Do or Don’t: Making Out in Public

When it comes to public displays of affection, how far will you go? Alex and I…

…had our very first kiss on the street. After our first date, he walked me home and we stood outside my apartment on busy Bleecker Street, as crowds of people swarmed by. He went in for a kiss, and a group of guys yelled, “Look at the lovers!” We just kept at it. Honestly, it felt totally normal.

I’m not sure about other places, but it’s funny how in NYC, you get so used to public displays of affection, since no one really looks. Nothing here is a spectacle. It’s not that all New Yorkers are exhibitionists, it’s that a) apartments are so small—and often packed with roommates—that the city becomes an extension of your living room, and you end up doing so many things (proposing, breaking up, arguing, crying, whatever) in public; and b) there’s also a funny anonymity in numbers. It’s sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s much less awkward to make out in a huge crowd than on a quiet street with only one other person walking by.

And it’s not just kissing: People do everything in public here, right? You sometimes spot guys peeing in public. Happily, it feels like a non-event to breastfeed in public. And the New York Times published a beautiful piece about crying in public. “If you live in New York, you’re bound to end up crying in public eventually,” wrote Melissa Febos. “There just aren’t enough private places…The apartment I share with my girlfriend is so small, it can be easier to find privacy outside.” People ignore you; they barely look at you; and, instead of feeling cold-hearted, it actually feels respectful.

Plus, don’t you love kissing outdoors? There’s something so romantic about kissing on the street, or kissing on a park bench, or kissing in the rain. One of my favorite kisses took place while sitting on a curb waiting for a table at a restaurant.

I’m curious to hear: How much PDA are you comfortable with? Holding hands? A kiss? A full-on make-out session? What’s the norm where you live? I’d love to hear your thoughts…Update: Your comments are awesome:) Laughing out loud at some of them. I love you guys!
P.S. How old were you when you had your first kiss, and would you wait to kiss until your wedding day? And how not to look like a tourist in NYC.

(Top photo by John Dolan. Bottom photo by Stanley Kubrick, New York, 1946.)

  1. Helena says...

    I adore kissing in public. I live in Australia and I suppose its considered a bit rude to do so in public, as though intimacy is something that is private and not a proper thing to do in the streets- and also that its gross for people to watch! but i love it. It always feels so passionate and spontaneous and freeing to allow yourself to be intimate with someone and be unafraid to show it, and with the beautiful weather here (mostly!) and long summery evenings it almost becomes an extension of that: I love everything! I love life! I love you! its celebratory.

  2. QC gal says...

    I currently live in a small town north east of the quad cities. Small as in a village of 700! My boyfriend and I went to a local baseball game in Davenport last week. We walked back to his car only for him to stop and pull me into him for a kiss that soon turned into a quick make out session, only to end because two men got into the car right next to us. They’re conversation went on and we just hurried into the car. I felt so embarrassed and shameful but at the same time I didn’t care. I had a great time, should I be sorry for that? I think not. People are not used to PDA in the Quad Cities.

  3. Alana says...

    I live in Toronto where people loooooove to stare. So kissing in public is not something you see to often. Maybe a quick peck but that’s as far as it goes. I remember being on vacation in Barbados in my mid 20’s making out with some guy I meet a few days before. I knew people were watching and I didn’t care it was nice to just let loose. Another time I was in an ex-boyfriends car in a parking garage and I remember pulling him close to me and just kissing but then I guess someone drove by and honked their horn I guess they wanted the spot.

  4. O says...

    In Brazil and London everyone kisses in public, but not sweet quick kisses, no. The loooong 5 minute kisses with tong and all. I find it very annoying. I don’t need to look at your tongues twisting in each other’s mouth in the mall or in the escalator, come on! And because I don’t like kissing in public, it’s hard to explain to my date when we are in a bar or restaurant, that I don’t wanna kiss him because there are too many people around us. I feel it’s so more interesting kissing in private, so much sexier as well.

  5. Intense PDA annoys me. I don’t do it and I don’t like seeing it either

  6. Nice post i like but it is not really related, but the other day I said “Oh Ella I love you!” on the street as a cute boy her age walked by. I clearly made her uncomfortable and quietly apologized as soon as I realized my error. haha

  7. well, I cry, kiss and breastfeed in public! lol… I guess I’m a pretty open person? I live in L.A. but used to live in France.

