The Art of Holding Hands


Ever wondered why we hold hands? Clasping someone’s hand may seem like a simple gesture but is loaded with meaning. This non-verbal way of communication conveys fondness, protection, trust, and connection. It’s a universal gesture for expressing affection. Human beings are hardwired for holding hands of others. This natural instinct is displayed by an infant’s grasping of her mother’s fingers which is also called ‘grasp flex’.
Humans share this instinctual response with several other animals such as sea otters, penguins, monkeys, raccoons and many more. In fact, sea otters are marvelled at for holding hands of their partners so that they don’t drift away in deep slumber. In that way, hand holding not only helps animals in expressing love but also as a mechanism to avoid life-threatening situations.
Holding hands which are also called kissing of the palms has scientific benefits to it as well. Holding hands of someone you trust aids in the reduction of stress hormone also called cortisol which is deleterious for your immune system and instead increases the love hormone called oxytocin which arouses feelings of compassion, trust, and generosity.
Many psychologists recognize holding hands as an emotional need that helps in the development of a human being. Lack of regular healthy touch can evoke the negative feelings of loneliness and neglect whereas healthy touch can boost the mental health of an individual and reinforce encouragement and support. Several studies also show how healthy touch can increase the life span of individuals. Skin to skin touch is also a bodily requirement as it’s the easiest way of absorbing and releasing heat.
Human beings are creatures of comfort and we tend to go in the direction of those people, situations, and places that makes us feel safe and sound. Clasping the hand of your parent, lover or friend while crossing the road is one example of it. It instills the feeling of reassurance in your loved ones and is an indirect declaration of devotion.
Holding hands also helps in the endurance of pain. Humans have a natural reflex of tightening their muscles when going through physical as well as emotional pain. Holding hands of someone you trust while going through physical pains diminishes the pain level. Think about a mother holding the hand of the father during childbirth or a little girl’s holding hands of her guardian while getting her ears pierced. Thus holding hands combats fear and pain.
Holding hands of your loved ones is also one of the simplest joys that life can give. It helps in emotional bonding and can serve as a powerful statement as to what you feel about another person. The way you hold hands of your beloved can speak a million things about you and your relationship.
A down-facing palm handhold is the most common handhold in which one person plays the dominant part and offers protection to the other. The interlaced fingers handhold on the other hand is the most intimate of all handholds and indicates deep passion and connection between the hand-holders. Walking with linked arms is said to signify insecurity and finding refuge in your partner’s arm. Others hands hold such as one finger hold and over the shoulder hold indicate casual and playful relationships.


Hand holding as a form of physical touch also varies from culture to culture. In many cultures, men holding hands with fellow men is seen as awkward and perceived as a homosexual activity whereas, in Arab countries and countries in Africa, men holding hands or walking arm in arm is seen as the celebration of camaraderie and brotherhood. Same-sex people holding hands is more accepted than opposite-sex holding hands in much conservative society. Holding hands is perceived romantic in almost every culture.
It is extremely important to disseminate the importance of hand-holding in a society that is turning touch phobic. We are so afraid of being inappropriately touched and of being judged that we are wary and suspicious of anyone who touches. It is extremely to learn to identify a different kind of handholds. Touch is a necessity of life and lack of it is a reason that most of the adults live lonely lives and resort to pets and childhood memories for warmth.

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