What Does It Mean When Someone Tickles Your Palm With Their Finger During A Handshake?

palm of handI got this mail today and was purely amused. With sky all jacked up the way it is, I thought you might be amused as well. We need all the fun we can get. Further, maybe you can help!

This gal gave me permission to post this, so here you go:

Dear Elsa,

I hope this isnt a stupid question, but I am DESPERATE!!!! My dearest female friend is living with a man who, when he shakes my fiance”s and my brother’s hand, tickles their palm with his middle finger. What on earth does that mean? He’s done it 3 times to my fiance!!!! For the love of God HELP!!! He also likes Boy George, clothes, and rearranging the furniture.

Freaked and Confused

So what do you think? Come on people! Help her out!

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What Does It Mean When Someone Tickles Your Palm With Their Finger During A Handshake? — 70 Comments

  1. This is hilarious. See, he acts creepy, then acts like nothing happens. This is hilarious.

    Just play along with him. If I was your fiance the next time the guy tickle my hand, I’ll whisper, “…oh you sexy beast,” And lick my lips.

  2. It doesn’t matter what it means to him as long as it means nothing to you. There appears to be nothing obscene, profane or vulgar about the behavior. let him have his fun, that is, unless someone is being aroused by the action.

  3. He’s a mind fuck. Likes to play with people and their expectations. Years ago I was taught a trick to use on men that have issues with women in a male dominated field. I have a strong handshake, but they like the “squeeze hard and long” competition. I have small hands. SO: take strong, small handed woman, shake hands with “big strong guy” but when you shake turn your palm up and his down after you are firmly in the handshake. It’s an agressive way of telling him that he can dominate but that you’ve choosen that.

    I only did it once to a contractor that I had issues with. He cleaned up his act right quick. And yes, a man taught me that.

    Same type of game. I’d start to wonder what other types of games he plays or would like to play. I’m not necessarily speaking of sexual games either. I’m thinking more along the lines of emotional, mental games. I’d say that I find it a strange, unsettling behavior and “m.”‘s suggestion of playing with him, LOL great response!!

  4. well…. i even wiki-ed this under a couple of things and gestures give ‘social significance’ of this sort of non-verbal communication but no direct reference to this one sign i could find. not that i don’t already know what it means but checked the urban dictionary/encyclopedia on wiki to see if it was illustrated. *grin*
    i went and did it to the hubby… who of course immediately perked up…. ‘oooo, we doin’ the nasty?!!’ cause of course, everyone knows it is the universal ‘do the nasty’ with me sign. but i was double-checking… for accuracy.

  5. All comments on Boy George and furniture rearranging aside, I weigh in on the side of “bizarre but ineffective sexual innuendo.” I like how Stevie researched this, too *big grin*

    Question is … whether it is, or whether it’s not, what now? I like M’s idea myself, but I’m that way. C’s idea is cool, too, and still I”m not sure if it would work.

    In all the ways I’ve ever been hit on, I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen someone use that sign since, oh middle school, maybe high school. Kind of strange on his part.

  6. *lol* I agree with Stevie, that’s the sign I always use when feelin’ randy! But, it’s not universal and this particular guy could just be doing it _because_ it makes people uncomfortable, like someone else mentioned.

    Either ask him or let it go. Both are equally valid, but the only person who can tell you what he means by it is _him_ since it’s not a common gesture. I’m not the kind of person to play games, like m. suggested – although, if that’s your style, go with it!

    BTW, you’ve gotta let us know! I’m dying of curiousity over here! 😀

  7. The MIDDLE FINGER people.

    When I want to secretly tell people F.O I scratch my nose with my middle finger. But I teach English to Armani Suits, so what do you expect?

  8. Well, I’m a Capricorn, so I tend to be blunt and to the point, and I’m Gemini rising so talking about stuff hardly ever scares me, so if it were me? I’d immediately initiate a conversation about it–in pleasant conversational tones–with everyone in the group standing around. “So I can’t help but notice that every time we’ve shaken hands … Were you aware that to most people that means …?” That sort of thing. All said with a smile, of course.

