For those unfamiliar with the side-hoe (SH) debate, here’s a scenario that will explain its origins and purpose:
You see a pair of people walking down the street holding hands. What is your immediate assumption about them? Do you think they’re dating? If you do, it’s time to check yourself, because they could just as easily be friends, friends with benefits or even a pair of SHs.
Many people find this concept ridiculous, especially regarding the case of the pair of SHs. The nature of having a SH isn’t wholly understood by those who don’t have that sort of relationship. It is also unique in nature just like any other form of relationship, and thus doesn’t conform to one strict set of societal rules. So, why would someone hold their SH’s hand in public? Well, for one, maybe the main-hoe (MH) isn’t around and has little to no connection with the community the SHs are holding hands in. This can happen if the MH goes to a different college, if the SHs are on a semester abroad or if the MH is incredibly reclusive. Most people also don’t have the extremely public life of the average celebrity, so it’s not like college kids with SHs have to live in constant fear of a picture of their cheating making its way back to the MH. Furthermore, it’s possible that the MH is aware of the SH and is fine having an open relationship.
Many also seem to assume people don’t care for or love their SHs. That may be true in some cases and it could be a sex-based coupling, but no relationship can completely lack emotion and connection, especially if they persist for long periods of time. As such, it makes sense that romantic gestures like hand holding could be a part of the SH relationship. The same can be said of friends with benefits. The nature of a friends with benefits partnership calls for the platonic feelings of friends but the sexual aspects of a romantic relationship. Now, many people may consider hand holding as simply romantic and not sexual, but everyone has their kink. Don’t judge, don’t assume.
But why would friends be holding hands? Hand holding has never been exclusively romantic. People are actually raised to use hand holding as a form of connection. Mothers and fathers grasp their baby’s tiny hands when they’re first born. Children hold hands when they cross the street and sometimes just when they walk together. Oftentimes, men are taught by society that hand holding isn’t something they’re allowed to do with other men. It is taught to be emasculating. Women, on the other hand, can continue holding hands with their friends of the same sex far into adulthood. It is a sign of support during hard times or sad movies. It is a way of saying, “I’m here for you.” This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dating or that they’re into each other. It just means they are demonstrating their shared connection.
So next time you see a pair holding hands on the street, don’t just assume what their relationship entails. Just keep walking.
Rebecca Maher is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.