I've always had trouble with making eye contact, not just with girls but with people in general.
I've realised this may make me seem disinterested and push people away so I've been trying to look people in the eyes when talking, but I find it really hard to do. I'll look into the chick behind the counter at the shop's eyes, or a friend's while talking, but I can't hold it for more than a second or two. How do I overcome this, and is it as important as I'm making it out to be?
pic unrelated, I just typed attractive woman into google to get your attention
I had trouble making eye contact with people until I was fully dead inside.
Now everyone is bummed out by my presence one-on-one, but listens to me subserviently when I speak to them.
I can almost feel their soul, their ego, shearing off like a vapour, escaping from their suddenly watery eyes and escaping into the aether. They realize when I'm gone that in speaking with me, they've lost a part of themselves, however small.
I've also stopped smiling when people do make eye contact at me and smile.
In the middle of conversation I can hold eye contact though. Not to say that it doesn't make me feel uncomfortable.
ok i'm gonna lay some serious knowledge on you right now.
Like all things this is going to be a process of gradual improvement.
The first step is to notice how exactly you're breaking eye contact.
Most shy people are constantly looking down, they break down, break down, break and look down. Every time you do this people read it as a symbol of submission. This is what puts people off, it comes off as obsequious.
The first change you need to make is breaking to the side. This makes you look 60% less beta immediately for reasons I don't care to get into at the moment.
Another key is to notice the pace at which you break away. You want a slow, smooth, calmly-scanning-your-environment movement. Not a jerky, panicked jumpy movement.
After you've trained that pattern of behavior (breaking to the side, moving smoothly and calmly) into yourself it's becomes easier to change how often you break eye contact, and you will be more comfortable holding eye contact for extended time. This is where you can try unspoken staring contests and shit, trying to make other people break away first for practice.
when people first start doing it they do often come off as creepy. That goes away with practice.
Most of the time though you'll see it as a power-play symbolic-struggle between two rather dominant men, especially when they first meet and are testing each other out.