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  10. Love this! My first kiss was when I was 7! Now before anyone says anything like “That’s waaaay too young.” Let me say… It’s not like I was making out with the boy. Our parent’s had been friends for awhile and we were in preschool together plus we lived a 2 minute walk away…. So we saw a lot of each other. But it was a rainy day and I was over at his house playing a board game. (We didn’t have iPads back then…) And he was across from me and we said “Maybe we should just try it. Just to see what it was like.” He agreed. And asked me “When?” I said “Well not now. Later.” And maybe 5 minutes later I kissed him. He smiled and then we wiped our mouths… Hahaha…

  11. Comfortable with pretty much anything… a slap on the butt when no one is watching, snuggling, I even accidentally sneak an ear or neck kiss every now and then, whoops! When we were dating we full-on made out at this park and a boy and his dad walked by and the dad had to shield his son from the terror…bahaha. Happily married to my man and if I want to kiss him in public I definitely will! :*

  12. love this post! i had my first outdoor too! we were in a was crowded so i guess no one really watched..^_^
    following you now!

  13. I think it’s very sweet when one person in a relationship is brave enough to show affection towards the other in public, and especially in New York where no one really looks at you, it’s cute when my boyfriend blows me a kiss or kisses my forehead when we depart for the day (:
    My first kiss was at 17 (so late!) but I was so nervous that I’m glad I didn’t wait until my wedding, I would have been even more nervous! haha

    I love your blog! Xoxo :)

  14. My boyfriend kissed me at wedding last week…and it was wonderful! We were on a table full of friends and family and I was happy he did it- cause I always thought he wasnt into PDA!
    It made me feel beautiful and shown off to all his friends :)

  15. Me and my boyfriend hold hands all the time in public. I’m okay with hugging in public and quick pecks on the cheek and stuff, but I would feel uncomfortable having a full on make out session in public!

  16. Generally I’m okay with a bit of PDA but draw the line at full-on making out. In Japan however just holding hands was already noteworthy — we lived in the countryside. I remember when he visited me the first time (before we were married) some junior high girls asked me, “Oh, your boyfriend is coming to visit, where will he stay?” and only after being like, “Uh, with me?” (Duh?) I realised… aaah. And once we were at an outdoors community sports festival, sitting with our friends and colleagues on a ground cover under a gazebo and I think it was my husband who then leaned his back against my legs that were pulled up a bit and then my boss was like, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you guys.” And finally, to come back to holding hands: my adult students or others would remark that they had seen us walking and holding hands and then say “atsu atsu desu ne…” and I always thought that “atsu atsu” meant holding hands. Well. I only looked it up after we had left Japan (I was there for three years total) and found that it actually means “passionately in love” or more literally something like “hot hot” (which I could’ve actually guessed…) SO. That’s us, the outrageous PDAers of countryside Japan.

  17. I live since 10 years in Montreal but i grew up in france, where people kiss much more in the streets than in Quebec ! i prefer the french manners :)

  18. I guess in Mexico we don’t care because there are just too many of us. We pretty much just ignore each otger as in NYC.

  19. Welcome to Latinamerica!!! Hahaha PDA is almost a must here ;)
    Love your blog and post

  20. When I first met my husband, who is German, I kind of shouted, ‘no PDA!’, when we were out on our first date. He had no idea what PDA was, and thought it was so strange that I didn’t want him to kiss me in public. I actually don’t mind it, but we were in a very small wine bar, and I felt like we were right in people’s faces…but we moved to Germany, and it was barely noticed if you kissed in public there.

  21. interesting topic. I think there’s nothing wrong with kissing in public, unless it’s a long make-out session… and there are places where even just a longer kiss on the lips feels wrong like in public transport surrounded by a big crowd. at least I don’t like doing it that was, but otherwise there’s nothing wrong with kisses even on public transport. The only thing that’s bothering me when people make-out for minutes in crowded places (I’m not talking about parks and places like that.)I’m from Budapest btw, and there really isn’t one typical approach to this question, everyone does it differently and has different opinions on it.



