Hair Twirls and Flips

Obviously, there are countless options for hairdos out there. But no matter who you are, no matter what your hair looks like, once you start touching it, everyone sends the same basic messages. Hard to believe, you say? It's just not possible that your mother and your best friend could be expressing themselves in the same exact ways! Well, take a closer look at how they touch their heads and you might discover that they have more in common than you thought.

Flipping the Hair

You know the move — a woman with longish hair reaches up along her shoulder and throws that hair backward. What does it mean?

Tossing the hair is one way of making yourself noticeable — but not necessarily in the way you might think. Although you can see plenty of long-tressed women flipping their hair in an attempt to make themselves more visible to the opposite sex, this can also be done in a rather aggressive manner, such as during an argument. By tossing the hair around, you make yourself look a little larger to your opponent, which, you might recall, is an animalistic response to conflict.


As mentioned earlier, good grooming is an essential part of appearing healthy and vibrant, but overgrooming sends another set of messages. Patting or straightening the hair over and over again is a form of self-touch and is often a sign that the groomer is nervous. You might see this when a girl is chatting with a cute boy and she tucks her hair behind her ear continuously — even though the phantom lock hasn't moved once during the entire conversation. Men in this situation might actually reach up and draw their hands across their hair from front to back — smoothing the follicles, if you will — but are also more likely to reach one hand behind the head and kind of settle the hair down that way. This is a actually a form of self-touch that indicates anxiety, but it's disguised here as a different message: “I'm just making sure all the hairs are in place back there.”

Running your fingers through your hair is usually a way to attract the attention of the opposite sex — unless your fingers take hold of the hair and pull it to the sides. This gesture usually means you're frustrated beyond belief and on the verge of tearing your own hair out.

Twirling the Hair

Wrapping the hair around a finger is a gesture that mimics the innocence of childhood and is often used as a flirtation device. If you're talking to a cute little lady and she's twirling away, she's trying to tell you that she's interested in you.

Twirling the hair can also be a soothing habit, something that a person does when she's bored or trying to settle herself down — which is where this move ties into childhood. It's not unusual to see small children twirl their hair when they're put to bed, for example, or when they're crying. It's also not unusual to see a coworker twirling her hair madly while she's doing some very dull research on her computer. This is her way of releasing tension.

If you're a hair twirler, take heed: because this is a gesture that reminds people of young children, make sure you're not the employee who's twisting her hair during a meeting. It sends an unmistakable nonverbal communication: “I'm kind of immature and I have a very short attention span. Pinch me when you're done talking.”

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