When You Should Worry About Your Dude’s PDA Phobia

When a guy holds your hand for the first time, it’s pretty magical. I mean, he’s basically saying, “Hey everyone, this is my girl, and I’m not afraid to show anybody,” right? Sure, sometimes he’s only holding your hand so that you don’t get lost in the crowd while he drags you to the bar for another tequila shot, but any guy who reaches out his hand for yours might as well be Prince Charming in 2016.

But what about if your man is PDA-phobic? As in, the only time he grabs your hand, or any part of your body, is in the bedroom. What if when you try to grab his hand in public, he pulls his hand away and laughs it off? Should you worry? Is he trying to hide your relationship, or is he just insecure with his masculinity?

We spoke to relationship expert Dr. Judith Wright about what type of PDA is normal and healthy for your relationship and when you should be concerned about a lack of public affection.

Look At The Big Picture

Really think about why you care about your dude’s PDA and go from there.

Do you want him to show PDA so that other girls know that he’s yours? Or do you simply want to kiss him when you just so happen to be in public?

When it comes to figuring out what kind of PDA is normal for the two of you, “you’re really looking for general patterns rather than PDA specifically,” Dr. Wright says. “Does he hold your hand in private? Does he recoil if you reach out to him? Does he walk ahead of you, not beside you?”

If it seriously feels like your boyfriend is trying to make it look like you’re his sister or a stranger while you two are out in public, you should obviously worry. But, take a look at his other actions towards you. Is he the greatest boyfriend ever, just kind of shy about making out in front of other people? Or does he kind of treat you like poop, but you’re denying it and hoping that if you two look like you love each other in public everything will be fine? If you’re worried that he’s cheating on you, there are going to be other signs besides the way he touches you in public.

Assess Your Own PDA

Remember in high school when it was totally cool to go in on a full-on make-out session behind the lockers during study hall with your skater boy boyfriend? When hormones were raging, anything seemed appropriate, but you’re an adult now (or you try to be one most of the time) and that whole teenage dream thing isn’t going to fly anymore.

If you cling to him in front of his boss, for example, he may understandably tense up and reject your advances. Or if your PDA is overly needy vs. sweetly affectionate, he is probably appropriately recoiling,” says Dr. Wright.

While there are no set rules on what type of PDA is appropriate in certain situations, nobody likes a stage five clinger, especially when they’re trying to appear professional. If you’re meeting his co-workers or family, there’s no need to grab his butt or lick his face. Even if your family is cool with you guys kissing and caressing in front of them, his parents may not be comfortable with that.

“If you have been told more than once to ‘get a room’ in earnest, then it’s probably a good sign that you might be over the line.”

Again, everything is situational. If you two are drunk at a party and you feel like grabbing his peen over his pants, he might feel cool and go along with it. If you’re on the subway with a creepy homeless dude breathing down his neck, he may want to pass.

When In Doubt, Talk To Him

Similar to most problems in our relationships, your worry over his lack of affection can easily be tackled by having an honest conversation about it.

“Like any conflict or disagreement, you need to learn what’s really behind this embarrassment,” Dr. Wright says. “You need to have a straight conversation about it. You also need to be willing to tell him why it matters to you, share your deeper meaning to matter, to be connected, and to feel like you matter to him. And then, see how he responds.”

If you try to talk to him about his aversion to PDA and he turns it around on you, accusing you of being clingy and making you feel like the bad guy, he’s probably hiding you from his friends (or strangers) for a reason. If he says PDA isn’t his thing and he doesn’t get why you need to show your relationship off to everyone else, that might just be how he is.

While PDA can definitely show signs of a healthy relationship, it doesn’t mean that it’s a necessity in yours. If your man won’t hold your hand and that’s something you need in your relationship, maybe you two should part ways. If it’s something that’s important to you, a good boyfriend will agree to work on it so that you two can come to a middle ground that works for the both of you.

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