Everyone has varying opinions on how much PDA is OK. Certain factors like personality, general comfort in public, safety, and regard for other's feelings play a role in how someone interacts with their significant other out and about. Public displays of affection can boil down to simple preference, but for some, it can be a matter of safety in observing their surroundings.
For straight couples, or straight-appearing couples, PDA can just be about how you feel being public with showing love. You may want to hold your partner's hand down the street or kiss them goodbye above a subway station. For certain queer couples, PDA can be about weighing whether showing PDA in a certain atmosphere is even safe. These experiences are definitely different, and each couple can decide what works best for them. But for some, varying opinions on what PDA they like to exhibit can seriously affect a relationship.
Wendy, 26, says she once ended a relationship because her then-boyfriend touched her too much in public. "Even my friends noticed it," she tells Elite Daily. "But I usually say that I'm 'PDA-shy' now."
When PDA becomes less about showing love to your partner no matter where you are, and more about marking someone as "yours," it starts to feel really icky. Kelsey, 25, had a previous relationship in which PDA helped drive them apart.
"An ex of mine tried to use PDA as a way to show other people that we were together, which is incredibly possessive and toxic," Kelsey tells Elite Daily. "He was using these things that are meant to be affection as a way to claim his territory. I would get uncomfortable at how forceful he was, like grabbing me in places that I don't feel comfortable being touched in public. He then would get mad that I wasn't all over him. Clearly we didn't last and our feelings about PDA were definitely a factor in our breakup."
Now Kelsey feels comfortable with PDA as long as it's not "over the top and making other people uncomfortable."
"I totally understand why others would feel awkward around people hardcore making-out or 'getting it on' in public," she says. "I wouldn't say it bothers me, but I'm hyper-aware of what other people may feel like if they were watching or around it."
Others agree. Maddie, 24, is comfortable with hand-holding, hugging, and kissing her boyfriend in public as long as it doesn't become a "full-on makeout." She says that she's probably more comfortable with PDA than her boyfriend is, and they've talked about it. She says he has "warmed up to it [PDA] over time."
Ben, 25, and his wife used to have different opinions on how they liked to show affection publicly. The two met at Jewish youth group, where a kissing culture was prevalent at events. In the years they've known each other, they've come to a compromise when it comes to PDA.
"I pushed for her to be more comfortable holding hands and hugging in public while we both agreed that intense kissing should remain in the private area," he tells Elite Daily. "Holding hands, a small kiss, even a deep embrace I see no issue with."
Sydnee, 26, is fine with similar acts of affection in public. "My philosophy is that I don't want to make the people around me uncomfortable," she tells Elite Daily. "In a public space, I feel they [other people] should be entitled to just as much as comfort as I am. So I try not to encroach or offend or annoy while at the same time expressing my affection with my partner. All about balance, you know?"
For queer couples, there's more to consider than what individuals in the relationship like or don't like.
Whitney*, 23, is fine with PDA ... to a degree.
"I only am comfortable with it in terms of my relationship when I am somewhere where I know it's safe to be queer," she says. "Just last week I saw on the internet that two girls in New York City were fighting about their relationship and actually kicked out of an Uber for 'being queer.' PDA is a privilege for most, and something I constantly think about as I go to hold my [girlfriend's] hand, post about my relationship on social media, and take up space even somewhere as liberal as NYC."
And finally, some don't have much of an opinion on PDA – as long as they don't have to see it.
"If you tongue someone in front of me, I will vomit on you," Marcia*, 24, says.
*Name changed at the request of the source.
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