Social Question

livelaughlove21's avatar

Ladies: Do you have an aversion to the "dead fish" handshake?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (15623points) January 12th, 2013 from iPhone

A lot of men feel that the way in which another man shakes his hand says a lot about him. A firm handshake with just one or two “shakes” is preferable and a man with a weak or “dead fish” handshake must be a wuss or effeminate.

Now, I find this whole occupation with handshakes silly but I notice that, when shaking a woman’s hand, this concept doesn’t come into play. I’ve never gotten a firm handshake from a man. It’s always soft and mostly fingers, if that makes any sense.

I’m curious as to what women think of this. Seems to me like some women might be offended if a man thinks she’s to fragile and feminine to get a firm handshake.

A handshake is such a small thing, but a lot of the men I know put a lot of meaning behind it. Why do you think this is?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

28 Answers

Judi's avatar

I hate a limp handshake. My dad wrote a poem about it,
There was a man who shook my hand and gripped it like he meant it
Another man shook the same one and left a dishrag in it.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

I think people put too much thought into it, because that what society says we should do. All of this macho bullshit is just bullshit Men aren’t supossed to cry or hug each other unless we are patting each other on the back. We all just need to be ourselves. Let the hand crushers be the hand crusher and let the dead fish be the dead fish.

Good question, by the way.

Judi's avatar

But a limp handshake IS an immediate turn off to this girl.
Hey, some girls are turned off by facial hair, and some by a limp handshake. It’s a personal preference I guess. Grosses me out.

Sunny2's avatar

I prefer a warm firm, but not crushing, handshake. I have a very negative impression of those with a with a soft, utterly limp hand shakes. Unless you have a physical problem that makes you unable to shake a hand, take my hand and give it a firm gentle shake. Whatsamattayou?

SavoirFaire's avatar

It’s worth noting that some people who do fine detail work with their hands either avoid shaking hands or only do so limply to prevent even minor damage. I know several professional guitarists and a painter who never shake hands at all.

Bellatrix's avatar

I’m not fond of a limp handshake. If you are going to shake hands, make it confident without being aggressive. I can absolutely see @SavoirFaire‘s point about people choosing not to shake at all and that’s preferable to a ‘limp fish’ handshake.

More offensive to me are men who have actually told me not to shake hands because I am a woman! Now that is freakin’ offensive. Sexist .. (switching rant mode off now).

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Definitely, from any person of any gender

augustlan's avatar

I don’t like a half-assed handshake from any gender. If you don’t want to shake hands at all, that’s perfectly fine…but if you’re gonna’ do it, do it right.

Paradox25's avatar

As a guy who has shaken many hands of both sexes I’d never realized that we (guys) are judged even by how we shake another’s hand. I have very strong hands and I tend to give a weaker handshake to both men and women out of fear of squeezing too hard, because it can be difficult to judge at times considering that different people have different tolerences.

@Self_Consuming_Cannibal I agree with you and as a guy I too wish I could just be myself. Unfortunately even many women who identify themselves as feminists and progressives still hold men to the same macho standards as do their more conservative counterparts.

Berserker's avatar

Don’t know what to think about it much, other than one thing. I’ve had very firm handshakes from both sexes, as well as many wussy handshakes from both. I may have been traumatized by King of the Hill, but I kind of figure that when I get some lame weakass handshake, it means the person isn’t happy to be making my acquaintance. I don’t get offended by it because I don’t mind if people don’t feel like dealing with me or meeting me, and I sure don’t feel like doing the same with many people.
Of course, some people aren’t comfortable with physical contact, and they can’t be faulted for this. Handshake are pretty formal, so that means not everyone can do it honestly.

What I don’t get is how a lot of guys have crazy handshakes that are like, fist bumping followed by finger wrangling and shit, like some kind of synchronized badass hand ballet. Can’t you just say hi like everyone else lol? but actually I think those are pretty cool, just gettin’ off topic here…

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

@Paradox25 To quote Metallica, “Sad but true.”

Berserker's avatar

also, zombie fish

augustlan's avatar

Totally stealing “synchronized badass hand ballet”.

Shippy's avatar

Ooh no, I was in business for years, female or not, I nearly broke their knuckles.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Not that I shake womens hands often, but if I do, I give them the same firm handshake that I would a man. I can’t help but lose a lot of respect for someone right off the bat if they give me that dead fish wet noodle hand shake.

Unbroken's avatar

I don’t shake a lot of hands. I generally avoid it if I can.

However I find myself often completely taken aback by the handshakes I do get.

The limp wet noodle handshake. I immediately let go because I usually have a firm grip. I feel immediately bad because I wonder if I hurt them.

If a limp handshake is immediately followed by a firm one I then I usually get it wrong twice because I am in self correct mode and over compensate with a weak one.

I do worry about too strong of a grip. I have unintentionally hurt a few people whether their handshake was weak or not.

I find that based on whatever information you recieve in the say 30 seconds before a handshake is not adequate to predict how fragile or what type of shaker they are. If there are a other handshakes going around I will observe and inform myself that way to the best of my ability.

The limp handshake is annoying either because it is contrived or lacks any warmth or just peaks of physical weakness/fraility which I don’t believe is anything to profess to strangers.

whitenoise's avatar

I shake a woman’s hand different from a man’s hand. That’s the way I was raised.

