If you think that you're not good at flirting or that you send mixed messages on a date, worry not — turns out there's a very obvious sign. New research from the University of Kent found that eye dilation — when your pupils become larger — happens when you're looking at the sex or sexes you're attracted to. No surprise there. But the interesting bit was that there was an equal dilation response whether the subject they were looking at was clothed... or stark naked. Normally the level of sexual explicitness (like nudity) would dictate the level of physiological response with something like say, genital response. But not so with eye dilation. Researcher Dr Janice Attard-Johnson said when heterosexual men and women saw people of the opposite sex, their eyes dilated, but it didn't matter what they were wearing.
To be honest, eye contact is useful for a whole lot of reasons when it comes to sex and dating. "Locking eyes with someone, especially when you’re constantly looking down at your phone, can feel intimidating and requires confidence," Millennial Love Expert Samantha Burns, a licensed mental health counselor, relationship counselor, and dating coach, tells Bustle. "Eye contact allows you to determine if someone is safe, attractive, and whether you want this person to approach you. If you spot someone you’d like to chat with, make sure to glance over and make eye contact three times and flash a smile, which gives the green light signal that you’re interested." There's a lot to be gained by locking eyes with someone and trying to read the cues and this study shows that there's some strong science behind it.
The Bad News?
So what's the downside to all of this? Well, you can't hide it. Think about it — if your eyes dilate just as much when you're looking at someone you're crushing on when they're clothed as if they were completely naked, then there's nowhere to hide how you're feeling, which is bad if that's exactly what you want to be doing. I mean, you can't control your pupil dilation. It's just a fact of life.
Plus, the research suggests that you may need a lower level of arousal for your pupils to dilate than you would for other physiology measures, so not only will they give you away— they'll give you away first. So if we're talking about that girl in the office that you have a crush on, it's only a matter of time before she can tell.
The truth is, we already knew that they eyes could give your whole game away in terms of flirting and attraction. But it's fascinating that they have the same response to someone you're attracted to clothed as they would if you had your crush totally naked with a bowl of whipped cream and strawberries. But hey — either way, at least you know where to look.