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Going Public

What is a PDA?

A public display of affection (PDA) is a display of affection that other people can see.

PDA has different meanings for different people. It can include:

  • Holding hands
  • Hugging
  • Kissing and/or making out
  • Flirting
  • Expressing affection in online spaces that others can see

Why do some people like PDAs?

  • They may be comfortable touching and being touched in public.
  • They may come from a culture or family that expresses affection publicly.
  • They may like to show the world that they are in a happy relationship and have a partner they care about.
  • They may not care who sees.

My partner doesn’t want me to show my affection publicly. Does this mean they don’t like me?

There are different reasons that someone who likes you may not be comfortable with PDAs:

  • They may just prefer to be private with their affection.
  • They may be uncomfortable with touching and being touched in public.
  • They may come from a culture or family that does not express affection publicly.
  • They may not enjoy physical touch.
  • They may want to keep your relationship private.
  • They may not be ready to go public with your relationship.

Do people use PDAs to make others jealous?

  • Sometimes, yes. Unfortunately, this can really hurt the person you are showing affection to, especially if you don’t really care about them.

I’m not comfortable with PDAs. At least not yet.

  • That’s ok. Not everyone is into PDA. You may still be in the early days of your relationship, or you may just not be someone who enjoys being affectionate in public.
  • Take time to talk with your partner(s) about your PDA preferences. Remember that that your opinions may change over time.

I’m in a relationship with someone of the same gender.  Are there things I need to keep in mind when it comes to PDA?

  • Think about your safety before engaging in PDA. Because of homophobia, people in your school (teachers and students), on the street, or in your community may not feel comfortable with your PDA and may have a negative reaction. This may result in bullying, such as name calling, or even violence against you.
  • Find safe public spaces like an LGBT centre or a gay-straight alliance (GSA) group where you can acknowledge your relationship openly.
  • Discuss PDA with your partner ahead of time.  Make sure they are comfortable with it before you engage in PDA.

If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]

Last Edited: May 2020