Anything Left-Handed > Being LH Home > Lefty information > Is it Me?

Is it just me… or is it a left-handed thing?

As a result of our question on Left Handed Kissing Confusion, we got loads of responses about other things left-handers find awkward but have never really connected with them being left-handed.   Apart from the problem of greeting people with a kiss and getting it wrong, we also received comments on other things that made us think….is it just me or is there more to it? Some of the things that were mentioned were:

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or observations at the bottom this page

  • crossing other peoples paths/position on pavement
  • hugging
  • taking neighbours drink/bread roll at dining table
  • direction of work, decorating/painting rooms
  • being helped to put on a jacket
  • receiving change
  • putting children's socks and shoes on
  • using your left-hand as a point of reference when giving directions
  • feeling more comfortable sitting on the left hand side of things
  • putting belts on upside down
  • visualise things the opposite way around
  • trouble opening/locking locks
  • work stations flow the opposite way around
  • organising files “back to front”

It seems that a lot of the quirks that we have are a result of being left-handed in a right-handed world. Listed below are some of the responses we received from our Club Members when we asked . “Is it just me…?” See how many you identify with. The quirk that started it all was social kissing, and you can read a selection of anecdotes about that on our kissing confusion page.

 

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  • It was only recently  that I realised why, when I try clothes on in a shop and put them back on the rack, they're always facing the wrong way because, I'm LEFT-HANDED.~ Simone Hurst

I've noticed that even when loading the dishwasher, I start on the right, but my husband, who is right handed, loads on the left first, and folding sheets together is a nightmare, he folds the opposite to me, and if I don't remember the sheet gets twisted not folded. ~ Carol Wiltshire

  • One really embarrassing thing I do at dinner parties is drink from the person next to me's glass.   I just reach out with my left hand and lift and its not until I  see that  I'm getting strange looks that I realise what I'm doing.   I tell myself I won't do it again then I do.   Also the cheese board!   I just dread someone asking me to cut a piece for them because I just can't do it, it usually ends up on the table and I feel stupid.   What should be an enjoyable night out is something I dread. ~ Evelyn Rose
  • When first seated at a dinner party or restaurant table, I always have to wait for the person to my left to take a sip of their drink, or eat their bread roll to make sure I don't take the wrong one by mistake! ~ Lauren, UK
  • Microscopes!! The fine focus is always on the right!! its probably just me but I use them all day and it drives me mad (boss too mean to buy me a proper one). ~ Debbie, UK
  • Am also a glider pilot, and there are an unusual number of left-handed pilots, particularly the really good ones e.g. national & world champions. We tend to be better & more comfortable at turning right, whereas the right-handed pilots are better at turning to the left. ~ Sarah Platt

I just wonder if anyone out there is like me. When I'm out with friends walking I have to be on the left side of the road when walking and on the left of people when I'm talking otherwise I feel uneasy. ~ Jay

