How Much Public Display of Affection Is Too Much?

How Much PDA Is Too Much PDA?

Public display of affection (PDA) isn’t for everyone.

There is a delicate science to knowing when it’s OK to engage in public displays of affection with your partner. 

I’m going to be straight with you: I’ve never been a fan of PDA. Holding hands and the occasional kiss are fine, but anything more than that is vom-worthy. My friend recently sent me a (40-second long) Snapchat video of her friends eye-gazing and giving each other Eskimo kisses at a local cafe, and I immediately wanted to throw my phone against the wall. It’s not just that I’m salty because I’m single. I find it disrespectful to basically rub your relationship in people’s faces. Some couples save the touchy-feely stuff for the heat of the bedroom or the comfort of the sofa, away from prying eyes, no witnesses to yucky pet names and absentminded stroking. Some lovers, however, want the world to see.

Couples create their own boundaries on how to express their love for one another in public, but some people seem to find PDA offensive or unnecessary.

First of all, consider the concept of “public” – what does it mean? If you can’t be seen, does it matter? Does the place you choose to be affectionate make a difference? If you feel the urge to reach out and touch your lover’s hand, or anything else you can lay your mitts on, you must scout out your surroundings. 

And I have to wonder why someone might be overly affectionate with their partner in public. While some people find it difficult to keep their hands off each other in the beginning phase of a relationship, others participate in PDA as a result of how comfortable they feel with one another, says sociologist Alicia Walker, Ph.D. “However, sometimes one partner engages in PDA because of insecurity in the relationship,” she explains. “They may also be signaling (consciously or subconsciously) to others that the person is ‘taken.’” 

Josh, 29, believes public affection makes people come across as lacking confidence more than anything else. “When I see people all over each other, I actually question their relationship,” he says. “Why do you need to convince others of how you feel about each other? When my wife and I are out with friends, we go our separate ways and don’t sit on each other’s laps. We have nothing to prove.” 

Of course, there’s no universal agreement on what is and isn’t appropriate, but there are a handful of guidelines you can follow to respectfully navigate PDA with your Significant other.

1. Figure out where you both stand.

Keeping in mind that your partner may be far more or less inclined toward PDA than you, have an honest conversation with them about how comfortable you are being physical with each other in public. “Willingness to participate in PDA is highly personal,” says Alicia Walker. “The reality is that someone’s comfort with it isn’t likely to change very much, but it’s important to understand where your partner stands.” So try not to take it personally or assume they’re ashamed of dating you if they’d prefer not to kiss in front of their friends. “While it can be frustrating to have a partner who refuses to even hold your hand in public, forcing or demanding that your partner participate in PDA will create friction,” Walker adds. 

Jake, 28, experienced incompatibility with his ex in this area. “She thought I wasn’t into her because I didn’t parade her around. She made me feel like my affection didn’t count because others weren’t witnessing it, which was annoying,” he says. “I didn’t want to have to put my arm around her or hold her hand [in public] just to validate ourselves — especially when I’d go out of my way to tell her how into her I was.”

If your and your partner’s preferences are misaligned, consider how important PDA is to you and whether or not it’s an area in which you’re willing to compromise. “If you’re someone who highly values PDA and your partner is completely opposed, the relationship isn’t necessarily doomed,” says Walker. Only you can decide if a mismatch matters enough to call it quits, but she warns it’s a red flag if someone pushes you to engage in public acts of affection that make you uncomfortable. “That tells you this person lacks respect for your boundaries and feelings. It’s really a matter of consent.” 

“If you’re someone who highly values PDA and your partner is completely opposed, the relationship isn’t necessarily doomed,” says Walker.

2. Consider the context. 

Veronica, 25, believes the appropriate level of PDA depends on the setting. “I think hand-holding, hugging, and kissing are fine, but no making out unless it’s a late night at a bar or club and everyone’s drunk,” she says. “That’s what I’m comfortable with in my own relationship.” John, 26, agrees that it’s important to consider your surroundings but feels most PDA is OK as long as your partner is on board. “I wouldn’t go shoving my tongue down my girl’s throat in front of small children, but at the bar, if she’s into it, why not?” 

There’s a time and place for everything, including intimacy. “Being aware of the context and expectations of the space you’re in matters,” says Walker. For example, it’s far more acceptable to sit on your partner’s lap at a bar than in a church. Still, I personally find it annoying to squeeze past a couple who can’t pull away from each other for 30 seconds when I want to order a margarita. Kevin, a 30-year-old bartender, confirms I’m not alone. “Nothing is worse than two people hooking up at a full bar,” he says. “They usually make everyone around them uncomfortable and ruin the vibe.” A quick check is often all it takes to avoid coming across as impolite or inconsiderate to a room full of people.

3. Respect others’ feelings about your behavior.

“In North American culture, holding hands and small pecks are generally acceptable in public spaces,” says Walker. “Making out, groping, and the like fall under behaviors that tend to make others uncomfortable.” It’s not a tried-and-true rule, but no matter where you are, you want to be mindful of how your behavior might affect those around you and respect the fact that it could be offensive to some people. 

