Long before I experienced requited love — or requited like, for that matter — I dreamed of holding a boy’s hand and kissing him goodbye after school. It would be a quick kiss, I knew, and we wouldn’t mind who was around to see it. There’s even a specific spot in my middle school’s blacktop parking lot where I imagined this innocent farewell taking place. It wouldn’t be until my freshman year of college, though, that it would really happen. (None of my high school “boyfriends” kissed me. We were all too nervous.) By then I was 19, had a slew of party make outs under my belt and was ready for what I’d deemed the real boyfriend experience, which very much included the sweet PDAs of my 7th grade daydreams. When it happened, I was in heaven.
I’m consistently surprised by how many of my friends hate public displays of affection. Short of sloppy subway make outs, I’m very much cool with it. I don’t at all mind when people kiss, hold, lean into each other on the sidewalk. I think it’s sweet. Perhaps because I’m a touchy person myself, even with my friends. I’ll hold your wrist and tell you I’m tired. I’ll pet your hair and ask how you’re doing. It’s how I express my affection. With romantic partners, it’s more intense. I’ll never forget an old boyfriend’s dad describing me as “maternal” because of the way I physically interacted with his son. At first, it struck me as an odd word choice, but I suppose it kind of made sense. I treat people I like with a sort of motherly touch. Maybe that’s weird. I can’t help it!
My approval isn’t blanket. I believe there’s a time and place to keep your distance. But out in the wild, given plenty of elbow room and the appropriate context, I never mind. But people do. They really do. And I wonder why. Is my position on it a privileged one? One friend of mine said he got over his hatred of PDA once he himself found someone he wanted to kiss in public. Another has a long-term boyfriend and doesn’t even hold his hand on the street because it feels like too much. Another doesn’t like to be touched period (even in private). Another has an entirely different relationship with PDA because he’s gay. I respect that there are layers to this. I want to hear what you think. Are you pro? Anti? Conditional? Why?