What Does It Mean When a Man Plays With His Wedding Ring?

By Christa Titus

  • Overview

    According to body language expert Kevin Hogan, 60 to 75 percent of communication is nonverbal, which is why how we carry ourselves in social situations like first dates and job interviews makes a lasting impression. Your mannerisms give important clues to what people think and feel. What does it mean, then, if you are chatting with a coworker over a drink and he keeps fiddling with his ring throughout the conversation? His accompanying gestures and the tone of discussion play a part in interpreting what he's thinking.
  • Attraction

    Twisting his wedding ring back and forth likely means the man is attracted to the person with whom he's speaking. He's aware of his commitment to his wife, and he wishes he could ignore it. A highly flirtatious conversation could make him toy with thoughts of infidelity. Take stock of his body language while he's speaking. If he's sporting other preening gestures---straightening his tie, brushing back his hair, standing up straighter when you approached or hooking his thumbs in his belt---he definitely is attracted to you.
  • Desire for Escape

    Your neighbor's husband is sliding his band up and down his finger as he irritably converses with his wife on the phone or while he talks to a woman at a barbecue. This man doesn't just want to pretend that he's single. He would like to stop being married, period. Moving the ring back and forth shows he's coming closer to slipping it off.
  • Nerves

    Sometimes there's nothing wrong this gentleman's marriage, but with his nerves. During a tense situation like a business meeting, fussing with rings, cuff links or watches shows agitation. Observe if these gestures are accompanied by him stuttering, sweating or flushing.
  • Habit

    A man could play with his ring merely out of habit. Like toe tapping, finger drumming or leg jiggling, fiddling with accessories can indicate boredom or impatience. If you see this man stifling a yawn, barely making eye contact with you or leaning his body back in his chair as he talks to you, his mind is far from cheating . . . and the present conversation.
  • Lying

    There is no one telltale sign that a person is lying (unless you know the person well enough to decode her or his behavior). Watching for clusters of behavior, however, can indicate that a man isn't being honest. If he tells you in a flat tone of voice that he adores his wife while he avoids your gaze and tugs at his wedding band, chances are he's trying to convince himself of that fact more than he is you.
  • Regret

    The gentlemen in question might not want to pursue you, but the lively discussion that you're having about your carefree single days could make him momentarily regret being married, and he's twirling with the symbol of that regret. In addition, if he's separated or divorcing but still wearing the ring, he may be feeling wistful and thinking about happier times.
  • Freudian Slip

    You're talking with your brother, with whom you are close, about how great marriage is going to be as you gaze down at your engagement ring. He agrees, but instead of mirroring your actions, he toys with his own band. His body is conflicting with his words: He may not realize that he's playing with the ring unless it's pointed out to him. In this situation, he's giving away that he's unhappy or unsure about something.
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