What does it mean if you put your hand on top of someone's head?

So, a few days ago I was at someone's place. A certain person comes in and puts his hand on the host's head (the host was seated) and says hi to the other guests (shaking hands with some).

I found this pretty offensive. Putting you hand on top of someone's head is basicly saying that you're above that person. What makes it even worse is that he did it to the host, and shaked hands with other guests.

Then I found out that he has done this at another place, also putting his hand on top of the hosts head. I think it's just plain rude.

Am I overreacting here?


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What Girls Said 2

  • This could be perceived as slightly condescending or as affectionate.

    Personally, I think in a situation where it is done to the host, it seems a little intimate/affectionate and seems to imply, don't get up. Feels like something a partner, relative or very close/very old friend would do. Possibly slightly hierarchical (older sibling to younger) but could also just be very intimate and more an attempt to make contact with the person who has been on their feet the most that day without forcing them to get up (compassionate). I can see this happening, if they have let themselves in and come in behind the host (often the host is seated closest to the door/circulation so they can get up and get things), and sort of say hey affectionately but implying "don't get up". You don't really shake hands with closest family members, friends or significant others. You do with people you see less regularly / know less well and address more formally.

    Obviously, even if the intention is equally compassionate, this seems moderately presumptuous if these people are not very close. Heads are one of our most sensitive parts and it is not really a part of the body you go patting on someone you don't know. Unless of course in a soothing way to a child. So yeah. If the people are not close, this can come off as too familiar and / or condescending.

    I think clarifying the relationships of people at the gathering would help.

    • We're guys, friends, all between 25 and 33. There's no defined hierarchical order, nor are we related.

    • think this is still probably friendly/affectionate, but might also seem a little like maybe he thinks he's a bit higher on the pecking order? Keep an eye on how he treats the same people the rest of the time to know for sure. Sort of expected it to be siblings, best friends or a husband who got in late from work or something.

  • idk in that situation it seems a bit odd, but general I'd just interpret it as a gesture of affection like a kiss on the forehead. Nothing offensive really


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