Talk to me, don’t show me

Public Displays of Affection, commonly known as PDA.


We all know the scene. A couple that can’t stay away from each other, oblivious to the world and definitely not paying attention when a mutual friend awkwardly comes up to say hello and interrupt their lovey-dovey moment.

I used to be one of those lurkers who you might find right outside the North Hall lobby. But I am not jealous or even fondly reminiscent of those times.

In the last relationship I was in, we were one of “those” couples. But I hope to never go back to those days.

My objection to over-the-top public displays of affection, or indeed, any excessive displays of affection, goes past the simple “gets on everybody’s nerves” factor, which is true.

My objection with it is that when two people are that wrapped up in each other they tend to miss out on the rest of life.

Let me first clarify what exactly I’m referring to when I say excessive displays. I’m all for the hugs and kisses of campus couples.

Besides things that are already outlined in the handbook as inappropriate, though, I can’t always point to specific behaviors that irk me.

What bugs me most is the attitude, the focus behind the actions.

When two people are so enamored with each other that they have blinders for everything but each other problems set in.

I’m not actually discussing temptation to sexual sin here, though that is indeed a very real issue. I would like to focus on the problem couples face when their excessive attention causes them to either miss the deeper sides of their own relationship or the rest of the world.

Nick Ogle, assistant professor of family and human studies, touched on the first point in chapel during relationships week. He said that couples can lose the habit of play—for example, never having an edifying conversation outside of maybe the bills or the kids.

I know dating couples on campus don’t talk about these things specifically, but you get the picture.

It is very easy to focus on either how enamored one person has become with another or the physical side of the relationship.

I struggled with this myself in my last relationship. I am not afraid to admit it was a real issue. I’d only clarify that if I date in the future I hope to avoid it.

The second point relates more to specifically public displays. You miss the people. It goes beyond the “hey, I’m right here” awkwardness of that third wheel. It goes beyond common courtesy.

Sometimes taking that focus off the relationship can help that person learn how to control those desires and focus on things at hand.

At other times, it can be an opportunity for the couple to learn how to act as a unit for some common goal, even if that goal is just making others feel welcome.