Holding hands is so widely spread; we often go for one’s hand without realizing it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that hand holding is so popular because it has a significant place in human interactions.
Hand holding is a simple gesture that can provide a sense of connection and intimacy to people. As with any other language signs, different ways to hold hands can be interpreted differently depending on many factors.
To get a deeper understanding of the emotional connection that the couple shares, we may also turn to the way they hold hands frequently.
How to know what your partner feels based on the ‘hand-holding’ body language, and why do people hold hands?
Read along to understand more about this beautiful gesture.
What does holding hands mean?
The meaning of hand-holding in different ways depends not only on the type of the relationship but also on the culture, period in history, and individual factors. Parents hold their children’s hands, friends can hold hands, and romantic partners do it too.
Holding hands can express affection, comfort, warmth, pain release, safety, psychological closeness, and empathy.
To many, hand holding can mean the world, while others may not be so keen to hold hands. Couples holding hands can reflect formality, familiarity, superiority, and even submissiveness.
The interpretation of hand-holding styles depends on the meaning the person is placing on this nonverbal gesture and relationship.
This gesture is one of the most common demonstrations of affection. Because it is so frequently used, science has been focused on understanding its benefits and trying to interpret the meaning of different hand-holding styles.
The science behind holding hands
Couples holding hands are often tied to the intensity of the emotional connection they share and the bond that exists between them.
Hand holding can be such an intimate gesture that even couples who may have already kissed or had sex postpone hand-holding until they are ready to commit and bring their relationship to the next level.
This gesture can have profound meaning and a powerful effect, and science explains why.
Touch is one of our most important senses, and it is in our biology to feel an increase in pleasure and decrease in anxiety and stress when touching another person.
All this is due to oxytocin that is released when we are physically close to someone. It is a substance nicknamed “cuddle hormone” because it increases our feelings of trust, bonding, connectedness, and therefore desire to touch and cuddle more.
The huge impact hand holding can have, is noted in a 2009 study by the University of California, which found that women experienced less discomfort when exposed to moderately painful heat if they held hands with their boyfriends.
When you are holding hands and trying to interpret what it means, you can take a look at what science says each style could mean.
Whenever trying to interpret body language, pay attention to many factors, such as your partner’s emotional state and the verbal cues.
The best way to avoid misinterpreting what your partner is communicating through holding hands is to talk to them.
Use the information we share as a conversation starter. Tell them how the science interprets the way they hold your hand and inquire about their view on it.
Keep in mind how someone feels in the moment doesn’t mean they feel like that all the time in a relationship.
The 6 hand-holding ways
Read along to learn about the six common hand-holding ways and what they mean in a relationship.
Deciphering the meaning will help you to unravel a lot about your relationship.
1.The down-facing palm
One of the more standard hand-holding ways can tell us more about the power dynamic in the relationships. It is said that the person whose hand is on top (palm facing down) is the more dominant one.
Research suggests that this has to do with sex differences since a man’s hand is significantly more often on top, even when accounted for the height difference between the man and the woman.
You may google “interlocking fingers while holding hands does it shows intimacy,”and you will find all results agree in one – this hand-holding technique can indicate a high level of intimacy and a caring relationship.
Intertwined fingers can signal the couple is comfortable and ready to be vulnerable when they are grabbing each other’s hand like that it can speak to the level of attachment they share and need for one another.
3.The passive hand holding
When the couple is holding hands in a gentle yet firm manner, they could be demonstrating their understanding, acceptance of boundaries, and need for mutuality at the same time.
It can be a symbol of tender and deep connection that is not suffocating or limiting their individuality.
4.The relaxed lace
This relaxed hand holding position can imply that partners trust, care for each other, and are alright with a certain amount of distance. They are passionate about each other yet emotionally stable when distant.
It seems casual, almost cautious, with a clear desire for physical connection and tenderness.
5.The wrist grab
At first, this position can imply a need for control, aggression, or neediness. However, it may be that this is one of the most intimate ways to hold hands as you are interlocking your hands and arms too.
It could be a sign of a strong need to be around one another that is misinterpreted as overly assertive or possessive.
6.The finger grab
Holding hands in this manner can show that you are both independent people who have a desire to be physically intimate and establish a connection through touch.
It may signal you both enjoy your free time and value your singularity while having a deep connection to one another.
Why do we hold hands?
Evolutivelly, we are wired for connection through touch. If you observe infants, you will notice that they have an instinctual response to grab your finger and hold it.
This is called the palmar grasp reflex, and it is stipulated to exist because it allows children to hold onto their mothers while they move around hands-free. Over time, babies lose this reflex, but the importance of touch remains.
Although touch is one of the most important senses and one of the first to develop, psychologists Alberto Gallace and Charles Spence point out it may be one of the most underappreciated and undervalued ones.
There are many benefits of hand-holding that we may not be aware of. Those benefits are at the same time reasons why we hold hands:
1.Holding hands benefits our physical and mental health
Tiffany Field, the duch Research Institute director, suggests that holding hands activates the vagus nerve, which decreases blood pressure and heart rate and therefore brings people into a more relaxed state.
2.Reduces physical and psychological pain
A study showed that when holding their spouse’s hand, the experience of pain induced by an electric shock was diminished.
Hand-holding still had this lessening effect on the pain, although significantly lower, when the wives were holding a stranger’s hand.
3.Increases intimacy and bond with our partners
Physical intimacy and emotional intimacy are closely related. Interestingly, in the same study mentioned above, it was revealed that marital quality was a significant factor contributing to pain subsiding.
The higher marital satisfaction, the bigger impact holding the spouse’s hand had on pain reduction.
4.It shows the seriousness and importance of the bond to the world
In today’s world of sexual freedoms, the meaning of holding hands is slowly shifting.
Once, sex was the signal of the seriousness of a relationship, while today, hand-holding in front of others is taking over that symbolism.
5.It is a way to show passion and love
We all have our love maps. To many today, hand-holding is a way to show care and affection. This goes for both romantic and friend relationships.
6.Provides support and encouragement
Whether it is our spouse or our friend, taking one’s hand can provide comfort, warmth, and support.
When we are empathizing with someone, we often take their hand as a show of sympathy.
7.Holding hands can be a form of control and possessiveness
When interpreting physical signals, it is important not to generalize. While for one couple hand-holding can mean love, for another, it can be a way to show ownership.
For example, a controlling partner could be using holding hands as a way to avoid their partner being hit on.
8.It is a learned behavior from childhood
Parents hold their kid’s hand not only for safety but for affection too.
When we grow up, we may keep this sign of affection and transfer it into romantic relationships.
A study has shown that US teenagers touch each other less than French teenagers do and have higher aggressive tendencies.
This is one more reason to support holding hands and deal with the touch deprivation that is affecting people negatively.
Also Watch: Why we hold hands
Find your way of holding hands!
Be it a friend, partner, or family member, touch is an important sense that makes people feel more intimate and bonded. Hand-holding is a way to establish a physical connection with the significant other.
When trying to recognize what your style of holding hands means or how to hold hands with your partner to increase intimacy, don’t search for solutions, instead look for ideas.
Use the information shared here to understand what your style means by opening a conversation about it instead of imposing meaning.
Look for who initiates, pulls away first, asks what holding hands mean to your partner, and keeps an open mind. Your hand holding style will change through your relationship as your level of intimacy changes too.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.