  • Receiving change from shop assistant – I nearly always find myself struggling to hold it without the coins falling all over the floor. (I'm talking about a combination of notes and coins). I think it's because people naturally hand change as if the person receiving will hold out their right hand – but I hold out my left. ~ Emma Hurley
  • I start painting a wall left to right, both the right handers in my family go right to left, and they couldn't figure out why I did it “backwards” as they called it. It wasn't backwards for me. They finally figured it out. It was “left-handed logic” as they call it every time they think I'm doing something the wrong way.
  • Just to let you know I have just been decorating and was papering the room from right to left and find it very difficult to work that way around rather than left to right ~ M. Izzard
  • Upside-down billWe had an email recently from LHC member June in Melbourne, Australia that struck a chord with us.  She says she is very good at adding up numbers upside down and likes adding up her bill in a cafe upside down faster than the waitress can!
  • June also told us that she has another skill…
    “Recently, under immense stress, I calmed myself by doing something I have done in the past as a fun exercise, but have no idea when or how I learnt to do it, but everyone thinks it is very strange. I write the figure 1 down, next line I double it-2, then again-4, then again and again on each line. I am up to about 40 figures in my answer at present. What is unusual is that I begin at the left-hand edge and quickly double all the figures across to the right side.  I sometimes check the answer by doing it the normal right to left, but I find my way much quicker. Everyone that has seen me do it is amazed.”
  • I don't know what the odds are, but I'd love to know how many left handed people are also directionally challenged like me  – i.e., have trouble with north south east and west and distances,  and are constantly having to make u-turns when going somewhere. I've had this problem all my life and have often been asked what it feels like to “be lost” and am I scared when it happens.  I just tell them, I don't have a problem with it, I just consider it going on an adventure and I eventually get where I going . It just takes a little bit longer and I consider the new things I see along the way a learning experience.~Dot Sale, Ontario, Canada.
  • When going to a cinema or theatre I am always drawn like a magnet to the left hand side to find a seat. If I have to sit on the right hand side I don't feel comfortable all night and just sit there thinking how much better I would enjoy the film etc if I was on the left. Is this common with other people? ~ Maureen Elliott
  • I put on a belt backwards, as in using my left hand and inserting it in the right side. Most of the time its hard to notice a difference, but there's belts out there, like ones with buckles that end up being upside down. I know it's not just me because two other left-handers I know do the exact same thing, so I was wondering how many other left-handers do this as well? ~ Scott Farrar, USA
  • I just bought this new belt with a designer buckle. I started putting the belt through the straps in my jeans as usual, but when I wanted to close the buckle, I discovered that the buckle logo was upside down. “How weird”, I said to myself, and then it dawned on me: this belt was designed for righties! Somehow I, as a lefty, have an innate impulse to thread a buckle through my jeans straps beginning at the opposite side from that of a RH! (My old belt didn't cause me any trouble of this sort, since it didn't matter in what way you turned the buckle). Before the time of the CDs, when one still had LP records, I used to have mine on a shelf beneath my record player. I've always been meticulous about sorting  things alphabetically, and I used to do that with my records, too. Somehow, though, my friends would consider my “shelf order” strange, since I put all artists whose name/group name  began with an “A”, at the right-hand side of the shelf, which was totally natural to me. Couldn't get it what was so strange about that, until recently when I came to think of the fact that it must have been a lefty instinct, to do it “the RIGHT way round”! 🙂 ~ Helene, Sweden

Among a million of things I just can't do in this right-handed world, here's one that made me really ask to myself….is it just me? I am just not able to uncork a bottle of wine, simply 'cause I unscrew in the wrong direction. The cork opener never makes it into the cork, no matter how hard I try to push it! My husband makes fun of me, saying that I always use my left-handedness as an excuse just because I'm not able to do stuff….Will they ever understand? ~Sara, Italy

