America let out a collective cringe on April 24 when a video surfaced of Donald Trump trying, and failing, to hold hands with his wife Melania Trump during a visit with French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron. While anyone with eyes could tell that the interaction was awkward, we decided to dig a little deeper by talking exclusively with body language expert Patti Wood, who unpacked what it really means beneath the surface.
While Trump often "reaches back to hold her hand, which indicated that he was like a father leading a child," this time was different. "In this case, they're standing side-by-side in what is considered an equitable pairing when he makes the attempt," explained Wood. "When he makes his attempt with just his little finger, it's clear to me he's used to getting a response from that [when they hold hands in private]. He doesn't usually have to try very hard. In this case she's not having it, in fact she retreats slightly. Then he does it again, first with the little finger, then he actually takes three fingers and gently holds on to a part of her hand. He makes multiple attempts and ends up just holding on to her without her responding and engaging in holding on to his. The fact that he went ahead and did it anyway shows that it's important to him, and he's willing to give up a little bit of power to do that."
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While Wood explains that she would normally find the intimate gesture kind of sweet, she believes he had another motive in this particular instance. "I think all of this has to do with him being shown up as a less affectionate couple next to Macron and his wife," she explained. "I think what we just saw in that video was motivated by his desire to look good. I haven't seen him do that gentle thing before, I think he's willing to do that so he looks a little bit better."
For her part, Wood thinks Melania rejected Trump's attempts because "she doesn't want to be fake about it. She made a decision a while ago that if she was treated rudely by her husband, she wouldn't be submissive to that." Wood points to Melania's behavior since In Touch revelaed their bombshell 5000-word interview with Stormy Daniels where she confirmed that she had an affair with Trump in 2005. Since then, when Melania is photographed, "she gets smaller, her hands go to her side, she doesn't do any soft body language."