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

palm of handI got this mail today. I was purely amused. With sky all jacked up the way it is, I thought you might be amused as well.

The sender  gave me permission to post this, so here you go:

Dear Elsa,

I hope this isn’t 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!

55 thoughts on “What Does It Mean When Someone Tickles Your Palm With Their Finger During A Handshake?”

    1. I agree. My Dad liked to play poker in the 50’s and 60’s and told me before he died that some players would do that over the table to him and pretend like they did nothing, and he always took it like a sexual offer, and would never react to it, but was quite aware with whom he played.

  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. 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!!

  3. 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.

    1. lol, when it happened to me i was young, pretty naive, i thought it was a secret masonic handshake and it felt more than a little slimey. what else i couldn’t figure out was how the tickle is accomplished.

  4. *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! 😀

  5. 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?

  6. 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

    1. Thats what I would do. Tho probably not in front of a whole bunch of people tho.
      I just want to make him aware that its being interpreted that way.
      It might not be intentional. He might not mean anything by it. I say give benefit of doubt.
      I might be doing him a favor telling him in private.
      After all just because Im interpreting it that way doesnt mean thats his intent. No reason not to be kind about it.
      If he is being a douche and he knows what he is doing, at least he will stop doing it to me. If he doesnt then I can raise the ante as far as stopping it is concerned.
      I personally wouldnt do it in front of other people…. sort of creating a mob mentality. Im not going to act like Im speaking for everybody which I cant.
      But I will make it stop with me.
      Im not responsible for people who are uncomfortable with it and say nothing

      1. I have a guy at work doing this to me, and I didn’t know what it meant so I looked it up and screenshot the answer I got, and “doing the dirty” is exactly what it pulled up….. so I showed him and he was acting like that’s not what it was….. I’ve had 7 people tell me that’s what it meant before I even told them where I got it from, he’s done it twice so far, the first time it wasn’t really a big deal, but after I found out what it was, he did it again, but asked me if I felt it while looking directly into my eyes. I said yeah I did. He said ok…… like what in the world?

  7. 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!

    1. Avatar
      Patricia Morrison

      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.

  8. 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???

  9. 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???”

  10. 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.

    1. haha i would do the same thing. THis would teach that person to never try that again and maybe not with another person. But maybe they see the shyer ones as easy game because they fear to say anything. I am shy alot of times so i give off that sweet demure shy vibe, but then my fire comes out and bam!! get lost creep! it sometimes scares me that i’m like that. I think my other placements get a bit freaked but also thankful. lol i have shy sweet placements normally, but that fire cannot be denied either.
      i think if i were a triple fire it would be terrible for me. I remember reading about Tyra Banks supermodel and how she is so bold and mean LOL she is Sagittarius sun Aries moon & Aries mars. xD i think if someone did that to her…. it would be with big round eyes and a nice tirade… maybe.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

    1. I belong to a retired people’s club and had the experience of a palm tickle by a 90 year old man. I told everyone and thought it was inappropriate and have since been shunned to the point that I have stopped going to the meetings. I even had one person turn her back on me when I sat beside her. Apparently, like any young person, I was just supposed to keep quiet. I am 89. So I don’t need to have a membership in any club that thinks it was my fault. Sad eh? I hope I never have to be housed in a nursing home where they have ambulatory men. I don’t know why women have to shake hands with men anyway. Equality? Not on your life.

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

    1. Never knew about this until 4 yrs ago. The guy is 69, same as me, met him almost 4 yrs ago, thought he was funny, kinda cute, but so emotionally childish behavior like that of a teenage boy in puberty. He was married over 30 yrs, divorced for 10. He has severe PPD (Peter Pan Disorder). He happens to be an employee of the place where I work, but comes here 1x weekly, as part of his job. A small male, about 5’1, 110 lbs., who says he is a Player, but that’s his “fantasy”, it was all I could do but burst out laughing when he said that. He’s no Matt Damon. Unless he’s nuts or totally stupid, he knows I’m not interested in him, but always does that finger tickle thing when he helps me get off our bus (I use a cane, slightly disabled). He gets off on making women feel he’s interested in them, then pits women against each other doing things to make them jealous. I’m beyond games and being sucked into some creeps game playing, so very obvious to me that he lures females of any age (who may be lonely, divorced, widowed) to believe he’s interested in them by touching women’s clothes as they pass by or hand coupling their waists as they walk away. He does get a few octogenarians’ interests with this so-called flirting, but I see it as the acts of a disturbed perv, plus when he has talked to me it was always to the tune of something sexual. Listening to him and watching his in-public inappropriate behavior toward women, I detest this guy. The other thing I learned about him doing my research is that he lives with a man 26 yrs younger in a one bdrm apartment. He told me when I first met him that he wanted someone to “be there” like he was lonely, lived alone, when he actually lives a man, assume his gay partner. Think he’s bi, he craves an abnormal amount of attention, and I question whether he knows the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, he takes risks normal people would not take. In order to keep this “creep” “snake” away from me, over a year ago, I stopped going to activities and events where he is in charge. He’s a sleaze ball, I’m a lady. I am wise beyond my years, I’ve known many guys with some of the same ugly characteristics, but not as openly daring and persistently nasty as this guy. Don’t need another womanizer, lying weirdo in my life. Says he likes everyone, which I suppose is the right answer for a person who seems confused as to his identity. Narcissistic sociopathic, pervs have no appeal to me. And as some other comments said, by guys mostly, he’s gay and maybe still in the closet. Have to agree with that possibility too.

