Monday, April 25, 2005

That (not so) Invisible Touch

I've always touched people. My kids, relatives, friends, strangers, co-workers. Sometimes it's a simple "I'm here for you" touch on the hand. Or an "I need your attention" finger on the wrist. A "gee, I like you" or "thanks, you're wonderful" hug (reserved for people I know well). A "what a cool fabric" touch of a sleeve or maybe even a tie, if the guy is approachable and it's really nifty.

I never thought twice about any of these being inappropriate.

However, in the initial flurry of dating, it came up over and over again.

As I've said before, people tell me things, sometimes things they've never told anyone else. And each and every guy I dated did the disclosure thing, and each and every one of them got a hand touch.

And with a few exceptions, they were discombobulated by it (oh, how I love that word!).

I even had one email in which the guy wrote, "we were having such a nice lunch and things were going well, even though I knew I was talking too much. And then you touched my hand. What was I supposed to do? What was I supposed to think? What did you mean by that?"

All but 2 of the people I dated commented on it, indicating that they didn't know what to make of a simple touch to the hand.

So tell me: did they think this was an invitation of some sort? Why? Are men so hungry for touch that my fingers on the back of a hand was crazy-making? I might have suspected that of teenagers, but guys over 50? Or was it me, and I inadvertently crossed some invisible boundary?

Oh, and BTW: the only two who weren't strange about it were Rog and Harley Guy. When I touched their hands, each put his other hand briefly on top of mine in a way that said: "I'm glad you understand." At least I think that's what they were saying.

21 comments:

kath red said...

just read a bit of your blog and now am going to read some more. like the touching story, I think that maybe men who are alone don't get much touching in their lives so even a little touch is noticed.

Gone Away said...

It's a guy thing...

Jodie said...

:D I figured out that much, Gone! I was hoping for an explanation...

Cal the Wonderdog said...

Part of training my human was the part where he holds his hand to his side and I touch it with my nose. He thinks that has a calming effect for me after I see something and am anxious. I see it the other way 'round: He get's anxious and I need to calm him with the touch of my nose. Either way, the message is clear - each is there for the other.

Cal

Meepers said...

I wouldn't mind hearing an explanation either, because I'm one of those touchy people too, and I seem to get some wierd responses, as if people have an invisible boundary around them, and crossing violates their sensibilities.

My take (and maybe this is way, WAY off) is that their families weren't hands on, so they didn't get held a lot as babies, and didn't get hugged much as kids, and so on.

Notably, the guy I married was okay with idea of a hug after our first date, and I shook his hand instead. I was so nervous!!! But it all turned out okay.

graculus said...

hi. thanks for popping by my blog, liking it and leaving a comment. Those American men seem odd. I'm a bloke, from the other side of the pond, and were someone on a date to touch me on the hand, my heart would race, but i don't think i'd comment on it. i guess it depends on the situation tho.

That Girl said...

Thanks for visiting me...come back again!

People are just weird about their personal space. Do what you do and if they don't like it, then whatever. I did think that the two that put their hand on yours could have been thinking "How do YOU like it? If I touch you will you pull away?" Guys think like that, but don't read into it. I do that way too often!

Charlie_S said...

Hey, thanks for commenting on my blog.

I don't understand how those guys can have such weird reactions to a simple hand touch. I know if I were on a date and someone touched my hand I would be exstatic, like,"Yea, he/she DOES like me!"

Charles

Jodie said...

Lots of good theories here -- Cal, I wish humans were as easy to understand as dogs.

Jay said...

I'm a toucher too.
Men, generally, are not touched in gentle ways very often. Boys receive less physical affection from parents, and they do not hug each other as friends. Any touch between men is as rough and violent as possible ( a slap on the back, for example). So when a woman who is new to them touches gently, they are confused because it's foreign to them. Men are not as good as women at reading body language (not just touch, but expression and gestures too). So, a touch that is meant to soothe or comfort should be accompanied by similar words until he becomes used to the touch alone.

Jodi said...

I think a guy totally reads a touch differently than a girl.

To him you were probably screaming, "TAKE ME NOW!" even though all you did was touch their hands.

Men are so complicated!

Jodie said...

Jodi, maybe they're just really, really simple and we expect more out of 'em because we're so complex. :) Jay, I think you (and Meepers) probably have it -- but it's so sad if so -- these guys are in their 50s, have kids and exwives and you'd think they'd have picked up on this SOMEWHERE.

dick said...

I want you to touch me!!!

Actually I think most men are not used to affection, especially on a first date. Many women put up a defence sheild to protect themselves and I think us men know it takes a few dates to get a woman used to you. Well, that's my sorry assed opinion. :)

Jodie said...

C'mon over here Dick -- I give VERY nice hugs. :D

Keeefer said...

The touching of the hand is hardly a come on. ....unless its a firm grasp and a drag to the bedroom....now that even i may take the hint at.
Recently though, through my diet of appaling australian tv (mainly reruns from american shows) i have started to become concerned over the way Americans seem to analyze everything to do with relationships....is this to do with the lawsuits one is letting ones self in for if they interpret the body languags etc in the wrong way?

I know i would not dream of sending an email querying the way someone touched my hand....unless it was in a bar with the guys and of them gave my hand a gentle squeeze.....and even then it would probably be put down to drunken affection...... Its all very odd....he was probably a day release patient and you are lucky to be alive :)

Jodie said...

Thanks Keeef! That makes me feel MUCH better! :D

Gone Away said...

It's still a guy thing. And guys don't go in for self analysis so they can only tell you that's how they are, not why. ;)

Meepers said...

Jodie, I agree that its somewhat sad, but these are a generation of men whose mothers were told that breastfeeding was unsanitary and the best way to get a baby to sleep through the night was to let them cry it out. Maybe I'm ultrafocused on the infancy part of this issue because my own son is a baby, but I think it makes a huge difference. I wouldn't change my habits of being affectionate, though, because I don't believe it makes sense to stop caring for people when they're unable to receive it. At least, I believe that in theory.

Jodie said...

Meepers, I don't think I could change if I wanted to. :)

Cori said...

Thanks for stopping by!
Didn't you know that touching a mans hand means that you want to sleep with him? Just kidding. I am a toucher too but only since a few years ago. I don't know why i started.

Leann said...

Well, I am a toucher also, however, I had no idea it could bring about such confusion.
As someone just getting back into the dating game perhaps I should reconsider my touching habit :-)