  • When taking “hanging files” (where the papers are laid sideways) out of filing cabinets and opening them up, the papers are always upside down for me when a right-hander has been doing the filing. I know now that I mustn't slip new papers into hanging files without first checking the direction of the other pages – which are always upside down to my way of thinking! Luckily, I have a personal filing cabinet, where only I file the papers, so every file opens with documents the correct way up for me! ~ Laura, UK
  • Myself and one of my best friends were trying on clothes and she wanted to try on the shorts I was wearing-with a belt. When she got them on and was trying to use the belt, she was having trouble getting it undone so she could do it. She made the comment “you and your left handedness.” I had not realized she was having trouble with doing the belt until she said that and I asked what she meant. Evidently, I had my belt “backwards”. I have to wonder how many other “leftisms” there are that we (lefties) are unaware of? ~ Anonymous, USA
  • It seems my right-handed husband and four kids have all “learned” from me! My husband learned to change and dress our four children the left-handed way since I had the baby's rooms set up for my convenience. Kitchen activities were also done “my” way. My kids are now in their 20's and my daughter commented that she does many activities like a lefty because she learned from me. She says it's my fault she's all messed up but I just tell her I did her a favour because she's skilled with both hands! Anything we leftie's teach our kids or spouses will be noticed by other right-handed people! ~ Doreen Place
  • I have recently realised that one reason I have difficulty with the new chip and pin system is that I put my card in “the wrong way round” – the automatic way for me as a left-handed person but not for the machine – created by and for right-handed people I think?Is this something lots of you have already discovered?! ~ Barbara Robinson
  • I just wanted to say I felt so much better after reading all the things we left handers have in common.   I constantly have problems with handshakes, belts, crossing someone's path (am I supposed to go to the right of them or to the left?) and of course the kissing!   I also appreciated the people who visualize things in the opposite way.   I recently graduated from law school and I was once told by a professor that although I reached the right conclusion I came at the problem with “backward thinking logic”.   I also organized all of my notebooks in school so that they opened backwards; my classmates never wanted to borrow notes! I also have problems with outside water faucets — I always try to turn it left to turn it off.   And when I read magazines I always flip through them back to front. ~Lesley Holloway
  • The quirk I had trouble with wouldn't have been noticed if I hadn't been in the military (US Air Force). As a lefty, I'm more comfortable carrying my purse on my right shoulder, leaving my left arm free. In fact, I find it almost impossible to keep a shoulder bag ON my left shoulder when I try. Here's the trouble — salutes are done with the right hand and thus, the right arm must be free at all times. It's even in the regulations that purses, umbrellas, briefcases, etc., should all be carried on the left. I had trouble with that for the entire time I was in the Air Force. I tended to just carry my purses in my left hand (even the shoulder bags), as they would never stay on the shoulder. Very frustrating! My next comment concerns the preference for sitting on the left side of theaters. I don't feel uncomfortable if I have to sit on the right side, but I do tend to automatically go to the left when entering a theater. This turns out to be an advantage. Studies have shown that the large majority of the population goes to the right when a choice is presented (like going into a theater or choosing from two lines for an amusement park ride) — probably due to handedness. An authority on Disney World has even put into his book about the Park that you'll spend much less time standing in line if you veer to the left when presented with two lines for the ride! So, go with your quirk and veer to the left — it will almost assuredly be quicker/shorter/less-crowded over there! ~ Lynn, Denver, CO USA
  • Regarding shaking with the left hand, I am both a lefty and in the Guides. Guides and Scouts around the world shake left handed, which is perfectly natural to me. Unfortunately it makes things even harder when I have to shake hands in a non-Guiding situation, I am even less likely to remember to offer my right hand. This has meant that in professional situations, I've found out that quite senior people were Scouts or Guides and/or left handed and ended up leaving my boss totally out of the conversation as we then talk about handedness or Scouting. ~A. Kerr

Is it just me? Everything at my workstation in my job flows right to left! It drives my co-workers crazy when they come looking for something at my area. They think my workstation set up is “backwards”. I just assumed its a “leftie” quirk. Same thing in my kitchen by the way…. ~ Colleen, USA

 