  21. IT IS OBVIOUS !!! It is universal, mostly used with women. The finger is the guy’s cock scratching the girl’s vagina. We used it in high school to make fun of the other guy and find out if he was gay, “the finger is scratching the guy’s anus’ !!!
    If you are a pacific straight guy the reaction was to move the hand fast, tell the guy he was dialing the wrong number, and move away. If you were an aggressive guy it ended up in a fist fight. No action and smiling meant he was gay.

  22. This happened to me at a church program when a dear friend introduced me to her husband whom I knew because I see him at their house when I go for her Women’s group. He held my hand with both of his hands and coiled up his middle finger in my palm. He had that crazed look in his eyes that was piercing mine. I could t let go fast enough (after he released his grip with both his hands). I told her I met him at their house already and smiled and was so mad that I didn’t call him out immediately out of shock and felt ashamed! I then asked her shortly after what she would do if a married guy did that to a single woman and what she believed it meant without revealing it was her husband that did it to me. She said it sounded sexual and inappropriate and the woman should tell the guy that. Well that never happened (my telling her it was her husband nor telling g him to knock it off). Sadly, they both are leaders in the church and coincidentally, I saw her tonight in a church group tonite in a person’s home and lucky me, he sat right next to me (he also smelled like disguised alcohol on his breath). I got a trigger from the last time and moved my seat. Would have loved to expose him in front of the group leaders and forward these comments to him to get a reaction (cc to Pastor and his wife of course to him, lol). Thanks guys for validating the intentional offense.

  23. That was the signal between my birth father and his last girlfriend when it was time to get away for a bit of alone time together (to boink, I expect). One of them told me, that’s how I know.

  24. I am 89 and a 92 year old so and so did that to me at Probus Club.
    He nearly got his face slapped, but I told everyone in the club and they all shunned me so now I know that it does no good to report them at any age. It is the same as “inappropriate touching” – maybe not quite sexual assault, but it feels like you have been disrespected at the very least. Especially if it is someone you have just met. NO matter what the age. To do that is not a compliment. And especially if the person has ever known sexual assault. Way back when, boys got their faces slapped for less.

  25. My first reaction was to laugh because it read as a tickle in the palm, what the heck is that about but then reading all the context and seeing it’s also the middle finger and people do that often times with others to embarrass them or during work situations, those people know exactly what they are doing. I say react, and be sure you have a very weird reaction at it, shout something unrelated, shiver, have an opera session, spook them, get too close in their face and don’t blink at all or blink twice as fast, make them uncomfortable. I think being daring or calling out would make them do it again just to get a riled reaction and being too acommodating and nice won’t make them get the message. Some can’t handle abrupt and bizare responses but they have to be genuine and not planned.

  26. Avatar
    Elizabeth A. Morgan MORGAN

    I snapped my hand away and left the table. And when someone asked
    me why I left without saying goodbye, I told them and it backfired on me. I was treated like a stupid teen who cried because she thought she was pregnant because her date kissed her good night.
    If only….Probus is a gathering of retired Rotary big shots. I don’t need them. BORING.It just proved what I think about men. Most of them are just little boys grown big and OLD.

  27. Just means he likes you and wants to spend more time with you. I am 62 and we used to do the hand sign in Germany when you couldn’t talk or show your feelings in front of others.

  28. Thanks Barbara! Problem is, it was done by my friend’s husband right in front of her in church when she was introducing him and she didn’t even notice! So….. I never told her or anyone and I feel terrible. I stopped going to her house for Bible study and women’s fellowship ever since. If you have any advice fir post response that would be greatly appreciated.

  29. Lol! For real: The one time this happened to me, I was 21 and being introduced in a very professional setting to an actor you all know as Bond, James Bond. I was shaken not stirred, but it turned out to be bit of a set-up joke the staff, by mostly female and female VPs. The place loved pranks, and they had arranged with him to see my reaction to stress under fire as an intern. I got a full apology from all and especially from him (he was quite nice not pervy) and approved to deal with celebs that year. Nothing phased me after that, ever! Weird but true.

  30. I had become friendly with a girl at night school and she did this to me while we were holding hands. I carefully explained to her what it meant. Nothing more was said. Nothing happened.

  31. It happened to me & guess I enjoyed it lol
    Nothing more happened but before this different sort of handshake, was just unfamiliar with it. The way he looked at me was also very emotionally engaging .

  32. Probably unrelated but I remember this bit from “The Godfather” (the book, not the movie), where the actor (John/ Johnny, I think) would do this trick on a date where he’d brush the tip of middle finger between the thighs of the girl. And he’s amused at their wildly different reactions…reminds me of that!
    Dude’s probably tossing a bait & getting free entertainment 😀 😀

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll to Top