“My college boyfriend and I made my roommate extremely uncomfortable when he put his hand in my back jean pocket at the mall,” says Jen, 28. “Once we got home, she sat us down like she was our parent and told us that how we acted in public was disrespectful.” Although Jen didn’t agree, she learned an important lesson. “Looking back now, I think the biggest thing to remember with PDA is it’s not so much what you accept but how you may be offending others around you.”

Short of completely keeping your hands to yourself, there’s no guarantee that any form of PDA won’t make someone uncomfortable. All you can do is scan the environment to make your best guess as to what’s appropriate then attempt to respect everyone’s feelings and boundaries. After all, it’ll probably only be a few hours until you’re home and free to do as you please. 


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22 surprising signs to tell if a shy guy likes you

How To Tell If A Shy Guy Likes You

So you want to know how to tell if a shy guy likes you.

It’s not easy!

You can’t go by a lot of the normal signs that a guy likes you… because shy guys act differently a lot of the time they like someone.

Sometimes it’s pretty tough to figure out whether or not a shy guy likes you. But here are signals you can watch out for that will tell you once and for all if that someone special shy guy really does like you.

Yes, it’s tough to know if you should push for a romantic relationship with a shy guy simply because you aren’t sure if he’s really interested in you or not.

However, that’s not to say that you can’t figure out if a shy guy likes you or not. In fact, a lot of the signs that a shy guy gives off that he likes you are going to be a lot more obvious than a guy with more confidence.

Not only that, but here’s another factor working in your favor: shy guys aren’t necessarily going to play games or be subtle about liking you. If he doesn’t have the confidence to walk up and ask you out, he’s not going to have the confidence to play hard to get or otherwise try to play games with you.

So don’t despair!

Nobody wants to waste their time right?

I’m going to give you the biggest signs that a shy guy likes you right now, so that you can know for sure how he feels about you, even if he’s too shy to ask you out.

1. He’s always smiling around you

Take it from a shy girl, shyness is hard. And because of that, you don’t get real smiles from us very often. Sure, the polite smiles that don’t reach the eyes are our go-to. But, that’s not real.

If you catch the shy guy you like always smiling ear from ear around you, there’s a good chance that he likes you. He thinks you’re fun and entertaining, and that’s one of the best reasons to like someone.

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2. He’s always wanting to help

No one wants to help you move, clean your apartment, or pick up your dry cleaning. But shy guys who like you want to help. They will go out of their way to help you so that they can spend time with you.

They may not outrightly say that they like you, but this is a big sign. He doesn’t care what it is that he has to do, he’ll do it for you. The best part about it is he won’t judge you for it.

3. You catch his gaze

Do you look behind your shoulder at him and find that he was already looking at you? If so, get used to the lingering gazes. Because they aren’t forward with their feelings, they will look and glance at you.

They’re probably thinking about how much they like you, so it’s pretty cute. And when you catch him, he might turn red and move his gaze back to his computer or notebook. You can turn back around knowing that he has feelings for you.

4. He’s a good listener

Shy guys are great at listening, but they only spend time with people that they actually want to listen to. If you’re sitting down and he’s listening intently to what you’re saying, that means he likes you.

Whether you’re already friends or have just met, this listener is doing it because he enjoys your company and likes spending time with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a big game or a work assignment, he’ll hang onto your every word.

5. He tries to be in your world

Even though he’s shy, he tries to hang out with you and your friends. Chances are, he doesn’t love being around your BFF. But if that means he gets to spend more time with you, he’ll do it. Honestly, he’ll even risk being friend zoned because he wants to be around you more.

Though it may seem totally different than other guys you’ve liked in the past, this is just his way to show that he’s interested in what you’re interested in—even if he seems like the awkward third wheel.

6. He fidgets and blushes

Most of the time, he’ll probably sit and listen to you. But when he does talk, it may come out funny. Shy guys are known for stammering and stuttering. Plus, he may fidget his fingers or blush. This just means he’s nervous.

And the reason for his nervousness? You. It’s a good thing. He wants to impress you, and as embarrassing as it may be for him, he’s doing it in the best way that he can.

7. He shares things about himself

Once he starts getting to know you more, he’ll let yourself into his world. The thing with shy people is that they often feel awkward or embarrassed about who they are. And chances are, they’re pretty introverted.

As you get to know him, his personality will come out more. Then, he’ll share some of his secrets with you. Don’t take this lightly—shy guys don’t share secrets about themselves very often.

8. He only has eyes for you

Do you ever go out with him to another scene and there are plenty of hot girls around? Well, most guys would have some wandering eyes. But a shy guy? He only has eyes for you. He  may not be admitting his feelings, but he definitely isn’t looking for anyone else.

Even if there are other women trying to get to know him, he’ll probably be awkward around them and look to you for some assurance. Trust me, it’s not because he thinks you’re his BFF. He wants to spend time with you.

9. He stops responding when you talk about another guy

Nothing is worse than hearing the person you like talking about another guy. So, if you bring up a guy and your shy guy seems to shut down or get a little bit annoyed, that means he likes you. He may roll his eyes, subtly say something, or flat out get annoyed.

