I was looking at... or I looked at

My husband and I were ice-skating when we met.
I fell down because I (1) looked (2) was looking at him.
It was really embarrassing!

I’m learning simple past and past continuous tense now, and would like to know the situation above should be used simple past or past continuous tense.

Thank you!!!

Not as a native speaker but as a language teacher I would say:
I fell down because I was looking at him (a shorter action in the Past Simple, a longer action in the Past Continuous)

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Evegueny40 is correct
I would say i was falling down because i looked at him or was looking at him. Both are used but i was falling because i looked at him is slightly more correct if one had to choose between the two.
Also to practice go through an article about a story (in the past) and look at which they had used/used/were using. (Sounds a bit weird here to use -ing but i wouldnt say wrong if i heard it)
Common pattern -ing form then followed by simple past.
Also -ing form is like a story telling tense so it sets the stage for the simple past or other details to happen
In 1985 there was/had been lots of crime on the street. But that didnt/wasn’t going to stop the police from trying to do they’re jobs.
(Trying is a noun here)(no difference between there was/there had been but there had being is wrong)
A dancer drinking alcohol in an alleyway but decided/was deciding/had decided what to do next.

There is no difference between decided vs deciding vs had decided here but what comes next. Remember (was deciding) needs to be followed by something/anything.
If you can snap your fingers its simple past or the story telling version of -ing form followed by simple past.
He sold shoes out of his car for years. (Done that is it. End of discussion)
He was selling shoes out of his car for years (one could end the sentence here but people would say “and then?” Or “what you started a sentence and didnt finish the point/story?”)
He died (done, end of sentence vs he was dying and… what happened while he was dying??? He was dying is like an adjective describing the situation vs a verb like he died.
I dont know if i helped at all. But natives dont stress these differences too much in speech if you plan to write books then i would go consciously memorize all the patterns and then practice. Good luck!

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