The eyes of love

How do you know if someone wants a deep romantic relationship with you or if they are just after your body? Maybe their constant redirection of the conversation to what your future children may look like is a clue? Perhaps their generous invitation to drive you home, to their home, is an indication? Or could their eagerness to show you on their phone a photo of themselves clad only in a strategically placed bath towel (of “tea towel” proportions) be a guide to their motives? Maybe their eagerness to meet your parents tells you what they are thinking or perhaps their persistent open-mouthed drooling is an indicator of intent? However it is that you determine what is on the mind of your potential partner, now a new study has found that you can also add the direction of their gaze to your list.

In the study, the researchers had subjects examine photos of young, adult, heterosexual couples interacting with each other. In a second study, the subjects looked at photos of attractive people of the opposite sex who were looking directly at the camera. None of the photos included nudity or anything erotic.

In both experiments the subjects were asked to quickly decide whether the people in the photos elicited thoughts of sexual desire or romantic love. The researchers tracked the eye movements of the subjects when they made their assessments.

The results showed no difference in the speed of assessing either romantic love or lust but there was a difference in direction of gaze. When the images evoked feelings of romantic love, the subjects tended to focus on the face of the photos, but when the image evoked feelings of lust and sexual desire the eyes moved to the rest of the body.

Based on this the researchers call eye gaze a “biomarker” that differentiates feelings of lust and love. In the no-prisoners battlefield that is the “mating game”, however, this could be a real and valuable tool in discovering the intentions of a prospective partner. If you find yourself having to say, “Hello, I’m up here, I have eyes”, then you have a fair idea that the thoughts of your intended are not drifting too far further than the next few hours. On the other hand, if you find you are fixed with a continual, searching eye-to-eye (or at least face) contact, then your partner may have longer-term things on their mind. Depending on your own intentions, you can make your decisions accordingly.

It’s just another case of course of where the eyes have it.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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