A month or so ago, I was hanging out with two lesbian friends and we happened to meet two of their lesbian friends and the cousin of one of the women, who my friends didn’t know. As we were introducing ourselves, the cousin extended her hand so I could shake it. I thought that was a little formal, but I have manners, so I reached out to grab her hand. I instantly regretted not simply waving. When shaking hands, I firmly hold the person’s palm but not their fingers. I hate a limp handshake. This woman, however, was seriously trying to cause some pain as she squeezed my fingers — I was wearing a huge ring on my index finger that she pressed into my middle finger. My friends had the same experience shaking her hand, except later that night my hand swelled and theirs didn’t.
I don’t know if this woman is a lesbian, but I definitely think she had something to prove — either that she wasn’t as “dainty” as she perceived my friends and I to be. Or maybe she heard a firm handshake is preferred. I do know that she left a bad first impression.
I told my 50-year-old male friend this story last night as he, my mom, and I ate dinner. And he told me that in his experience (he’s a plumber who works for NYC’s public housing and has also been in the military), when a woman is extra firm with her handshake, she’s trying to say she won’t sleep with you. I told him I didn’t understand his logic, and he explained that whether she’s a “Bible thumper,” a colleague, or whatever, if a woman aggressively grabs a man’s hand, then it’s to say that she’s one of the guys or to convey her asexuality. She’s letting it be known that there’s a line she won’t cross.
Now I should say that my friend isn’t the type to sleep around with his coworkers, so it’s not like he has that reputation. So I’m not sure how he came to this conclusion. I’m not even sure how it relates to my story. I mean, if the cousin is a lesbian and she thought I was a femme, couldn’t her intentions of squeezing my hand been just the opposite of my friend’s theory? Hopefully, I’ll never cross paths with this woman again, so I won’t have the opportunity to ask her about this.
But all of this begs the question: What does a firm handshake mean to you?