Most Helpful Girl
For me it depends entirely on the conversation and who I'm having it with. I know that when I'm talking with my female friends,coworkers, family members etc.m eye contact is part of the whole communication process and it kind of shows you're paying attention. However, with my male friends, family, and coworkers I have learned that eye contact throughout an entire conversation kind of makes them uncomfortable and they don't really see it as necessary most of the time.
My rule of thumb for a guy I'm dating is this:
If we're having a normal conversation in private (about how our day was, what we're doing this weekend etc.) then occassional eye contact for a few seconds is totally fine. If we're in public having that kind of conversation, a little more eye contact is nice so I know you're not completely distracted by the game on the big screen behind us. If your eyes keep wandering around and are never on mine, I figure either you're not in the mood to talk (and avoiding any questions I might have as to what caused the mood) or you're just not interested in what I have to say (which is definitely not so good for our relationship.)
But if we're having a serious discussion about our relationship or just something very important to one or both of us, whether it's in private (hopefully we only have these talks alone) or in public, I expect almost constant eye contact- it shows we're connected, you're engaged in the conversation, I can read the unsaid thoughts and feelings in your expression, and we're more likely to understand each other since we're communicating with words and body language.
Same kind of rule applies to a lesser extent for male friends and family.