  22. I just got back in town from an Indian wedding, in Indian culture it is completely taboo to show any affection in public, even between married couples. This setting actually created the most romantic week of my life because we had operate in utter secrecy… resulting in games of footsy under the dinner table and late night sneaking through the house. Each moment that we could show affection to each other was so special!

  23. I love PDA. Nothing exaggerated, but, for instance: I have a long distance-relationship where I live in Barcelona and my boyfriend in London. Whenever we meet at airports I couldn’t care less for other people’s opinions, I just want to be completely within his embrace. We always get carried away and his hand slides to my bottom as we kiss and embrace, it’s such a thrill. I guess because of this we’re quite generous with the PDA, there is no sense in being modest when each time we’re together is to be lived to the fullest. Also, I find is so gorgeous that celebrity couples like Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady always appear on photos with his hand on her bottom in some gala event. Yay to PDA!

  24. I would love to have a full-on make-out session in public, but my boyfriend has a scruffy, short beard that turns the area around my mouth bright, fire-engine red every time we kiss. Then I just look like a lunatic with a splotchy red chin, which is never fun.

  25. Jo says...

    Ack, this is fascinating! I was born in Eastern Europe, but people were relatively free with their PDA, especially young ones. It’s not unusual to see couples walking with their arms around each other, with the oh-so-sexy gesture of a girl having her hand in the boyfriend’s back pocket. Older couples refrain from almost all PDA tough, except for the occasional adorable 80-year-olds that still hold hands while walking.

    Now I live in Western Europe and there’s less PDA, I think. Maybe it’s because of the many immigrants, maybe it’s because I live in a very “bureaucratic” (i.e. non-bohemian) city, but seeing people kiss in the Metro, for example, is considered odd. They will be seen making out in bars and outside of them, though, regardless of age and sexual preference. As for me personally, I’m quite shy. My boyfriend and I hold hands on the street and kiss briefly on the lips, but that’s about it.

  26. In 2009 I was in Disney World with my then 5-year-old child. It also happened to be gay and lesbian day. I did not know what day it was until I saw thousands of people wearing red shirts then a Disney attendant told me.

    I remember very clearly how 2 grown men in their mid 50’s sat on front sit of Snow White ride and my 5-year-old son (who was also a birthday boy) sat behind them. Not only these 300lb each man began to hug and show signs of affection as our ride began, besides blocking 99% of the view for my son, they began mouth to mouth kissing (french kiss) and I was forced to look at them because I could not see anything else other than TWO grown 300lb men in their 50’s kissing… as we were half way into our ride, my 5-year-old son turned to me and asked : “Mama, why are these men kissing?” – I replied : “Because they love each other in special way”.

    It’s one thing seeing in New York people kiss, cry, shout, fight in public, it’s another thing when you take your child to Disney World to “build memories” and you don’t want your child to observe 2 adults making out on Snow White’s ride in front of a 5-year-old..

  27. I’m very comfortable with affection in public, and after moving to Abu Dhabi two years ago, it was the number ONE thing I had the most trouble adjusting to here. In this country, you’re not allowed to even hold hands unless you’re married (NOT ALLOWED), and other public displays of affection (such as a peck on the lips) is illegal. I still find it so weird when I’m on a date here (and I’ve had a few first dates here…) and I can’t give the usual affectionate signals I would at home (I’m from Ireland). In ways, I feel like I can’t even be myself.

  28. Mmm, very good post. Glad to see a mention of the article by Melissa Febos; I always really loved that piece.

    I generally think the level of PDA I’m comfortable with depends on my mood and the situation? But I’m always up for a sweet kiss with my boyfriend as we walk down the street.

  29. Now that I think of it, it’s not so much where we are geographically but where we are as a couple. We have a one year old now and we used to kiss in public all the time but we the baby around we usually have our arms full of him rather than each other. I would like to get back into it though. I think there has been a little bit missing since we got too busy to be affectionate.

  30. I am way more into PDA (kissing, not groping) in public than my hubby but he likes to embarrass me by planting a passionate kiss on me in really inappropriate places like cathedrals. He’s a paradox, that one.

