OP here - loving all of the thoughts on hand shakes...who knew...
I think what prompted me to write about the topic is the idea of the heart connection that happyday8598 mentioned.
I don't like feeling obligated to hug someone whom I don't feel I share an emotional openness with; sometimes a hug will open things up, other times it just feels like it is smothering things.
That said, touching hands, and making eye contact, in the form of a handshake, can establish the trust I need before I can build this heart connection. I don't just want to act out or mimic love and affection, I want to experience it!
With my stepsons and their girlfriends, it is an issue of a recently blended family, with young adult stepsons. I want to shake hands and make eye contact in order to get to know them. The hugs just feel empty and dis-genuine at this point. I think that they perceive it as formal to them, and they have expressed as much, because they come from a rural, alternative culture, and are young and used to hugging each other hello. A culture clash really; to them it feels formal and uncomfortable, while to me, it feels very friendly. and casual.
I am standing my ground on this one a bit, because I think I want to insist that they get to know me, and my culture, on my turf - Tough handshaking momma here folks.
I need to bond with these boys who are the big brothers to my young son. It seems if I don't insist on some things, they don't take notice enough of my position in the family, as I am the strong, silent nurturer type, and often overlooked in the big talking, outgoing masculine dynamic they get going.
Last visit was a no hug, and a handshake across the table, so I'm getting somewhere I think :)