If you've been wondering what your hand-holding tendencies say about the amount of power and dominance you have in your relationship, a new study published in the Journal of Homosexuality is advising us to get a grip -- especially if you're a straight woman.
The study examined factors of hand holding behaviors in lesbian
relationships to determine if they were more egalitarian than in hetero
relationships, where men often have the upper hand -- literally. Usually,
this is because men are taller, which makes sense from an ergonomic
standpoint, but even when height isn't a factor, women tend to take the
submissive hand-holding role, resulting in subtle power plays and
probably much subconscious gloating at winning the thumb war game you
didn't know you were playing.
Researchers asked 340 women in same-sex relationships across the U.S. to fill out an online survey on the topic at hand. Participants were asked to take their partner's hand in whatever way seemed "most natural and comfortable." They were then questioned on "age, height in comparison to their partner's height, handedness, duration of their relationship, length of time living with that partner, their income, the country and state/province in which they lived, if they had previously been partnered with a male, and whom they felt had the most 'say' in decision-making."
Of all the factors examined, the two that made a difference were height and whether they dated men in the past. The taller person, once again, tended to have the dominant hand positioning. And the partner who'd dated men tended to have the submissive hand. But on the whole: "Our results suggest that hand holding position does not reflect a dominance or power differential between partners, at least within a female-female relationship," the researchers explained.
This study goes hand in hand with past research about ways gay couples are doin' it right. Of course, hand-holding positioning probably falls relatively low on your list of relationship grievances, somewhere around "keeps ripping the compost bags" and "isn't the first to like my Facebook selfies." But, it's interesting to note the subtle imbalances and gender role assumptions at work in even our most basic forms of affection.
And when it comes to power equilibrium in lesbian relationships, you're in good hands.
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