Friends Holding Hands: The Benefits of Human Touch

Holding hands with your friends can positively influence your overall well-being and deepen your connections, regardless of your gender, culture, or social status.

by | Sep 6, 2019

We often think of holding hands as a romantic gesture, something for couples who are taking walks or sitting together peacefully. It’s an act that embodies trust, good feelings toward one another, and having an emotional connection. This isn’t limited to one specific culture or people either. Holding hands is a universally human trait, one that transcends societal and superficial distinctions. People have been holding hands with one another from as far back as history remembers. As long as we continue to form bonds and friendships, it will likely continue indefinitely into our future as well.

In Western culture, holding hands is largely viewed as an activity exclusively for couples. While this can be true in other parts of the world, there are various cultures that actually embrace platonic hand-holding. Aside from the romantic connotation, it can symbolize unity within a group or an intimate bond between friends. Social customs may have delegated the act of holding hands to specific occasions, but there is actually a lot we could gain from doing so for the sake of friendship alone.

Healthy Stimulation: The Scientific Benefits of Human Touch

It isn’t just a feeling. Science shows that touching and being touched by other people affects us in its own unique way. Not only does it make us feel close to one another, but it can actually make a significant impact on our physical, mental, and social well-being. For example, infants instinctively grasp their mother’s finger in an act known as the grasp reflex. It’s commonly thought that this reflex stems from our early ancestors as a way of keeping mothers in close contact with their children. According to some studies, children who grew up with a lack of human contact experienced less cognitive ability, poor motor skills, and were even less skilled in using language. The message is clear that without sufficient human contact, we pay a price with our overall health and wellness.

There are, of course, lots of ways to support one another with touch. Holding hands is just one example, but it’s an example that could definitely be used more often. It’s a relatively simple way to help someone you care about feel better in numerous ways. Research has demonstrated that even this small amount of contact can reduce stress, improve mood, and increase a person’s self-worth and confidence.


“The idea that people can share physical contact comfortably without being romantically involved serves a valuable purpose in Indian culture. It provides a sincere emotional benefit to anyone in a way that Western culture often neglects.”

Holding Hands Is a Sign of Friendship Around the World

For most people in Western cultures, holding hands is considered unusual outside of romantic relationships. For some, the idea seems downright uncomfortable. In many other parts of the world, however, there’s nothing unusual about it at all. Friends and family in many cultures hold hands for no other reason than to feel comfortable with one another. In India, for example, it isn’t uncommon for male friends to hold hands during everyday activities. While in many Western nations this could be seen as unconventional social behavior, for them it’s a perfectly normal activity.

There is nothing sexual or specifically romantic about holding hands in India. Rather, it’s an expression of platonic love between two or more individuals. It can be between two male or two female friends, a child and parent, or even a group of people all holding hands together. The idea that people can share physical contact comfortably without being romantically involved serves a valuable purpose in Indian culture. It provides a sincere emotional benefit to anyone in a way that Western culture often neglects. Other cultures across Northern Africa, the Middle East, and throughout Asia also share this quality, though it’s most widely accepted within India. It may seem trivial, but it gives people the sensation they need to feel their best with the support of their friends.

Wellness 3.0: Human Nature | Dr. Rachel Abrams

Podcast: Understanding the Human Animal, Love, and Right Relationship

Dr. Rachel Abrams joins us to discuss the evolution of the human animal, the science of connectedness, and our need for social ties. Listen to find out why Rachel thinks we’re in a cultural crisis and why relationships and connection are the answer. You’ll also learn a bit of neuroscience that explains how all living beings are connected to each other and to nature.

Building & Strengthening Relationships

It’s worth recognizing that, even in our own culture, hand-to-hand contact is an important part of normal interaction. Handshakes, for example, are a form of hand-holding, albeit a brief one. They’re a way of bringing people together upon meeting as well as an indication of mutual respect. This small amount of contact is still enough to make people more at ease with each other, encouraging relationships to form. Whether in business, social gatherings, or just random encounters with strangers, handshakes have the power to open doors and create new friendships with almost anyone.

Joining hands among community groups, social circles, and family gatherings is also quite common. Even if only occasionally, we recognize it for the special significance it has. When you imagine a group of people holding hands, chances are you’ll think of happiness or solidarity. Social dances are an excellent example of how holding hands among several people can enhance the mood of celebratory occasions. In more serious times, holding hands can be a way of consoling someone, showing them your support, or demonstrating your combined resolve. In the right moment, it can have an enormous impact on people’s emotions.

Holding Hands Is a Benefit for Friendships

Friends holding hands is far from something shameful. In fact, it’s a positive influence for every human being regardless of your gender, culture, or social status. In the modern world, it seems as though we’re more distant from others than we really are. We’re much quicker to disregard or neglect our emotional needs than we’d like to admit.  In order for us to genuinely care for ourselves, it’s important to recognize what makes us feel better and not let social judgments get in the way. Holding hands with a friend is one of the easiest ways to feel validated, deepen familiar bonds, and improve your overall well-being. 

The next time you’re with a friend, don’t be afraid to let your hands touch and enjoy the moment for what it’s worth. Human touch is a necessity and should be enjoyed as much as possible. It may take time for you or others to get used to it, but the benefits it provides for health and human relationships are well worth the effort. 


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