  • I always find that if I have to flick through a book I hold it in my right hand and flick the pages with my left starting at the back of the book. It drives me insane when I want to use a dictionary because I think of the alphabet going forwards but then I'm flicking with the letters going backwards. Whenever I fill up my motorbike I have to go to a pump that is on my left other wise it just doesn't feel right. Unfortunately my car has the fuel cap on the right hand side and I frequently get myself tangled up with the pumps. I also us one of those flip open wallets and always find it difficult to put notes and credit cards away without turning it upside down then everything ends up falling out! ~ Pauline Woodhall, UK
  • A constant annoyance for me is the placement of receipts when signing credit card transactions. Cashiers almost always angle the receipt towards my right hand, so I inevitably have to re-angle it towards my left hand before signing. This can sometimes be a problem if the cashier keeps a finger on the receipt (usually due to a draft from a fan or doorway). The most amazing incident of this nature was a few months ago in a well known UK DIY store: the cashier placed the receipt angled towards my right hand, I re-angled the receipt towards my left, but before I could put pen to paper the cashier re-angled the receipt towards my right again! ~ Michele Wilkinson, Cambs
  • My gripe is with the till desks, usually petrol stations, that secure the pen for the signing of the receipt with a piece of tatty string that is attached to what ever on the right side and too short for the lefthander. The assistant also offers the receipt to me addressing my right hand. I have found that banks are no better they just have posh ball chain that’s too short instead of string ~ Bob Beaney
  • I was recently looking into purchasing a new horse.   When  I lifted his leg to look at his hoof he  tried to kick out.   This had never happened to me  with my other two horses so I thought there was something wrong.   The owner informed me that I was picking  up his hoof by touching the inside of his leg.   He said most people touch the horse on the outside of the leg and this is why he was spooked.   I never realized it but being left-handed I naturally reach inside the leg, whereas it is awkward  for a right-handed person  to reach inside, so therefore would pick up the leg from the outside. Also, when I was a kid, my mom asked me to put up the pencil sharpener (one of those crank kinds).   I did as I was told.   A few days later my dad complained that he could not sharpen his pencil as the sharpener was upside down!!! ~ Linda Vonhof, Westhampton Beach, NY
  • Is it me? i'm the only left hander at college, and if I've been using the computers I get a lot of complaints because the mouse is on the wrong side of the computer for the boring people of this world.~ Bev Syson, Ilkeston
  • My ex-husband and I moved to a new home and since he was travelling for work I had to unpack everything.   We lived in that house for 3 ½ years and he complained the whole time that nothing was in the right” place.  I just kept saying welcome to my world” with a big smile on my face.   I hadn’t even realized I had set everything up left-handed – I just put everything where is was supposed to go. ~ Jodi Olson
  • When I am drinking especially in a pub or club I feel that if I don't hold the glass in my left hand that I am not getting the full enjoyment of the drink. Sometimes I find that I am drinking with my right hand and realise that something is not going quite right and have to change! ~ David Robinson

It works the same way when walking past someone but don't know which side to let them pass you on, so you end up doing a little dance and bounce on both feet before one person takes the lead and chooses a side. the difference is, it's with your neck and so you end up looking stupider! Although it can be quite humorous ~ Laura Piplica, UK

  • Whenever I read a book and the author describes a scene, I always find later, as the plot unfolds that I have visualised it completely the wrong way round, as a mirror image. Is it me? ~ Linda Dainton, UK
  • Is it only me? I run my own business from home which does involve sending information by post to prospective clients. When the information I send runs to more than one page I like everyone else staple the pages together. Often, too often the actual staple doesn’t penetrate the paper. Is this a fault that other left handers have encountered and if it is how have they overcome this annoying problem?~ Bob Westecott
  • I joined a dance class (Line-Dancing) and had a hard time following everyone…All the steps were lead on the right foot , Of course I instinctively started on my left and I was always a step behind everyone…I was so ashamed, I couldn't keep up. ~ Marty
  • Handshakes! I naturally put out my left hand…d'oh! Oh the trials of living in a right handed world… ~ Nancy Hopkins, UK
  • I have difficulties with locks and keys is it just me ? ~ Frances Todd, UK
  • Walking in the out door. I am always doing this. It drives my son crazy! Or walking on the wrong side of the staircase. ~ Cindy Timo
  • I was wondering , growing up was it difficult for you to learn how to tie your shoes properly? Especially learning from a rightie? I ended up making two bunny ears and tying them together rather than the loop around and pull. Also making check marks (ticks). Did people tell you growing up checking each others papers that your checks were “backwards”? ~ Jennifer, The Bronx
  • I used to hold all my four children on my right side, leaving my left hand (a working one) free. So I am absolutely sure that all the discussions about women carrying their babies on their left side so that children could hear their mothers' hearts beating are just nonsense! It is just a matter of right- or left-handedness. ~ Irina Radetskaya, Russia

Thank you to everyone who responded to our question so far – it is great to be part of such a helpful worldwide community of left-handers and we look forward to receiving your further comments – please use the form below.

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797 comments on “Is it Me?
  1. Alan Gauton says:

    A couple of things (as I’m not wading through 18 pages of comments just now) – my wife hates the fact that RBS issue left handed cheque books – when they first came out, I went in to my branch to ask for one, they looked at me like I was talking nonsense, and asked if I could come back the next day while they checked it out. The following day, they said yup, that’s fine. They just hadn’t read their own newsletters.

