm a girl- I like guys in glasses. There's something about people being comfortable enough with themselves that they don't worry about whether or not they look nerdy that I happen to find appealing. Then you go home with them, they take their glasses off... rowr!
posted by oneirodynia at 6:00 PM on May 11, 2007

Guys in attractive glasses are hot.

Guys in dorky, out-of-style, nerdalicious glasses are not hot.
posted by watsondog at 6:35 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm with the people who said it is because you feel better. I have worn glasses since I was about eleven and until college, I would take them on and off as required (I could function without them, but needed them to see any detail). Once I started wearing them all the time, I gained more confidence because I wasn't constantly fiddling or forgetting them or doing whatever. As far as boys go, glasses over contacts always. Contacts make me wonder if you are insecure. And I am insecure enough for two people already.
posted by dame at 6:43 PM on May 11, 2007

Another anecdote...I recently had to transition to glasses after wearing contacts for 18 years, and it's made a huge impact on my self-image. I don't feel particularly confident or together, and I have a hard time connecting with people. That said, I have very unusual glasses, and a hell of a lot of people come up and talk to me about my glasses. I don't get hit on as much, though (I'm a girl), or maybe I'm just getting hit on by a different type of guy. I don't know. I guess I'm saying that having glasses can affect you in really significant ways, and you can probably make either glasses or contacts work to your advantage.
posted by lunalaguna at 7:45 PM on May 11, 2007

I refused to wear my glasses for several years in my teens because when I wore them, I was confronted with a view of my pathological acne whenever I passed a reflective surface. I finally started wearing them again when my grades started to suffer because I couldn't read the board from the front row. And then I started Accutane.

Yes, glasses can give you confidence or take it away.
posted by crinklebat at 8:46 PM on May 11, 2007

I found contact lenses drew more trendy bar-type gay men and young flighty shallow women; the kind of people I want to attract like me just fine in glasses (as long as they're not huge plastic-framed things that really hide most of my face). Plus you can always send a signal by taking off your glasses.
posted by davy at 8:52 PM on May 11, 2007

An entirely different kind of answer that's completely superficial and possibly offensive, but I tend to be more attracted to men who appear to have great vision. No glasses, stylish glasses with thin lenses. My own vision is extremely bad and that's the #1 trait I don't want to pass along to my future children. I subconsciously think that if my future parter has perfect eyes, everything will balance out.

But, of course, this is nonsense! I've had LTRs with men with terrible vision. We bonded over our blindness and they looked hot in their glasses.

So like everyone says, if the frames fit your face, the lenses don't restrict people from getting a good look at your eyes, and you like wearing them, then don't change. Rock your glasses with confidence!

Side anecdote: I work in advertising and for a photoshoot we did this week of a bunch of models acting as medical personnel and patients, the director had all of the "doctors" wear glasses. The men and women were attractive to begin with, but the glasses did make them look more stately and mature. And smokin'.

posted by QueSeraSera at 9:09 PM on May 11, 2007

Oops, you wanted men to answer. Forget my previous future partner crap.
posted by QueSeraSera at 9:13 PM on May 11, 2007

after growing up with bad glasses, i switched to contacts when i started high school. the social impact was quite strong, and i loved it. wore contacts for 15 years. got tired of dealing with all the crap associated with them after getting an allergy reaction to a new type, so i switched to glasses for a few months. when i went back to contacts a year or so later, i found that i preferred how people treated me in glasses then contacts. have worn glasses since.

but then again change is nice. maybe i'll look into contacts again.
posted by lester at 9:26 PM on May 11, 2007

Glasses are a fashion accessory!
I don't recall if perceptions changed towards me when I statred wearing specs in my early 20s, but I remember feeling quite chuffed that I had an extra fashion accessory to play with.
I sometimes wear contacts, but mostly I can't be bothered poking about in my eyes to get them in and out when it's much easier to get my glasses on and off.
I've been told certain pairs of my glasses are quite sexy and been asked to leave them on during intimate moments.
I like men in glasses, but like shoes, you need to display a certain quality of taste.
posted by goshling at 4:42 AM on May 12, 2007

Another woman here chiming in with glasses are sexy on guys. I can think of three guys I've been involved with who I found sexier when they were wearing their glasses. Sexier is always good.
posted by LunaticFringe at 5:56 AM on May 12, 2007

My social life forever changed for the better once I made the switch from glasses to contacts right before starting high school, although to be fair that could have a lot to do with the fact I never had what could possibly be considered "fashionable" glasses. Mine were more of the large, thick, Coke-bottle style preferred by Waldo in Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" video.

I think in my case the positive social change was equal parts (A) no longer looking the part of the classic, stereotypical nerd and (B) the self-confidence boost shedding that image gave me which changed my usually shy personality around girls into a more outgoing one.
posted by The Gooch at 5:56 AM on May 12, 2007

Also, I'm with matildaben, it's a cute moment during a makeout session when the glasses come off. It's not as intimate as clothes-removal but there's still a sense of intimacy about it. Like your letting your guard down for that person.
posted by LunaticFringe at 5:58 AM on May 12, 2007

I've no tattoos or piercings so my glasses function as a sort of subdued avenue for self expression. I've only a couple pairs at the moment as I don't skimp on frames - if I find something I like, I'll pay whatever they cost.

Not because I've lots of disposable income (I don't) but because my glasses are a part of my face - a fundamental part of who I am and how I interact with the world. More importantly, they're an aspect of my appearance over which I have absolute control. There's something quite empowering about that. I wouldn't want to give that up by switching to contacts.
posted by aladfar at 8:08 AM on May 12, 2007

I have not noticed any difference in how people treat me between wearing glasses and wearing contacts.

Of course, that is probably because I am huge and the glasses are therefore a relatively minor factor in how I appear to others. "Oh, a fat guy" and "oh, a fat guy with glasses" are not that different socially, I imagine.

Glasses make everything look small, though, and are difficult to keep clean (it's hard to notice they're dirty when you're actually wearing them) so I prefer wearing contact lenses when I can, though I can't always.
posted by kindall at 8:19 AM on May 12, 2007

It's all in your head. Which is fine since that's what really matters. The only consistent effect that glasses have is making people look older. Not necessarily more or less attractive but almost always a few years, or maybe more, older. If you're an older guy then people might be treating you as if you're younger.
posted by nixerman at 12:28 PM on May 12, 2007

I'm chiming on the men in glasses are sexy thing, but I'd also like to say that on most men rectangular frames are HOT. I don't really know why, (maybe they accentuate cheek bones and jaws thus activating the whole symmetrical face = increased attractiveness thing? maybe? ) but non-circular frames make a difference. Circular frames say geek, rectangular frames say intelligent. That's generalizing, but I've had many a drunken conversations about this with my girlfriends. If contacts end up bothering you, maybe you want to look into getting new frames?
posted by Eudaimonia at 4:16 PM on May 12, 2007

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