I've got into some trouble in the past for inadvertently staring at people in public. I certainly don't intend to annoy the people I'm looking at and usually don't even realize that I'm staring until the people involved start getting jumpy because of me.

Nevertheless, I find it outrageous that they think they ought to be able to control the position of my eyeballs. I suspect such people are overly self-conscious, which is why they have such a problem with me glancing at them.

As I said, I would never stare at a person with the intention of annoying them and stop staring as soon as I become conscious that I'm doing so. However, my act of glancing repeatedly at unusual sights or occurrences ("staring") is part of my nature when I'm feeling bored. Who is right here and is there anything I can do about this?

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    I've got into some trouble > What kind of trouble? What happened, just the other person getting 'jumpy'? Or more? a problem with me glancing at them vs staring at people > Is this about staring or glancing? Which one gave you trouble? in public is still pretty broad. Does this happen everywhere, or can you narrow that down further? Also, please take a look at our help center. IPS can't decide who's right and wrong here. We might be able to help you understand why people react the way they do, but we're not here to tell you whether you or they are right.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Dec 22 '18 at 12:33
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    Can you focus this more on the behaviour you use to interact with these people/in certain situations, instead of on 'who's right, who's wrong?'
    – Tinkeringbell
    Dec 22 '18 at 12:33

There is definitely a difference between looking at and staring at, and this will vary between cultures. But the vast majority of people don't like it - because it implies something; whether it is an interest (which could be unwanted), an intent (creepy, much?) or curiosity (which could make the target feel they look wrong, have committed a social faux pas) and so on. Some may even take it as a personal attack, so you could find yourself being physically attacked!

Situation counts for something - staring at someone performing on stage is fine. Staring at them as they enjoy dinner with a friend is not so okay!

You have a bit of a dichotomy in your question. On the one hand you say you think them being annoyed/upset is their fault, and then you say you stop it when you realise.

If you don't intend to annoy them how about being proactive. Instead of annoying them, be more aware that you staring is going to annoy, offend and unnerve people, and don't do it.

In summary - I'd suggest there is no-one in the right, but you are definitely in the wrong - you should consider the impact of your actions and adjust them accordingly.

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