Just what constitutes PDA?


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Image from Jamiejakov on Flickr, taken by Sebasu_tan.

It's hard to balance adequately expressing your love for someone with it accidentally becoming a PDA or 'public display of affection'. When you think about it, what is wrong with a public display of affection in a world that needs more love? But often there is such a negative connotation around 'PDA' and for doing simple and affectionate things in public.

Of course perhaps I can only look at it this way now because I'm in a relationship, but even in the past I would still smile and secretly watch couples that have their arms around each other, sharing a kiss. The question still is, however, what is too much?

So what is too much?

This is what I'm confused about. When I first started dating, I was conscious of the fact that I would need to be subtle about some things. Particularly because of seeing what people complain about on Twitter, and being conscious of my own thoughts or things I'd said before about couples.

However, things that I saw others in relationships doing such as holding hands, sitting together or even kissing I felt seemed permissible for me to do myself — unless we're all just a huge bunch of hypocrites, as I'm sure we are. Things that would also be accepted amongst close friends I felt would be fine to do also, since what is your significant other but your best friend? These friends of mine acted in ways I wouldn't on an ordinary basis.

But I'm aware that what I may feel is enough, is not always the point of view of someone else.

We heard complaints about your behaviour

That is possibly the one sentence that can make my blood run cold. I try to be a good kid, although quiet, which is what made teachers tell my parents in school that I'm a diligent student but should talk more (answer more questions in class?) and ask more questions. It's not in my nature to draw attention, really.

When we were drawn aside a little while after we started dating and told that people were complaining about what I thought was the same as what others were doing anyway, I was unsure. What did I do wrong? We tried to be discreet. So we tried to do less. And perhaps as a result we switched off a little more to others.

But now that good friends have also found themselves partners, and I see their interactions both online and offline, I wonder at whether we did do too much, or if we didn't actually and it was something else that played into these purported complaints. Others sit together, or on their partner's lap, and casually talk about going out, kissing, anniversaries, and so on online or offline, whereas I've always been conscious as to how much I put, what I do and what I say.

Especially with people online complaining about those that celebrate their first month together. Just accept you can never win.

Reality or what you expect?

Is there a double standard? I don't know. Is it purely because others don't expect this behaviour that they are offended and don't want to see it, rather than the fact that generally it is okay to act that way? Others get told their behaviour is 'cute' and they make a good couple, whereas this is only something I have heard quite recently myself and it just adds to that fog of non-acceptance that my parents constantly generate.

I want to be free, but we are still learning to navigate this minefield and probably will continue to learn forever. It's not the same for everyone, but maybe, just maybe, it's time to let loose.