Hand in Hand

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August 6, 2013 by NowhereButPop

By Andrew Doscas

Despite the fact that every inch of our bodies is susceptible to tactile stimulation, it’s the hand that has always been seen as the main instrument of the sense of touch.  What’s interesting about the sense of touch is that unlike the other four senses of sight, hearing, taste, and smell, touch isn’t limited to one body part.  The sensation of tactile contact can be felt throughout the entire body, yet for some reason whenever you think of the sense of touch, the body part associate with it is the hand.

Now, I get that it’s the summertime and that any normal teenager/young adult is engaged in a summer fling, but for some reason I’ve been noticing that a lot of people are holding hands.[1]  Depending on the culture, the significance of holding hands varies.  In some African cultures, two men will hold hands to demonstrate friendship or comradely without any sort of sexual connotation.  In the Middle East, sisters may hold hands to display their familial relation.  To our understanding of Western Culture, hand holding may be done between a parent and child to show not only affection, but authority as well.  By having the child at the side of the parent who is leading the way, the construction is that the child is obedient to the parent and will follow accordingly.  But obviously, the most common and stereotypical instance of holding hands is when it’s done between two people who are romantically involved.

In all the examples described above the one commonality is that tactile contact is being used to denote a closeness between two individuals whether it be platonic, familial, or romantic.  It’s as if sharing this sense of touch will not only inform others of the relationship, but also strengthen the connection between the two holding hands.  There’s a good chance that I’m over thinking the entire ordeal, but no other animal holds hands the way humans do.[2]   Comparatively speaking, it’s a weird thing that people do, but then again no other animals kiss, as we tend to do.

Holding hands represent a physical closeness of an intimate nature, and that’s why when we do it in public, we acknowledge that closeness and want others to be aware of it.  It’s a physical manifestation of emotions.  In regards to the type of hand holding I’ve been witnessing, it’s a very emotional display that physically links two people bonded by emotions of love.  People love being in love, almost as much as they love demonstrating that love.  When two people hold hands the way that lovers do, gone are the physical boundaries of each person, gone are the distinction of individuality.  Instead, a unity exists wherein there are no walls or separations, or vulnerabilities.  It’s a literal sharing of oneself to another.  It represents a closeness much the same way that intercourse does.  And I think because we all understand the underlying emotional value of holding hands, some people like doing it and others are very hesitant to hold hands.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been in a situation where we’re drunk at a party or a bar and we see someone who strikes are fancy.  After the usual flirty banter and the initial hook up, the next thing that happens is the holding of the hands.  I’m serious; next time that happens, do a play by play and see how long it takes before you hold hands.  Especially when we’re drunk, we love holding hands with whomever we’re sexually interested in.  For someone who doesn’t really hold hands when sober, or in public, I love holding a girl’s hand when I’m drunk regardless of who’s around.  Then again that’s probably because the alcohol reveals all those emotions.

Speaking from personal experience, I can say I’m not the only one.  Some of my friends in college were notoriously anti hand holding because of the emotional attachment.  Even with some of the girls I’d been with, some were eager to, and loved to hold hands, and others were incredibly hesitant and resistant…but never combative, which is a plus.  I can only assume it was for the same reason.  The ones who felt an emotional connection (however fleeting it may have been) to me wanted to physically display that, and the ones that didn’t refrained from it.  I mean I’m pretty sure I never went out with a germophobe or someone who was agoraphobic.

Even in the heat of the moment, no one can ever say that they didn’t hold hands.  Because holding hands is correlated with closeness between people in love, as is sex.  There’s no denying that sex has an emotional component because of the shared intimacy, and that’s why we hold hands while in the midst of it sometimes, to further display that intimacy, even if it may seem like overkill, all things considered of course.  Granted, we don’t sleep with those we love only, just as we don’t hold hands with only someone we’re in love with.  But it’s a thing that people do who share an exclusive bond or relationship with each other.  You’re gonna hold hands with your girlfriend, not the girl you had a one night stand with.  Holding hands becomes a symbol of some feeling shared between two people; in western culture, it’s most commonly associated with love.  We express this feeling of romantic connection with our hands by sharing a sensation of touch.  We touch things with our hands, but we hold hands with one another to feel.


[1] I don’t know if there’s just a higher amount of people in relationships, or if I’m just looking to see it.

[2] There’s about an 87% chance I’m over thinking this.

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