A Couple’s Guide to PDA in the U.S. – What’s Acceptable and What to Avoid

A Couple's Guide to PDA in the U.S. - What's Acceptable and What to Avoid

You moved to the U.S. last week, and planned a stroll in the neighborhood with your partner. Now, the day is here. You stroll down the footpath together, your fingers intertwined. You’re so immersed in the moment that you never notice the man behind you who’s in a hurry. You engage in a kiss.

“Get a room,” the annoyed man grumbles.

In the next five minutes, learn what is appropriate, and what isn’t regarding PDA (Public Displays of Affection) in the U.S. to ensure you don’t come off as a nuisance, and stay safe.  

Acceptable and Unacceptable Levels of PDA

1. Touching

Love to hold your partner’s hands? Go ahead. You can also drape your arms over your partner’s shoulder or waist. Furthermore, hugs are acceptable everywhere in the U.S.

However, make sure your hand never reaches for more intimate areas. 

Respect the boundaries of others as well. If a person appears to be in a hurry and you’re blocking them, you need to move.  

2. Kissing

You can steal a quick kiss anywhere in the U.S. However, never engage in kisses that last for over two seconds.   

Pecks on the cheeks and lips are acceptable, but passionate kisses should be saved for when you are in a private setting.

3. Groping

Groping is never allowed in public.

PDA Guide for Places and Situations

1. PDA in airports and train stations

No one will complain if you hold your partner’s hand. Furthermore, hugs and pecks won’t raise any eyebrows.

People tend to overlook longer kisses as well. This especially applies to couples who appear sad to travel to different destinations.

However, never stand in anyone’s way. Nothing irritates people more than a couple blocking the entrance to the train station. 

2. PDA on a stroll

Confused if holding hands will raise eyebrows? Holding hands is acceptable in every U.S. state. However, never block anyone’s way.

You can also give hugs to your partner, however, never try to grope or fondle them.

Pecks on the cheeks and lips are acceptable, but keep it low key. Don’t let that kiss linger on.

3. PDA at clubs, cinemas, and restaurants

People don’t often care about PDA at clubs. Feel free to engage in a kiss, if it seems appropriate for the environment. Do as others do, but do not go beyond that.

The dark movie theater also offers chances to engage in PDA, right? Not quite. People can still spot you in the darkness. Furthermore, you won’t want them to hear you when the sound drops. Stick to holding hands and quick kisses. Behave the same way in restaurants as well. 

4. PDA at work

PDA at work make other employees uncomfortable, and it distracts them. Furthermore, a colleague can interpret the act as disrespect toward coworkers as well.

Always act in a professional manner while at work, and do not engage in PDA.

5. PDA at universities

Feel free to hold hands while you stroll the campus corridors. Quick kisses? Go ahead. Parting hugs? No problem. Nothing more, though.

Consider where you are on the campus. Kissing in the corridor and campus grounds is acceptable. However, it is extremely inappropriate to engage in PDA when the teacher is giving a lecture. 

Can You Engage in PDA If You Belong to the LGBTQIA Community?

Same-sex couple holding hands? A GLAAD survey confirmed 30% of non-LGBTQ+ Americans feel uncomfortable at the sight. Another study from Indiana University concluded that 55% of Americans approve of pecks on the cheek, but not on the lips.

Steer clear of PDA. Kisses and holding hands can result in lewd remarks and heckling. However, you can engage in PDA when in more accepting company. Use your best judgement, so as not to risk your safety.

Will You Serve Jailtime for an Act of PDA?

The police can issue fines and arrest you for certain acts of PDA. The situation arises when you expose, or assist your partner to expose private parts in public, known as indecent exposure. The fine amount and jail time vary in each state.

The police can charge you with a misdemeanor in New York City. The law is similar in California. You can pay fines of up to $1,000, and spend up to six months in jail.

You might even be listed as a sex offender in California. Engage in indecent exposure again and the police will charge you with a felony.

Don’t Do What You Feel Uncomfortable Witnessing

When you’re in public, you can never guess what each people think of an act of PDA, so never do anything you would feel uncomfortable seeing. You won’t want your romantic stroll to end in lewd comments and criticism.

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