- Indigo Stray Conger, LMFT, Indigo Stray Conger, LMFT, is an AASECT-certified sex therapist and relationship therapist. She works closely with her clients to achieve their unique vision of a satisfying relationship landscape and to attain personal ease and fulfillment.
- Ness Cooper, clinical sexologist and founder of The Sex Consultant
It's apparent that many people find hands attractive. This may also explain why people go to various lengths to make their hands look more visually appealing with manicures and acrylic nails, as well as investing heavily in hand creams. Hands are also objects of intimacy and imperative to many sexual activities, such as fingering, touching the genitals, or exploring the body. However, if you simply find hands attractive, that does not necessarily mean that you have a hand fetish, also known as quirofilia.
What is quirofilia?
“A true fetish means that the object must be present for arousal and/or orgasm to occur,” explains Indigo Stray Conger, LMFT, CST, an AASECT-certified sex therapist at Mile High Psychotherapy in Denver. “In quirofilia, this would mean that looking at, touching, or being touched by a hand is a necessary part of the sexual excitation of the cycle and that a person with quirofilia is unusually focused on hands as an arousal point.”
A person with a hand fetish may get turned on by the whole hand or certain parts of it, such as the fingernails, fingers, palm, or the back of the hand where veins can be visible.
Hand fetishes are unique to each individual. Some people may get aroused when their partner caresses their body with manicured hands. Others may get turned on by seeing their partner wearing gloved hands. While others may simply get aroused by sucking on their partner's hands.
Even though there's a dearth of studies on the prevalence of quirofilia, it’s a fairly common fetish that feels very natural due to how hands are often involved in sexual acts.
Why are hands sexually arousing?
Hands can be a turn-on for a variety of reasons. For starters, attraction to veiny hands stems from an evolutionary place, particularly for those in cisgender, heterosexual (aka cishet) relationships.
“From the perspective of evolutionary biology, having visible veins, or vascularity, in a man typically indicates overall good health and low body fat,” Conger says. “Vascularity also tends to be most pronounced when, say, a man has recently been working out or exerting himself, which may be read unconsciously by a glancing female as a sexual cue.”
Veins are generally more visible in muscular and toned men. A 2017 study by researchers from Griffith University suggested that women were most attracted to cues of physical strength in men such as muscular arms and toned torsos. The researchers reckoned that this was possibly tied to ancient influences and the survival perks of being with a healthy man who can fight.
“Some people also associate veins on the hands with veins found on the shaft of the penis, and this may be why some find them attractive,” adds Ness Cooper, a therapist and resident sexologist at Je Joue in England.
This does not mean that only cishet people experience quirofilia—it just means that the small amount of research so far on the subject has not focused on exploring the reasons other individuals, like non-binary or queer people, are attracted to hands. Broadly speaking, however, therapists have some ideas. “Hands are a sensual area and filled with nerve receptors, meaning that we can find soft stroking, light licking, and even sucking of the hands very erotic as our brain can translate these sensations as pleasurable,” says Cooper.
Quirofilia may also be linked to a person’s capacity to imagine those hands during sexual activity, such as stroking or gripping.
“There’s a fashion side to hand fetishism, too, where some individuals enjoy hands clad in different fabric,” Cooper says. “For some, this is because of how the fabrics make the hands appear and others enjoy the sensation of different materials over their hands when touched by them.”
How to communicate your hand fetish to a partner
Hand fetishes are pretty common and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to share that you have a hand fetish with your partner(s). However, if you feel vulnerable sharing this proclivity, you can try asking them what turns them on as a starting point.
“Even if their answer is vague or tends toward the most normative attraction points, this can give you an opening to mention that you have more particular tastes,” Conger advises. “Usually, a partner that is into you will be happy to have a few tips regarding how to turn you on.”
When communicating with your partner(s), it may be best to share what exactly it is about hands that arouses you and possibly even suggest a few tips. That way, they can have a better understanding of how to incorporate this fetish into your sex life.
“However, try to understand that it’s likely that you’ve been thinking about the fetish longer than them, so give them some time to process it,” Cooper advises.
How to explore quirofilia
If you and your partner(s) would like to explore quirofilia, complimenting their hands often or remarking that you like it when they have their nails done a certain way or wear certain gloves (if that’s your thing) can help the both of you to feel more comfortable in exploring this fetish.
Try asking them to take their time touching your body gently with their hands. “Ask them to focus on areas where you can watch them caress you to enhance the visual aspect of this sexual cue,” Conger says.
Sharing erotic pictures where hands are involved is also a great form of foreplay that can help to turn each other on. The great thing about hands is that they are naturally involved in a lot of erotic acts.
If your hand fetish involves certain fabrics, investing in gloves with said fabric to wear in the bedroom and/or requesting your partner(s) to wear gloves with said fabric can also be a good starting point. “To get some inspiration, you could also ask them to explore burlesque shows with you as these shows often involve hands in various gloves being removed, and hands moving in erotic positions,” Cooper adds. “Massages also involve hands a lot and allow you to explore hands with various temperatures of massage candles and oils.”
If you get turned on by touching, kissing, or sucking on hands (with the other person as the more passive receiver), you can ask for their consent to explore this while they relax.
The bottom line: Quirofilia—like many other fetishes—is a healthy expression of sexual desire and there are various ways that you can explore it. As long as you're doing it safely, with consent, and hitting your core desires, then you're probably doing it right.
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