Public Displays Of Affection – Indicator That Your Relationship Is Solid?

Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) is here to stay – and it’s not just moonstruck teens who are indulging in bouts of public passion.

A survey of students showed that while they view holding hands as a statement of commitment, most would be more comfortable heavy petting in public than giving their date’s hand a gentle squeeze.

Middlesex University psychotherapist Leila Collins says: “We have become more self-conscious and detached, so we see affection less often. Love is a fragile thing, and if there is warmth and affection, then the partnership is more likely to survive.”

Innocent hand-holding, pecks on the cheeks and cuddling are far more important than rampant sessions in the sack, says couples counsellor David Kavanagh.

“Affection is definitely more important than passion,” he says. “The passion in most relationships lasts around three years, but affection can last a lifetime. It allows couples to show they still care for each other after the initial surge of lust has gone. PDAs are a signal that you value and respect your partner — two essential parts of a relationship.”

Now doctors have given loved-up couples another excuse to make a spectacle of themselves in front of family, friends and perfect strangers. Research in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that affection can fight stress by reducing levels of cortisol, a hormone implicated in heart disease. So not only do PDAs make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside — they’re good for you too.

But while women are traditionally the ones who value affection, don’t assume that a man who suddenly starts acting all touchy-feely is only after one thing, adds David.

“Men are not socially constructed to act weak or vulnerable,” he says, “but we need affection just as much as women.

“Women wrongly assume that men are thinking about sex all the time. But if they’ve had a bad day, sometimes all they want is a head-rub or a cuddle.

“Walking down the street, a man might find it embarrassing to hold his girlfriend’s hand — yet if he was on the football pitch and scored a goal, it would be perfectly acceptable for him to show all sorts of outlandish PDAs with the other players because the social norms are different. It’s important for the woman not to misinterpret that as rejection.

“That said, if your boyfriend suddenly starts to recoil when you go to give him a hug, it could be an indication that something in the relationship is bothering him.”

He adds: “There’s nothing wrong with sitting down and talking about what type of PDAs you agree on. For instance, one partner might think it’s fine to walk around Superquinn with their hand on your arse, whereas the other would be totally mortified!” Before things get hot and steamy in the frozen foods aisle, remember that less is more when it comes to PDAs.

“You don’t have to be climbing all over each other or putting on some kind of Amsterdam-style sex show to prove you appreciate your partner,” says Hot Press sex columnist Anne Sexton. “Being comfortable enough to stroll down Grafton Street hand-in-hand is a better indicator that your relationship is solid.”

“I would say that holding hands and kissing, to a certain extent, in public is not just acceptable but necessary for longevity in a relationship.”

“The culture of PDAs is only really a recent thing here; previously, there was some notion that PDAs were only for people who either didn’t have a room to go to or were drunk. I think it’s a hangover from our Catholic past, when the parish priest would harangue a couple for holding hands or people would be afraid they’d get a reputation around the village.”

But if it’s a reputation you’re after, sexpert Anne reckons that something as simple as holding hands in public speaks more loudly than screaming the house down in pleasure.

“Couples with a good physical connection outside of the bedroom usually have the best sex lives,” she says.

“If you take Barack and Michelle Obama who are so openly affectionate, you imagine they’re very sexually intimate too — compared to George and Laura Bush, who could almost have been brother and sister.”

Source: Irish Independent

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  1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: lenka

    i think there is a limit to everything true..but people know their limits to not go beyond so as to make it look vulgar…display of affection such as holding hands,hug,peck on cheeks ,etc definately cannot be taken in bad taste….young couples who are not able to get a room will try finding places outside but yes will attempt to display affection when noone is around…but if there are public officials only on a lookout for such innocent couples to make some quick money..this leads to a lot of harrassment to the young generation..whats the extent of power the public officials section 294 IPC says “in the annoyance to others” will the guard or security be considered as “others” who decides that the act is obscene…

  2. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: lenka

    what about kissing in the car in the parking lot..are the parking guys sopposed to knock and charge you or threaten to drag you the police station..wts the degree of authority they have…will he be considered public…

  3. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: maria andros

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  4. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Unsure

    can a relationship work out if the guy doesnt show enough PDA that the girl is hoping for? my boyfriend doesnt seem to think it’s important and when i tell him about how i’d like to see some PDA, he tells me i’m insecure and why do i care about what other people think? he has a point because i shouldnt care what other people think, but its hard because when i see other couples we’re around and they’re holding hands and pecking kisses, it makes me feel left out that mine isnt doing that to me. He has no problem doing it in private though.. just when it comes to public. i guess it makes him uncomfortable. for example, we walk up to a party. from the car to the front door, he’s holding my hand, but the minute we step into the house, he lets go.

