Is It Love? Dilated Pupils and 7 Other Signs to Watch For

Is it love?

Dilated Pupils and 7 other signs to watch out for

Dilated pupils are one of the most common eye symptoms. They may appear at any age but they become more frequent with advancing age.

Why do pupils dilate?

When you see someone you care about, your brain sends a message to your eyes telling them that something special is happening! Your pupils dilate because your brain thinks there’s something interesting going on around you. That’s why when you’re excited or happy, your pupils will often dilate. When you feel sad or scared, however, they’ll usually stay closed.

So what does all this mean?

Well, it means that sometimes it might not be love after all!

But wait – isn’t that obvious?

Yes and no. There are some things that aren’t obvious. Let’s take a closer look at these seven signs to watch out for.

1) You notice someone else’s smile before yours

When you first meet someone new, you tend to stare into their eyes for awhile until they start smiling at you. Then, after a few seconds, your pupils dilate (or widen). This is called “the ‘first gaze’ effect.”

“The ‘first gaze’ effect” seems to apply to everyone. Even babies who haven’t learned to smile yet will still widen their eyes when they see something new. As we grow older, we start to learn the importance of social cues. For example, when you’re talking with someone you love, your pupils tend to stay the same size because social norms tell you not to stare at them for long periods of time. On the other hand, if you see someone you find attractive, your pupils will dilate because you’re naturally drawn to that person.

The size of your pupils may even determine your attraction toward another person.

2) Your pupils don’t stay the same size when you look at someone you love

Have you ever looked at your parents and felt safe? Have you ever looked at your mentor and felt respected?

These are people who have helped shape who you are today. As a result, you’re not really sure how you should feel when you look at them. You know you love them but you don’t feel any excitement toward them. In fact, your pupils don’t even dilate when you look at them!

That’s why it’s possible to tell whether or not someone is in love with you just by looking into their eyes. If their pupils are constantly the same size when they look at you, it means they don’t have any special feelings toward you. In other words, they love you as much as they love their parents or their mentor.

3) Your eyes don’t feel itchy

Have you ever been talking to someone and felt an uncontrollable desire to look at them?

That’s because your brain has already taken the initiative and is sending a message to your eyes. In this situation, you may find yourself scratching your eyes every once in awhile. If you feel an uncontrollable desire to look at someone and you also feel the urge to scratch your eyes, there’s a good chance you love that person.

On the other hand, if your desire to look at someone comes from the expectations of others (e.g. a teacher is calling on you in class) or if you only scratch your eyes once in awhile, it’s probably not love.

4) You have a hard time differentiating love and sexual desire

Many people will say they “fell in love” when what they really mean is that they “fell in lust.” As children, most of us learn what an erection is but not many of us learn what love is. As a result, some people have a lot of difficulty telling these two emotions apart.

If you’re a boy, here’s a good way to tell if you really love a girl or if you just want to have sexual relations with her: If you remove the girl from the equation, would you still feel the same way about her? In other words, if she moves to another city will you carry on loving her?

If not, then you just lust after her and not love.

If you’re a girl, here’s a good way to tell if you really love a boy or if you just want to have sexual relations with him: Would you feel the same way toward him if he were disfigured by a horrible car accident?

If not, then you just lust after him and not love.

5) You feel an uncontrollable desire to be around them

A lot of people long for that one true love that will last forever. The reality is you only truly feel this way once. That’s when you’re a child and your parents are the ones you love. During this time, you experience an overwhelming need to be with them all the time. The reason is because children are supremely selfish.

They don’t know anything different.

As we grow up, most of us learn to share our parents’ affection with others such as siblings and friends. But, we never completely lose that sense of wanting to spend all our time with the person we love. If you feel this way about someone, there’s a chance you love him or her.


Everyone experiences love at one time or another but not everyone has a special someone in their life. There are signs you can look for to determine whether you love someone or not. Here they are:


Do you think about them all the time?


Do you get a funny feeling in your stomach when you think about them?


Do your eyes itch and do you have an uncontrollable desire to look at them?


Is it hard for you to differentiate love and sexual desire?


Do you feel an overwhelming need to be around that person all the time?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, there’s a chance you love someone.

Love is a very complex feeling. It’s also a very powerful one. Some people will go to any lengths just to be with the person they love. If you’ve found that special someone, it’s best not to take them for granted. After all, who knows if that person will still be there tomorrow.

Get our mobile app!

Originally published April 2011, updated March 2015.

Sources & references used in this article:

Delayed cerebral edema and fatal coma after minor head trauma: role of the CACNA1A calcium channel subunit gene and relationship with familial hemiplegic … by …, PE Jardine, P Heywood, S Love… – Annals of Neurology …, 2001 – Wiley Online Library

The eyes have it: Sex and sexual orientation differences in pupil dilation patterns by G Rieger, RC Savin-Williams – PloS one, 2012 –

Vegetative endocarditis in six cats by …, P Martin, DI Wigney, DN Love – Journal of feline …, 1999 –

Is love a “basic” emotion? by PR Shaver, HJ Morgan, S Wu – Personal Relationships, 1996 – Wiley Online Library

Love and limerence: The experience of being in love by D Tennov – 1998 –

Pupil mimicry correlates with trust in in-group partners with dilating pupils by ME Kret, AH Fischer, CKW De Dreu – Psychological science, 2015 –

The role of pupil size in communication. Is there room for learning? by ME Kret – Cognition and Emotion, 2018 – Taylor & Francis

Local skull trephination before transfer is associated with favorable outcomes in cerebral herniation from epidural hematoma by JA Nelson – Academic Emergency Medicine, 2011 – Wiley Online Library

Towards wide-field retinal imaging with adaptive optics by M Glanc, E Gendron, F Lacombe, D Lafaille… – Optics …, 2004 – Elsevier