Thursday, January 2, 2014


In case you don’t know, PDA is an abbreviation for Public Display of Affection; i.e. holding hands with someone, kissing, touching, rubbing, massaging, etc. in the presence of other people. I’ve seen various degrees of it my entire life, and have been a participant, too; albeit, minor. Darling Husband and I (pre children) could be seen holding hands or sitting very close to each other on someone’s sofa. Nowadays, a peck of a kiss on the lips to say hello or good-bye is the extent of our PDA.

Young people and the newly married seem to have a monopoly on PDA. While sitting in Starbucks during my summer vacation, a couple appearing to be in their twenties could hardly contain themselves while waiting in line to order. Arms wrapped around each other, bodies pressed together, big smiles and little giggles—it was a definite distraction to me and the other customers. Nothing bad, though; we all peeked, made our assumptions, and got back to our coffee.

However, in church, I am distracted by PDA a little more. Yes, I said church. Often, I see a husband with his arm resting on the back of the chair that his wife is sitting in, gently caressing her shoulder. Sometimes, she leans into him, her head on his body.

“How sweet,” I think.

Again, no big deal.

But one couple (that I used to see) took my mind off the pastor and his lesson longer than the typical five second distraction. Sitting only a few rows behind them, I had a clear view of the husband fingering through his wife’s corn silk hair as it fanned between his fingers and fell back in place. He’d add a little massage to her neck here and there, too, as she sat relaxed and still and attentive to what the pastor was teaching.

Or was she?

I’d find myself wondering if the hair play really felt good to her; that she didn’t care that others around her were surely noticing. Or, did she really want to tell her husband, “Leave my hair alone!” but too meek to interrupt his show.

(I don’t see them anymore. I wonder what happened to them.)

And then there is the massager—a man who rubs his wife’s back—a lot. He makes a circular motion as she leans slightly forward. Then he goes up to the neck and gives a little squeeze before resuming the circular motion—kind of like the kid waxing the car in The Karate Kid movie.

They are less distracting than the other couple was. Is it because they are older and heavier and have gray hair? In other words, he seems to be giving his wife comfort for a back issue, whereas the other couple appeared sensual.

And why does this take my attention from the pastor’s teaching on The Sermon on the Mount or some other encouraging or disciplinary message that I probably need to hear? What is it about PDA that gets a reaction out of us?

A letter to MissManners in the Washington Post expressed a woman’s annoyance with her brother-in-law’s constant PDA with his wife. She said she’s not “a prude,” but that the couple is driving her “bonkers.” And these people are in their late twenties and early thirties.

Like most situations in life, we all have our own way of responding. Public displays of affection aren’t major on my list of distractions; unless we’re talking about pure exhibitionists like the pimp man strolling down the street with two scantily clad prostitutes women on each of his arms that my family and I shared a sidewalk with while in Puerto Rico. On second thought, that wasn’t PDA; that was business.

Lately, I’ve noticed a few of my older/empty nest friends and neighbors holding hands while taking a leisurely walk. That goes into the “how sweet” category; hardly, the “get a room” category. Maybe Darling Husband and I will get back to it when we become empty nesters.

How do you feel about public displays of affection (PDA)?

image found here


joeh said...

I am a big fan of hand holding. My step-crank and his GF have to kiss at dinner to prove how much "In Love" they are. annoys the hell out of me.

I told Mrs. Cranky if they do it one more time I am going to grab her and ram my tongue down her throat and fondle her ass right in front of them!!

She said "no you won't, your a WASP!"
She is right...damn!! still bothers me, I think it is disrespectful.

Tabor said...

There is a time an place for everything. Hand holding is fine. An arm draped around the shoulders is OK. Anything more than that belongs at home or in the cozy private corner of a restaurant.

Barb said...

PDA in CHURCH? When I was teaching in high school and college (dark ages), I had to monitor the halls and discourage blatant physical affection. I can't even imagine what is allowed nowadays! Here's where I'm coming from: When I went to college, dates had to sit 1 foot apart in the reception area of the women's dorm and our feet had to be on the floor. No men allowed upstairs, of course. My husband & I often hold hands when we walk. Perhaps we hope to keep each other from tripping? Glad to see you back Anita. Love the new title! All the best in 2014!

Abby said...

