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The Way You Hold Hands Says A Lot About Your Relationship

Body language speaks more than words, so here are the meanings of the way you hold hands with your SO.

Remember those good old days when a man who liked a woman would woo her for some weeks and then ask her parents for permission to date her? Hands up if this reminds you of your grandparents and the way they met. I mean, courtship in those days was serious business, it meant presents, strict visiting hours, and chaperones. It makes you think that the only naught business they could do was holding hands. Shocking! Or maybe not, we've all watched the movies of girls escaping through the window at midnight to meet their suitor and do much, much more than just holding hands.

I'm not dissing hand-holding by any means, in fact it has rich historical meanings across many cultures. Given that it is the body part we use the most and the one that helps us interact with the world –all hail opposable thumbs–it has acquired an array of meanings. The way you hold someone else's hand can reflect formality, familiarity, dominance, and even submissiveness. Holding hands is one of the most common demonstrations of love in a relationship and here we’ll present some of the meanings behind this ancestral practice.

Vanessa Van Edwards has devoted her professional life to studying people’s behavior and body language. Following her passion for understanding how we communicate without words, she founded the behavioral web lab, Science of People, where she studies some of the most common body language expressions. So, here are some of her interpretations regarding our hands and what we convey when we’re holding our partner’s.

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Fingers loosely interlaced

At a first glance one would think this way of holding hands spells a lack of commitment, however, it's the exact opposite, it actually conveys tenderness and reassurance. It's letting the other know they're there without suffocating the person. It denotes independence and individuality, but at the same time shows the couple's  strong connections.

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Hand wrapper

According to Edwards, when we touch someone our body releases oxytocin, a chemical that produces happiness and comfort. So, the more contact you have, the more oxytocin you produce. However, this particular hand-holding could also be interpreted as a sign of protection and strong bonds that could potentially lead to codependency, so it's important to be always aware of the direction the relationship is taking. 

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Subtle touches

This is playful body language; it's secretly brushing the other’s hand with the fingers in a flirty way. Well, unless the person doing it is not aware of the movement. According to Edwards, this can also mean that the person walking by your side isn't really that into you, so that's the most intimacy you'll get. I guess it all depends on the circumstances. 

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Firm grip

We've recently heard a lot about firm grips and how they convey dominance. So if that person really squeezes your hand, it can be a sign that they want to be in charge of the relationship. 

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Intertwined fingers

In the same way as the wrapper, this denotes a strong need of being with the other. I don't refer to an extremely needy person, but someone who wants to be closer to you. Remember oxytocin? Well, this is actually the hand-holding that can produce it the most, since your whole hand and part of your arm are intertwined with your partner's. 

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Hand on top

It's like that romantic gesture when your hand is resting on your leg and suddenly your partner approaches you and puts their hand over yours in an embrace. It denotes protectiveness, as if they're silently saying they have your back. 

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Pinky grip

As Edwards claims, this is pure flirtation and playfulness. It's a casual way to demonstrate commitment, since, unlike the subtle touch, here the fingers are connected in a strong bond. It shows that the relationship is relaxed and based on mutual trust.
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Holding fingers

This is the classic hand-holding of the story we started with; it shows respect and devotion. The one holding the hand portrays adoration and their will to protect the other, while the one being held exhibits trust. Edwards says this way of holding hands conveys a healthy and strong relationship.
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Relaxed interlocked fingers

Just like the first one, this one shows independence, but at the same time, a confident and strong bond that is based on trust. It says that the relationship is perfectly balanced; both are emotionally stable and aren't needy. This position allows you to play and caress the hand of your partner, which can also refer to a flirtatious relationship.
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Wrist holding

This is probably the only one that conveys a negative image, as it may look aggressive, controlling, and give a sense of ownership, but that may depend on how you interpret it. Allegedly, couples that interlock their arms like this can have a more intimate and passionate relationship. Again, it all depends on the circumstances. 

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Something important to bear in mind is that while these studies are based on social behavior, each couple and relationship is different. Moreover, it's not that you only hold hands in one particular way, it all depends on the type of people you and your partner are and the foundations of your relationship.

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If you want to know more about relationships don't miss these:

11 Nonnegotiable Rules You Should Have In An Early Relationship
4 Ways To Know Your Relationship Is One Step From Being Killed By Social Media
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Sources:
Elite Daily
Science of People

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