It’s Complicated: Reagan talks handholding

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Dear Reagan,

My girlfriend really hates holding my hand. She says they get too sweaty for her, but I really enjoy the closeness I get from holding her hand. Is there anything I can do about this or do I just have to be resigned to never getting what I want again?


Full Heart, Empty Hand

Dear Empty Hand,

Many of us have had to deal with sweaty hands in our dating ventures—either our partners’ or our own. This can be a difficult thing to deal with and an especially difficult thing to talk about.

Just like we need food and sleep, humans need physical touch—many scientifically rigorous studies back this up. Kory Floyd writes about what he calls “skin hunger” for Psychology Today. His studies suggest that this “skin hunger” leads to increases in anxiety and depression. A study out of UCLA shows that human touch releases oxytocin which fosters feelings of compassion and trust. Clearly, physical touch is an incredibly important part of human connection.

If holding hands, specifically, is an important part of a relationship for you, communicate that to your girlfriend. There are ways to keep your hands drier so it will be easier for you both. If they are sweaty while you are out, try washing your hands. Simply rubbing them on your pants and your shirt can actually increase the moisture on your palms. Colder temperatures can help with perspiration. Keep in cool temperatures and rinse your hands with cold water. There are also hand antiperspirants you can use.

If none of those options work or if they are not working for your girlfriend, try looking for a compromise. An arm around her shoulder while walking, or a hand on her knee while watching movies may be a better way to find small moments of physical connection while you’re with her.

I hope things work out!

Illustration by Kevin Baggarly.