I don't mind couples holding hands or gently caressing backs/shoulders in public. A lips-only quick kiss in greeting or departing is okay too. Even a quick pat on the rump is usually fine. Anything other than that seems like it's done to purposely provoke attention, just putting on a show.

I like the new title! Happy New Year!

yonca said...

I like hand holding which we used to do this. Also i am ok with kissing too. Just it depends on the statuation I think..when and where.
I like the new name and the new look:)Happy New Year, Anita!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

This makes me think of a recent conference my husband and I went to (The Power of Right Believing with Pastor Joseph Prince). My husband and I had been working non-stop for hours behind the scenes, ushering, collecting things, and so on. After worship, when we *finally* got to sit down in our seats, that area was cramped for various reasons (plus the camera guy was right there), so we sat somewhat angled. My husband is a big guy and the only way that would work was if I leaned forward to give his broad shoulder and arm room behind me. Usually, when we sit this way, he ends up doing pretty much what you described... rubbing my back, my shoulder, ect. (He has a hard time keeping still, so it was probably either that or bobbing his knee up and down, which drives me crazy!) Anyway. Like I said, we'd had a loooong (though great) day, and perhaps he was showing me by doing that that "whew, we can relax and enjoy and be filled now, too!" or maybe it was just his way of showing that he loved me. Or, he just couldn't keep still.

My point is, I think, a lot of times, for couples who've been together a while (we've been married over 16 years now; we're both 35, and have three teenagers, so you can imagine how often we have time "alone"), something like rubbing shoulders, or backs (even in "church"--this technically was most definitely that environment), is just what you do. I know he was paying attention, I know I was paying attention... we were in our own world just so happy to be where we were and blessed to get to hear the Word we wanted to hear.

Had we started kissing, uh, yeah--that would have been a bit much (at least, "in" church--I see no prob with a quick peck in public). But, to me, this is one of those things like when I'm in the theater and someone starts eating popcorn. If I don't notice they're doing it, I'm good. If I *do*, however, then it's all I can think about. (Perhaps that's why the one couple began to get to you so much -- once we notice stuff like that, it's a distraction because we can't "un-notice" it!!!)

And... that became a post that I really didn't plan to be so long! (Sorry!)

Blessed new year, Anita! :)

Judy Thomas said...

I don't mind some PDA, but some couples, especially kids, over do it ( though remind me to tell you about a middle-aged couple having sex in the PUBLIC hot tub at Great Wolf Lodge some day! Now that is WAY too much!) I like to see hand holding,a brief kiss, a cuddle or nuzzle...that shows love.

Judy Thomas said...

I like the new title too!

Mari said...

I have no problem with hand holding, arm around the shoulder or back rubs. Kissing or "making out" in public is annoying.
I like the new title!

Linda Hensley said...

I love your new title too. Good job! It speaks directly to the reason I keep coming back, because I'm always curious to see what you've been thinking about.

As for PDA, I like seeing the sweet touches between old people or gentle signs of affection. Watching someone else put on a display to offend or out of a lack of consideration, not so much. Maybe the world might be better with more hand holding?

Hilary said...

It appears that most of us feel pretty much the same way. We're cool with and even touched by couples who hold hands and who offer one another a brief kiss or a touch that just keeps then connected but not CONNECTED. And I see, understand and am fine with Jessica's perspective. I'd like to add another layer to my acceptance of this sort of PDA along with its limits. I feel the exact same way toward PDA between same sex partners, though I know that that changes things for a lot of people. Overly effusive PDA between partners of any gender is uncomfortable and awkward for most but as described by most of your people and yourself here, is equally acceptable and endearing to me.

Also like your other readers, I love the new blog title and look. Well done.

Unknown said...

Anita, your blog makeover is great and the topic, also, great! I know I can come over to visit and get into discussion. :) My hubby and I are technically newlyweds, although this is the second time around for the both of us. It is so good to feel his hand in mine but for some reason, I especially like his arm around me or my chair when we're at church. I feel that sense of closeness is a reminder that he is my gift that God has given me. We always hold hands when we're praying and when we walk around. It just feels good to know that we have and enjoy that affection with one another.

Today, while grocery shopping, I was saying to him, "I need...I need..." and when he looked at me, I said, "A kiss!" We quickly kissed and continued shopping. Our relationship is build on that affection towards one another but far be it, it's not a "get a room" type of expression! :)

Linda said...

