Setting boundaries? Try holding off on holding hands

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SAVANAH TEBEAU SHERRY

Erin Powell

During the summer of 2018, I decided to keep myself pure for marriage and save hand-holding for my husband. Only hand-holding.

It started off as a joke between me and my friends when we were making fun of fundamentalist Christians like the Duggars who save their first kiss for marriage.

In actuality, I think that waiting until marriage to do anything physical is a bad idea. But I joked I could one-up the Duggars and other fundamentalist Christian celebrities and save hand-holding for marriage.

After all, those “sinners” start holding hands after they get engaged. I knew I could do better.

I never liked to hold hands with people, so giving it up would probably have little effect on my life other than being funny.

But there has been one positive to ruling out hand-holding that I did not expect: it has given me a safe, low-stakes way of seeing if a guy will respect my boundaries.

It turns out hand-holding, or at the minimum touching hands, is a very common thing when dating someone.

I’ve slipped and fallen on the ice due to refusing to hold my date’s hand. And snatching your hand away from a guy you are flirting with is a “mixed signal.”

Having to explain not being comfortable holding-hands with someone after you’ve slept with them is a very funny and unique experience.

The weirdest side effect is that I now sometimes fantasize about holding hands, something I actively was not a fan of before.

The way guys have reacted to me telling them they aren’t allowed to hold my hand varies. The majority that I inform about this laugh, but are okay with it.

These guys sometimes have had moments where they forget and touch my hand, and when I remind them they listen.

I once went on a date with a guy who was super respectful of my no-hand-holding rule, and he even made a conscious effort to avoid touching my hands later in the date.

But I’ve also experienced the complete opposite, someone that actively tried to hold my hand because he thought it was fun and flirty, which I assure you it was not.

If you had to guess which of those dudes was more respectful of me saying no to other things later, it shouldn’t shock you that it was the one that respected my wishes on hand-holding.

I do not recommend giving up hand-holding. it’s very funny but is more hassle than it’s worth. What I do recommend is setting boundaries early on.

Try saying no to something low stakes, like asking your partner to slow down when getting intimate, and see how they react.

You might find out that they are someone you don’t want to be involved with.

Talking honestly about boundaries earlier on makes communication easier later on. Hand-holding is a weird thing to be abstinent from, but it has helped me become more confident and comfortable.

Memes aside, my main reason for saving hand-holding for marriage will always be that I think it’s funny.