Avoiding the Manshake

Sometimes a handshake lasts too long. That brief connection between two strangers can quickly turn awkwardly intimate with one too many pumps due to lack of focus. Sometimes hands are sweaty, and simply shaking hands for an appropriate amount of time can feel like too long because all you want to do is rip your hand away and wipe it on whatever is closest.

But sometimes a handshake lasts too long because the drunk old bastard at the other end of it won't let go.

As an MC for a karaoke league that takes place in the same bar every week, I'm often approached by regulars who tell me I'm doing a great job. Most of them are older men, many of them are a little tipsy, but almost all of them are sincere, considerate people.

Some of them are drunk old bastards.

The concept of "man touching," an offshoot of "mansplaining" and "manspreading," has started making its rounds on the interwebz, and it's an important conversation to have. The most common is the handshake that quickly turns into holding, stroking or kissing your hand, and that often lasts until the woman no longer minds being seen as a "bitch" and pulls her hand away.

For the purposes of consistency, let's just call this "manshaking."

The manshake is an insidious violation of personal space, because it starts off so innocently. What could be more respectful than introducing yourself and saying a kind word to another person?

The manshake quickly takes on a life of its own, usually in the moment when the woman, like a normal person, attempts to drop her hand and continue the conversation. Except, oh! Wait! We're not done shaking hands. You've now pulled me back toward you so I have to listen to the rest of your story, compliment, or invitation to bring my boyfriend along with me on the date I've just said that no, I will not be attending.

The manshake is awkward for women, even women like me who have no problem telling men in bars they've crossed a line. Because usually that guy in a bar is my peer, if only in age, and not someone roughly the age of my father or grandfather who I feel the need to respect, or at least be kind to, when they're speaking to me.

The manshake is not awkward for men because it's an extension of their privilege. It's a tactic used to keep a woman in conversation long after she wants to be. (The one exception to this, of course, is if you're a man on the other end of the shake. But that would require a lot more audacity on the part of the manshaker. Attention, manshakers: Try putting another man's hand in both of yours and then kissing it. I dare you.)

Now that we've identified and given a quirky name to the problem, let's talk about how we can avoid it.

This is the part where I provide a step-by-step process for women on how to speak or dress, or which bars to avoid, or whether or not to wear headphones in order to avoid the manshake. But when my frying pan burns my eggs, I don't wag my finger at the eggs for being too nice. I throw my frying pan on the kitchen floor and leave it there until it's learned its lesson.

Manshakers, I'm happy to apply a bit more practicality and patience to your transgression.

And here we go ...

How to Avoid the Manshake:

Step 1: Use the three-pump rule.

Guys, I know you're familiar, especially if you've ever shaken hands with a man. The only reason a handshake should last longer than a shot of whiskey is if you're secretly trying to pass her a piece of paper with launch codes for a nuclear missile.

If you've never shaken hands with a man, think about the time it takes to dry yourself off after using the urinal. Ever hear the expression "More than 3 shakes and you're playing with it?" The same rule applies to the woman whose hand you're holding.

Step 2: Pick up on context clues.

If you're really paying attention and aren't a serial killer, chances are you can read facial expressions and therefore can tell when a woman is uncomfortable. Does she smile briefly, and then immediately stop? Avoid eye contact? Is she looking behind her for help? Is her free hand grabbing the back of a chair, dragging it along in a desperate attempt to free herself? If so, let go of her hand.

Step 3: Use one hand and don't kiss it.

This is pretty straightforward: I don't care if you're her grandfather's age. Only her grandfather gets to use both hands when shaking hers, and only then if they have a mutual agreement that it's OK. And don't kiss them. She's not the pope, but she probably is covered in germs from holding on to the metro handles, handling money or not washing her hands after using the bathroom. Because women do it too.

Need something to do with your mouth? Tell her it's nice to meet her. Welcome her to the company. Congratulate her on her college diploma. Or if you're really ready to take it to the next level, how about "Ah, a nice, firm handshake. I like it."

Just don't follow it up with "You don't see that often in women."

Step 4: When in doubt, let go of her hand.

Like Elsa in "Frozen," let it go. Like Pharrell and Snoop Dogg, drop it like it's hot. The Beatles may have wanted to hold her hand, but they asked first. And they said please.

With this newfound knowledge, I urge all manshakers and future manshakers to go forth, redeemed. Together we (I mean you) can put an end to manshaking before it becomes an internet meme. Good luck out there.

Shake it up, baby.

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