    The second thing is, I have problems with tying laces – unless I double tie them, the will usually untie quickly while I’m walking. I’m sure I saw a study which says it’s to do with the movement of the body, and feet which loosens them if tied by a lefty.

    And finally – I’ve just realised that I always put my son’s belt on upside down, as the same way I do it, but he’s usually fine. He has additional needs, and as long as it’s always done the same way, he’s fine with it.

  2. Karen Mader says:

    I have really enjoyed reading this. I have many of those problems.

  3. Wendy Day says:

    It can be difficult walking on the pavement – as a left-hander – and in the supermarket, too – when there is a space for me to walk past, someone else takes it and i end up doing the “dance” as described! Pens in my building society branch are on the right of the counter, have to ask for a different pen to write with, or use my own! Pubs and cafes do not seem to have any coffee cups and glasses specifically for southpaws, same goes for cutlery, told these items are”universal” – can be embarrassing struggling with these items, few people seem to understand, apart from other lefty people! – though some responses i had online last year relating to problems with coffee cups – were negative and they were from left-handers!

    • Alan Gauton says:

      The whole walking thing confuses me – I was taught at school that it was to do with the side of the road we drive on, which in turn was chosen because of the dominance of hands used back in the days of sword fights.

      So in the UK, people will pass on the left hand side – what do other countries do?

  4. Sally Horrocks says:

    The whole article seems like it was written about me

  5. Beverly OConnor says:

    I have B negative blood; negative blood types are extremely rare all over he world; looking for commonalities among negative blood types is that the person has a perpensity to be left-handed as well! Can we add negative blood types to the mix and see what percentage of us has both?

  6. Geraldine Astbury says:

    I find it a bit of a nuisance when using my tablet and scroll up or down on the left, all sorts of things are opened up. It also would be a lot better if the cross on the top right that you use to close down programmes etc of a pc was on the other side. Perhaps programmers could put a cross on the other side too. I know if you click the left side you get an option to close but that means two clicks instead of one. I also always turn the wrong way when coming out of a shop and my husband and daughter whisper which way to go so I don’t bump into them.Line dancing for me was a nightmare but reading upside down was easy.

    • Alan Gauton says:

      That depends on the computer system – Apple Macs traditionally have the close window/full screen/minimise options on the top left. Linux systems tend to allow you to set them to left of right, depending on the window system.

  7. kenneth carlson says:

    I am in a SMART recovery group for my alcohol addiction. Eight people are regular particpants. All of us are left handed. Coincidence or correlation between left handedness and addiction issues?

  8. Michele says:

    I can read and write upside down faster than my students can read and write right-side up!

    I have always gotten directions wrong because I think of my left hand as my right one subconsciously and so go in the opposite direction of where I’m supposed to go. So frustrating! Does anyone else have that problem?

  9. Mary Parker says:

    It is so good to read this, so many “quirks” mentioned are things I have always done & it is enlightening. Reading magazines from back to front, trouble with keys & locks, trouble opening bottles etc. I am very good at mirror writing, obviously a lefty thing.

  10. Carolyn Hodges says:

    When the bank said our house payment had not been paid, I went in to resolve it, since we had. When the folder was opened I could see the probkem upside down, the house payment was entered on the pickup payment, not due for another week. Have always been able to read upside down.I think I have had fewer lefthand problems by taking piano lessons from 6 years to 18 years. Made me more ambidexterous.

  11. dorothy douglas says:

    There are soo many examples that strike a chord in your list, I have learned to adapt to over my long 60 years. I do have the Leonardo
    Da Vinci backwards writing thing and can read someone elses writing from opposite -upside down. Also writing with both hands, from middle to outside (party trick!) I have been recently been diagnosed with FACE-BLINDNESS which is a facial developmental recognition thing and dyspraxia (SPATIAL). All brain wiring stuff!!!
    Anyone else as lucky ! Dorothy. Blackpool U.K.

