And it’s a slippery slope. 

Allow me to explain. 

I’m going to use a quick and easy example: Hand holding. 

Not for romantic couples (although yes for romantic couples!), rather in general. 

Hand holding can be kind of an intimate thing. It’s direct skin to skin contact, usually to show guidance or support, or sometimes just as an attempt to not get separated. 

But it’s also used often with children. When my siblings were younger, I held their hands everywhere. No freedom for your hand, little human. And a lot of people relate hand holding with children. Which is where the danger comes from. 

If you have two characters that are not romantically involved, who are older and holding hands. This can come across two ways: They’re close, understand each other’s needs and whatnot. Or they see the other as a child. 

And chances are, you are either aiming for one or the other. So making sure that bullet hits is kind of esencial. 

So, how would you make this work? 

Well, first question, why are they holding hands? 

Because it’s busy and they don’t want to get separated? Then make sure you express how busy it is. Make sure the danger is visible, show the characters being pushed and show them reaching out for each other and making an effort to not get separated. 

Because physical support helps one of the characters? Show this prior to this moment. Show them seeking out physical comfort, show them grabbing the other’s arm (it’s similar but somehow less intimate). 

Is it to stop them getting in a fight? Show the character squeezing their hand when something that could cause rage happens. 

I’ve used hand holding here. But there are many similar actions. If an action can be read multiple ways, be sure to clarify which way this is supposed to be read. 

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Any other ideas for actions that can be misread? Blushing comes to my mind, there are so many reasons to blush but I usually think romantic even when that’s not the case!