    This guy is a creepy little game player imho, and if you call him on it and bring it out into the open, he’ll probably back off.

    As for liking Boy George, well honey, not everyone has good taste. :-p

  9. 😛 Quite funny indeed.
    He seems to be an undercover gay guy, looking for other undercover gay men around.
    If I had the guts or the naivity to make it sound honest, I would take Ronda’s approach, it’s nice and distant at the same time, it would leave him disarmed and hopefully he would quit trying to hook up with the your men. Or you could have one of your men play his game and see how far he goes 😀 but that could be too cruel. how much does he diserve it? is he dating your friend or is he just a housemate? It’s up to you.

  10. “when he shakes my fiance”s and my brother’s hand, tickles their palm with his middle finger. What on earth does that mean? He’s done it 3 times to my fiance!!!! For the love of God HELP!!! He also likes Boy George, clothes, and rearranging the furniture.”

    Here……let me get that (arm reaching up to pull light chain that dangles from a 3,569 watt bulb in the bedroom closet.)

    Now…..we can see.

  11. I think the problem is with the fiance. See, someone does something that disturbs me, I tell that person to fuck off, I don’t tell my fiance for help. What’s that about? I mean, I don’t get it. Everyone is acting like this creepy little guy has soooo much power and no one else can do anything. No, creepy little guy knows EXACTLY what he’s doing and fiance knows too and it’s all a matter of telling him, Yo, stop.

    Make believe, for instance, that creepy little guy were a woman. Imagine if she were to do that to your fiance. Wouldn’t you want him to tell the woman, Yo, babe, don’t go there? What would you say if your fiance said, Gee, honey, this woman is coming on to me and I just don’t know what to do. Please help me.

    So, fiance and creepy little guy are on the same page, if you ask me.

  12. When I was in like 6th grade, some dork did this to me. I’m 50 now but I still remember. The word around the lunchyard was that he wanted to fuck me. Duh!

    • When the people involved are in their 70’s I believe that holding a woman’s hand and continuously make a circular motion in her palm means he wants to have sex with you. Even when you tell the man you don’t want your hand to be held and he continues to say you have warm hands and his are cold; there is definitely a sexual connotation involved.

  13. Ok guys, I’m the one that emailed this question. Jamie and Marly, you kill me!!! True enough, Marly, my Dude should have said something IMMEDIATELY, you’re absolutely correct. Jamie, I’m hearing you say I,m in the dark maybe??? Come on!!! I’ve never even heard of this shit happening before!!!! My brother almost hit him!!! Yeah, it does sound like a mind game kinda thing. Too bizarre. He moved in with my friend and her 2 daughters 3 months ago. They havent even known each other for a year!!! More comments, anyone???

  14. Hey there, Rose. No, I was not saying so much that you are in the dark as this “Boy George” lovin’, furniture arranging, clothes hog NEEDS to “come out of the closet”.
    I have to tell you that if a female friend did this to my man she’d be missin’ a digit….or two. My advice is to not wait for “Boy George” lover to come out of his bedroom closet and declare his sexual orientation. This is what I’d do…….
    As he’s fingerin’ other people’s property quickly (but graciously) escort him to the FRONT door.
    Good Luck!


  15. Hi Mere. I may be totally wrong but one thing is for certain…….he is disrespectful to the people he calls ‘friends’… and of course to the woman he is living with. I am not implying that just because he is bi or gay or whatever that warrents any kind of aggression in this situation…and I do not want anyone reading this to think that.
    I merely would do to him what I would do to any female fingerin’ my property….show ’em (permanantly) to the door. Now….if the other party does not mind the fingerin’ then there is the problem ( just as Marly pointed out)….not the furniture arranging fingerer. Does that make sense?

  16. Whoa that’s freaky! It made me laugh but if I were in those shoes I’d be annoyed. If someone continuously did that to me I would not touch him anymore, or when he did it again, loudly say, “WHY DO YOU KEEP RUBBING MY PALM WITH YOUR FINGER???”

