Whoever who ever loved someone knows about this better than anyone else: holding a hand, is giving everything, all at once, without any caution, contract, nothing. Holding a hand, every child knows about it, is not only holding on to someone temporarily: holding your hand, it’s being attached to you, it’s inheriting from you. The more I squeeze, the more I intertwine our fingers, the more I tell you my immeasurable need, a need such as your palm is giving me informations about you. On your palm, I could read that you were someone good.
Gilles Leroy, in “Dormir avec ceux qu’on aime”
To hold someone else’s hand is to show them your affection, your protection. It is considered as a romantic gesture when we hold the hand of our significant other. For some people, this is the ultimate act of intimacy. It is also the most socially accepted public display of affection, because it’s more subtle than a kiss.
But it has a different meaning if you hold someone else’s hand in public than in dark rooms, where nobody can see you. In public, it means that you’re off the market. In private, it just shows how much you care about the other. It also indicates you don’t want to disclose your relationship to the public. If it’s the first time you hold your significant other’s hand, it just means you tried to approach him/her. This is just a maneuver to get closer to the person you long for.
To hold someone else’s hand is also a voluntarily act. It’s not an innocent gesture. We don’t hold everybody’s hand for no reason. We can hold the hand of the people next to us because we’re asked to do so, for a game for example. In some cultures, to hold someone’s else is to show him you’re backing him.
More than words, to hold someone’s hand shows how much you care for them. So, when you don’t know if he really cares for you, this could be a great signal.