Why Your Pupils Dilate Around Someone You Love

Dilated pupils have long been viewed as a symbol of lust and love, but there isn't one exact solution for why they occur. One example, however, is that it's common knowledge that you like someone if your pupils dilate when you look at them, even though most of the time we cannot control it. 

Ultralase reports that it is all connected to dopamine. Dopamine is also known as "the happy hormone," as it produces the feeling the majority of people associate with pleasure. This doesn't necessarily have to be romantic or sexual — eating your favorite dish can chemically release dopamine, too. Coupled with dopamine, our eye muscles receive a signal from our brain that creates the psychological reaction of pupil dilation. Insider backs this theory up, noting that serotonin and norepinephrine are released alongside dopamine. This heady concoction of chemicals causes both a rush of emotions and your pupils to enlarge when looking at someone you find attractive. 

This doesn't exactly explain why large pupils are linked with love, though, which is why we dug a little further to find out more. 

Your pupils growing wider could give away your feelings

According to Healthline, research has indicated that we find people with larger pupils more attractive than those with smaller pupils, especially when it comes to men viewing women. In a study conducted to test the above theory, men called a woman in a picture with larger pupils "soft" and "pretty." This was a direct contrast to a picture of a woman with smaller pupils, who was perceived as "cold" and "selfish." Interestingly, none of the men in the study recalled noticing an active difference in the size of the women's pupils.

Although it isn't as obvious when it comes to women looking at men, the evidence suggests that those attracted to bad boys tend to gravitate toward larger pupils, whereas those not searching for a troublemaker go for a man with medium-sized pupils. If you're a woman, your menstrual cycle can also impact the dilation of your pupils. A 2007 study revealed women's pupils are likely to be at their largest when they come into contact with someone they find sexually attractive during the most fertile phase of their cycle. 

With all of this in mind, it seems as though we perceive those with larger pupils more positively, even if we don't know that's what we are doing. This could be why our pupils naturally dilate when looking at someone we like, so they view us in a better light.

Dilating pupils aren't the only sign you love someone

However, for some, dilated pupils may be a sign of your sympathetic nervous system kicking in due to dopamine (the happiness chemical) and not necessarily because you love someone (via Healthline). Our eyes dilate naturally in these situations due to wanting to see more and evaluate what's going on. Excessive drinking, drug-taking, fear, and changing light levels can also all alter how your eyes appear and confuse the situation.

If that's the case, you may be looking for other giveaways that someone likes you (or for you to show that you like them!). Flushing and sweaty palms are often associated with nerves, but they can be a sign of attraction. Moreover, someone's feet pointing toward yours, as well as unconscious leaning and tilting toward a person, can all indicate you like someone or they like you. One of the most obvious signs is whether someone is making direct eye contact with you. Eye contact is difficult at the best of times, so someone making an effort to maintain it is always a good sign. Prolonged eye contact can even make you appear more attractive, according to a 2006 study.

Now you know why your pupils dilate, you can be on the lookout for telltale signs the next time you talk to your partner or a potential date.