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Why Dilated Pupils Are A Good Sign Of Attraction (And Maybe Love)

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When we see or interact with someone we love or feel sexually attracted to, our nervous systems go into overdrive.

Our bodies release several hormones, often known as the love hormones, which include dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin.

And those chemicals winging their way around your body makes the muscles in your irises relax and your pupils dilate.

It can even be enough just to see a video or photo of someone we find attractive for our pupils to react to them. And we generally have no idea it’s happening until we look in a mirror.

If your pupils are dilated, it means you’re able to take in as much light – and thus information – as possible about the thing or person you’ve got your eyes fixed on.

You’re drinking in all the details because you really, really like what you see and want to learn everything you can about it or them.

If you’re looking for signs that someone you’re attracted to feels the same way about you, then noticing if their pupils dilate when they see you can be a good indication that the feeling might be mutual.

But, as much as it would be nice for there to be a fail-safe way to know whether someone likes you like that just by looking at their pupils, dilating pupils are no guarantee that there’s an attraction there, as we’ll look at later on.

There’s no hiding pupil dilation.

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that they won’t be able to prevent their pupils from dilating, as it’s an automatic response. The bad news is that you won’t be able to do anything about your pupils either.

No matter how good an actor you are, you can’t control the way your pupils dilate when you like what you see. That’s just a fact of life.

It’s probably one of the first telltale signs of arousal that you’ll be able to spot in someone that’s interested in you in that way. It happens before they start flushing or getting sweaty.

And it’s also one of the first signs that someone you’re interested in will notice you giving off, if they’re aware of how body language works.

So if you see someone’s pupils dilating when they look at you, you might well be on the right track.

Just make sure you keep your eyes peeled for more signs of attraction beyond just what you can see in their eyes.

Other reasons why your pupils might dilate.

Before you get carried away by the idea that dilated pupils definitely mean attraction or love, remember that there are plenty of other reasons why someone’s pupils might dilate, from circumstantial reasons to health reasons.

Here are some of them:

1. You’re in low light.

This is one of the most common reasons why our pupils dilate, as our eyes are constantly adjusting to changes in the level of light in our surroundings.

Our pupils dilate and constrict constantly as we move from space to space and focus our gaze on different objects or people.

Your pupils control how much light enters your eyes to help you see. If you’re somewhere brightly lit, then your pupils will constrict and appear smaller than they would if you were in low light.

So, if you’re in a romantic situation with soft lighting, like candlelight, and their pupils are dilating, it might have more to do with the lack of light than it does with you.

It could be a combination of the two, of course, but it’s best to look out for other signs of attraction rather than just relying on their dilated pupils as a sign that they’re interested.

2. They’re taking medication.

Some types of medication can confuse the messages being sent from your brain to your iris that tell the muscles to dilate or constrict.

Even something as commonplace as antihistamines or motion-sickness patches can have this effect on your eyes, but medications used to treat more serious conditions can also get in the way of these messages.

3. They’re using recreational drugs.

Many types of drug have the same effect on the nervous system, including cocaine, MDMA and hallucinogens.

Look out for other signs that they might be using drugs if you suspect this might be the cause of their dilated pupils.

4. They have some kind of health issue.

People that have various health conditions or have suffered some kind of brain injury or eye injury can have lasting issues with their pupils.

Brain injuries can harm the nervous system, meaning the messages your brain is sending out can’t get through.

And injuries directly to the eyes can mean there’s damage or bruising to the muscles that control the way your pupils constrict and dilate, meaning they no longer react the way they usually would to light or if they’re looking at something they like.

Often these conditions or injuries are entirely invisible, so just be careful not to judge a book by its cover.

5. They’re scared.

Last but not least, dilated pupils can also be a sign of fear.

Men should be especially aware of this one, as many women will feel intimidated when approached by a strange man.

So if you do engage a woman you don’t know but are attracted to in conversation, be on the lookout for any signs of fear or discomfort. If you think she is feeling this way, don’t take it personally, but back off.

Look for more signs of attraction.

You shouldn’t ever take a small sign like dilated pupils as a guarantee that the other person is attracted to you or has feelings for you.

Look for other signs from them, both in what they say and do and in their subtle body language when they’re around you.

But whatever you do, don’t let the situation drag on for too long, and don’t obsess over exactly what that smile or text message meant.

Life is too short to be overanalyzing their behavior, so if you’ve seen some signs they like you or you’re struggling to interpret the way they are around you, then just take matters into your own hands and tell them how you feel, or ask them out.

The worst thing that could happen would be for them to say no. And although that might seem like a daunting prospect, you’ll be much happier when you know one way or the other.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If someone’s eyes don’t dilate, does that mean they don’t fancy you?

Whilst dilating pupils are a good sign of attraction, if a person’s pupils don’t dilate when they’re around you, it doesn’t mean they definitely don’t fancy you.

There are all sorts of other ways that we show attraction, whether consciously or subconsciously, so there are plenty of things you can look out for if you’re trying to assess whether or not someone is attracted to you.

But if their pupils aren’t dilating and you haven’t spotted many other signs of attraction either, it might be time to write this one off and move on.

Just be honest with yourself, listen to your gut, and try to avoid fabricating the situation in your head. Make sure you’re seeing their behavior for what it really is, not just seeing what you want to see in it.

Is there any other way you can tell if someone is attracted to you from their eyes?

Other than their pupils dilating, the other big way that you can tell someone’s attracted to you from their eyes is if they maintain lasting eye contact with you.

Now, if they’re particularly shy around people they fancy or if struggle to be open with potential romantic partners, then they will probably struggle to maintain that eye contact even if there is attraction there. So if they don’t lock eyes with you, it might not necessarily be because they don’t like you.

But eye contact can tell you so much about someone, and if they’re interested in you then they might use eye contact as both a way of letting you know there’s an attraction on your side and to try to find out more about you.


Some people’s eyes really are the window to their souls, but other people are more closed off and give far less away through their body language.

So if their pupils dilate when they’re around you then that’s a great sign, but it’s not enough on its own.

And if their pupils don’t dilate, then there’s no need to despair as long as the other things they’re saying and doing are making you think that there really could be something between the two of you.

Just remember, the way their eyes react to you is not the be all and end all, and should not be something you spend too long analyzing or worrying about. If you think there’s an attraction, then you should act on it sooner rather than later.

But by all means get out there and don’t be shy about locking eyes with the people you find attractive – you might be surprised at what you see in their gazes.

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About The Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.