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Everyone’s been there at some point: trying to decode small gestures to figure out what someone else is thinking. 

And the reason why we do this is because we inherently understand that our body often communicates what our words don’t. 

These tiny actions, often done unconsciously, can reveal feelings or thoughts that might not be spoken out loud. 

A quick touch of the hair, a glance, or even a simple fidget can say a lot more than we think.

In this article, we dive into the mystery behind why guys might play with their hair when talking to you. 

We’ll explore various reasons, from nerves to flirting, to help you get a clearer understanding of this subtle sign language. 

Understanding Why a Guy Will Play With His Hair 

Why a Guy Will Play With His Hair 

1. Nervousness 

Playing with hair can be an unconscious act rooted in nervousness. 

Just like some people fidget with their hands or tap their foot when they’re anxious, twirling or touching the hair can be a guy’s go-to nervous habit. 

When we’re put into situations that make us slightly uncomfortable or when we’re trying to make a good impression, we may resort to these small physical actions. 

Sometimes it’s not even about the conversation; it could just be his natural reaction to being in a new environment or around someone new.

2. Flirting 

Maybe he wants you to notice his new haircut or how good his hair looks that day. Think about how often we adjust our appearance, even subconsciously, when we’re attracted to someone.

When the conversation is light-hearted and filled with laughter, and you catch him casually tossing his hair or running his fingers through it, it could be a flirty move. 

Pair that with direct eye contact and a cheeky smile, and you’ve got a classic flirtation signal right there.

[Related: When a Guy Runs His Fingers Through His Hair, What Does it Mean?]

3. Deep in Thought 

Guy playing with his hair

Sometimes, the gesture is neither about nervousness nor flirting. It might just mean he’s deep in thought. 

When we’re trying to process information or make a decision, we often display physical gestures without realizing it. Playing with hair can be one of those gestures, serving as an outlet for his concentration.

If you’re discussing something intense or thought-provoking and you notice him engaging with his hair, it could mean he’s really pondering over what you just said. 

4. He Likes You

Many of us, whether we realize it or not, have little tells when we’re around someone we’re drawn to. And for some guys, that tell is messing with their hair.

Picture this: you’re sharing a story, and you notice him subtly running his fingers through his hair or adjusting it. It might be because he’s keenly aware of how he presents himself to you. 

He wants to appear his best, and his hair is a part of that equation. It’s like straightening a tie or adjusting a shirt collar. It’s an act of preening, which we do when trying to attract a mate.

[Read: What It Means When a Guy Touches Your Hair]

5. Seeking Comfort 

Humans, by nature, have certain self-soothing behaviors. For some, playing with hair serves as a comfort mechanism. 

It’s akin to wrapping yourself in a warm blanket on a cold day. It’s familiar and makes us feel better.

During moments of vulnerability or when discussing sensitive topics, if he starts playing with his hair, it might be his way of seeking some comfort. 

It’s a gesture that brings a momentary escape from the situation and offers a small solace.

6. He’s Distracted 

Whether he’s thinking about a work assignment, what he’s going to have for dinner, or simply daydreaming, touching his hair could be an automatic action that accompanies his wandering mind.

If he seems distant or not fully engaged in the conversation, there’s a chance he’s got something else on his mind. 

7. Expressing Frustration or Impatience 

What does it mean when a guy plays with his hair?

While playing with hair can be a soothing gesture, at times it can also indicate impatience. 

Just as someone might tug at their hair in exasperation after a hard day, if he’s feeling irritated, he might unconsciously start fiddling with his hair.

If you sense a shift in the mood or detect a hint of annoyance in his voice, the hair play might be a reflection of his internal state. 

Perhaps the conversation is veering into territory he’s not comfortable with, or maybe he’s feeling pressured.

[Interesting: What Does It Mean When a Guy Compliments Your Hair?]

8. Habitual Behavior 

Just as some of us bite our nails or tap our fingers, playing with hair can be a mere habitual behavior for some guys. 

It might not necessarily mean anything in relation to the conversation or the person he’s talking to. Some habits are deeply ingrained, and we don’t even realize we’re doing them.

It might be a habit he’s been doing since he was a kid, or perhaps it’s a new habit he’s picked up. 


Human behaviors, especially subtle ones like playing with hair, can be intricate and varied in their meanings. 

While it’s fun and sometimes enlightening to decode these signals, it’s crucial to remember that one gesture alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Always consider the broader context and the individual’s unique personality.

Do guys play with their hair when they like someone?

Some guys do have a tendency to play with their hair when they’re around someone they’re attracted to. 

It’s a form of preening, a way to make themselves look their best in front of someone they’re interested in. 

Just as birds might puff out their feathers or cats might groom themselves, humans have their own set of behaviors to signal attraction. 

How can you tell if he’s playing with his hair because he likes you?

To determine whether a guy is playing with his hair due to attraction, consider the broader context of his behavior. 

Is he making prolonged eye contact with you? Is he leaning in when you speak? Does he seem more animated and engaged in your conversations than with others? 

Additionally, pay attention to other body language cues. 

If he’s mirroring your actions, maintaining an open posture, or finding subtle ways to initiate physical contact, these combined with the hair-play can be stronger indicators of interest. 

How to respond when a guy plays with his hair while talking to you

If he’s someone you’re also interested in or you enjoy the conversation, maintain your engagement, offer a genuine smile, or use open body language to indicate your comfort. 

But if the gesture or the situation makes you uncomfortable, you can always change the topic or subtly shift your body posture to set boundaries. 

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Anita Oge

Meet Anita, a relationship writer with a passion for helping people navigate the complexities of love and dating. With a background in information science, she has a wealth of knowledge and insight to share. Her writing is sure to leave you feeling empowered and inspired.

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