There is no moment, at least outside of the bedroom, potentially more devastating than when you go to grip his hand, touch his shoulder, or kiss his neck, and he moves away. Especially when all is new, and you are taking a risk. What is it with guys and physical affection? When is the right time to start the touchy-feely behavior, and how much is enough, too much, or not enough?
It’s All New and Fresh—Let’s Ruin it By Touching__
One of the sweetest notes I ever received was from an old friend, who is on the shy side. He had been hanging out with a girl named Sarah (now his wife), but he wasn’t sure what the situation was. Until the day they were walking and she grabbed his hand.
When things are starting off, and we’re not sure where we stand, a touch can mean, and change, everything. How he responds to your taking of his hand, your hand on his shoulder, leg, or neck, can tell you all you need to know.
But it’s not always so simple. Some guys are claspers instead of interweavers when it comes to hand-holding (for the record, I’m an interweaver). Other guys think that holding hands is cheesy, or embarrassing, and they’re more likely to go for an arm-link. And there’s also the chance that he’s not ready for public hand-holding yet, but in private he’s ready to clutch until your heart’s content.
It can be a tricky thing to figure out the kind of touching he doesn’t like because of comfort level with you versus his comfort with a certain kind of touching, period. I say, start private and once you’re certain, take it to the bar, beach, library, rifle range.
2. Get By With A Little Help From His Friends
Very common for a guy to be all touchy feely when it’s just the two of you (and not just in private), but to be less so when his pals are around.
If this is something that bothers you, bring it up. But I also think it’s a good idea, if things are just starting, to give him some time. Yeah, it’s immature if he gets squeamish around his pals, but give him a chance to warm up to the idea.
When I fish in the summer, and I first bring a bass into the boat, it goes crazy and it’s nearly impossible to touch it at all. But after a few minutes, it tends to calm down, and I can pick it up, pet him, and play with it all I want. My dad told me that’s because it’s dead, or has lost the will to resist. But I prefer to think that it just needed some time to get used to me.
3. Meet the Fockers
Guys can also change their desire for affection in front of the parents. And so do women. Which is totally understandable. On one level, it’s totally inappropriate to be all over each other in any company, nevermind his parents, but on another level, bringing someone new into the familial sphere can be a really important and tentative event. It’s just polite to give Mom and Dad a chance to get used to the new person at the dinner table before asking them to get used to your playing with their little boy’s hair.
4. Get A Room
Number 3 brings up the question of appropriate public touching. There is PDA, which we looked at with number 1, but there is also PDG, public display of getting it on, which makes us all a little uncomfortable. There’s a chance your guy is fine with PDA, but what you consider PDA, he considers the kind of show people should have to pay for…in Amsterdam.
When things get physical quickly, it’s weird, but not uncommon, for a guy to freak out over the simplest touches, but be fine with the most involved sexual acts. I don’t need to explain how resting your head on his chest, or holding his hand means totally different things to him than the crazy sex you just had, but don’t be too scared off by it.
As I mentioned earlier, these things can just take a little time. I have definitely been with women, certainly in my early 20s, where, at the beginning, I was much more comfortable going down on them than holding their hand while walking down the street. It’s crazy, I know, but that kind of intimacy in the latter can be more complicated than the kind in the former (with the former, we’re defending a castle, battling a lion, or searching for treasure; with the latter, you’re asking us to build a nest).
As usual, the key here is communication. But there’s also a need for patience. That’s not an excuse if he’s being a baby, just saying that in any relationship where affection will play a role, and that’s most of them: you’ve got time.
Does your guy have problems showing affection? Do you?
Have a question about Dating, Relationships, or Sex for Single John? Submit it here.
More on Relationships at Glamour.com
Dating DO or DON’T: Holding Hands At a Restaurant and Other Tableside Manners
10 Things That Make Every Woman Hot
Sex Tips: Tell Him a Sexy Bedtime Story