I agree with Tabor, Anita...there is a time and a place for everything. Although I have no issue with people holding hands, giving a short kiss or something like that, I have to admit that I get pretty uncomfortable when I see a couple "necking" on a bus, in a restaurant, etc. I say, "Save that for when you are in private." Great post. Happy New Year to you. :)

Ms. CrankyPants said...

When I was a kid, there was an old man who often sat in front of me in church. Every time we had to stand up, he would vigorously clench and unclench his butt cheeks. I guess it was for exercise? It was extremely distracting. YET - I could not look away. So people could have been engaged in all sorts of PDA nearby and I would have been none the wiser.

Peaches Ledwidge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peaches Ledwidge said...

I forgot to mention that I love your new profile picture, too.

Peaches Ledwidge said...

I am in the newly wed bracket (almost 4 years). I still can't take my hands off my partner. We almost always hold hands when we walk or I hold his hand. I love being close to him. What can I say? Like how a TV goes with a VCR (a bit dated), walking together means holding hands.

I am more conservative in church about the hand on my shoulder, but I still latch onto his hand after the singing of a song of the reading of a scripture. I don't lean in on him (in church). I don't do the kissy thingy either in public. Maybe a peck.

It's an automatic response for me. Ms. Prude (lol), should I just listen to the pastor preach in church and let go of my hubby's hand? After all, he's not running away. (I hope never).

Happy New Year, Anita. I love your topics, and I love the question marks as part of your new page design, and I love the new blog title.

fsmum said...

The only PDA's I get these days are the when we do the 'sign of peace' at mass, a handshake! Even my six year old won't let me kiss him or hold his hand in public.

Mage said...

Nice title. It covers everything. PD's do bother me. I'm a trained prude, and only after lots of years have I outgrown my Victorian upbringing. Most of the Grandkids still hug here, and I can always be found holding G's hand. Even at a meeting. :)

Rebecca S. said...

My husband and I restrict it to handholding and maybe a little peck when saying hello or goodbye. There is a couple in our church that make me giggle when I see them. He always has his arm around her waist any time they are standing - sort of as to say, "This is my woman." A couple of Sundays ago he had his hand in her back pocket. I thought that was a little much for church, but whatever. When couples are all over each other in public I think one of two things: their time in private must be exhausting ;) or, they are a very new couple and just trying it all on in public. I like the new look, Anita!

Rob-bear said...

PDAs are OK, I think. But when it get to "sex in public" I think that's a bit much.

My wife and I often hold hand when were out walking. I give people hugs at church.

You've got a great new title for your blog!

blessings and Bear hugs, Anita!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Funny-- The PDA you described in church bothers me far less than the way some people DRESS for church. I maybe old fashioned but the younger generation does not always know the meaning of "church clothes" like back in my day. Do you see this as well?

Happy New Year, jj

Cathy said...

Hello Anita
I don't mind public affection as long as I don't have to 'get an eyeful' - how sweet we say when youngsters stand in queued acing each other and looking starry eyed at each other - then the nibbles start and they the pecks. Then the sloppy kisses and all this the other day in the queue at the bank.
Then The Golfer pinches me on the bum, ooh I said smile a 'secret' smile and stop grizzling - we were all young once lol
Happy New Year to you and your family

Margie said...

Anita, first I must say thank you "so very much" for your visit to my last post and kind words.
My heart was touched greatly by your kindness.
I must admit I am a bit scared for myself and sister too.
Lots of people have us in their prayers which I so appreciate.
Prayers are always good and thank you for yours!

The blog looks great and great name.

I think hand holding is nice and I do that with my hububy when we are out walking and love holding his hand at the movies.

Happy and wonderful New Year to you.


Munir said...

I could not care less who is looking, if my kids need a hug, they need a hug. Hmm, my husband although not a kid got a lot of hugs from me when he was told that he was going in for an open heart surgery. Some one watching? who cares - - -

ShadowRun300 said...

I'm like you - hand holding and a quick peck hello or goodbye is enough PDA for me. I'm even ok with others showing a little more PDA, but some people go way too far.
Fun topic! And I like the new title too! :)

Buckeroomama said...

Some degree of PDA is fine --hand-holding, a quick peck, a heartfelt hug. Now, making a show out of PDA is not. In my book, at least.

GreenAngel said...

Please! No rubbing his/her back,head etc in church! We are all sitting together in a close enviornment.Trust me it's distracting to those that are sitting around you. Why call attention to yourselves?