I was taught as a child, that public displays of affection, outside of holding hands or hugging, was something that was done behind closed doors. I am thankful that my parents were affectionate to one another — because I think kids need to see that, even though they are GOING TO roll their eyes and groan and make gagging noises. I learned that my Mom and Dad were in love and respected one another. They’d kiss each other “hello” and “goodbye.” They’d hold hands at church or at the park. They’d wink at one another and call each other “honey.” They hugged ALL the time, happy or sad. They were never more than that, with what they displayed to my siblings and I, but it was plenty to know how they felt. I expected that in my relationship with my Abuser, but that did NOT happen. Quite the opposite, to be exact. I think children seeing their parents flirt and love on one another is more important that what is conveyed in society. It’s vital! Parents are teaching their children what is acceptable and what to expect from a love partner.
I have always thought romantic love and affection and sex was private, between the two people in the relationship. I still do, even to the point that it’s no one’s business what sexual orientation you are, unless you make it their business. Period. I’ve thought that since I was thirteen and I think that now. When I was in school, the thing to do was to “make out” at the high school dance, or in the back of cars, and give each other hickeys…THAT was how my peers showed each other that they were desirable. I didn’t want purple bruises all over my neck! How gross! Plus, if you had too many, as a girl, you were a whore, and not enough meant you weren’t desired by others. I am still not sure what the correct ratio was, but I was not a fan.
However, being in a healthy relationship now, we hold hands and give each other a quick kiss. My guy seems to agree with me that anything further is private. My Abuser would NEVER even do the simple affectionate gestures on a regular basis, but if we were out and he was drunk (which was often), he would do everything he would think of : hump me, kiss my neck, grab my breasts or my rear, pull my hand to touch him in public — again, literally anything to make him look outstanding and sexual. I was being forced to do these things and it was a HUGE embarrassment and anxiety-inducing situation. I’m nothing if not proper when I’m out in public. To this day I’m still not sure if it was to show off or intimidate me (probably both). Needless to say, I was mortified beyond. He loved the control that it gave him and the complex it gave me.
Presently, my boyfriend and I go to concerts quite frequently, and I have to say that “public displays of affection” or PDAs, still make me uncomfortable. We were in a beer line recently, to get drinks before we took our seats and I think the guy and gal in front of us were nearly fused into one person, they were THAT close together!
“Geez,” my boyfriend said, under his breath. “Get a room.”
To be honest, I started to get antsy when there were gyrations and groaning. “C-can we get into another line, please?” I asked. He gave me a quizzical look, but we moved past the couple. They were too engrossed in themselves to notice.
I think their near-sexual public exhibition was triggering to me! I wondered if they were both consenting, as if one was doing “things” only because the other wanted to. I also always wonder if these PDA couples are there because they were having an affair and they didn’t really come to see the concert, they came to get away and get engrossed in one another. I was cheated on multiple times by my Abuser. He told me he’d find someone to do the things I wasn’t comfortable doing, so he did. No wonder I have trust issues!
In conclusion, I don’t want to sound like a prude, but maybe people should curb what they do in public? These days, the public doesn’t seem to have ANY inhibitions. How about we don’t be inappropriate around where children can see? How about we show respect and restraint with the significant other, at least until you can go somewhere private and “let loose”? Maybe DV survivors and/or human trafficking survivors are triggered? Maybe it would trigger someone addicted to sex to start acting inappropriately or have a hard time containing themselves? Being appropriate is a GOOD THING. We are all glad you all have each other, so KNOCK OF THE PDAs, pretty damned quick (PDQ)…PLEASE. SHEESH. We aren’t here to see THAT show. At least, that’s what I quietly think to myself when he and I out at a concert. He holds my hand or I have my arm through his, so he doesn’t lose me. I love that…it’s just the right amount of affection.