Today’s theme is Public Displays of Affection (thanks lilmisskaty), something which I believe depends on a number of factors. It’s quite a broad spectrum of actions, of moments and to group it all together would be as silly as grouping all kinds of animals when there’s different things about each breed/type of animal which makes them different from each other. You don’t put a cat in a cage because you expect it to act like a lion, so why should you screw your nose up at public displays of affection when there’s varying degrees?
The following factors determine what I find appropriate and what I consider ‘too much’.
1) How much affection is involved?
The amount of affection is important. There are lots of different acts that can be constituted as PDAs. Not just the passionate embrace or legs intertwined. What about hand holding? Or resting your hand on your partners back? Or how about sitting with your hand on their knee? I’ve seen lots of different displays over the years and they really do vary. Even kissing; there’s a peck, a lingering kiss, using tongues, really going for it all fast and passionate (though that might only be on television?). Are they all as cringeworthy as each other? I imagine not. Most people probably don’t even notice hand holding (unless you’re a same sex couple, see point four) and as for a hand on your partners back and/or leg, people seem to brush it off as one of those things. If you started smooching in front of people, that’s when it becomes awkward and unwanted.
2) The purpose/reason behind the PDA.
I doubt the majority of reasons behind a PDA are the kind which would be acceptable. Kissing your partner by slobbering over their face because you’re spending a few hours apart at work isn’t really a good enough reason in my opinion. But if that same partner is going to spend three months in another country, away from you, well, I can almost forgive that. People seem to smooch in public for all sorts of reasons and quite frankly, none of them cut it. You don’t need to play tonsil tennis in public when you have a house nearby that is sufficient, or at least find a quiet corner where no one will interrupt you.
3) The location.
As I mentioned in point two, finding a quiet corner somewhere is probably the best option. Actually no, not doing it at all would be the best option for me and those who dislike PDAs. Smooching in the middle of a shopping centre? You’ll be in the way. Smooching at the train station? Sort of expected, if there’s a good enough reason, like mentioned in point one. At a children’s play area? Not needed, nor really wanted. Not in front of the kids, please. I’m not one for censoring them from every little thing, but it’s not even about what’s appropriate or not, it’s about respect. So please, if you must (and I use that word loosely) find a quiet corner away from the crowds.
I’m not one for favouring some things over others but I do believe if you’re in a gay relationship and you display affection in public you’re likely to get an audience of some capacity. Unrightly so. It’s almost like it’s more acceptable for a man and woman to suck each other’s face off with their hands in ‘inappropriate places’ in the middle of a supermarket than it is for a gay or lesbian couple to share a quick peck at the train station. I don’t know why? I’m not saying gay or lesbian couples shouldn’t be allowed to have a major smooch, if anything I’m more open to a gay couple going for it in public simply because it’s like sticking two fingers up at the bigots.
In reality though, everyone should keep the more extreme PDAs in their homes.
I believe that public displays of affection really do depend on these different factors and probably more besides. Overall, I think people are just blind to what’s around them. Why else do people spit in the street? Play music on their mobile phones? Stop mid-walk when there are people behind them? They don’t always care to look around them, to pay attention, to consider whether their present or future action is suitable for the location they’re in.
I’ll end on a brief anecdote of an experience of PDAs from many years ago.
I remember going on holiday to France as a child, I can’t have been very old because I was in primary school at the time. I definitely wasn’t seven or younger because I went to Florida at seven and this wasn’t before then. I digress, I remember walking through the ‘nightclub’ area of the camp site we stayed at and seeing a heterosexual couple going at it against a wall. Lots of kissing and canoodling. As a young child, even then, I thought that they were actually having sex. I don’t know to this day whether it was or whether it was just a passionate kiss. My point being that, if people believe any PDAs are inappropriate in society, it’s should be the ones which lead young children to believe they’re watching a couple having sex in public.