  17. Anyone touched by this person should totally and unembarassedly pull his/her hand back like they’ve been electrocuted and say “Eww..” like “you are completely disgusting and I seriously don’t care what it “means” but you are doing something weird and inappropriate and I am having none of it.”

    No mercy. Humiliate the hell out of him. I am too fair to be taken advantage of pschcologically/socially, so pull that sh*t at your own risk.

  18. He’s dodgy!

    My ex boss used to take someone’s hand to shake and then with the other rub the inside of their wrist with one finger. He was the strangest person I have met and he had no boundaries – professional or personal. He used to try to make me talk about other colleagues and get angry when I said I wasn’t comfortable talking about people behind their backs.

  19. Next time he does it, your guy should just ask him in front of everyone, “Why are you tickling my hand with your middle finger?” If he denies it point out that he has done the same to him on three occasions. Weather he is bi or not, he needs to know this behavior makes others uncomfortable. Confronting him is the best way to get him to stop and realize that his behavior is immature and inappropriate, no matter what meaning is behind it.
    Your female friend may already know about and have accepted his sexuality. I wouldn’t make an issue of it with her. If she wants to express her concerns to you, lend an ear, but let her make her own choices.

  20. He’s an ASSHOLE for one thing. He is also JUVENILE. That was funny in the 5th grade!!! I’m a pretty mild person, but if someone did that to me as an adult I would think they might be risking a good slap to the side of the face.

  21. We did that on the playground when I was a kid.
    We innocently referred to it as “The French Handshake.”
    It meant that we liked someone and would love to have sex with them.
    Unfortunately at the time, none of us really knew the actual mechanics of sex.
    We just thought we were acting grown-up.
    I looked up the definition in The Urban Dictionary and it was described as “An act of shaking someone’s hand with the right hand and squeezing their balls with the left.”
    We sure weren’t doing that!

  22. Hey Loons, I slapped a man who tried to kiss me last Friday! Not in the face tho.
    I have what I call a ‘slap reflex’…I’d pull back and give a swipe with my paw before I blinked next. One of the nice things of Aries Mars opposed Pluto. I have unfortunately been groped inappropriately too many times to count but I’m happy to say I fight back.

  23. Australia: I wonder if you have something there, about the Freemason handshake. My husband’s friend is a Mason, and I don’t usually hang out with them when they go out, but the few times I did he has scratched the inside of my wrist while shaking hands. We were out with a group, though, and I watched to see if he did it to anyone else and he didn’t. Creeped out, I told my husband and asked what he thought, but he said that his friend is probably just messing with my head. He has done it 3 times, and I just act like I don’t notice.

  24. My husband and I were out with a group of our friends two nights ago. We all grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. I was taught that the meaning to that kind of handshake was “lets have sex”. My husband did that to one of the women as we were leaving the bar. I happened to be right behind and saw her jump up, say “oh, I know what you want” and then she ran over to my husband and grabbed him in the ass. I was so shocked that I went over to her and said “what did he do to make you do that?” She grabbed my hand and rubbed her middle finger over my palm. When We drove home, I confronted my husband. He tried to bullshit me by saying that his Grandfather who he respected taught him that and it meant to “raze” someone. He claimed that he was doing this to men as well. I looked it up online and the Mason’s do this handshake from brother to brother but only if they are challenging each other. I called my husband’s mother who is in her 70’s, she said “what a creep”. She also told me that the grandfather was a terrible womanizer. I am sick of my husband. He is always pulling some kind of bullshit around women and then trying to make me think he is innocent (or that I am dumb). The fiance is not gay, he is an asshole! You can only take so much from them. Your friend will get like me and get sick of it after a while and start calling him to the carpet. Don’t worry, friends can’t stop friends from sleeping with and marring assholes, only assholes take care of this problem in the end. It is called divorce!

  25. theres this guy at my youth group, hes older and he does that to me and many other kids including boys, now ive asked around, asked my parents and they all say it means he wants to have sex. but the thing is hes from kenya….so idk if theres a different meaning or what….

