“Get a room!” We’ve all heard this phrase at some point, and we’ve all probably used it ourselves. It’s muttered, or said loudly, when a couple is displaying too much affection in a public space. At some point the public display of affection crosses a line and is no longer appropriate.
But where is the line drawn? And who draws it?
It’s going to depend on where you are. In the United States, public displays of affection like holding hands and hugging and brief kisses are acceptable to most people. When you’re in public, you understand that there are many different types of people around you, people of different generations, religions, and upbringings; some people don’t like to see any physical touching at all, but to others, making out at a restaurant is perfectly ok.
While we can’t know what all other people consider to be disrespectful, we can choose to moderate our behavior enough to offend the least amount of people wherever we happen to be.
Before your next public display of affection, keep these five things in mind
- If in doubt, err on the side of caution. While everyone has different ideas about what is and is not an acceptable public display of affection, most people agree on the extremes: blatant groping, nudity, and sex are definite no’s, while hand-holding and a kiss on the cheek would be ok. Kissed your significant other and feel like you want to keep going? Better to stop right there.
- Trust your inner guide: If you think you’re going too far, you probably are.
- Location, location, location: the immediate venue kind: What’s ok in a dance club will be different from what’s ok out on a public street; the key is the expectations of the people around you. Do they have a reason to expect certain behavior? What’s ok at the ballet will be different from what’s ok at a rowdy concert. What’s ok in a quiet bookstore will be different than what’s ok at the noisy mall.
- Location, location, location: the surrounding society kind: A big city will have much different levels of tolerance than a small town, and different countries can have VERY different levels of acceptance for public displays of affection – some countries even have laws strictly forbiding it. If you’re planning a trip to a different country with your sweetheart, do some research & make sure you won’t get arrested if you indulge in any PDA.
- Do you want the moment to live on forever? If you decide to take it further than people might approve of, are you ok with the reactions & possible consequences? These days, this goes beyond simply scowls or angry words from people nearby; you could be photographed and the images put onto social media. Are you ok with those images following you forever?
When you’re out and about with your significant other, it’s sometimes hard NOT to display affection publicly. But remember that more often than not, the right look & a soft touch in public not only prevents offending others around you but also promises your partner much more for later, and that can be more thrilling for you both than any over-the-top public display of affection would be.
In the mood for a little more love talk? Check out my tips for How to Have a Thriving Relationship.