Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Better Boyfriend 101 (Hand Holding)

Attention! Attention!
Settle down class. It's time for a quick discussion on touching. Not like Hitch's primer, on breaking the touch barrier. After all, this is a 101 class, not Remedial Boyfriend. 

Better Boyfriend 101 (Hand Holding)

Hand holding is one of the basic components of romance. It rates so low on the scale of affectionate contact that it doesn’t get a base. It would be the base line on the way to “kissing?” It’s a little odd how that works. It’s hard to build the relationship without it. But it doesn’t show up nearly as often in established relationships. Anyway, as a consummate people watcher I get to see couples hand in hand all over. During undergrad, there was a couple who was almost famous for their method of clasping. The duo even had a nickname based on their technique, “the 90 degree couple.” Try to picture with me, two people standing approximately two feet apart, separated by almost the exact distance of their collective shoulder-to-elbow span. Because, they’re standing scarecrow style, forearms dangling into a grip knot of fingers, suspended over the sidewalk. Tragic. 

Hand holding is a pretty nice thing. It’s an element of closeness available when other such demonstrations of affection aren’t appropriate. It’s a promise of something enduring. Palms of each partner nestled in the hand of the other. Or for the more intimate, there are the intertwined fingers of the passionate. Hand holding is a desire to cherish, each other despite engaging in extraneous activities (walking, TV watching, or even writing). It’s connection despite “whatever.” And it communicates so much to both one’s partner and to the rest of the world. 

Is hand holding her leash, whereby she can drag her reticent partner from store to store at the mall? Or a pacifier to silence her during the game? Trying not to lose him in a crowd?  Is it a tangible, “I love you?” Or did you just forget that the “Red Rover” game ended. I’m forced to admit that I am in the category of hand holders which includes the hand-kissers who draw circles on the backs of their partner’s hand. Lucky for me, my girlfriend* is, too.

Then there is the hyper jealous partner. Not like normal jealous (“No, you can’t go out alone with your ex”). Or even very jealous (“Was that guy checkin’ you out”). But, he’s the kind of guy whose jealous insecurity oozes out of all of his body language, interposing himself between his hostage… I mean, partner, and the person foolish enough to step in between him and the object of his possession. The dead giveaway is when you see the happy couple charging down the street holding hands. But, holding hands is a terribly flawed way to describe the activity. As opposed to the fingers being lovingly intertwined, or even each hand tucked neatly between the thumb and the forefinger, he’s got her in “The Clamp.” His hand encases her entire hand, thumb included, in a vice grip of possession.  Someday, they’ll realize that he doesn’t own her. 

Like I said, already, hand holding is a funny thing. It’s an electric shock through your body, the first time that it happens. But when the novelty wears off, people forget that it’s about connecting to your partner. So whether you’ve been dating for two weeks or married for two decades. Take your partners hand, and try a little tenderness. But don’t be vice grip guy. 

Share with the class? Why do you hold hands? Why don't you hold hands? What's your most memorable hand holding experience?

*Not pictured

Proper and improper hand-holding demonstration by yours truly and renowned actress, Abbie Getty.