Are you scared or uncomfortable holding hands? How can you date or let people close?
With Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com and Reid Mihalko from http://www.ReidAboutSex.com and http://SexGeekSummerCamp.com.
Cathy: What do you do if you want to get close to people, you want to go dating, but you’re scared of holding hands?
Reid: This is Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com.
Cathy: This is Reid Mihalko from http://www.ReidAboutSex.com. If you are not comfortable or something … and I honestly remember when I was very uncomfortable holding hands because I wasn’t sure if my hand was too sweaty or I was holding too long or too hard, I didn’t know what to do. I’d get really nervous and I’d want to pull my hand away as soon as I could because I was pretty sure I was doing a bad job. The first thing is, see if you can learn that you don’t have to hold hands, because any time you have to do something, I felt like I had to, that makes it a lot less fun. If you can, you can say holding hands isn’t for me right now. You don’t have to. I felt the same way about kissing when I was first dating again, and I would tell people I don’t want to kiss right now it’s something that’s very intimate for me and I’ll have to know someone really well.
I was really terrified the first few times I said it, but when people are like, “oh, okay.” They might have thought I was strange, but they respected it. I felt so much-
Reid: They thought you are strange anyway. After getting to know you, you’re still strange.
Cathy: Thank you.
Reid: You’re the awesome kind of strange. The idea of just talking openly about what’s going on, is a strange concept in relationships with dating especially because people are afraid they’re going to ruin it, and so no one speaks up. When you start speaking up about stuff, it might feel like you’re going to ruin everything. My personal opinion, I would rather ruin it by speaking up, because what you gain by speaking up is that if you don’t ruin it, everything is so much better.
Cathy: You’re role modelling that you can talk about what you’re actually feeling.
Reid: You start talking about the elephants in the room, for you and for the other person because they obviously have whatever their thing is that’s going on that they’re not comfy to. My advice in this situation, if you want to really explore the hand stuff … Again, this is simple but it’s not necessarily easy to implement but it gets easier as you practice it, is like, “Hey, I have the thing that’s I’m going through around handholding. What are your thoughts about handholding? Here are mine.” Then you open up a conversation about that. If you’re super geeky like me it’s like, “Hey, I have a lot of weirdness around handholding, could we practice handholding right now just to get it over with? Let’s practice handholding horribly.”
Cathy: Yeah, so let’s make it really sweaty.
Reid: We make it as awkward as possible, see. You may never date me ever again, but we just got over something … Oh, I might have traumatized Cathy. I’m not advocating you have to do what I just did.
Cathy: Please don’t do that.
Reid: This is the thing, make the thing that’s already a thing, a thing that’s out in the open, and use it as a way of being honest and vulnerable with each other. It really does get easier as you practice this because what will usually start to happen is you’ll realize, oh, they have stuff going on on their side too. Then you just start talking about all the awkward stuff. In getting it out there, it feels more awkward and dangerous-
Cathy: But it’s actually safer.
Reid: Yeah, there’s a much bigger release and more playfulness, and then you’re role modelling it’s okay to be awkward, and so now on your date or wherever, you’re good at being awkward together. Get there faster than trying to take baby steps of awkward that just drag you both crazy, and you never actually say what’s actually happening.
Cathy: If someone should grab your hand before you’ve had a chance to have that conversation, you can do something like, if they just take your hand-
Reid: Like that? Gosh, this is a horrible video. Sorry.
Cathy: Oh, that was sweet. If they take your hand you could say something, “Oh that’s really sweet and I don’t feel comfortable holding hands.” You can acknowledge them for the intention, because then they won’t feel so rejected and then just like you can just gently disengaged.
Reid: You can also just say, “No, I have this thing about hands, can we geek out about it?” I use the phrase, “geek out about it,” because in this culture a lot of people kind of get that that’s a good thing, geeking is a good thing-
Cathy: It’s as if talking can be bad.
Reid: Yeah, and so like can we geek out about this, “I’m having this hold hand thing, hey, let’s watch this video, that’s all about handholding.” Then you show them this video, and then they think we are way more weird than you ever could be, and then you’re ahead at the game, that’s what I would do. Just keep this on your favorites on your phone, you’re good.
Cathy: Thanks so much for asking, some of these questions are really vulnerable because we act like handholding should be natural, little kids do it, but it’s not always. I really appreciate your asking.
Reid: Me too. Leave some comments about alternatives to handholding. What would be some other things for you-
Cathy: Ear holding?
Reid: Ear holding would be great. You just do like the arm thing. There’s all kinds of things that are there, and if you start talking about them, now you’re having a conversation and role modelling it’s okay to be awkward about stuff. Good job, great questions … I am sorry that I hit your hand hope it wasn’t too hard.
Cathy: You’re fun.
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