Mediating public displays of affection vital to maintaining appropriateness

Most of us are familiar with public displays of affection, or PDA as it is more commonly known, and all of us have most certainly seen more of it than desired at some point in our lives. Wherever it is, PDA can cause awkward and uncomfortable situations.

Relationships revolve around showing the affection and love you have for your significant other, which can be an amazing and exhilarating feeling. If you are in a happy and loving relationship, however, you should be conscious of your actions in public places and consider certain boundaries. 

Subtle and appropriate forms of PDA can include holding hands, hugging, quick kisses and putting your arm around your significant other. Anything beyond this, on the other hand, might become disrespectful or inappropriate.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based etiquette columnist and author of Urban Etiquette: Marvelous Manners for the Modern Metropolis Charles Purdy believes there are clearly defined parameters for how much PDA people find excessive.

“In moderation, and in the right venue, [PDA] is fine,” Purdy said. “Assuming that one half of the couple isn’t leaving for a two-year deep-space mission, I’ll say that any PDA beyond the hand-holding, arm-around-the-waist, closed-mouth-kiss type is out of order.”  

Couples are often aware of what they are doing, but simply don’t care, according to Purdy. It’s important to be considerate of your surroundings when engaging in any type of PDA. The setting is key to consider when showing affection to someone.

“The problem isn’t that most people don’t know where PDA is tacky or inappropriate. The problem is that some people just don’t care,” Purdy said. “When in doubt, simply pay attention to the behavior of the people around you.”  

Excessive affection in public between couples can cause some people to wonder why these individuals choose to act in such a careless and disrespectful manner. A study carried out by University of Kansas psychologists researched reasons behind why so many teenagers and young adults engage in public displays of affection. The study focused on reasons for engaging in PDA across both genders, according to The Independent.

Research showed that the majority of both men and women who chose to make-out in public did it “to enhance their image or status by proving they were capable of making out with a particular person.” 

There was, however, a bit of variation between sexes. The study revealed that the rationale for many women engaging in PDA was to make other women jealous. For men, the motive was to seem “like a player,” according to the study.  

A good guideline to follow when you are unsure of whether or not the action you are about to take is appropriate is to just save it for when you are in private. Exercising self-control in this situation is crucial. 

Whatever your motive is for showing PDA, just remember that there is a time and place for everything. Be courteous and mindful in public settings in order to avoid making people feel uncomfortable.