Sunday, May 17, 2009

Girls Shaking Hands

Oh man. Watching girls introduce themselves is like a gift of awkward moments from above. Girls will deny it to the grave because they either cannot understand it (because they cannot get outside of themselves and see it from a guy’s perspective) or because they cannot accept the fact that this moment is awkward no matter what they try to do about it. When guys shake hands, there’s something very manly about it, something legit. You look into each other’s eyes and it’s almost a recognition of each other’s comparable grip strength. A hearty smile, handshake and a slap on the back is a great man-introduction.
Don’t get me wrong, guys’ introductions can be very awkward. I’ve seen some awkward ones in my time. However, what’s interesting to note about these awkward moments is their astounding similarity to girls’ awkward introductions. When guys have awkward introductions they are often hesitant, give a limp fish for a hand, and are unenthusiastic in their tone of “nice to meet you”. Two girls shaking hands is one of the most awkward physical moments between two humans. There is no sense of camaraderie or understanding. None of that “man” business that you see with the guy introductions. With girls, it’s so forced they are almost begging to avoid it, but simply must shake hands because it is a societal convention. Girls feel much more natural just talking or something intimate like a hug.

My favorite is when girls negate the handshake altogether and go for the rather brisk, and (in my opinion) even more awkward wave and say “hi nice to meet you.” When they say that, a bell of awkwardness goes off in my head because one always associates that phrase or “meeting someone’ with a handshake. Would you ever say “nice to meet you” over the phone or say that you “met” someone over a phone call? No, you would wait until you have the physical contact of that man-shake. Girls just don’t get handshakes though. It’s just so unnatural, as if they’re just copying the men because they don’t have an alternative method of introduction.
That’s why I like countries like Peru where there’s no ambiguity. Whenever there’s a girl involved you exchange kisses. What a less awkward, less ambiguous way of greeting and meeting people. I think the best evidence for the girl’s handshake being awkward is the second time you see someone you just met. If you think about it for guys, they would obviously shake hands the first time they met and most likely shake hands upon greeting each other the second time seeing each other (assuming the appropriate setting).
With girls however, you have to wonder. Assuming they grind out that first awkward girl-shake what are they to do the next time they see each other? If you observe this first hand I will bet you just about anything (seriously) that they do not shake hands. It’s just too awkward! It’s awkward because it’s unnatural. They do not want to shake hands any more than absolutely necessary and the only time it’s absolutely necessary is right when meeting each other (at least most people think so). The second meeting they will simply acknowledge each others presence with a, perhaps even very friendly, “hey [insert name here]! how are you?”
Another dilemma is what to do with that girl from high school that you haven't seen in a year but barely knew in the first place. "Hey Caren!" Now what. Do you hug? No way that's creepy and trying to pretend your relationship is something it's not (because you know your conversation won't last more than 3 minutes and get past "what have you been up to?"). Can't shake hands for aforementioned reasons (if you're a girl that is). Even if you're a guy though, that's just formalizing the relationship too much, as if she's some business client. I guess the only solution is to have no physical greeting with her and deal with it. It just seems kind of rude. Men shake hands. Women occasionally do, but shouldn’t, for everyone’s sake of sanity and normalness.

I wonder if it's more awkward for 6 year old girls being forced to shake hands than 6 year old boys:

I always wonder what I'll do as a father if I have a daughter. When I'm first introduced to her friends, no doubt I will shake their hands; that's not a problem, as I described above. The problem is the time after that and the time after that. If I continue to shake hands with them, they will feel very formal around me and like I'm an authority figure. I want to be the cool dad. I know a cool dad who always kisses girls on the cheek; he says "give me a kiss" whenever his daughter's friends come over. Now I'm just not smooth enough to pull this off. They'll definitely think I'm a creeper or a pedophile of some kind. I notice my dad just avoids the issue (as I probably will do) by always pretending to be doing something active so he'll say hi when they enter the house but not require any physical contact. For example, they enter the house and he'll sort of make himself busy with something in the pantry or a toolbox and yell over "Hey Catherine!"


  1. There is a difference between your own perceptions and reality. Awkwardness is imagined, not realized.

  2. I agree with the above. I can't believe I wasted a slight portion of my life reading this man's dribble.

  3. Haha, I love reading comments like Anonymous above me, how does one come about finding topics they are uninterested in? I found this interesting and funny.
    I went online to check my bank account, logged in and got directed to man on man sex. That's not what I wanted, now...I MUST COMMENT ON MY DISAPPROVAL!!!

    Calm down, stop reading, move on.

    P.S. yes, the irony is that I'm commenting on a comment, only to teach others not to be fucking morons. We teach the reason why war is bad, that doesn't mean the teacher wants more wars.

  4. I'm very late to this party, but the awkwardness is fucking real. I've been so weird about this issue that I was forced to google it, and found this page. Don't get your feminist panties in a bunch. Shaking hands in a business setting, no matter what gender combination, is totally fine. I'm cool with that.

    But what the hell am I supposed to do when I meet my male friends new girlfriend (as a woman)? Your comment about the old friend from high school especially made cringe. It's so unnatural for two young women to shake hands. My answer so far in life has been to exaggerate my actual friendliness (of which I have little) and say "Hey nice to meet you! Oh don't be shy I give hugs!". I don't enjoy doing this but it gets it out of the damn way.

    That being said, it's always safe to go with a solid fist bump.