Talk Nerdy To Me’s @StaffWriter:
Romantic love has been a universal theme in relationship literature for decades. Today, extensive scientific research has shown that the feeling of being “in love” and sexual arousal are driven by brain chemicals known as dopamine and norepinephrine.
In essence, these two neurotransmitters help make us feel euphoric when we experience pleasure from activities such as eating chocolate cake or having physical intimacy — and they influence our feelings of excitement when we see or think about our romantic partner.
Other very strong feelings — such as fear and anger — also result from surges in dopamine and norepinephrine.
Although romantic love can be intensely pleasurable and rewarding, it can also lead to some pretty hot-headed behavior if your lover strays outside your accepted boundaries.
Let’s examine the nonverbal signs of positive arousal.
We’ll begin with the brain and then cover physical effects such as pupil dilation, perspiration, and changes in voice pitch.
Nonverbal Signs of Arousal: Understanding Love vs. Anger
Brain studies of individuals who report deep feelings of romantic love — but not those who describe themselves as “in like” or having a simple desire for their partner — show activity in several regions of the brain associated with emotions.
Each human culture has its own set of “love maps.”
These love maps or rules of conduct and behavior help us determine our partner’s acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. They’re created during childhood by observing one’s parents’ relationship with other people.
Nonverbal Signs of Arousal
There are common signs of arousal across intercultural love maps. In this section, we’ll expose some of the most common body language cues of arousal.
When someone becomes romantically aroused, the pupils in his or her eyes naturally grow larger to let in more light.
As a result, you can often see the shadow of the person’s dilated pupil on his or her iris. This is especially noticeable when there is low lighting.
Increased Heart Rate & Breathing
During arousal, our bodies begin to take deeper breaths and our heart rates speed up due to the release of adrenalin, another chemical that allows us to experience intense feelings associated with sex and love.
An increase in both breathing and heart rate makes our chests rise and fall more quickly than usual; this, too, is visible if we’re paying attention.
Smaller Body Movements
When people are attracted to each other, their bodies begin to communicate on a subliminal level. They might cross their arms in front of their chests to protect themselves from the other person’s power.
When someone is scared or frightened, they make larger movements as a means of self-protection; if we’re still and quiet, it might be because we’re trying to avoid detection.
Voice changes are another common sign that you’re aroused by someone — but keep in mind that this is largely culture-specific.
People from Western cultures tend to speak with a rising inflection at the end of sentences when they want to communicate something. They will usually begin to slow their speech and movements as a form of nonverbal communication.
When people are sexually aroused, they might speak with a lower tone of voice; this is to make them sound less attractive in order to avoid intimidation.
Skin Flushes and Sweats
When someone is sexually aroused, their skin becomes flushed red. This happens because blood vessels near the surface of the skin swell to accommodate the extra blood flow required by arousal.
Sweating can also happen during arousal as a way of cooling our bodies down. Sweat glands come into play when we require more moisture, so it’s natural to start perspiring if things get hot and heavy with someone else.
Changes in Breathing
Changes in breathing are also common among people who are sexually aroused.
When we become sexually excited, our breathing might quicken and deepen as our bodies prepare for the possibility of sex. This includes rapid breaths that cause us to “sniff” as if we’re trying to bring more air into our lungs, as well as noticeable inhalations and exhalations.
We might also start breathing through our mouths because it helps cool down the body — and because we require more oxygen when we experience intense arousal. All of these changes can be visible in a lover’s breathing patterns.
Changes in Blink Rate
Another nonverbal sign of sexual arousal is how frequently the other person blinks.
In general, people blink every three to five seconds as a means of protecting their eyes from foreign objects. When we’re aroused, however, our blink rate speeds up to every one-and-a-half seconds because there’s less lubrication available in the eyes.
This can be frustrating for those who are trying to communicate with someone who has recently been aroused because it makes that person seem unfocused and preoccupied with other things.
Positive Arousal vs. Negative Arousal
When people become aroused, blood flows near the surface of their skin because it’s being redirected to more important areas. This means visible changes in flushed cheeks and ears as well as warm hands and feet.
Victimized! Nonverbal Signs of Anger & Discomfort
There are other body language signs associated with negative arousal, however; these are often caused by adrenaline-induced stress hormones that trigger an autonomous nervous system response that prepares our bodies for “fight or flight.” The adrenalin rush can lead to trembling hands, for example, or sweaty palms.
Sexual Arousal vs. Discomfort
What’s the difference between feeling sexually aroused and feeling uncomfortable?
If you’re physically close to someone who arouses you (and if it’s mutual), then you’ll likely experience physical symptoms like an increased heart rate along with an overall sense of happiness derived from your interaction with them. When someone makes you feel uncomfortable, on the other hand, your body may respond in certain ways that make it seem like something is wrong.
Your heart might start racing due to adrenalin instead of because you’re excited; this can cause shallow breathing as well as shaking limbs and facial tics that might not be visible to others depending on how subtle they are.
There’s also a strong possibility of feeling completely drained by social interactions with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, so your desire to leave them alone will be high.
It doesn’t matter whether the person is attractive or not; if they make you feel uncomfortable, then meeting up with them can cause stress that’s detrimental to both of your mental health.
While all ten listed signs are associated with sexual arousal, not everyone experiences these symptoms during arousal… but it never hurts to be able to recognize what other people experience when they become aroused.
Some may only show one or two symptoms while some may show several. It depends on each individual.