I was struck this morning by the photographs on the front of some of the UK national newspapers of Joe Biden holding hands with his wife, Jill, and Boris Johnson doing likewise with his wife Carrie. At the risk of being controversial, why are they doing so? I can’t remember the last time I held hands with my wife, or any other adult female, in public. Parents and grandparents hold the hands of offspring and grandchildren for protective reasons. Teenagers and young adults hold hands as a sign that they are in a relationship plus it’s normally the first instance of physical contact, Step 4 of Dobson’s Twelve Steps to Intimacy, or the precursor to First Base. Young cohabiting couples hold hands to demonstrate that they ‘are still in love’ and because they enjoy the physical contact – an oxytocin moment. And some say it’s also a sign of possession. Look at the photo above. In both cases, the male hand dominates the female hand. I’m no psychiatrist or psychologist but male covering female indicates possession to me.
I see very little evidence of hand-holding between middle-aged couples in public. There’s no need to demonstrate either affection or possession publicly anymore. Similarly in old age, but if it happens I would suggest it’s for protection or stability rather than affection or possession. When I mentioned this photograph to my wife earlier this morning, her reply was that the reason Joe is clutching Jill’s hand is so that Jill can stop him falling over if he stumbles. I think my wife is right! Joe has been known to stumble.
As for Boris and Carrie, well they are newly married and Boris seems intent on agreeing with everything Joe says or does and that looks to include hand-holding.
Or maybe the whole thing was staged as a photo opportunity?
I will now step back and await the rebuttals: the accusations that I’m no longer a romantic; that I have become frumpy in my old age; that, contrary to my opinion, the traditions of romantic hand-holding are alive and well among young and old alike. But if you hurl these brickbats at me, show me the evidence!