People can’t stop talking about how Melania Trump seems to avoid holding the president’s hand — here’s what it might say about their relationship

The Trumps' behavior is puzzling.

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The Trumps’ behavior is puzzling.
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REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

  • Melania Trump appeared to avoid holding the president’s hand during a recent photo op with the French president and his wife.
  • This isn’t the first time they’ve had an awkward handholding interaction in public.
  • Experts say public handholding can be a sign that you’re a close couple – though some political couples avoid any kind of PDA.

Donald and Melania’s hands are once again drawing eyes all over the world, after yet another botched attempt at a public display of affection.

During a photo op Tuesday on the South Lawn, with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, cameras recorded the president attempting to hold his wife’s hand. (You can watch the video on C-SPAN, and Twitter user BetsyBits tweeted a clip from MSNBC.)

He even wiggled his pinky finger toward her as she moved her hand away and appeared to inhale deeply. Finally, Melania seemed to relent and the couple clasped hands.

The Trumps have danced this dance before. In March, ABC News captured footage of Donald Trump running up the stairs to board Air Force One – leaving behind his wife in high heels and a skirt.

When they disembarked, ABC footage shows Trump repeatedly trying to grab Melania’s hand while she eludes his grasp. It’s unclear whether Melania’s behavior was a deliberate snub or whether she was simply trying to keep her outfit together.

NBC footage from February 2018 shows a similarly awkward interaction – Melania’s hand was underneath her coat, which was draped over her shoulders.

Not too long before, it was reported that Trump allegedly had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels and allegedly paid her to stay quiet about it.

And in May 2017, Israeli newspaper Haaretz showed Melania swatting away the president’s hand during their visit to Tel Aviv.

The president’s attempts to show the world he loves his wife have often been the subject of ridicule. In September 2017, Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at Trump giving his wife a firm handshake at a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Air Force. Kimmel called it “the most uncomfortable display of affection between any husband and wife this year.”

Handholding can be a ‘public demonstration about coupledom’

As for the significance of handholding, Dalton Conley, a professor of sociology at Princeton University, told The New York Times in 2006: “It’s less about sex than about a public demonstration about coupledom.”

The Times article cited a study published in the journal Psychological Science, which found that when happily married women held their spouses’ hand while they received mild electric shocks, the parts of their brain associated with pain were less active than when they weren’t holding their spouse’s hand.

Interestingly, Prince William and Kate Middleton rarely hold hands in public. As INSIDER’s Kristin Salaky reported, the couple is likely following Queen Elizabeth’s lead, and the queen generally doesn’t hold hands with her husband in public.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, on the other hand, have been seen cuddling and holding hands.

Ultimately, we can’t say for sure what’s causing Melania to appear to avoid holding her husband’s hand. It could be that they have two different approaches to how much PDA is acceptable.