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Displays of affection should be kept private

Lauren Urschel, Staff Writer

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As teachers and administration strive to make the school hallways a professional environment where students are able to learn without distraction, they face many obstacles along the way.

Although the trash littering the halls following Timber Time is a new addition to their grievances, there is an older one that has plagued society for decades. Seen in movies, books and all types of media, the issue of public displays of affection (PDA) continues to be a controversial topic around the globe. In a survey of 100 students, 57 percent said they believed PDA was not okay. Junior Lauryn Massey said although she’s currently in a relationship with junior Adam Morse, she’s “not comfortable” with showing affection in front of others.

“I think the most we do is hold hands in public, but we don’t do anything at school at all,” Massey said. “I try to keep him like five feet away from me.”

In a similar manner, Morse said he felt PDA to be uncomfortable and “gross.”

“I think just a quick side hug and holding hands when you’re walking down the street is OK, but then if you’re going to go for a kiss or something, pretty much that’s inappropriate,” Morse said. “It’s not appropriate anywhere where you know a lot of people.”

Seniors Leo Ruhnke and Rachel Wolf, who are currently in a relationship, said they refrain from PDA as much as possible.

“We don’t show PDA often,” Wolf said. “We might hold hands in public outside of school, but we don’t usually show much PDA at all.”

For some people, though, getting into a relationship alters their opinion on PDA. Since they now have someone to hold hands with and kiss, they want to be able to do so as much as possible. Despite her recognition of this, Massey said her views didn’t change when she started dating Morse.

“I think they do change because now you’re in that situation where you’re in a relationship with someone and sometimes you do want to be affectionate in certain situations, but you’re also in public,” Massey said. “I still — just me, personally — don’t feel comfortable showing a bunch of affection in front of other people.”

Similarly, Morse said because PDA has always made him uncomfortable, his views on PDA stayed the same when he started dating Massey. Wolf said her negative feelings toward PDA remain.

“I think their opinions might change a little, but they’ll mostly stay the same,” Wolf said. “I still don’t like a lot of PDA, but I no longer mind little things like holding hands.”

The couples’ abstinence from PDA seems to be a trend, as only 21 percent of students surveyed who were in a relationship said they openly showed affection with their partner in public. Despite this, the majority of students believe that couples show PDA in excess. This begs the question of what qualifies as too much PDA, and what qualifies as just the right amount of it.

“I think little displays of affection like holding hands are OK,” Wolf said. “However, for me, making out or cuddling in public is definitely crossing the line. I think a couple should take others into consideration before

acting all affectionate together.”

While there are many different claims out there about how much PDA is too much, when it comes to holding hands and pecks on the cheek, there isn’t a real issue, as long as it’s kept under wraps. Massey said “holding hands and brief hugs” are acceptable, but anything beyond that is improper.

“I don’t really want to see any embraces for long periods of time and I think kissing and that sort of thing should be done in a private place,” Massey said.

There is a time and a place for couples to give each other affection, and that place should not be at school with your peers watching you in discomfort. In professional environments, couples should refrain from kissing or cuddling as much as possible.

While most seem to agree that PDA is a social taboo and that there should be limits placed upon it, not many have thought about why that is. The idea that single people are uncomfortable witnessing PDA because they’re bitter about being alone has been among some theories, but it goes beyond that.

“I think people get uncomfortable because displays of affection are traditionally shown privately,” Wolf said.

Likewise, Morse said “nobody wants to see” the way couples show each other personalized physical affection. Psychology Today supports this idea, as it claims that bystanders feel like an “unwilling audience” when they see PDA due to its intimate and exclusive nature.

“I think it’s just that they feel like they’re invading on someone’s privacy,” Massey said. “I feel like most people just have their own opinions on PDA and what should be done in public, so I think when it’s something that’s against their opinions, then they get bothered.”

| laurenurschel

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Displays of affection should be kept private