Dear Mr. Nice Guy,
I have been in a committed relationship with my boyfriend for the past three months. He recently expressed to me that he feels like I don’t show affection toward him when we are in front of our families. Looking back on it, I can see his point. However, I have never been big on PDA and I certainly don’t want to disrespect his parents by being too physical in front of them. Is there a happy medium here?
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Dear Shy Gurl,
Your boyfriend does have a point, yet at the same time he doesn’t. This all really depends on how the two of you define PDA.
A question for you would be what sort of affection would you feel comfortable expressing towards him in front of your families? A question for him would be to what level of PDA does he expect? Obviously he’s not going to honk your boob, followed by you kung-fu gripping his crotch, while playing a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit with his family. (At least I hope not.)
These people probably know the two of you are in a committed relationship. The expectation that two individuals are going to treat their significant other just like any average friend, regardless of company, is ridiculous. Ignorance my be bliss when it comes to the more affectionate activities of couples, but most people possess this thing called tact. You’ve already shown you have this particular trait, so I’m not worried about your clothes coming off at Thanksgiving dinner resulting in little Suzy having to avert her eyes while you pounce on her uncle.
To be honest, the level of PDA you express depends on your personal comfort level. This could even evolve as time passes. The two of you have been together for 3 months. Odds are you are still just getting to know his family. It goes without saying you want to make a good impression on them, thus respect ranks high on your list of qualities to want to fire in their direction.
Though it’s difficult to say precisely what is acceptable, and what is not, (as this can vary family to family) here is a small list of things I would assume would not be an issue:
– loving kiss
– hand holding
– a casual form of snuggling (example: if everyone is gathered in a TV room just relaxing)
I would even go as far to say that even a shoulder/back/scalp rub would be appropriate in some settings.
If these are all things you already do, then I would say your boyfriend may have some unrealistic expectations based on his definition of PDA. Should that be the case, I’m lead to believe he thinks the two of you need to be joined-by-the-hip in these family settings. This is not the case. You do not always need to sit by each other. You don’t always need to be touching. A lack in proximity does not directly reflect on the seriousness of your relationship; nor indicate that there’s trouble in Lovesville.
If there were to be a conclusion to this little ramble it would be, “The little things are what should be focused on to express your affection.”
I hope that helped. If you later find yourself torn on what would be crossing the PDA line just ask, “What would little Suzy approve of?”