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Eye rolls. What do they mean?

Are they a brain reset? A show of annoyance? When they happen in a relationship, is it bad?

Love Letters

Love Letters

Q. I’ve been with my boyfriend for six years (on and off). Recently our relationship has become very rocky, and when I’m unsure about anything, I like to address the situation so that the problem can be fixed. But when it’s his turn to talk and or express his feelings, he tends to roll his eyes.

I’ve asked him why, and his excuse is always that “he’s tired,” but he hadn’t been rolling them before, nor does he continue to roll them after he’s done talking. I’m so confused because my intuition says one thing, yet he says another. Am I overreacting or could my intuition be right?



A. When I’m stressed or have conversations that require a lot of thought, I crack my knuckles. It can be unpleasant for others to see or hear (or see). I’m working on it.

I mention that because the eye rolls might be something similar. The action might mean he’s overwhelmed, thinking about something uncomfortable, or concerned about making things worse. It might not mean anything in particular.

Instead of focusing on the eye rolls, think about what he tells you — and whether you’re actually happy in this relationship. Why is it rocky? Can your conflicts be worked out? Those questions are more important than what he does with his eyes when he speaks about these things.

If you can’t stop decoding his body language — if it’s too distracting — remove it from the equation. Put your feelings and questions in writing. Give him the chance to respond on his own schedule, when he’s not tired. Not all conversations have to be face-to-face. The two of you might do better with some space.



I think Meredith is giving him a little too much credit. Even if it is due to stress, that tells you a lot as well. It means he is stressed about never doing anything right or your ceaseless suspicious mind. There is nothing more frustrating and damaging to a relationship than perpetually being questioned and talked at. And, if this is where your relationship is, then it is basically over. Time to put a fork in this.



The eye roll means “Here we go again.”


It is a brain reboot. Something he does to get set for what he is going to say. I actually received a negative performance review because I sigh before delving into something complicated, and this was seen as a sign of resistance. (The work environment was dysfunctional to begin with, and I thankfully left that steaming pile of ...). However, it made me realize how I react to complicated things.


When someone cracks knuckles, I think they are nervous or thoughtful. When someone rolls their eyes, they mean they would rather eat glass than talk about the subject at hand.


My gut says you guys are headed for the exits, so maybe don’t dawdle and just get there. Six years on and off sounds less like a relationship than a friends-with-benefits scenario that waxes and wanes. I’d be curious to know if he would describe himself as your boyfriend.


Eye rolling is derisive and rude. It’s a form of disrespect. I could understand if it happens once or twice, because we can’t control our expressions, but if it happens a lot and if your gut is telling you otherwise, listen to your gut.



I roll my eyes at least 10 times a day in customer service; it’s better than saying what I really want to say out loud. Don’t make too much out of this, it’s a coping mechanism — well for me, anyway.


Let’s cut to the chase. You’ve been on and off for six years and are in a rocky phase. There have been enough discussions and subsequent eye rolling to cause you to write in. Although relationships involve work, good ones don’t include constant battles. It shouldn’t be this hard. I think you two are just not a good fit.


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