Hand holding is a public symbol of togetherness. It doesn’t have to be romantic, but it does show that you support each other. Research has also shown that it has many health benefits.
When does hand holding begin?
We may remember our parents holding our hands as a way of protecting us. They held our hand when we crossed the road, for example. It can be taken as an act of kindness and love. Although if don’t roughly, it can symbolize that we are being controlled.
As children, we may have held the hand of our best friend. This was a sign of our unity and love. Children of any gender can hold hands. In many cultures even boys hold hands. Unfortunately, sometimes parents in Western societies stop this wonderful innocent behavior by suggesting it is inappropriate. This is a great shame.
Sometimes we might take the hand of an elderly person as a way to demonstrate our love and to give them more stability when walking.
What does holding hands in a romantic relationship indicate?
We generally don’t hold someone’s hand on a first date. We do it later in the relationship to signify that we now trust this person and want to show affection towards them. It can be a nice way to express care, even before the first kiss.
When holding hands in public, it signifies that you are proud to be associated with this person. You don’t care if the world sees this. By holding hands, you also tend to get more into a rhythm with your movements. Studies have shown that synchronize movement of any kind, increases bonding.
Our brains are hardwired to respond positively to kind touch. Fetuses of twins have even been captured holding hands in the womb.
You have probably heard about the famous study which showed that children raised in poorly run Romanian orphanages had their physical and mental development impaired because they didn’t receive enough loving touch.
Many studies have confirmed that human touch triggers the release of oxytocin in our brains. This neurotransmitter increases our level of trust and reduces our fear and anxiety.
Holding hands is even more powerful because when we interlace our fingers, the pressure in the touch slows our heart rate, decreases our blood pressure, and puts us in a more relaxed state.
Even when we are subjected to pain and discomfort, we generate less of the stress hormone cortisol if we are holding hands. So we can cope better with whatever we face if we hold someone’s hand.
Studies are even starting to indicate that if premature babies are massaged they will grow quicker. Pregnant women may be less likely to deliver prematurely if they are given gentle massages.
Touch increases serotonin levels which help us to sleep better and feel less pain.
We’ve been touching less
Because of our societies emphasis on personal space and our obsession with digital devices, we’ve been touching and holding hands less than ever. Some speculate that is why violence and suicide are on the rise.
Teachers have become so afraid of being accused of inappropriate touch, they don’t touch children at all. So now, more than ever, it is important to reach out and hold hands with your children, your partner, your friends and your family. You can do it when walking or when you are sitting near each other. Put the phone down, reach out and try some hand holding. You might find you even enjoy it.
If you are afraid to do it, talk to a counselor about it.