I’ve always been a really affectionate person. I love hugs, cuddles, hand-holding…the works. In my previous relationships however, this was often very limited for various reasons. For one, I just could not afford to be seen being affectionate with someone in public, partially for fear that my parents would hear wind of it somehow (Harare has very small social circles and its residents have big mouths lol), and partially because of the very conservative nature of the Zimbabwean society.
In Zim, even holding hands with your same-sex best friend warranted a lot of cat-calling and stares. Consequently, I developed a very concealed view of relationships, where I always felt the need to hide them and not talk about dating at all. These factors honestly made it significantly uncomfortable for me to show any public signs of affection to whomever I was dating, and although this sometimes sparked some tension with my sig others, they eventually got used to it and quit complaining.
Being in Canada though, I’ve honestly been exposed to a whole new world of what you might even call excessive PDA (Public Displays of Affection). Like I-ain’t-got-no-shame-also-got-no-home-training excessive levels of PDA. Whew! It initially baffled me to see couples overtly kissing and touching in very public places, like on the street and on the bus. I would honestly have to keep myself from staring/ looking dismayed hahaha. It was also really surprising how freely and openly people shared details about their partners and their relationships; not only among friends, but in the workplace and with their parents, too. Something I was so unaccustomed to doing myself.
It goes without saying that I’m a lover of love, and I think it’s totally cute to see couples enjoying one another in their relationship. However, do I think there’s a cap on how much affection a couple can happily display when they’re out in public?? Absolutely! I’ve been stuck in some seriously uncomfortable situations with couples who could NOT keep their hands off of each other, and I mean butt-grabbing, lifting each other up… yikes.
So what is appropriate and when is PDA appropriate? This will depend entirely on your definition and understanding of PDA. I personally have a serious appreciation for balance. When my boyfriend and I are out in public, I enjoy receiving little glances from him that are just meant for me. Or that communication we have with our eyes when only the two of us understand the joke. In fact, I’ll admit that I’d feel a little neglected if he didn’t stroke my arm every now and then or try to hold my hand and check if I’m okay. I’ll even go so far as to say that of the both of us, he’s more shy and I’m more encouraging of this than he is LOL.
Regardless, both of us are always aware of the people around us, and I think this is an important factor to consider when it comes to PDA. I don’t think there’s an issue with kissing or cuddling your partner in cosy environments where you’re among other couples, for example, at the cinema/ on a couples’ get away. However, when I invite my girlfriends over for pre-drinks at my place and bae is around, it’s a completely different story (sounds like a rather obvious example but you’d really be surprised these days). Constant PDA in that case would come across as obnoxious and exaggerative; and rubbing it in people’s faces would probably make them feel uncomfortable, regardless of if it’s my apartment. Totally unfair.
So as the girl who’s been caught in such cringey situations, I beseech you to think about the crowd around you when you and bae are spending time together in public. And as the girl who’s always felt uncomfortable sharing information about her relationship, I also encourage you to be a little more open with the people you trust. Talking about your partner and normalising conversations about dating creates ground for healthier relationships all around… something I’m happily coming to realise.
What are your thoughts on PDA? Have you been guilty of excessive displays or are you the total opposite? As always, thanks for reading loves, and don’t forget to follow my IG (@african_sunflower) to be able to participate in my WWW questionnaires and chats! x