Is It Love Or Lust? Just Look At This Body Part, Says Science


Eyes say a lot about someone's intentions.

If eyes are the window to the soul, then eye movement is a dead giveaway of what a stranger is looking for as they shift their gaze while talking to you. Not that we can be totally surprised, because eyes say a lot about someone's intentions. I mean, look at Crazy Eyes on Orange is the New Black. There's a lot to be deduced from her adorably wonky stare.

A new research out of the University of Chicago has found that you, (yes, you!) can "definitively" figure out if a stranger wants to just have some sexy fun with you or is looking for something meaningful and long-lasting by just watching their eye movements. First, we had to focus on body language to be able to tell what a possible love interest might be thinking, and now this? It's so much work trying to scoop up a boyfriend or even a one-night stand!

So, how can you tell? Easy: eye contact, even for the most briefest of moments, means you're looking to connect on an emotional level, and eyes that look downward, at the body instead of the other person's eyes across from them, means the desire for sex is more prominent. I always thought that looking downward was something people just naturally did when they were bored with a conversation, because it seemed more polite to look at their body than to completely stare off into the distance. But, based on this, I've been telling men, women and everyone in between that I want them because I get bored easily. Well then.

Lead author of the study, Stephanie Cacioppo, explains that although this research doesn't scientifically prove love at first sight or even why people fall in love with each other, "these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers."

To further prove their scientific theory, students were given two sets of black and white photos. The first set contained heterosexual couples engaging with each other, not in a lovey-dovey way necessarily, and the second set was that of members of the opposite sex staring directly into the camera. The students were then asked to decide if the mood of those in the photos was erotic or romantic. Through the analysis of the eye movements, both the men and women participating in the study concentrated on the faces in the photos when saying the mood was one of romance, and, in contrast, focused more on the bodies when deciding that what they were witnessing in the images was a desire for sex. And voila! Proof is pretty much in the bag.

It goes without saying that these findings don't mean exactly this outcome every time you catch someone starting at a part of your body other than your eyes. But I guess for those out on the prowl, learning to read eye movement like learning to read body language brings them one step closer to figuring out this whole crazy love and lust thing. Once we've mastered that, there's no telling what we can conquer next.


Expert advice

If you keep finding yourself in heartbreaking, dead end relationships, listen up.
Several key behaviors stand out in order to help couples create a healthy relationship.
It seems like you can't do anything right.

Explore YourTango