    1. Depends on the girl. Does not look like your boyfriend wants to change or even thinks it’s necessary. So it’s up to you to decide if his other qualities outweigh his lack of interest in PDA and if you can be in a relationship where PDA is not part of it. If you can, then the relationship can work, if you can’t (and keep nagging him about it), the relationship can’t work! UNLESS he decides to change on his own.

  5. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: brazilian girl

    Btw, I love you blog. Your articles are insightful! I’ve alrealdy recommended it to some (brazilian) friends of mine! 🙂

    1. THANKS A LOT! I hope you’ll continue leaving your comments as I value and appreciate how different cultures and peoples love (their own way). I think that many people will be interested to know we “DO” differently – and it’s all is good! 😉

  6. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: brazilian girl

    yeah! I’ve seen it! That’s totally true! 🙂
    I know a couple of north american girls that moved to Brazil because they fell in love with brazilians… both of them told me brazilian guys are quite different from american guys because they like holding-hands everywhere they are… 🙂

  7. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Muretto

    What counts as PDA tends to differ greatly with each individual, age, the cultural norms with which a person has been raised and the norms prevalent in the environment where a person resides. Grabbing, groping and slurping regardless of culture is disrespectful and offensive. There is a line between display of affection and display of sexual lust. Get a room! LOL

  8. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Sleepless In NYC

    I love for my man to show a little affection in public but I’ve never been w/ someone who affectionate in public. My last boyfriend wouldn’t even hold hand because he didn’t want people to think he was house-trained.

  9. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Buster

    I think that basic affectionate in public is good for one’s love life but only when it’s not an attempt to mislead or cover up some issues going on in the relationship.

  10. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: DonQ29


    “just not very affectionate” is not exclusive to men, it applies to women too.

    I’m about to say something that may be offensive to some people, but please bear in mind it’s not my intention to offend anyone. I’ve dated plain women with intelligence and personality and I’ve dated drop dead gorgeous women, some can hardly be called intelligent. It’s easier to be more openly affectionate in public and even make out with a hot looking chick. It’s flaky but it’s the reality.

    Good blog topic.

  11. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Uday

    I’m Indian, and kissing in public in Indian culture is a NO-NO. It’s considered a mild form of exhibitionism and disrespectful to others. But it’s very common to see excited couples running and jumping into each others arms after several days apart.

  12. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Duped007

    I love seeing couples being affectionate in public but I’m so awkward with it. Maybe it has to do with my Northern European ancestry.

  13. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Modwana

    GOLDIE and MissyXOXO, some men are just not very affectionate. I’ve known one or two myself. I’m currently with a man I met through work a couple of months ago. In the beginning he was very reserved about showing any displays of affection in public. We talked about it and agreed to meet each other half-way. Slowly I figured out what turns him sweet and just plain silly with me in public (not X-Rated of course). We’re publically affectionate with each other anywhere. Now I just need to figure out how to get him to agree to some of my PDA dark fantasies LOL.

    Keep heart, some guys do change but through love and not nagging him to change.

  14. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: MissyXOXO

    My bf says he does not want to make other people feel uncomfortable. I get that, but he will not even do subtle things like holding hands or the occasional hug. We’ve talked about it so many times but he says he loves me and feels that he doesn’t have to prove his love for me in public. I’m trying to understand his point of view but part of me thinks may be he is not the right one for me?

    1. It’s not up to me to tell you who is right for you, you decide that on your own. But if this is the worst of your relationship problems, then you should count yourself “very lucky”. I however, suspect there are other things that make you feel he’s not the right one for you.

      If this is really so important to you, may be you can try doing something that is non-traditional PDA; something that is not so obvious that it even slightly draws attention. Say you’re crossing a street or getting out of a car and he happens to be near, grab onto his arm for support, hold it briefly then let go. You can also do this when drawing his attention to a price tag or building etc. It may not be your idea of PDA but it is affectionate and it is public… 🙂

  15. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Matt

    I’m very physically affectionate and used to do it a lot with my ex but I’ve put on quite some weight, over 300lbs. The supermarket aisle is just too small!

  16. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: GOLDIE

    I am dating a man that is 11 years younger than me. When we’re alone he is very affectionate but in public he acts indifferent. I’m beginning to think he’s ashamed of being seen with an older woman. How can I get him to be affectionate in public?

    1. Talk to him, may be he’s not ashamed of being seen with you but just not comfortable showing affection in public. Explain why it’s important to you and if he says he just can’t do it then decide for yourself if it’s that big of an issue for you. Trying to force him to do what he does not want to do isn’t the same thing as him doing it because he wants to.

  17. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Dr.Conrad

    I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your blog and site design, very professional but warm and friendly. Good day.

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