  12. Christie Hubbard says:

    I can write, printing or cursive, backwards, starting on the right side and moving left. I also have two handwriting styles. The first is how I was taught in school, arm hooked over my writing in order to see what I was doing since the paper was slanted for a righty. This style has the correct slant. Smudges on my left hand and the paper were inevitable. In college there were only right handed desks, the kind with just half a writing surface. Because I could not turn enough in the chair to use the half desk top, I turned my paper to the right and began writing with my hand under the line. This changed the slant to “backhand” style. I still use both styles, mostly the second, but wonder if a handwriting specialist could tell that the same person wrote both samples. If only my early teachers had known to turn my paper the correct direction for a lefty.

  13. Ken Johnson says:

    It’s easier for me to use a dictionary, flipping through pages, if I hold it upside down.

  14. Martin Waldron says:

    In response to June in Melbourne, (what a lovely city it is), I too can add upsid down very quickly. I also multiply numbers in my head moving from left to right, i.e most significant digit first. To subtract two three digit numbers in my head, I subtract the left hand digits first, then the right and finally the middle ones!

  15. Jan Hurst-Nicholson says:

    Has anyone else noticed that if you use a floor mop or similar with a screw-on handle that the handle begins to unscrew as you are using it? I had to glue the handle of one mop as it nearly drove me crazy.

  16. Jan Hurst-Nicholson says:

    I have a problem using my digital camera. The on/off button is on the left and the button for taking the picture is on the right. Numerous times I’ve carefully lined up a picture, got everyone to smile, waited for the flash to adjust – and then used my left hand and pressed the ‘off’ button by mistake. Very annoying to have to start all over again.

  17. Anne Duncombe says:

    I had my kitchen designed to suit me, so the utensil drawers are on the left of the sink and cooker, and the fridge opens right to left. The top of my right hip has a ‘ledge’ from carrying toddlers, and when at work, loads of boxes. I always keep my left hand free. Am I the only one who can drive a right hand drive car, but not a left hand drive car? Well wasn’t the right hand drive car designed for us lefties? In my family, one parent a leftie and 50/50 the children. Sadly fewer in the next generation

  18. Duncan Pohl says:

    I can identify with nearly every situation described by the others – with the exception that I’ve always had a good sense of direction. The one thing I didn’t see mentioned here is that when I go to an art gallery or museum or any other exposition, I always naturally start off to my left – and find myself going contrary to nearly everyone else.

  19. donald chell says:

    I find that I can read quickly upside down

  20. Bobbi Woolsey-Craigmyle says:

    I have had the ability to write backwards, both printing and cursive, since the age of 5. I start on the upper right of the page and write toward the left in perfect mirror image. If I turn the paper over and hold it up to the light, it looks perfectly normal, like anyone else’s writing. I will mention a difficulty I have as a lefty. I get confused looking in my rear view mirror. So glad for the back up cameras in cars now.

  21. Kevin, in Pittsburgh says:

    I have a mathematical “super power” similar to that of June, in Melbourne. I do long division and multiplication in my head. I once calculated the square root of five, in my head, to seven decimal places.

    I can, also, easily recite the alphabet, backwards. It’s a great party trick, and may come in handy if I’m ever stopped by the police for a suspected DUI!

  22. Dawn Mason says:

    I automatically walk up stairs on the “wrong” side. I hate shaking hands cos it is SO awkward giving my right hand.
    Is it just me …when I have a headache I find it eases quicker if I read upside down as it is just easier for me to do.
    When my children were babies I would hold them in my right hand & feed them with my left hand holding the bottle. My Health Visitor hated it & tried to make me hold them in my left hand claiming I was giving them colic feeding back to front!Anyone else been told that?
    I am TOTALLY lefthanded & cannot do much with my right hand, I even hold my knife weird.

  23. Lori Parker says:

    Sweeping apparently “backwards ” constantly unscrewing the head.

  24. James Newhall says:

    I have just started playing the guitar and found it impossible to play right handed. I found a left handed guitar online which cost more than for the exact same guitar that is right handed. I wanted to upgrade my guitar so I went to lots of guitar shops in London. Each store had hundreds of guitars but only 2 shops had a left handed guitar and only one in each of the shops. Each shop assistant told me that as I had only been playing for a few months to learn to play right handed. No one understood that I just can’t, so like every time in my life I’ve been told to learn right handed I am more determined to do it the correct way, left handed!

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