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Excessive PDA is Far From Okay

Dear Dating Doctor:

Maybe it's just me, but I am repulsed by the amount of PDA (public displays ofaffection) that I observe others engaged in. Maybe I am just getting older and prudish (I am 31 anddivorced). What do you think?

Tired of PDA


Dear Tired:

I too have noticed an abundance of PDA. Just last night I took a ride to the top of theEiffel Tower at King's Island. It was a beautiful, clear night. As I looked down and watched the waterfountains dance with color, I heard a noise to my left that resembled the sound of a child sucking downthe last drops of a milkshake. To my surprise, it was a young couple engaging in reverse CPR.

Lately, I had begun to wonder if I was overreacting to people involved in public lip-lock and body-Braillebecause I am a relationship columnist. But as I questioned friends, colleagues and readers, I found thatthey, too, had noticed peoples' increasing openness in public.

What I am sensing is that people are generally sick of PDA and wish that others would learn to temperthemselves. I couldn't agree more. When I think of PDA, I envision a couple of high school teens gropingeach other by the bathrooms and pay phones at a mall or an athletic event (like they were ever there toshop or watch the game in the first place). But lately, I have seen it all, and the PDA has transcendedall ages.

One couple of thirtysomethings sharing the same side of a booth in a restaurant, were so heavily engagedin the throws of passion, that a family of four (with two small children) left before their dinner hadarrived. Another couple (in their mid 20s) while taking in a Red's game, was attempting to discover justhow inconspicuously they could maneuver their hands under the clothing of the other. Now granted, Redsgames are boring, but this is still unacceptable.

These situations are examples of inappropriate PDA. Onlookers despise it. Participants revel in it.These moments are awkward for the observers who must endure them, and embarrassing for the "lusting"couples as well. Unfortunately, those lusting are so focused on their own self-gratification that theyare oblivious to the atmosphere they have created.

A common thought I entertain is that if people go to these extremes in public, imagine what they must doin private. Their private lives are none of our business. Similarly, their physical relationshipsshouldn't infringe on our lives. We shouldn't have to encourage them to "get a room," skip out on awonderful meal or turn our heads at a ballgame in order to accommodate them. A very poor message is sentto children when teens and adults go too far in public. If these people truly respected one another, theywould think before they acted and would not let body parts other than their brain do their thinking forthem.

There is appropriate PDA. Romantic hand-holding, walking arm-in-arm or a brief, affectionate kiss. Aloving smile. A private message whispered into a loved one's ear.Opening doors for one another. This type of affection is charming, tolerable and endearing. An elderlycouple exhibiting tenderness can warm our hearts and provide hope for our future.

PDA comes down to acts of lust versus terms of endearment. We simply ask to be spared the public mauling,grunting, slurping and groping. When we find ourselves in the mood to view such behavior, we can alwaystune into the Jerry Spring Show.


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