Public displays of affection: Am I a prude?

Small amount of background: My boyfriend and I are both forty. This relationship is very important to both of us, but, of course, we’re both old enough to have our own opinions and experiences that color our interactions.

Lately, we’ve stumbled upon what seemed to me a pretty minor issue, but (based on the fact that he’s still bringing it up a week later,) an issue that he has pretty strong opinions on. We were buying groceries last weekend, and he kept “stealing” smooches at the store. I responded with a quick peck, but it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t comfortable with the setting. A couple of days later, we were sitting in a restaurant with a group of my friends, at one of our regular social gatherings. Same thing, but I was even more uncomfortable, and my reaction was even more subdued. This hurt my boyfriend’s feelings, and he brought it up again today.

His stated opinion is that my reactions made him feel like I was ashamed of him. My stated opinion is that there is a time and a place for everything, and I feel like a grocery store or a restaurant aren’t the time or place for PDAs.

So those are our humble opinions. What is yours? Why?

If you want to be right, you are. If you want to keep your boyfriend, talk it over some more, and maybe let yourself get embarrassed a little.

I don’t really think it’s a case of prudery.

Neither my wife nor i are especially interested in smooching it up in a supermarket line or with friends at a restaurant. I think a park or something might be different, but those sorts of PDAs in everyday situations, in front of a whole bunch of other people, generally strike me as rather gratuitous and silly. Maybe i’m just showing my age (i’m 40 too), but i don’t think i’ve ever been a big fan of it.

I should add that, if other people want to do it, i don’t really care, although i might roll my eyes a bit if it’s an especially gratuitous display. You and your boyfriend will have to work out a solution that balances your discomfort with his desire to smooch.

I guess it depends what you mean by a “smooch”. Long, involved, hot and heavy make out session? No thanks. A quick kiss (beyond a peck, but little exchange of bodily fluids :))- I’m ok with that.

In my opinion, yes you are a prude. Only for one of the examples you posted though. Stealing a quick peck here and there is pretty much SOP. Who doesn’t love a quick kiss? I mean, if no tongue is involved, where’s the problem in a peck that lasts for a fraction of a second when no one is focused on you (see also, next example)? Seriously.

As for being at a table with friends, pecks I think are off limits. Again, I thought it was SOP not to be all “lovey dovey” in front of friends. Especially in such a setting where friends are likely to be facing in your direction, focused on you and your bf.

If a group of friends were walking side-by-side into a building together and BF wants sneak some pecks, why not? No one is specifically staring at you, like at a restaurant.

Then again, I am a 20-something male, so perhaps my generation is just perverse and depraved. shrugs

EDIT: Or what ITD said.

Is there a level of PDA you are comfortable with? Holding hands? Pecks on the cheek? This is one of those things that isn’t rational on either side (disliking PDA and feeling rejected), so you have to find the solution that works for you both, not the “logical” solution.

I guess I should clarify a little bit, but I was intentionally a little vague in the OP, in an effort to get people’s general opinions, not just a reaction to a specific situation…

I don’t really have a problem with holding hands or a peck on the cheek at the grocery store, or holding hands or caressing a knee under the table at the restaurant. I do agree with you, Bees!, that you limit yourself around friends, especially in a public setting. To me, that’s just a courteous way to ensure that you don’t make your friends uncomfortable. (A little more background: Of the group of friends at the restaurant, I’m actually the youngest member of this social group. The oldest people in this group are literally old enough to be my parents. To me, that makes a difference.)

I can understand both sides. If I see a couple of 20 year olds or a couple of teens, I think “Isn’t that sweet.” If I see an older couple I think “Get a room!”

But in the end, “Who cares what I think” or anyone else.

As long as you’re not, as Elaine from Seinfeld says “Hot and heavy,” don’t worry about it

I wouldn’t call you a prude, but I fully admit that I am one.

I’m 30, and I think anything beyond a quick kiss is rude, and I wouldn’t do it.
If other people want to, that’s up to them; I just roll my eyes and move on. Of course, if a (relatively new?) boyfriend insisted on “stealing” kisses when I was obviously uncomfortable with it, I’d kick him to the curb, so I’m the wrong person to ask. The idea of someone insisting on unwanted physical contact skeeves me out, no matter how innocuous. I am a huge prude that way.

Your boyfriend’s behavior is obnoxious and you are right to discourage it. Also, who pouts like a little bitch and complains “You’re ashamed of me!” because you won’t make out with him at the Red Lobster?

No, I don’t think you are a prude. In fact, in some Asian cultures, PDA beyond holding hands is considered really vulgar. I’m in my early 20’s, caught between eastern and western cultural values.

I also hate PDAs. I’ve been with my husband for fourteen years (married for five), and am uncomfortable with anything more than hand holding in public. A quick peck hello or goodbye is fine, anything more intimate (like groping or kissing involving tongue) is inappropriate.

Most PDAs seem to me more like performances or public declarations of possession than legitimate displays of affection. Either that, or the people involved are so horny or ill mannered that they don’t care that they’re probably making other people uncomfortable.

I thought this was why, when people start dating, they fall off the radar for awhile. All that PDA that many don’t want to see…

A quick peck is fine, or even a little more. But if it’s going to be multiple and/or intense, that’s too much.

And no calling each other “schmoopie.”

Seriously, there are some cultures where PDA’s between even married couples is forbidden. Orthodox Jews, for example. There are others as well. I don’t know if the OP is a member of one, but if she was raised in such a culture then overcoming early childhood training about such could be very difficult.

In the past, I’ve been uncomfortable with PDA’s due to boyfriends that don’t know when to stop, where every time I gave in to their displays they upped the ante to the point where two of them were suggesting sex in public. Which is illegal in many jurisdictions. I don’t consider risking arrest to be “fun”. Again, I have no idea if this applies to the OP (I think it’s unlikely, given what was said) but such past experience can affect how someone perceives PDA’s.

Personally, I’m OK with a quick kiss or a hug or holding hands as long as it doesn’t turn into an ostentatious display. But different people have different limits.

You’re a guy? For some reason I thought you were female and over 30. Well, I’m frequently mistaken for male on the internet so, whatever. {{{shrug}}}

OK, yes, I must agree that these circumstances call for a bit more discreet conduct.

It’s a situational thing, really. I don’t have an issue with PDA by people who are just walking down the path in the park (unless they’re reenacting Al & Tipper at the Convention and interrupting the flow of foot traffic) but in a social situation making them conspicuous and frequent can have the effect to exclude the other parties.

I would agree with the OP, but of course talking to the boyfriend and getting a solution worked out is better than being right. :stuck_out_tongue:

BETTER than being right. This is a fascinating concept you have there.
Of course, I’d agree with you that that’s true on many things. This is one I feel strongly enough about that I’d go to the mat, though. YMMV.

Ivylad and I will hold hands, and an occasional kiss (it became a joke in Key West, “kiss me in Sloppy Joe’s/kiss me on the scooter/kiss me on the sunset cruise/kiss me on the observation deck”) but full-on lip locks with chomping and groping? No, that’s in private.

Define PDA. Like cuddling or snuggling is OK. I’ve done that with my girlfriend in public. Hugging yes…brief kisses yeah…But it seems like people who are into major PDAs are extremely narcisstic/self centered or have really poor self esteem issues so they feel like they have to put on a show to “prove” to the world that they can get a guy or girl.
I dunno…Like I love cuddling with my Hannah, and I love being very affectionate with her. You can tell that we’re togehter. But we keep the hot and heaviness for when we’re together and nobody else is around.