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What Does PDA Mean: The Importance to Your Relationship

A couple in a healthy relationship showing affection in public.

Kissing, holding hands, cuddling on a park bench: these are just some of the ways couples show their love for one another in front of others. While public displays of affection may not seem that essential for a relationship, having PDA compatibility with a loved one is. So what does PDA mean and why is PDA compatibility important to your relationship?

If your partner doesn’t like to be touched in public, but you do, you are not PDA compatible, explains psychologist and radio host, Dr. Cooper Lawrence. “Then you have to ask yourself, ‘How important is it?’  If you are someone who needs the reassurance in public, the stress relief that holding hands can bring, and it is very important to you, then you are going to have relationship issues.”

In some relationships, not showing PDA could mean that one partner does not want the world to view him or her as attached.  “This may be indicative of someone who isn’t fully committed to you and may never be,” says Lawrence.  However, be sure your partner isn’t reserved or shy before pressing this issue.

PDA compatibility changes over time in a relationship, and it’s normal to experience a change in the frequency and intensity of such social behaviors.  This can happen at different times for each person in the relationship. “If you’re in the honeymoon phase of a brand new relationship and you just can’t get enough of each other, it’s normal to be overly affectionate in public.  Later on, some couples even use PDA as part of sexual foreplay.  This technique is good to recharge a lagging sex life,” says Lawrence.

What Does Constant PDA Mean?

While some people are comfortable with PDA in moderation, constant PDA makes them uncomfortable. Others don’t mind a constant flow of physical affection in open settings. However, you might also wonder what constant PDA from your partner means about your relationship. 

Constant PDA may just be how your partner expresses love or romantic intentions. Constantly holding hands when you’re walking, leaning over to kiss you, or walking up to you just for a hug may be a few of the ways they show that you’re essential to their life.

On the other hand, if your partner is constantly showing open affection, it could be a sign of insecurity about your relationship. They may justifiably or unjustifiably feel you are not fully committed to them. If you are somewhat committed, and the constant PDA is uncomfortable for you, try talking to them about the nature of what you perceive as their insecurity. Sometimes, just telling them how happy you are with the relationship or how the courtship is going can put them at ease. If you’re still uncommitted, constant PDAs can be uncomfortable. If you want to continue with the relationship, you may have to address the situation verbally. Trying to just pull away or shun their PDAs might increase their feelings of insecurity. It’s important, however, that you don’t allow an uncomfortable situation to continue. Suffering through uncomfortable PDAs can damage what may become a rewarding relationship.

Different Types of PDA

Public displays of affection can manifest themselves in many different ways. Here are some of the most common types of PDAs:

    Tips for Showing PDAs

    The following tips can help you avoid overplaying your hand or dealing with an awkward situation. 

      Be Kind – If you’ve received an unwanted PDA, you can and should address it, but be kind. Chances are your partner is feeling awkward about the rejection. 

      What does PDA mean for a couple? Usually, public displays of affection denote a certain emotional connection between two people.  If one’s needs aren’t being met, no matter what stage of the relationship they’re in, it could also mean that other needs aren’t being met within the relationship.

      At minimum, agree that holding hands can be a good thing, says Lawrence.  “A number of studies have linked hand holding and physical affection with positive health outcomes. Even mild PDA has been associated with lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.”

      Given the health and relationship benefits public displays of affection can do, isn’t about time you puckered up?

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