Thursday, September 20, 2007

For The Inquiring Minds

I had a nice time, but my date tried to hold my hand.

Ok, he did hold my hand. But, only for a minute until I could comfortably reach for my wine glass.

I have this thing about men being overtly affectionate on the first date. It weirds me out. Hand holding, cheek stroking, and other romantic, sweet, deliberate gestures that say "I like you and I want to be close to you," - instead of the more usual "I want to rip off your clothes" - when there's no way the former sentiment could have had time to develop.

I understand the latter sentiment and men who sleep with women on the first date. Although I'm not personally in to that, I generally understand why people do it and what they get out of it. When I'm faced with that, it's fairly easy to deal with. Either I say no, blow the guy off, or say yes. It's relatively simple when it's clear that it's just about sex and nothing more, and though it can make me feel many things, awkwardness is not one of them.

But, hand holding on the first date is a different matter, and it usually makes me feel super awkward. For me, holding someone's hand is about feeling a connection to them, genuinely liking them, and having a certain warmth for them, feelings that take more than a few hours to develop. When someone takes your hand when you're not expecting it, when you've basically only just met them, it's a little off-putting. It's like they're stepping too quickly across an emotional chasm that exists between two strangers for good reason.

Looking at my hand last night as it was being held by my date's hand, I felt like it was a strange thing disconnected from my body, like a dead fish. I was aware of feeling vaguely uncomfortable, even though the experience itself was fine. I mean, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with physical touching and affection. As a general matter, I'm quite affectionate. But, not on first dates, and not with people I don't know.

My brother Frey understands my feelings. He called today from London to see how I was doing. When I told him that my date had held my hand on our first date, he paused for a second to ponder it, and then said, "Weird."

It is weird.


gravelly said...

So I guess this means you won't be going out again with this guy??

Sammy B. said...

I agree that it is weird when guys are emotionally affectionate on first dates. It is sort of like when your fourth grade 'boyfriend' tells you he loves you. It's ridiculous.

Sorry I've been away for so long. I had a couple of late summer vacations. On the upside, we're coming to NYC in November! I can't wait to see you. More on that later...

tara said...

I think its indicative of someone with either a lack of boundaries, or a lack of ability to care about yours. Your complete lack of response had to have been obvious, and the fact that he didn't pick up on that and disengage is almost creepy.
Big red flag in my book.

Willow said...

I'm so with you on this subject. I too would have removed my hand as soon as possible without being weird about it. I'm just not into people I don't know touching me, especially skin to skin. I don't know if it's the empath in my or what, but it makes me uncomfortable. I can hug a stranger, without getting any anxiety type feelings, but holding their hand would creep me out!

Buttercup said...

Gravelly - Bizarrely enough, I'm not sure...

Sammy B - YAY!!!!!!!!!!

Tara - I think you're probably right on both counts. (It was the same with this other guy I dated, IP - International Playboy).

Willow - Why would the empath in you be creeped out? I'm interested b/c it sounds right but I'm not sure exactly what you mean.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you're not ruling out a second date -- I'm still rooting for bicycle-riding tall partner man.

wordnerd said...

Weird - definetly....

Displays of "affection" too early do really freak me out too....except for situations when it's all about the sex....and both people are aware of that. Then, giddy up!

But going on a real "date" is not all about the's about getting to know someone....

HOWEVER, I'm glad you're not completely ruling him out based solely on this....because sometimes people can be on *slightly* different planes and still be a great match in the end.

If I could only EXPLAIN how weird (and obnoxious actually) I thought MD was the first few times we met...and then, something clicked...and I started liking DESPITE the weirdness....and now, I like him (ok, I guess I love him too!) BECAUSE of his weirdness.

I'm not saying bicycle-riding-tall-partner-man is THE guy....but then again, maybe he is, who knows? If everything else seems right for now (and really, only you can answer that) hand holding is not REALLY the end of the world....If he offered you cocaine however....we might be talking about a different story!

OK...diatribe over...Have a great weekend my friend!

Greg said...

Doesn't it depend on the context? What exactly was he doing with your hand?

What if you go dancing? There is a certain amount of hand holding there. What if the touching is more horseplay type of touching? Like maybe he pulls you into a jog to get somewhere quickly by grabbing your hand.

Europeans in general are much more touchy feely than us in the U.S. Even here, people in the South aren't as afraid of touching than us citified folk in the North.

Maybe there was something underlying everything that didn't feel right to you, so you just grabbed on to the touching thing as an excuse? A second date could tell you for sure unless you've already figured it out.

Starshine said...

Yeah, I def understand the weird factor. I was wondering the same thing as gravelly...will there be another date? :)

hb said...

oh, the chemistry wasn't there? he should have been able to tell that you were uncomfortable with it and backed off.

starshine's mom said...

I think you should try again! Let us know if another date is in the plan!

And, by the way, I'm ALL about "Hanky Pankies"! They're the best!

Your Mom's new friend,

Jonathon Morgan said...

Fortunately it's been awhile since I've been on a date, but agreed -- when, after a couple hours, someone started acting as if we were couple of the century, it was freaky. As in...we just had dinner...are we married or something?

Buttercup said...

Anonymous and Starshine - Still letting it percolate but I'll keep you posted.

Wordnerd - That's cute about you and M.D. I think there's truth to your point that sometimes those type of things take time to develop (which is why he should not have jumped the gun!).

HB - Yes, but unfortunately men do leave a lot to be desired on the "being aware" front.

Starshine's Mom - Thanks you for visiting!! I love that you love the hanky pankies. Women everywhere need to discover them. :)

Jonathan Morgan - Exactly. It seemed a bit clingy (and presumptuous).

Greg, Yes, it depends on context. I'm sure there's a situation where it could feel right, but it didn't with him in that moment.

Gypsy said...

I like what Willow said about skin. For instance, I'd be ok with a hand on a shoulder, or a hand in the small of my back as we're walking through a crowd, but skin to skin? Weird.