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If you’ve been in a romantic relationship, you’re probably used to holding hands. Whether you’re walking together or sitting down to relax, it’s a nice experience.
But aside from being a natural, romantic activity for couples, holding hands strengthen your emotional connection too. There’s a good reason for this too.
According to Silva Neaves, psychosexual and relationship psychotherapist, when you hold the hand of someone you love, your breathing starts to sync up with the person you’re with. She also revealed that “emotions will flow from one person to the other”.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan, she said, “It appears that holding hands serves the purpose to feel a deepening in human connections.”
In addition to this, Silva said, “Many studies in neuroscience show that touch produces oxytocin, a feel-good chemical that is very good for your mental and physical health.”
Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes bonding, connection, empathy and trust, and is also the hormone that is released during sex. Our hands are one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies, so it makes sense that there’s a deep emotional connection when you hold the hand of someone you love.
Dr Becky Spelman from Private Therapy Clinic added that holding hands means we can ‘instinctively interpret’ the other person’s anxiety or comfort levels. We can do this by feeling how much they’re sweating, their pulse, and the strength of their grip.
Hand holding is also a learned behaviour, as Dr Spelman points out that “babies are born with a grasping reflex and will curl their tiny hands around any finger placed in their palm”.
The act of hand holding is associated with safety too, as parents hold children’s hands to keep them safe when crossing the road. Childhood behaviours can transfer to romantic relationships later in life, so it makes sense that hand holding is considered intimate when we’re in relationships.