Touching a beard has had a lot of different meanings throughout history. At various times people have believed that if a child touched a man’s beard, he would be the child’s godfather. Touching a beard could be a good thing, protecting you from ever incurring the beard owner’s wrath. In the middle ages it could even be a bad thing and a pretext to a duel.
People today are split on beard touching, but the stakes really aren’t as high as they were in the past. We can move past the superstition and the violence and look at the three main ways your beard is touched.
First up: Touching Your Own Beard
The beard is a sign of wisdom, and by stroking it or smoothing your mustache you draw even more attention to that mark of manhood and maturity. It sends a signal that you’re thoughtful and deliberate, and probably even sends signals to your brain to keep yourself cool and rational in tense situations.
Still, there are right and wrong ways to touch your beard.
There’s the Jedi way, which is to use your beard for non-verbal communication. Even that bare-faced baby Vader knows what Obi Wan means when he strokes his mustache suggestively. “You ready to do this?”
There’s the Kill Bill way, stroking a long beard to punctuate an icy stare. Never mind that the beard is fake here. This says, “I’m as badass as my beard is long and you know it.”
You can also just touch your beard to keep it looking fresh when you know you look good. It doesn’t take much. You don’t need to be a tough guy all the time. You’re allowed to enjoy your beard in all its glory.
Just, uh, don’t get carried away with yourself.
Now when it comes to other people touching your beard, you can break it down into two categories: admiration or jealousy. This makes sense, because scientists think we have facial hair for the same reason some other primates do, which is to attract mates and demonstrate supremacy to competitors.
Second: A Touch of Jealousy
Now, when a beardless guy tugs at your face fuzz, he may be trying to assert himself by literally taking possession of that threat to his masculinity. But he may just be insecure about his own difficulty to grow facial hair or the social pressures that keep him shaved. You see this kind of behavior commonly when celebrities grow beards and interviewers run short on genuine questions.
Poor Zach Galifianakis has probably endured this more than anyone, though in fairness he’s been known to mess with people by shaving and wearing a false beard. To his credit, he grows a glorious beard pretty quickly.
A guy like Jon Hamm grows a beard and some guys don’t know what to do. The insecurity on Matt Lauer’s bald face is pretty uncomfortable, and Jon certainly seems less than thrilled, but has a pretty respectable reaction that gives him the win in an awkward situation. Anyone watching knows which one of these guys is more natural and comfortable with himself.
Third: A Touch of Affection
Sometimes touching a beard is like hugging an old friend. Some people just plain love beards and the guys who have them. And really, what’s not to love? They like the warmth, the texture, the general sense that they’re with a guy who’s at the head of the pack. This is especially true if you don’t take yourself too seriously and stomp around letting everyone know how macho you think you are. Be you. Be cool. Be bearded. And the love will just come to you. And trust us: if you’re a man, people know it. You don’t need to remind them.
You might even see the good luck touch or the congratulatory touch, especially in sports, like this strange one from David Ortiz. (Is he looking for fleas?)
Sometimes a person will touch your beard to tell the rest of the world, “this bearded man is mine, and damn if my life isn’t good.” Like the captain here. You know he knows how to sail that ship right. And that’s all we’re going to say about that.
Sometimes a touch of the beard is an overt come on. It’s tactile. It’s a way to touch someone suggestively in a way that isn’t technically sexual, but everybody knows there’s something else there.
Watch out, though, when someone in a relationship starts giving you those vibes. Save the headache. The world is your oyster, and this is one more piece of evidence that you have what they want. Get out there.
We don’t really need to tell you what to do to get a more touchable beard, do we? Head on over to the beard shop for the best in beard care from the original beard brand, Bluebeards Original.