I wanna hold your hand...or do I?
"Yeah, you've got that something
Holding hands is part of our very nature-we hold hands as we learn to walk, we hold hands as we cross the street when we're very young, we hold hands as we play "Ring around the Rosie" and many other times as children. So why does it all of a sudden become so loaded when we grow up? Earlier this semester I wrote about PDA, now let me get a little more specific: I want to talk about HOLDING HANDS.
Holding hands, while requiring far less physical intimacy than a hookup, may in fact be much more emotionally involving. For some reason, people who have no problem being extremely intimate with someone cannot handle what is associated with holding hands. There is, of course, the "we are leaving a party to hookup" handhold, but this is far rarer than awkwardly walking home together without touching, and usually the handhold as foreplay to a random hookup is as meaningless as the hookup itself.
Carrie explains, "When I leave a party with a guy and we're not holding hands, I don't know if he's just going to leave me at my door or what. If we are holding hands, it's a shoo-in. But it usually doesn't mean any more than that he's definitely coming to my room for the night."
On the other hand, Lauren laments, "I've had boyfriends who couldn't bring themselves to hold my hand in public! It's not like I'm asking them to make out with me, but you'd think we'd be comfortable enough with each other to make physical contact in front of other people."
Lauren is right-holding hands, when done inconspicuously, is a very nice and sweet way to show affection without being obnoxious. But unfortunately, at Bowdoin, as Jackie presciently observes, "Physical affection is pretty much taboo outside of really serious, long-term relationships or under the pretense of being 'under the influence'".
Not that all girls are reaching for hands left and right-guys and girls seem to be equally afraid of holding hands in public.
Katie explained that she just feels weird sometimes if she's holding hands with her boyfriend and they walk into the union. "I feel like everyone thinks I'm being possessive or something."
Greg, who plays a contact sport involving a stick (and that's all I can say about that, as I am sworn to secrecy), confides that he thinks people see holding hands as crossing the unwritten line between being in a relationship and "the weekend scene". "There's like this understanding that you are somehow supposed to make a leap between the two extremes without anyone else knowing. I don't really get it, but that's just the way it is. If everyone [writer's note: everyone = other guys who play contact sport involving a stick] saw me holding hands with some girl, I'd never hear the end of it. Neither would she, for that matter. Don't ask me why! I don't know!"
Greg was quick to say he would love to care enough about a girl to want to hold her hand, but that still doesn't mean he would actually do the deed.
Interestingly enough, there are actually documented incidents of people at parties walking around holding hands together who don't actually know each other and don't even go home together! As bizarre as this is, it is, in some ways, an attempt at achieving intimacy, much like hooking up, with a random person because you are lonely.
It seems to me that people at Bowdoin are too afraid to cross the very line Greg was talking about. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we fear we will look like losers if we are seen holding hands with someone in the broad daylight one day and the next night they hook up with someone else.
Let me take it a little further: we are all high achievers here at Bowdoin (you could try to disagree, but I would argue that whether it's academically, athletically or otherwise, we all worked hard at something to get here) and are clearly afraid of seeming like a failure-i.e., showing we like someone where there is potential, however small, of being ultimately rejected.
I think if we all took ourselves a little less seriously and listed to the Beatles, holding hands when we feel "that something," perhaps we could all lighten up a bit. I'm not saying everyone should walk around hand in hand-if that's not your thing, then fine, and I've already declared my own anti-PDA stance-but maybe it would be a good thing if we could not put so much pressure on ourselves and were able to admit we liked people without having to chalk it up to "the weekend scene." Most of us are here seven days a week you know.