Is it that he never holds your hand or kisses you in public, or that he does it too much and makes everyone around you squirmy and vaguely nauseated? Is it that you like that your friend has a new boyfriend and feel so happy for her when he strokes her soft cheek at TGIF's over chicken wings, or that you want to run out of there screaming without paying and never ever go out with the two of them again?
Public Displays of Affection, or PDA as it is affectionately known, can be as tricky as that non-relationship you have with your mother-in-law. Balance, intuition, and a fine reading of social cues come into play as never before, causing you to want to pull your hair out, grab his hand or push it off you, depending on your personal PDA situation.
I have married women friends who are so distraught and dejected over their partner's complete lack of PDA that their marriages are in a constant state of flux and recovery. They feel unloved, unappreciated, undervalued and ignored as they saunter out to dinner, to a movie, to a friend's house, to a community event with their significant other paying about as much attention to them as they would to a speck of lint, either walking twenty paces ahead of them or catching up with them later, sitting across the room, on the other side of the couch, talking, endlessly, to someone else.
How these women long for a held hand during a peaceful walk, or a cuddle on the couch at the neighbors; an arm around the shoulder at the restaurant or a long, deep kiss as the music starts. Where, they wonder, is the affection which translates as love and caring in this relationship? Why doesn't he love me enough to show it? And for many women, this means showing it in public.
If cuddling and kissing and hand holding happen alone, they think, why are they embarrassed to show others? Or, if there are deeper issues, perhaps a lack of PDA indicates a lack of affection threaded throughout the relationship.
Then we have the opposite end of the spectrum. He sticks his tongue in your mouth in front of your mother, his mother, the babysitter, the kids.