It’s common knowledge that the handshake and/or originated from early man extending his hand to a stranger to show that he was unarmed and came in peace. The handshake and wave are still the main gestures of greeting among men and women because the hand is one of our most useful and valued “tools” and it’s a vulnerable part of our anatomy.
The hand has many small bones in it that can be crushed with a modicum of pressure. Therefore, when you extend it in greeting, you’re showing trust to the other person. However, this is only one instinctive gesture we humans make toward each other. Men and women usually touch in progressive steps and we instinctively know what they mean even if we aren’t conscious of them. Here are the main progressive “touching” steps:
1. Hand to hand contact. If you like someone, you’ll let him hold your hand. This can also include inadvertent touching of hands – as in when a man hands you a glass of wine and your fingers slide over each other. Intentional? You bet!
2. Hand to arm/shoulder contact. Touching someone’s arm or squeezing someone’s shoulder is a more friendly gesture. Women do this with great skill – briefly touching a man’s arm to make a point in conversation, resting a hand on a man’s shoulder as you share a laugh. It’s a signal to the man that you’re interested in him and want more contact with him. This gesture can also morph into hand to the small of a woman’s back. It’s a “let me help you” friendly gesture, but it also denotes possession (“she’s with me”).
3. Hand to hair/head contact. This is an intimate gesture. You have to feel trust for someone to allow him to place his hands on your head or hair. Other than your family, close friends, and hair stylist, who would you feel comfortable with stroking your hair or caressing your cheek? Right. No one. That’s because their hands are getting close to vulnerable parts of you – your eyes and your nose. Instinct tells you to protect your head, so when you allow someone to stroke your hair or place his hand on your cheek, you are telling him that you trust him.
4. Hand to neck/throat. Again, a vulnerable part of your body, so no one touches you there unless you trust that person and/or want intimacy with that person.
5. Arm to shoulders/waist. When a man puts his arms around your shoulders, he’s signaling that he would like to get closer. Now, if this is a man putting his arm around another man’s shoulders (and they are both heterosexual), then it’s a friendship gesture. Hetero men don’t put their arms around each other’s waist – but they will put their arms around a woman’s waist as a signal of possession. This is a very intimate gesture because the man’s hand is moving progressively lower on a woman’s body – from the head, to the shoulder or arm, and his hand in between the breasts and the genitals. (That’s why men don’t feel comfortable placing their arms around each’s other waist! Too close to the package!)
6. Handsy! – The next step is hands on the prizes – breasts and genitals. Hopefully, this step is done in private. The other steps can be done in public.
So, when a man (or woman) skips one of these steps, it throws the other person off-balance. That’s why we love those Alpha Males and Dominants. They skip steps. The woman expects the man to take her hand or place his hand on the small of her back . . . but he grabs her, pulls her intimately against him, his lips glide down the side of her face, and he gives her earlobe a little bite. Whoa! He skipped steps, the devil! He knows it. She knows it. And now it’s a matter of, what are they going to do about it?
If you want to see a good example of the step-by-step action, take a gander at the main love scene in “The Last of the Mohicans.” It’s sheer perfection.
Examples of “skipping steps” can be found in virtually any romance novel worth its price!