Monday, August 26, 2013


For this episode of "What about luuurve?" (or, my feature on topics relating to the science behind love), let's take a look at our eyes. I don't mean, like, in the mirror or anything. I mean, let's check out how the eyes figure into the science of attraction and whatnot.

Our eyes both pick up on information and communicate it (this last bit, often without our conscious knowledge). Specifically, our pupils are the actual windows to our souls, and those suckers dilate (get bigger/wider) when there's information before us which we deem of great import. This can be because of something good ("That dude's HAWT!") or bad ("Holy shit, is that a freakin' bear?!"). The wider the pupil, the more information gets through to our little gray cells, the faster our little gray cells can tell us to run (whether to or from the source of the stimulus will, of course, vary, depending upon the info received). (Presumably.)

As regards the "something good," if we're talking about a possible future lover/mate/spouse, when our pupils widen to take her/him in, areas of our brain which respond to dopamine get very active, probably 'cause our little gray cells want us to get a move on and take action on the attraction, already.

Interestingly, the sexes have somewhat differing perceptions of widened pupils in the objects of their respective affections. Hetero dudes think chicks with big pupils are hawt because:
a) they interpret that wide-pupil gaze as sexual interest in them, specifically, and
b) they (unconsciously) reckon that this sexual interest is due to the chick ovulating ('cause, like, menfolk have that biological imperative to spread their seed far and wide, yo). (Hey, I don't make this stuff up, I just report it, OK?) (Sheesh.)
By Greyson Orlando (Own work)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Medieval Italian babes intuitively picked up on this and used belladonna to widen their pupes, thus increasing their pulling power. (This method's not recommended, as belladonna's toxic like Britney.)

Hetero chicks' responses to dude's pupil size will vary, based on what it is they're actively seeking. If a gal wants a steady, long-term, relationship, she'll prefer a dude with medium-sized pupils. But if all she wants is a bit of short-term fun, then larger pupils will float the little man in her boat. Apparently, wide pupils in a male indicate a potentially overwhelming sexual desire that can lead to aggressive, even violent, behavior (which, while undesirable in a long-term relationship, may explain the mystifying attraction some gals feel for so-called "bad boys"). Anyway, them mid-sized pupes demonstrate a safer level of interest. (Curiously, biology can trump this thought process when a chick's ovulating—at that point in her monthly cycle, it seems a woman's held hostage to her urge to merge/biological clock/"Damn, I really want a baby" instinct.) (Again, I'm not making this jazz up, promise.)

Right, so: if pupil enlargement indicates sexual interest (and it does), then a large-pupiled, long-held gaze is a very promising sign, indeed. We're flattered when possible love-objects stare into our eyes and, subsequently, rate their attractiveness even higher as a result. And the longer we hold one another's gazes, the more passionately we feel about them.

So what's the takeaway from all this?

By Emily Tan (originally posted to Flickr as The Gaze)
[CC-BY-2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons
Well, if you and your lover naturally make frequent eye contact and hold one another's looks for longer, rather than shorter, periods of time (in non-creepy ways), your relationship's probably in a good place. Take note, however, if any of the following are true:
  • When out to dinner, you and your love-muffin would rather look at your food, around the room, or at your smart phones, rather than at one another. (More often than not.)
  • Your lover blocks his eyes (whether with a hand or simply by closing them) during a conversation—this could mean he's troubled by, or frustrated with, you.
  • Your significant other starts blinking, a lot, when explaining his whereabouts of an evening—folks' eyelids begin to flutter rapidly when they're nervous. (Looking away for a moment, however, is not necessarily a bad thing, as he may simply be trying to recall an exact sequence of events.)
  • Your spouse squints, or narrows her eyes at you when you're giving her your whereabouts of an evening—you're either seriously stressing her out or she doesn't buy what you're trying to sell and she's pissed.

Stuff I read to research this topic (to give credit, and to reassure, in case you're still thinking I made this shizz up):

Joe Navarro, “TheBody Language of the Eyes: The Eyes Reveal What The Heart Conceals,”,December 11, 2009.

Cheryl Murphy, “Learning the Look of Love: That Sly “Come Hither” Stare,”, October 17, 2011.

Cheryl Murphy, “Learning the Look of Love: In your Eyes, the Light the Heat,”, November 1, 2011.

Cristen Conger, “Does love make your pupils dilate?”, February 12, 2012.


  1. Fascinating stuff!

    The part about staring fully into another person's eyes made me think of my cat and how we had a "staring contest" the other night. He stared at me for almost a minute without blinking, and eventually I just had to give up. Plus, it was a LITTLE creepy. ;)

  2. So when someone says the first thing they noticed about you were your eyes - it's not a compliment it just meant they knew it'd be a breeze getting you into the sack? :)

  3. I've often thought this about you, Mina, but never mentioned it before - I think you'd make a great agony aunt. Seriously. I think you have 'the way' about you, and he'll, you writing style would never be boring, but very much the opposite. ;)

  4. Cool info! And I would NEVER think you were making stuff up! This is fascinating, actually, because I've used similar detective work to figure out when one of my male teens was trying to pull one over on me...
    Tina @ Life is Good

  5. I love the eyes too, and my guy & I look into each other's eyes a lot....we are really affectionate with each other.

  6. @Trisha - LOL! And EEK! :-)

    @Yolanda - Yeah, probably. ;-)

    @Mark - Aw, thanks, Dude. I'm great at dispensing advice. And, though I do my best to practice what I preach, 'tain't always easy. :-D

    @Tina - Nice! Parenting is sorta like being a double agent, ain't it??? ;-)

    @JoJo - Aw! <3

  7. This is quite fascinating. Several of these I remember from my acting days. :-)

  8. oh for real you researched this. It is fascinating. I'm not sure you answered the major deal breaking scenario of being at a meal and you would rather look at a large glistening chocolate cake for like hours at a time than your partner :)

  9. @Rocky - really? Which???

    @David - True story: when out to dinner one night with the ex-husband (this was before we were married), the dessert cart wheeled by our table and my head turned to mark its progress. When I looked back at my then-guy, he said, "You never look at *me* that way." If only I'd known then what I know now... :-)

  10. @ Mina - The four bad sign bullet points. I never was the guy who got the girl, so I had to react to a lot of that. :-)

  11. WOW! How interesting. Great article Mina. I'm fascinated by my character's eyes and I constantly have their eyes do stuff. Now at least it will be believable! LOL

    1. Hah! Yeah, I've got my characters doing stuff with their eyes a lot, too! :-D


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