pda_police_matchpoint.jpgGone are the days when a brief, chaste kiss on the hand would suffice to signify a man’s undying love and devotion for his sweetheart. With the changing times and the changing norms of Philippine society, couples have become more liberal in expressing how they feel, even in the presence of other people.    

However, although it is inherent in human nature to convey how much we love our significant other, there may be times when couples get carried away by their emotions and engage in certain acts which—although considered as simple paglalambing on their part—may border on the inappropriate to the public eye. These acts or gestures make the people around them a poor, unwitting audience to an overly enthusiastic spectacle of love. Not only will people tend to feel annoyed and uncomfortable because of such actions, but excessive PDA may also cause embarrassment to the couple themselves, whether they may be aware of it or not.

Here are a few guidelines to observe when expressing your love in public, so that you and your beloved may never have to be on the receiving end of the proverbial line, “Get a room!”  

Holding hands is perfectly acceptable.

It is actually quite poignant to witness two people strolling along the street with their hands tenderly clasped together, fingers interlocked. Holding your lover’s hands gives both of you a sense of security and is a sweet, heart-on-sleeve indication that you are committed to each other.

However, when engaged in the old HHWW, be sure to take your immediate environment into consideration, especially since you are expected to observe certain rules of etiquette depending on where you are and who you’re with. When you are at school or at work, there may be certain rules regulating public displays of affection, and even holding hands may fall under a certain prohibition. Also avoid holding hands in church, during a class lecture, or in meetings, out of respect for the speaker and for the solemnity of the occasion.

Saying “I love you” in public is sweet (just don’t overdo it)

It’s always heart-warming to catch someone casually whisper “I love you” into his or her partner’s ear or to hear it dropped in the middle of an ordinary conversation between lovers. It’s the simplest way for couples to express and remind each other of how they feel, without the element of touch. Just don’t overdo it in public, as the people around you might doubt the sincerity you put into those words if you say them far too often.

No dirty talk in public, please

While saying “I love you” is all right by most people, saying things like “I want you” and the more serious forms or variations of “dirty talk” in the presence of others makes for an awkward situation. If you really can’t contain how you feel and must absolutely let your partner know how much you’re dying to pounce on him, then it would be more advisable—and, of course, more considerate—to whisper it in his ear or send him an SMS instead.

Limit kissing in public to quick pecks on the lips, forehead, or cheek 

Anything beyond sharing light, quick kisses should be reserved for private moments. You know you’ve gone too far when tongue and a bit of saliva get involved. Also, be sure to limit hugging and kissing in public to appropriate occasions, such as when parting ways with your significant other after a lovely date or when seeing him off at the airport, train station, and the like.

Don’t let your hands wander too far.

Most people feel uneasy and have to avert their eyes when they see that your hands have settled anywhere below your partner’s belt. Although you may not see anything wrong with slipping your hand into the pocket of your partner’s jeans while walking (or have him do the same to you), the gesture may come off as disrespectful or highly sexual to other people. It would be more advisable to limit yourself to holding hands instead.   

pda_police_kissing.jpgIt is a well-entrenched rule in etiquette that there should be no face-eating in public.

Variations of face-eating include tongue-wrestling (which, on the worst occasions, are even accompanied by groping, up-skirting and other movements involving the lower regions of one’s body), neck-sucking, and biting. While the two latter variations may look sexy and appealing in vampire movies, they usually evoke nothing but shame and disgust when performed before an appalled audience.    

Neither shall there be any face-eating or other acts of impropriety in movie theaters, at beaches, or in parks.

Some forms of PDA must exclusively be undertaken in the bedroom or another private location. Public places such as parks, the UP Sunken Garden, the beach, or movie theaters are not the proper venues for excessive lovey-dovey.  You do not have the license to “get busy” with your partner just because the movie theater is dark. Technically, you are still surrounded by people who would like to enjoy the movie they paid for, without having to consciously avoid glancing in your direction.

This rule must especially be observed when you’re in the middle of watching something like Up or Finding Nemo, where you’re likely to be around a lot of younger folk. If your need has already reached an overwhelming point, then ask your partner if it would be all right to head home or go to a fitting venue where no one will have to bear witness to whatever you intend to do.

Avoid making out in parking lots and alleyways.

Just when you think the place is deserted, you might have a couple of policemen come knocking on your car window to inquire menacingly what you two have been up to. Avoid the unnecessary embarrassment of explaining yourself by not taking the risk in such locations. Again, making out has its proper venue.

Please spare the children.

While adults may be more tolerant of your affectionate behavior in public, this may not have a positive effect on the children. Kids who will be inadvertently caught right smack in the middle of your overenthusiastic make-out session may not comprehend what they are witnessing, and you may inadvertently be setting a bad example for them.  

Always be mindful of what other people may feel.

At the end of the day, the basic rule to observe is to be considerate. Think of how those around you would respond to or feel about your public displays of affection. You would not want to be the cause of their discomfort.  Moreover, these excessive displays may cause some people to perceive you in a demeaning light. Whatever you do, always bear in mind the importance of being sensitive to those around you, for your sake and theirs.

We’re not saying that you should never let things get hot and heavy with your honey—far from it. The cardinal rule for PDAs is that there’s a time and place for everything. Think about how you would feel if you saw other couples being excessively loving while you’re out in the mall, at a restaurant, and so forth. Awkward, much? Do you feel the need to avert your eyes? Perhaps experience a vague nausea? Then it’s likely that your doing the same thing with your sweetie will have others reacting the same way. Keep it sweet.

(Photo from
Match Point courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures; photo source for couple kissing on wharf: sxc.hu)
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