I’ve always played with my hair a lot. As I got older I was led to believe that this was a micro-expression that was indicative of sexual attraction. It’s not only me. There are a lot of men out there who have been taught via various media channels that if you are on a date with someone and they’re playing with their, it means that they are attracted to you.

via GIPHY

Being aware that there were people out there who thought this, I used to make a concerted effort to NOT touch my hair on dates at all. Because I wouldn’t want to send any signals that were inaccurate. I also felt as though my hair touching was a habit and not something I only brought out for special occasions. And it turns out that I was right.

So what’s it about?

Ever heard of trichotillomania? It is an impulse-control disorder and those who have it experience uncontrollable urges to pick their faces and skin or pull out their hair, amongst other things. Twirling and playing with your hair constantly is essentially just a less damaging version of this. This means that our constant hair twirling likely says more about us and how we feel than how we feel about others, no matter how attractive they are.

When we play with our hair, we are usually doing it unconsciously, and it is an immediate way to relieve feelings of stress or anxiety. It’s a coping mechanism that releases pent up nervous energy. Another reason for this behaviour pertains to those with social anxiety and fear of those judging their appearance. In these cases constant hair touching is a sign of self-consciousness and self-esteem issues rather than flirtation. Hear that, boys?

You got a hair twirling problem? The good news is that as long as it doesn’t morph into a hair pulling habit, it’s totally safe. And it doesn’t mean that you necessarily have trichotillomania either. If it’s a habit you want to break, however, investing in a fidget spinner might not be a bad idea.

Read more beauty stories.