With men, I would shake hands as if we are both putting on a glove. Both our hands are similarly held and offered.

A woman’s hand, I shake slightly different. The back of her hand would be slightly up, as if she offered me her hand. I would never give weak grip, but more importantly I will always look at someone when I do.

The essential difference is with men, I shake hands with a guy, with women, I hold the hand of a lady.

Hope it makes sense and I never had the impression any woman I’ve met was looking for a different handshake.

Pachy's avatar

I was taught to use a firm but never crushing handshake with both men and women, and that’s what I do. I’ve never admired men who seem to seem to be trying to prove how manly they are by crushing my hand, but limp handshakes from both genders are a real turnoff to me.

bossob's avatar

A firm handshake from a woman conveys a sense of self-confidence to me, and my interest in getting to know that woman instantly rises a notch.

A limp handshake from a man reduces my interest in him. I have to be careful to give Mr. Limp Handshake a second chance.

tups's avatar

I never thought there was any difference between the genders when it comes to handshake? A handshake is a handshake, no matter who gives it. I don’t like dead, soft handshakes and I don’t like those handshakes that’s trying to crush my bones. I think handshakes means a certain amount of a lot. It’s like body language and eye contact. This is if we’re talking about normal, platonic business- like, saying-hello- handshakes.

If we’re talking about giving handshakes to a romantic interest, it’s another case.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

I’ve noticed that some men try to be gentle when they shake hands with women. It’s as if they’re afraid of squeezing too hard, crushing our hands, and hurting us. I cringe and wince, inwardly, when a guy gives me a limp handshake, but I also try to cut him some slack; I remember that this might be his attempt to be polite.

I’ver never, ever been given the “dead fish” by a woman.

tedibear's avatar

I don’t know if it’s an aversion, but I don’t like a limp, wimpy handshake from anyone. The other thing I don’t like is when a woman does what I call “puppet hand.” The top of the hand is up and the fingers are forward, the thumb sort of underneath. (It looks like you’re going to make a snake head shadow puppet on a wall.) It looks like the woman is offering her hand to be kissed. And when it’s two women it just looks dorky. (IMHO) Just shake hands for heaven’s sake!

burntbonez's avatar

A woman’s hand is smaller. I don’t want to crush it. So I hold it firmly, but do none of that how hard can you crush my hand stuff that men do. Women are all different in how they return the handshake. Sometimes it is firm and sometimes limp. I’m not sure this is related to personality, and I am not aware of treating women with different handshakes differently.

Judi's avatar

My first husband used to chastise me for my firm handshake saying it was not ladylike.
I modified it for him and although it pisses me off that I did it for him I like my new handshake. When someone offers their hand I take it in both hands, hold it fairly firmly but not tight and look into their eyes. It’s natural to me now.
He died 24 years ago.

Uberwench's avatar

I don’t see any point in investing deep meaning into a rote social convention that varies so widely by culture. Some cultures think a firm handshake is polite. Some think only a weak one is polite. Just get over it and keep in mind that what you’re enacting is the human equivalent of a dog rolling over on its belly.

livelaughlove21's avatar

This seems like a good time for me to finally chime in. I have to agree with @Self_Consuming_Cannibal and @Uberwench on this one. I don’t see how you can tell what type of person someone is based on how hard they squeeze your hand. It just seems silly and, quite frankly, petty to lose respect for someone based on something like this.

Now, my husband and father both put a lot of weight on the handshake issue with other men, so I know just how common this stance is. I just find it extremely offensive that a man with a weak shake is automatically considered a physically weak, effeminate, cowardly wuss. All of this based on what? Yep, hand squeezing.

I’ll admit that I prefer a firm handshake from both sexes, but I don’t feel negatively toward the person if I don’t get that. It just feels better firm; I can’t really explain it. I don’t invest a lot of thought into it after the shake is over though.

One thing I don’t like is when a man gives me that finger hold princess handshake, where the top of my hand is pointed up, because I’m a woman. Are you going to kiss my hand now? Or are you just afraid you’ll break my wittle fragile hand, you big macho man? I don’t identify as a feminist, but this offends even me. It’s not the shake, it’s the reason that particular shake is used.

whitenoise's avatar


What is the reason behind it, that is wrong? Is it that the shake difference is based in gender?

Then… are dresses and lipstick wrong? These are also typically reserves for women.

When I climb a set of stairs, I will go in front of a female companion, behind if I go down. I will hold the door for her, go into a bar first, etceteras. There are a lot small etiquettes that I’ve been taught to uphold. These have nothing to with macho behavior, trust me.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@whitenoise Well, that’s nice, but I don’t find those things necessary. Just because I have a vagina doesn’t mean I need special accommodations by men – especially random men I don’t know. Clothing isn’t even a comparison here, so I’m not sure what the connection is. Tampons are also made for women, but I’m quite partial to those.

Getting the door held open for me doesn’t bother me, though it’s unnecessary. (I also don’t automatically assume a man that does it is a “gentleman”.) However, the handshake bothers me more because it’s based on my gender, yes, but moreso because it seems to be based on some notion that I’m delicate and fragile and can’t handle a normal handshake. I almost expect the guy to curtsy in front of me when this happens. It’s just one of those things. Like I said, I don’t think much about it afterward.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther