Q: My guy is really into PDA. I’m not. At all. I find myself shirking away when he tries to kiss me in public, which I know—obviously—makes him feel bad. I don’t mean little kisses. I mean save it for the bedroom smooches. So, what do I do? Because I still very much want to kiss him in private.
A: I can feel for your boyfriend. On several occasions, I’ve been guilty of getting really into PDA. I was, like, just super attracted to the woman I was with (or extra drunk, or both), and wanted to kiss her with my tongue and touch her all of the time. It didn’t matter who was watching.
If said object of desire did not seem particularly excited or accepting of my advances, I would feel bad.
HOWEVER. When in these situations, if I had taken a moment to objectively consider what I was doing, I would have felt very ashamed, awkward, and embarrassed.
Because Public Displays of Affection are, as a general rule, not cool. Furthermore, they are not necessary, especially when you’re with a person you’re going steady with.* At some point in the evening, you’re going to find yourself in private with this person (if the dude in question stops playing grab ass at the dinner table, that is), at which point you can do what you want, do what you want with each other’s bodies.**
When you’re happily in a relationship, it’s sometimes easy to get tunnel vision, to forget that other people are around you who might be put off by something you’re doing. Your boyfriend may think PDA is a super cute way to show those around him that you’re his girl, but he is thinking wrong.
The best way to broach this topic with your boyfriend without offending or hurting him is to present a scenario that forces him to see logically. Tell him to pretend that he is a single person who has just woken up alone on a Tuesday morning. At the moment, he has no romantic prospects. He might even be recovering from a once-happy relationship or even marriage. Upon boarding the train for a work commute, he sees two people full-on making out, taking breaks only to Eskimo kiss and whisper god-only-knows-what in the ears of their chosen mate.
Ask him how this would make him feel. Tell him to be honest with himself about it. Make sure he knows that even if this truthfully wouldn’t bother him, there are other people who are grossed out and/or saddened when they see instances of PDA.
It’s important that during this conversation you repeatedly reassure him that it’s not that you don’t enjoy kissing him, and it’s certainly not that you’re ashamed for people to know that you’re together; it’s just that you don’t like to do so in public because of consideration for others.
Then, tell him what PDA you’re cool with—like holding hands, or quick little kisses, whatever you’re into that doesn’t toe the line. Set some parameters that will allow him to show that he digs you and you’re his girl that won’t make you and those around you uncomfortable.
Finally, if he’s well-behaved the next time you’re out in public, whisper something like this in his ear at some point:
“When we get home, I’m gonna ball you so hard, your mother’s gonna wanna fine me.”***
Best of luck.
*If you’ve just met a dude at the bar, though, and want to see what it’s like to French kiss him, but you don’t know him well enough to, like, show him where you live—go ahead and make out in public. It’s safer that way.
**That was kind of a Lady Gaga joke. I might hate myself.
***And that was a Kanye West joke. I definitely hate myself.