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What happens to our body when we see someone attractive?

Seeing someone we find attractive can trigger a complex series of physiological responses in our bodies. These involuntary reactions are influenced by hormones, neurotransmitters, and electrical signals in the nervous system. Understanding what happens can provide insight into human attraction and mating behaviors.

Brain Responses

When we see an attractive person, areas of the brain involved in pleasure, reward, and motivation become activated. These include:

  • Ventral tegmental area (VTA) – Releases dopamine, triggering desire and motivation
  • Nucleus accumbens – Receives dopamine signals, regulating arousal and reward
  • Orbitofrontal cortex – Evaluates visual stimuli and assigns value
  • Amygdala – Processes emotion and emotional memories

Dopamine and oxytocin levels surge, creating feelings of pleasure, excitement, and connection. The heart races as electrical signals shoot along nerve pathways extending into the body.

Eyes and Face

Seeing an attractive person initiates a host of involuntary eye movements and facial muscle reactions:

  • Pupils dilate allowing more light in to see details.
  • Eyes widen and eyebrows raise in interest.
  • Lips part slightly in anticipation.
  • Cheeks blush as blood vessels in the face dilate.

These signals of arousal and welcoming are instinctive and happen without conscious effort. They can be picked up by the other person, fueling mutual interest and attraction.

Cardiovascular System

The heart and circulatory system kick into high gear in response to an attractive person:

  • Heart rate increases to pump more oxygenated blood throughout the body.
  • Blood pressure rises as arteries constrict to push blood faster.
  • Skin flushes as blood vessels dilate near the surface.

These cardiovascular shifts prepare the body for interaction and potential mating behaviors. Increased blood flow results in warm, flushed, tactile skin and visible signs of excitement.

Respiratory System

Seeing an attractive person also sparks the following involuntary respiratory system responses:

  • Breathing quickens to take in more oxygen.
  • Nostrils flare allowing more air into the nose.
  • Muscles tense in the neck, chest, and abdomen.

Rapid, shallow breathing is reflective of psychological and physiological arousal. Extra oxygen powers activated muscles and energizes the body and brain.

Reproductive System

Signals of attraction also trigger reactions in the reproductive system:

  • Genital arousal – Erection in men, vaginal lubrication in women.
  • Ovulation – Hormone shifts can prompt egg release for conception.
  • Sperm production – Increased testosterone may boost sperm count.

These changes equip the body for potential sexual activity and reproduction. Displays of attraction serve to identify appropriate mating partners.

Endocrine System

Several key hormones surge through the bloodstream when encountering an attractive person, including:

Hormone Effect
Dopamine Triggers desire, motivation, and pleasure
Oxytocin Promotes feelings of connection and bonding
Testosterone Boosts libido, sexual function, and sperm production
Estrogen Increases female arousal and fertility

These powerful hormones drive both short-term mating urges and long-term bonding behaviors.

Nervous System

Seeing someone attractive engages the sympathetic nervous system, known as the “fight or flight” response. Reactions include:

  • Increased neural activity as the brain focuses its attention.
  • Release of excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
  • Constriction of blood vessels and dilation of pupils.
  • Activation of sweat glands as the body heats up.

These reflexive responses prepare the nervous system for interaction and potential intimacy.

Musculoskeletal System

Physical reactions extend to the muscles and skeleton when encountering an attractive person:

  • Improved posture as the body positions itself for display.
  • Increased muscle tension and fidgeting as the body energizes.
  • Goosebumps as the hair follicles constrict to retain heat.
  • Involuntary head tilt and neck presentation to expose vulnerable areas.

Postural changes and muscle shifts display active interest and attraction. They also showcase physical fitness to a potential mate.

Immune System

Seeing someone attractive even impacts the immune system by:

  • Elevating antibodies and disease-fighting white blood cells.
  • Increasing levels of immune proteins to ward off viruses and infections.
  • Releasing neutrophils to heal injury or damage faster.

A boosted immune response protects the body during mating activities where viruses and bacteria can be exchanged. It also accelerates healing from any harm incurred.


Encountering an attractive person sets off a profound neuro-hormonal cascade throughout the entire body. From brain chemistry to cardiovascular function, involuntary shifts optimize physiology for courtship and reproduction. Human attraction serves the ultimate biological imperative – to pass on genes and propagate the species. While culture and individual personalities add nuance, our bodies’ primal reactions reflect essential biological drives.