call me weird…

… I loathe shaking hands. How did this practice come about, but more importantly, how do I repeatedly refuse a hand shake? If I keep telling people I have a cold they’re going to wonder about my chronic illness and suggest I be quarantined.

Seriously though, after I have introduced myself to someone and made polite eye contact and niceties I see no need to extend my greeting to include bodily contact with a stranger. Why do we feel we need to touch each other?

Deliver me, Oh Lord, from clammy hands, limp fish, sweaty palms, and that finger grabbing hand shake.

Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just venting because I’m in a foul mood.

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  • No, not weird. I think they need to make some kind of device, discretely hidden in the sleeve cuff or something, that dispenses hand sanitizer into your palm seconds after you shake someone’s hand. People get offended when you immediately pull out the purell. But I noticed our priest doing just that the other day – so if he can get away with it…

    • It’s not so much the germs… it’s the invasion of my personal space. I don’t like touching people I barely know. It’s weird. I also don’t like the European double cheek kiss. Very disconcerting experience while in Italy.

      • Barb

        Human touch is good and important. Reach out to your fellow humans:)

        • I agree. Human touch is important. I say skip the handshake and hug, or kiss.

          • Gregg the Obscure

            Our hostess is a very attractive single young lady. That adds some other dynamics to physical contact, particularly where strange men are involved. Just sayin’ (as a strange old man myself) . . . .

        • Rosemary

          Please don’t reach out to me.

      • Chris M.

        I agree with you. I don’t like being touched, hugged, or kissed by anyone except my husband and children. I especially dislike the double cheek kiss. There’s one glad-hander at Mass who is always coming back up the side aisle while we’re in the midst of the “Lamb of God,” who touches me on the back or arm as she returns to the front pew, and every time she does that, it feels like an electrical shockand scares me.

  • My dad always said that the protestants encouraged hand-holding during prayer to keep the Catholics from making the sign of the cross…

  • robertgwirth

    Kim’s suggestion is good. I suggest a fake prosthetic hook, like Captain Hook had.

  • Dear Crescat,

    I totally agree with you. Over here in BRASIL (you know: the largest catholic country in the whole world), there is a time in the Mass when we are obligated to shake hands of each other, wishing the Peace.

    I simply HATE it, cause the same hand that I touched a stranger I will use to receive the Body of Christ (consecrated host)!…

    In spite of over here in BRASIL we are used to kiss cheeks and to give hugs, oh Lord!, I would love not to touch in anyone during the Mass!!!

    Stay in the Love of God!!
    Ana Paula~A Católica

  • Ann

    Oh I agree totally. What to do? I just pull out my hand sanitizer (well I try to be sort of discreet but how discreet can you be). I don’t care anymore. I am not trying to offend and I wouldn’t be offended if others did it as well. I don’t think anyone likes this part honestly, it just something we all feel we have to do.

  • Nathan Lucas

    Kat, you may have a way out since you live in the South (aka God’s country). If a man tries to shake your hand, sweetly inform him that “no decent Southern gentlemen would evah take a lady’s hand if she did’n offer it first. Bless her heart, didn’t your mamma teach you manners?”

    In Christ,

  • Jeanne Jorgensen

    Then Bishop Foys of Covington is going to make your day!!!!

  • Gregg the Obscure

    If you’re constantly carrying things in your hands, that’s an easy out from handshakes without being too confrontational. Even something as minimal as a handkerchief would probably work most of the time.

    If you don’t mind being thought thoroughly odd, only go out in public after first smearing ketchup/tabasco/sriracha or something else suitably red and viscous on your hands.

  • Suzanne Rutherford

    ACK. The finger grabbing handshake KILLS my soul. Either go big (and subsequently, weird me out) or go home.

  • Paige Deaner

    I hate it, too. I have an anxiety attack every week at mass when we have to show “peace” to one another. I have a condition called hyperhidrosis and my hands are, literally, ALWAYS sweaty. I just wince when I see people (particularly kids who really don’t know better) shake my hand and then wipe their hand off on their pants. It’s awful.

    • shovedtothem

      Paige, I have hyperhydrosis, too. The anxiety of having to shake hands, or worse hold hands during the Our Father creates such anxiety in me. It is literally the reason I stopped going to Mass when I was a teenager and didn’t return until my mid twenties. It is horrible.

      I now just flod my hands and nod to people during the sign of Peace if I don’t know them. Luckily, as the mom of 7, there is usually a baby in my arms and/or greeting my own little ones takes up the whole time.

  • Switch from shaking hands to the double cheek kiss like the Frenchies.

  • Dr. Eric

    I think this is why the Japanese bow to each other.

  • Suzanneslu

    I’m still in shock reading these posts….do you guys realize these ‘strangers’ are the Body of Christ?? Jesus touched people all the time!! And there are amazing scientific studies that have been done on babies who are never touched…it’s VERY detrimental to their health.

    I’m so opposite. I LOVE touching and being touched; I love the hand-shaking and if I get a cold, oh well…?? There are way worse things…like NOT being touched!

    How can people know that you love and care about them if you don’t touch them? What does it look like to the ‘stranger’ who comes to mass that you pull out your hand sanitizer and cleanse yourself after touching them?? Sorry, the whole thing seems extremely unChristlike to me. “When did we see you naked or hungry or thirsty…” or lonely in need of touch…???

    I could NOT disagree more (obviously!)


    • Rosemary

      I am not (in the usual sense) hungry, thirsty, or naked. And I am at MASS! I can exercise the horizontal aspect of “community” outside (and I do). I NEED the vertical: I am “hungry and thirsty” for HIM. I love you as my sister, but please don’t touch!

  • Seraphic

    Do I get banned if I smugly say, “Ah the joys of the Extraordinary Form!” Where I go to Mass, there is warm and hearty hand-shaking in the car park AFTERWARDS. There is also some mwah-mwah social kissing between men and ladies (always thrilling) and ladies and ladies. We not only greet strangers who linger in the car park or shyly creep into the parish hall, we introduce them to others.

    That is what normal social interaction looks like. Suddenly breaking off a religious ceremony to shake hands all around ain’t it.

  • Rosemary

    When I was a child, I hated attending our protestant church(es), because there was always a “Welcome, visitors!” handshaking frenzy. I thought it must be great to be Catholic and not have to do that. Later, I became a Baptist, and the “right hand of fellowship” was extended to me. There was lots of opportunity for holding hands during long, long prayers. Fast-forward to 1995, when I became an Episcopalian. Hurrah! No hand-holding during the “Our Father”, because we were supposed to make the sign of the cross after Our Lord’s words, “… deliver us from evil” and before the “for Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory…” Fast-forward again to RCIA in 2003, and my entry into the Church at Easter Vigil 2004. And then… the handshaking frenzy at the Peace and attempted handholding at the “Our Father”. Sigh. While I agree that touching may be good, it isn’t good if the touchee doesn’t WANT to be touched! (And the only solution to holding out grubby hands for the Body and Blood is to receive on the tongue, I think.)