When two straight men hold hands.

Via David Romanelli
on Aug 9, 2011
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Driving through the streets of Cochi, India, in the winter of 2006, I saw two guys, mid-twenties, rather masculine in their appearance, on a leisurely stroll. They were conversing, laughing, have a grand old time. But something was different. These two guys were holding hands.

The guide proceeded to tell me that it’s very normal for men to hold hands in India, and it’s weird that in America, men do not hold hands. That comment stuck with me for many years.

The other day I was at the Exhale yoga studio after my yoga class. A male student who frequents my class was perusing the books in the boutique. He’s a really nice guy and I figured: he always comes to my class, maybe he’d like to hold hands while looking at the books. After all, it is a yoga studio and yoga is from India, and it is OK for men to hold hands in India.

A few moments later, I saw another friend from the yoga studio getting a tea in the lobby. I stopped putting on my shoes and thought to myself: what better time to hold hands then while getting a refreshing tea.

As I left the Exhale yoga studio, I saw a gentleman sitting at a patio table. I introduced myself and figured: hey, this looks like a kind soul, I think I’ll sit down and chat, and maybe hold hands.

And finally, later that night, I was watching the Lakers game with a buddy. Ever so excited, we high-fived and continued watching the game. I thought to myself: this is so wonderful, two friends livin’ the moment, rooting on our favorite team…I think I’ll try to hold his hand.

I asked my friend to covertly film all four attempts at holding hands. Please take a moment to watch the video.


You might have read the book “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor, who had a stroke and lost access to much of her left brain. In it, she describes losing the ability to rationalize, analyze, project into the future and dwell on the past.

While a stroke might sound horrible, the author describes a totally refreshed view on life characterized by a pure state of being.

Taylor points out that she no longer perceives herself as a single, solid entity with boundaries. Taylor now understands at the most elementary level that she is fluid, and that the right brain relishes its attachment to the eternal flow. This “eternal flow” is a vital nutrient, without which the spirit starves and withers.

As it stands now, we think too much and our culture of stimulation makes it impossible to stop. Amidst the mind’s noise, we are losing touch with our emotions, with our intuition, with the flow that moves through everyone and everything.

When deciding to hold another’s hand is based on their sex, one is trapped in a world of single, solid entities, a world of illusion. However, when one perceives the eternal flow, he sees beyond boundaries.

So…to all men out there who wish to take the test and see if they truly feel the eternal flow, go up to another man (preferably a drunk at an NFL football game), and grab their hand. The drunk man might punch you, or pour beer on you, or possibly kick you in the balls. But know that deep down, their spirit thanks you. At the level of spirit, we are all one.


About David Romanelli

David "Yeah Dave" Romanelli has played a major role in pioneering the modernization of wellness in the United States. He believes wellness and feeling good is so much more than fancy yoga poses, green juice, and tight-fitting clothes. Dave launched his career fusing ancient wellness practices with modern passions like exotic chocolate, fine wine, and gourmet food by creating Yoga + Chocolate, Yoga + Wine, and Yoga for Foodies.  His work has been featured in The Wall Street JournalFood + Wine, Newsweek and The New York Times; and his debut book, Yeah Dave's Guide to Livin' the Moment reached #1 on the Amazon Self-Help Bestseller List. Dave's new book launches in Fall 2014 from Skyhorse Publishing. Check out his new show Yeah Dave! brought to you by Scripps Network, the people behind The Food Network, Travel Channel, HGTV, and more.  He is a current contributor to Health Magazine, Yoga Journal, and various other publications. Discover more about his journey on www.yeahdave.com.


9 Responses to “When two straight men hold hands.”

  1. tanya lee markul says:

    Yes — take the test!!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
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  2. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  3. Joe says:

    However, regarding the headline of the post, how do you know that any of the four guys whose hands Romanelli tried to hold were "straight"? Hmmmm?

  4. Sandy Gross says:

    Love you ,Dave, and your unique approach to making us think. Nice to see you here on Ele! XO

  5. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  6. Oh my God, how I loved that video. Dave, you're coming to Nashville and I will be over to say hello. I'm a fan. Hilary

  7. Nate says:

    Perhaps at least the three men from the yoga studio reacted the way they did because they don't know you that well. It appears from your video that the NFL friend found your attempt to hold his hand more as a joke. The other three men may have been uncomfortable with the sudden intrusion on their personal space. I have absolutely no problem with hand holding, but I only hold hands with people I know really well (and admittedly, none of them are men).

    I wouldn't really predict any different of a reaction if you tried to grab the hand of a woman who you knew at about the same level as these men, though. I always thought hand-holding in India was reserved for friends, just as it usually is in the west. Perhaps you should come up with a better way to control for the stranger factor and do the experiment again!

  8. […] relating, especially for men. Look at the snarky remarks made whenever anyone mentions anal sex. Or the brutal jokes told in reference to gay men. In fact, the phrase ‘To be fucked over’ implies that you were a dumbass who put out and got […]

  9. aitch says:

    Non-consensually trying hold a man's hand is just as intrusive and creepy as non-consensually trying to hold a woman's hand. And the whole non-gendered "flow" "oneness" thing? Doesn't work. Should a female yoga student react the same way to a male yoga student putting his hand on her without permission during a yoga class offering to "help out" as to a female student doing the same thing? Non-consensual touch can be anything from icky to downright scary, and gender matters.