  26. I shudn’t say this but I have seen this for years and most of the people have only 2 freaky conclusions : either the other person has some ‘fuck’in intention or they are snatching ur luck by rubbing the finger against ur palm. Not sure what exactly it means but even i believe in this ‘luck’ thing.

  27. lmao! Wow looks like I’m not the only naive person left out there. But really how many other clues does she need. lol…..

  28. Hey everyone…this may (or may not) be shocking but the palm tickle is a western perversion of an ancient mating practice done by women in a west African tribe.

    The men line up in full gear, livestock in tow (a measure of wealth), then a woman approaches. As she walks down the line to measure their status and health by visual examination, she’ll face the one she wants and then tickle his palm. Only if she does that will they then mate for life.

  29. I just came back from a party, and i met by luck a guy i know from facebook, we have eachother on facebook and we both cant remember how we know eachother, and it was the 1st time for us to meet in real life, then he asked where u from, how old r u blah blah. Then we exchanged numbers, and when he made shakehand with me, he tickled my palm with his middle finger. And i couldnt understand what that means?! Then i googled it and google brought me to this page! Does he really want to have sex with me? Cant believe it!!

  30. When I studied Othello in college, I read that Iago does that to Desdemona when in one scene she comes ashore (Act 2, Sc 1 perhaps). I asked the teacher at the time if it meant Iago was propositioning D. The teacher fained ignorance. Now, after all those years, I cannot find a printing of the play that features that act by Iago.

  31. I have had experiences at 3 different times with three different men, all much younger than me. Someone that I know at church shook my hand and looked into my eyes and I distinctly felt his finger on my palm for a moment or two..There were two other younger men, much younger do that to me. I felt very uncomfortable but when it happened today, I had to search it on the internet.

  32. Oh my lord, I feel violated! lol. I am a sports photographer (female) who is 28 but looks ten years younger. I just photographed a basketball team (high school boys) and got this handshake and had no idea what it meant. lol. BUT … my husband ( a completely straight man) is a member of an engineering fraternity and I think their “secret handshake” is really similar, i think they press the palm or inside of the wrist… something subtle. That would make sense with the FreeMasons line of thinking. Wow though… I have no intentions of being a Mrs. Robinson!!! These young kids freak me out! That’s really aggressive/forward of a kid…

  33. It may be true that your actions impresses or Priding some thing in you like beauty,glamor etc Want to make your attention towards him. Anything is possible in optimistic manner.

  34. Went to korean restaurant with my wife as we do it every weekend, we always shake hands with female owner ,but since the male owner dies 3 weeks ago, the female owner shook my hand and looked into my eyes and felt her finger on my palm and kept staring at me from the distance What does it mean when someone tickles your palm with their finger during a handshake? Is it sexual or kind of grieving. I’m confused.

  35. I always thought it was a nasty invitation to intimacy. I work for this company for over three years now, and my manager has always been nice to me. And about a month ago he shaked my hand and rubbed my palm with the tip of his middle finger,”. It disgusted me and everything went downhill since then. Just like Abel above, i felt he was trying to tell me something with that secret rub. It is a work enviroment, and it did make me feel very uncomfortable, things are going downhill now. I know he had a trial for sexual harrassment at his previous place he managed. So just to make sure, i went online to see what this handshake means, and found three result in a row sayings its a way to feel out gay people.
    Im not shaking his hand anymore, and he seems to make this place hell for me, i know its my word against his, but if anyone has any comment or suggestions regarding my situation i would be greatly thankful.

