Forget texting winky faces. These days, if you're interested in someone, show them with your headgear.
TikTok cannot stop talking about what is being called the cowboy hat rule. Not familiar with it? Don't worry, we got the deets below.
The cowboy hat rule is an indirect way of implying that you want to sleep with someone.
TikTok is saturated with videos referencing the cowboy hat rule. According to very prestigious sources like Urban Dictionary and Twitter, the cowboy hat rule means this: If you take someone's cowboy hat and put it on your head, then you're supposed to "ride the cowboy, " which means have sex with them.
It's basically the R-rated version of when a guy puts his arm around a girl, implying that he likes her.
Why is this a thing? The exact origins of the rule are unknown. But already, it's making its way into literature. TikTok user @readwithyourgurltaayyy found it referenced in the book Flawless by Elise Silver, which was released in June 2022. "You wear the cowboy hat, you ride the cowboy," she quoted from the romance novel.
And while it may be fun to try on a guy's cowboy hat on at the bar or during a night out, the person taking the hat should be completely serious about "riding the cowboy." No joke. Because generally speaking, taking a cowboy's hat off their head can be seen as disrespectful.
Per Pinto Ranch, "One of the most significant cowboy hat rules is don't touch or steal a cowboy's hat. Ever. A cowboy hat is not only an expensive item, but a personal one as well."
What does flicking your cowboy hat mean?
Before the cowboy hat rule gained traction, another hat-specific gesture raised questions on the platform: Men — many of whom donned cowboy hats— were seen flicking the brim of their hats in videos.
Of course, because TikTok seems to make a *thing* out of everything these days, users wanted to know the reason behind the motion. But apparently, it wasn't as clear as the cowboy hat rule and could mean a few things. The most innocent meaning was that a hat flick was just another way of saying hi.
However, other users made claims that flicking the brim of your hat could be viewed as racist. One user, who grew up on a sheep farm, also shared their family's unique (and somewhat disturbing) definition of what the hat flick meant. Whenever a customer flicked the brim of his hat after purchasing a sheep, it meant that they planned to have sex with the sheep.
Bottom line: Cowboy hats are serious business. If you own one, make sure to brush up on the proper etiquette. And if you don't own one, but are single and looking for a partner, make sure you're serious about what you're doing before you start trying others' hats on.