You really like this guy. Like, a lot.
As a normal human being with thoughts, feelings and stuff like that, you're dying to know how he feels about you. But then, as a millennial who's forced to play it cool, you'd rather gauge your eyes out than just ask him.
So how the eff are you supposed to figure out how he feels about you?
Well, don't you worry your pretty little heart because there just so happens to be a ~scientific~ way for you to figure that out without ever having to have the dreaded "talk."
What is this magical ~scientific~ way I speak of? You can find out a ton about how your guy feels about you just by taking a closer look at how he holds your hands.
I spoke to respected expert in the nonverbal science of love and professor of the Udemy course, “Body Language of Love and Dating,” Vanessa Van Edwards, about what his hand-holding technique says about his feelings for you.
When he's holding your hand with your fingers just loosely interlaced.
Right off the bat, this may seem like a pretty insignificant hand-hold, but Van Edwards explains it's actually a pretty nice gesture from your partner.
This kind of grip usually happens in a social situation where it would be weird for the two of you to be overly PDA all over the place, so this is his way of showing you, and the rest of the party, that he's got you.
"In a social situation, in a way that's kind of a sweet gesture because it's saying, 'I want people to see that we're holding hands. I don't need to have a super firm grip right now, but I do want to signal to people that you're mine,'" Van Edwards explains.
Simply put, he's showing you off.
When he wraps both of his hands around yours.
Scientifically speaking, the more we touch each other, the more oxytocin we produce. In Van Edwards' words, oxytocin is the chemical that "makes us feel that warm and fuzzy safe belonging wonderful gushy feeling."
Holding hands is the first step toward experiencing that bonding feeling with someone else. And the more of your hand your partner wants to hold, the more of that wonderful, gushy feeling he wants to experience with you.
"When you have someone who wants to touch your hand with full skin-to-skin contact, like the full clasp or the double hold, literally what they're trying to do is get more of that oxytocin which is a desire for a deeper bond," Van Edwards explains.
This guy likes you. A lot.
When you're walking side-by-side and your hands brush against each other, but you're not actually holding hands.
So the two of you are walking side-by-side, and your hands occasionally and awkwardly (or maybe not so awkwardly) brush up against each other, but you're not necessarily holding hands.
As a woman, this probably feels awkward for you because we "prefer to interact face-to-face," says Van Edwards. On the other hand (hah, pun 100 percent intended), she notes that "walking side-by-side is actually quite nice for a man."
That all being said, the walking side-by-side hand-hold could be a sign that you're getting friend zoned, according to Van Edwards.
"If you're being friend zoned, that is a definite sign," she says. "It's not intimate. It's congenial, which is different than attraction or connection."
So if you and this dude are total buds, there is no need to be alarmed. But if you were hoping there was a little something more going on, this may be cause for concern.
When he holds your hand with a super firm grip.
As you can imagine, the guy who holds your hand with a tight, firm grip is really asserting his dominance over you. Especially in the beginning of a relationship.
According to Van Edwards, if you feel like your hand is being "overly squeezed or pushed down" by your partner at the beginning of your relationship, "that is a very dominant gesture."
"If someone's squeezing very hard beyond just a reassuring 'I'm here,' that is a signal of 'I want to be in control, I want to be dominant,'" she says.
This guy wants to wear the pants in your relationship.
When he lightly holds your hand with a sort of flimsy grip.
This particular hand-hold may seem like a pretty casual grip, but it's actually pretty loaded. Like the fingers loosely touching, it usually happens in a public space where the two of you can't be super PDA.
Van Edwards calls it the "check-in" sort of hand-hold. "It's his way of saying 'I know you're there, I got you.'"
It's also his subtle way of "taking ownership of you" and showing the outside world that you're his.
In terms of the chemical connection the two of you are experiencing, Van Edwards admits "it's not a huge connection," but she does think it's still "quite sweet."
When he clasps your hand fully with interlaced fingers.
As I mentioned before, holding hands releases oxytocin in your brains, boosting you and your partner's bond. The more of your hand your partner is trying to hold, the deeper the bond he's seeking with you.
In this grip, his hand is really grasping your entire hand, from palm to fingertips. According to Van Edwards, this suggests he is literally trying to get more oxytocin and develop a deeper bond with you.
This guy isn't messing around. He wants the real deal with you.
When he just goes straight for the butt grab.
As I'm sure you already guessed, this guy isn't looking for a deep, soulful connection with you.
According to Van Edwards, hand-holding is "a level of intimacy. If someone skips that step, it means that they're trying to go faster."
Now, in a relationship where your boyfriend already knows your personality, it might not be as big of an issue. But with someone you just started seeing, you could take it as a sign he doesn't really care about your interests all that much.
"He already knows what he wants. He doesn't need to gauge your personality. He's trying to skip a step," says Van Edwards. "This person might not be interested in your personality. They're not interested in learning that part."
Maybe save this guy as a fuck buddy for when you're feeling extremely desperate.
When he rests his hand on top of yours while the two of you are sitting or laying side-by-side.
So the two of you are just chilling next to each other at the movies, and he takes his hand and rests it on top of yours. What does that mean?
Van Edwards says it's like the cuddling position of spooning. She explains that they're similar in the sense that while you can spoon both ways, it's typically the more dominant person in the relationship who's the big spoon.
Even though we're using the word "dominant" here, she explains it really has nothing to do with the word at all. "It's not like, 'I am trying to show dominance.' It's more like, 'I want to be protective and I care about you,'" Van Edwards explains.
This guy wants to be your protector.
When he touches your face with one hand, while his other hand holds your hand.
OMG you guys, this one is SO intimate.
As I already explained in a couple of the other hand-holding positions, the more touch there is, the more of the desire there is for a deeper bond.
Certain parts of your body are also more intimate places to touch, especially the face and the torso. This is "why when a guy tucks your hair behind your ear, it's like you melt inside," Van Edwards explains. "To be touched on the face is a VERY intimate thing."
If a guy holds one of your hands while he touches your face, this guy is the MOST into you.