What if your partner hates public display of affection?

Friday December 8 2017


By Christine Katende

Vicky is a nurse at one of the hospitals in Kampala. She is married and has one child with her husband. She says she has no regrets about her married life. “I have always embraced what comes from my man in the four years we have been married. Patrick and I do not have a problem with showing our affection in public. We kiss and cuddle normally when go to the beach. It is what makes me feel loved and treasured,” she says.

When taking a walk, Vicky says they hold hands or wrap arms around each other’s waists. They will also kiss whenever they are saying their goodbyes.
Their life may resonate with couples who enjoy public display of affection (PDA) but may seem irritating to those who do not.
But PDA makes some people uncomfortable and they would rather do anything else than be caught kissing or touching in public.

Be open with your partner
Unlike Vicky, Bridget dislikes PDA. “How on earth can I start kissing, holding hands or even touching? He has for several times tried it but I have told him I am not comfortable. It hurts him but that is me,” she discloses. To Bridget PDA is going overboard, “it is similar to shifting the bedroom to public space”.

But Gloria Akech, a relationships counsellor with Imani Camp says rejecting PDA may harm a relationship. “When one party is not comfortable, they tend to pull away, resist, or reject the partner’s advances thus stressing them,” she says.
Akech advises couples to be open with good communication that is backed by maturity. “The two can talk about why one party feels the need for PDA considering we all have different love languages,” she says.

In addition Akech says it is important that the one who does not find PDA pleasant explains that that does not mean they do not love their partner.

Don’t be a nuisance
Desiree, who has been dating for one and half years says although her fiancé is a bit shy, he responds positively to public display of affection. “I can kiss him any time I want. I mean, it is the two us and the world then does not seem to exist,” she testifies.

Samuel A. Bakutana, a relationship counsellor, however says in everything couples do, they must always have the public perception in mind. “Why are they showing the affection? What is their motive? What is the intention? What is the purpose? Is it to show off that they are in love? Is it to develop feelings of jealousy in the spectators? Is it to show that they too can have a partner?” he asks.
He, therefore, says if a couple just want to show off, they are already considered a public nuisance. “No one is interested in your love affair,” he asserts.

However, Bakutana says, there are those who get into PDA because they genuinely feel the urge to hug or kiss their partner, among others but cautions that even this should be kept sober, sensitive and socially upright. “For example, you can be sure you are degrading yourself if you stand at a road junction and start kissing and fondling each other! Those are animal instincts where they just jump onto one another anywhere anytime,” he says.

Bakutana believes that PDA especially between married couples can involve holding hands, a kiss on the cheek or a loving hug. But for those just relating, he advises them to save themselves the embarrassment. “You may even be about to be dropped! Wait for the right time, you are still in trial and error,” he says.
If you are comfortable with PDA enjoy it but decency and common sense matters.