If this happens, pat yourself on the back. This is definitely a sign that he has feelings for you.

10. He loves what you’re doing

We don’t usually love what someone’s doing unless we care about them. Shy guys are the same. Because they may be scared to tell you how they really feel, he’ll talk about how much he loves the things that you do.

Plus, he may even tag along for some of the things that you do just to show how much he cares about you.

11. He’s following you on social media

Possibly the best place to be friends, the shy guy will definitely start by following you on social media. He wants to see what you’re up to, and without making himself known, he can gather this info on social media.

If he gets enough courage, he might even like or comment on your photo. But, don’t expect the shy guys to be sliding into your DMs. 

12. His friends tease him

When you walk by him, do you see his friends whispering about you? This could be while you’re at the bar, at work, or if you’re younger, at school. When his friends are teasing him about you, that means he’s been talking about you.

They’re probably pressuring him to make a move—but we know that’s not going to happen. Their teasing is in hopes that you’ll find out he likes you and make a move yourself.

13. He knows the small details of your life

Shy guys are good listeners, especially when it comes to those tiny details. Maybe you mention one time that you like jolly ranchers. Then, he’ll remember that and always make sure he gives you jolly ranchers.

Even though you won’t remember mentioning jolly ranchers, he does. He remembers it, and he uses it as a way to show that he cares about you. It’s super cute, and it will take you by surprise a lot too.

14. He’ll try something new

He might be used to sticking to a routine, but when he meets you, he’ll try something new if you want him too. Though shy people often have a hard time trying new things, he’ll get uncomfortable if that means he gets to spend more time with you while doing it.

Just don’t expect him to be super happy about it. Though he may put up a little bit of a fight, pretty soon, he’ll do it for you.

15. He Seems Super Nervous And Clumsy When You’re Around

Lots of guys get weird around girls that they like. They act differently than they normally do, they talk differently than they normally do, and some guys get so nervous that they get way more clumsy than they normally are.

Usually, it’s guys who are naturally shy that get nervous and clumsy when their crush is around.

Obviously, there’s a caveat here. If he’s ALWAYS nervous and clumsy, and not just when you’re around – then it’s much less likely that he’s being nervous because he likes you, and much more likely that he’s just nervous and clumsy all the time.

16. He’s polite

Get used to having a true gentleman around. When he’s shy, he’ll open up your doors and do things for you that you may not usually get from the man that is constantly getting girls. Shy guys have studied up on their etiquette, and they want to impress.

In fact, he may be so polite at times that you’ll wonder if you’ve been friend zoned. It can be hard to decipher every once in a while, hence the next sign…

17. You get mixed signals

Are you sure that he likes you one day and then hopelessly confused the next day? Unfortunately, this can be normal with shy guys. They have a hard time talking about it all, and so some days they may show that they care and other days they may disappear.

It’s not that they’ve changed their minds. It’s the fact that they aren’t sure how you feel, so they don’t know whether or not their investment is worth the time.

18. He’s given you a nickname

Don’t count the shy guys out—they know how to come up with the sweetest nicknames. If he’s given you a pet name, even if it’s adorable or dorky, that means he likes you. Sure, it may be something you’d rather never hear him call you again, but that’s just his way to tease you and flirt with you.

Plus, he wants to see how you react to the nickname. Make sure you let him know that you like it because he’s using it for you.

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19. He touches you

Words can be hard for shy guys, so he’ll try to communicate with you through touch. It may not seem like much, but a gentle touch on your shoulder or arm can speak volumes to them. So, if you notice that he’s been touching you, whether it’s on your arm, leg, or maybe even putting his arm around you or holding hands, that’s a good sign he’s crushing on you hard.

It doesn’t have to be a monumental touch. He doesn’t need to kiss you to show you that he cares. You’ll probably have to do that.

20. He cares

Do you find him asking how your day is going or what’s happening in your life? If so, he cares about you. This is always a good thing. Shy guys don’t give up their hearts easily, so when they care about someone, they do so deeply. 

He’s showing you in a small way that he hopes your day is going well, and if it’s not, he’s there for you.

21. He Treats You Differently Than Other Women

This is the big sign. It’s the one that will hold true regardless of how shy he is.

Guys treat the women they’re interested in differently than they treat other women. They can’t help it – when a guy is interested in a woman she’s special to him, so of course he’s going to treat her differently.

This is where lots of women go wrong with guys. They think that a guy who flirts with them must like them – when really he could flirt with everyone he meets and it’s just his personality.

That’s why it’s so important to watch his behavior and figure out whether he’s treating you differently than the other women in his life.

If he treats you the same as he treats all the other women he knows, it’s a huge sign that he doesn’t feel anything special about you.

22. He finally tells you

Eventually, even shy guys will tell you that they like you. It may take them longer, and you probably will make the first move, but don’t worry. Once they tell you that they like you, they’re yours. Make sure to give them lots of signals that you feel the same way. It’ll make it easier for him to open up.


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