Similar to preening behaviours, self-touch can also increase when we like someone, but there’s a caveat–self-touch also increases when we feel stressed. Self-touch increases when we are stressed because it brings us comfort subconsciously. Partly because it releases oxytocin within us and partly because it reminds us of being comforted by others. Because it’s comforting, we also do it to bring more pleasure to an already pleasurable moment–like when we’re reading a good book, in the comfort of our own home, twirling our hair at the same time. Or, like when we’re in the presence of our love interest–we’re feeling good, but we want to bring even more pleasure to the pleasurable moment.
As you can imagine, in circumstances of stress or pleasure, self-touch looks different. For example, if you’re playing with your hair when you’re flirting, your wrists (another vulnerable part of the body) are more likely to be exposed, your body relaxed, and you’re more likely to be smiling. Whereas, if you’re playing with your hair when stressed, your wrists wouldn’t be exposed, and your expression and body would be tense.
The other reason self-touch increases, is to draw attention to specific parts of our body. These behaviours usually occur at a subconscious level. Sometimes we draw attention to our face, or other parts of the body we want to accentuate. In some cases it’s the mouth or lips–in this case, the message is usually one of sexual intent.
Sophie Halliday Zadeh is a body language specialist from my alCOMy, transforming lives through nonverbal communication science.
You can read more about how Sophie can help you HERE including her upcoming self-empowerment course. Learn tips and tricks to hack your body and voice to manage stress and anxiety, and create inner feelings of confidence, positivity and grounding.