  36. I should have researched it many months back. A fool at a meditation camp gave me this middle finger handshake and then he claimed that he was embarassed at having to talk to me in public at all. Later on this man ran around scolding me for talking to him in public by saying that “Do you know what people are saying about you? I should beat you up”… It left me bewildered as I did not know what wrong I had done, I did not know he was secretly hankering for sex and also at the same time trying to blame me. In short he and his bunch of creepy friends who always enjoyed ragging single girls or trying to trap them for sex were playing such games with a lot of other single, divorced or widowed women. Be assured its a creepy way to hit on the opposite person. My insight about this ex-military weirdo is that the person who does this doesn’t have courage to tell anything straight. If he thinks you will allow him sex this is the best way for him to hide and later on blame that it was you who wanted it. They will suggest but never come out and openly say it. And although they are initiating this strange game they DO NOT HAVE COURAGE to be open about it and say they want it. Secret stupid handshakes only help them think that the other person encourages or accepts their sexual overture even when that person may know nothing about its secret meanings.

  37. I know all of you know what it means when a woman tickles your palm while shaking your hand. she wants you and its up to you. you either go for it or bail like a wimp. good luck guys. she is giving a green light. now you guys know what that means??

  38. I had a man do this to me. I was at a client site to fix their network and met “the boss”. He gave me that handshake and I never knew what it meant. I suspected as much though. The guy was a creep.

  39. It’s an invitation to have sex quite alright, and if I were you, I’ll tell her never to ever shake him again. Two guys have done that to me and I told them I’ll never ever shake them again. One apologized, d other just happened yesterday! It’s really euwwwwie!

  40. When I was 15, I was hanging out at a new friends house in the last week of school, her step dad had just finished summarizing the pool, a week early. She, I and a few other girls decided to go swimming, I didn’t have a suit with me, so I swam in my cotton shorts and tank top. When my mom stopped by to pick me up, I was soaked and the wind had begun to blow, it was cold, her dad reached over and grabbed his rather expensive leather professional sports team jacket (I don’t remember the team) and placed it over my shoulders; then hollered back to his wife that he was going to walk the girls out. When we got out to the car he opened the door for me, leaned in and told my mom, “we just love having your daughter here, she is such a great influence on our daughter, we’d love to have her around all the time.” He then squeezed my hand, shook it playfully, and did the hand tickle thing, while looking into my eyes with longing and a hard on. I was shaken, and annoyed, not sure what the hand thing meant but equally appalled and certain what the rest of it meant; I looked at my new friend (she had seen the whole thing, she rolled her eyes and shrugged); I asked my mom and dad when I got home what the hand thing meant and they both replied, “It means he wants to shag you!” My mom said, “I wouldn’t be caught alone with that man, and my dad added, your not going back to that house again.”
    I never forgot it, so creepy. Now, I call people out if they pull that kind of shit. I usually humiliate them, sometimes their just playing and they laugh it off; either way, I don’t care, I don’t like games.

  41. Someone did that to me yesterday at work and right now i regret for keeping quiet about it. It made me feel so stupid and how could another man enjoy such a thing. Its definitely gay and communicating “i am ready any time”
    Next time i don’t care i will tell them right away and its definately some kind of abuse if one isn’t careful. Its like another man patting u in the butt like some kind of game and would u smile about that?

  42. That palm tickle (usually with middle finger) while shaking hands (or sometimes when holding hands) very definitely is the person signalling a covert (but strong) sexual desire. It has been around at least since the late 1950s (and my wife had it done to her on more than one occasion by a junior high school teacher back in mid 60s.

  43. A somewhat related question that I have is….

    What does it mean in a bowling league environment where everyone else is doing high fives (strikes or difficult spares picked up), or fist bumps (spares not made), that most of the times my partner (who started out as a sub and I don’t know real well) instead does this?

    They hold their hand out flat and horizontal with palm down. When I respond with my hand out flat and palm down, instead of a high five, they slide their fingertips across my palm and fingertips in a single stroking movement. And that’s whether it’s a high five situation or a fist bump situation.

    I haven’t really paid much attention before now as there’s only been like 3 games to this point, but it’s hit me how consistent it is and has me now wondering if that (whatever it’s called – it seems to be like something modified from part of a Dap greeting) action is a flirting maneuver (we are opposite sexes).

    Especially with the fact that they DO high five and fist bump the other members of the team (and persons on team being played occasionally) when appropriate – and never does the “palm stroke” with them!

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