  31. I’ve been living in the Middle East too long! Hubs and I rarely even hold hands in public, letting alone kiss.

    Interestingly, the kiss hello seems to be fine – but that’s about the limit of PDA.

  32. It’s funny people commented on Paris, because we are not PDA people at all, but totally made out in the street in Paris. Especially at night, by the river, you can’t help yourself! It’s very quiet here in Seattle, and our community is so small, it would be really awkward to make out on the street here.

  33. ha loving reading these comments!
    I used to think nothing of kissing in public but Tom is totally awkward about those things, he hardly ever even holds my hand *sob sob* I get it though, it’s just not his thing

  34. I have a friend who always complains about PDA, but she lost all credibility with me when we were driving through a parking lot and she pointed out a super cute couple who were just kissing by their car. “I don’t want to see that!” she kept saying.

    We drove on, and she actually turned around in her seat because she “wanted to know if they were still doing it.” You don’t want to see that. Right.

  35. Yes, I have thrown up on a subway platform, cried on the subway and made out on the subway! BUT I lived in Prague for four months, for study abroad. I was absolutely shocked and mortified to find out that public sex is legal there (at least, it was back then), and I spent much of my time hoping and praying I wouldn’t accidentally witness such a thing. *shudder* Thankfully, I never did… phew.

  36. Oh, after living in New York for only a few months, I had already cried, kissed, and thrown up in public! I’m not so proud of the last one.

  37. My husband and I basically hold hands constantly. There is something just so comforting about it. I’ll hug and kiss in public as long as they aren’t crazy makeout kind of kisses, haha! Trust me, if my husband had his way the kissing would never stop…

  38. I find PDA is a completely normal thing to do, but when I see people really going at it, it’s a bit off putting. My boyfriend doesn’t like PDA, but he’ll always hold my hand and give me a quick kiss.

  39. I don’t mind a little PDA… I think it’s sweet when couples show affection for one another in public. Not very into making out in public though. My dog however does NOT like any form of PDA! I once took her to Central Park and there was a cute couple lounging nearby on a blanket in the grass and my dog barked at them any time they got close to each other. She also barked a few times throughout our wedding ceremony whenever my now husband and I held hands! No fun when that one’s around!

  40. This was the best thing to read, especially on my fifth wedding anniversary:) This is such a good reminder to be a bit more spontaneous and have a little fun on the street (that sounded better in my head…). Great post.

  41. When I was 15 I had a make out session on a semi secluded bench at the fair in my small town and was all about it. Yesterday I saw teenagers making out at noon on a bench downtown in a small city in WI and my boss and I had a good long laugh about it questioning why they’d just go for it in daylight. Now that my teenage year are over and I’m married, we hold hands everywhere, smooch on the cheek/lips, and there’s definitely some subtle butt squeezing in public. A bit of making out might happen in places that hold the possibility of people but they’re not currently there — like on a public hiking trail — but otherwise we’re pretty safe. If we lived in a big city it might be different, but when I wear a romper where we live I get stared at — so making out would draw a lot of attention.

  42. My first kiss with my hubby was out in public too. Although we were in LA not NYC. We live in Chicago and I would say PDA is fairly common here as well. There have been quite a few times I have chanced upon people doing more than just kissing on hot summer nights by the lakefront.

  43. My sister lives in Mexico City doing relief and development with three indigenous people groups. The first time i was visting her, the amount of pretty intense making out on the metro station platforms and in the metro trains caught my Canadian sensibilities off guard… but now, it doesn’t phase me-at least after a couple moments!

  44. I love this post! It’s interesting to see other people’s view on PDA. I live in Portland, Oregon, which is a very liberal place to grow up! Here, no matter what your sexual orientation, it’s not weird to see couples of all kinds showing public displays of affection, but an unexpected kiss on the street is some kind of wonderful!

  45. This is so interesting! Girl, I love a good make-out sesh, and its sweet to see people who are so in love… but there’s something about witnessing “too much tongue” that makes me feel weird. Lol

    I think it might have something to do with never seeing my parents really “go at it” in front of me or in public.

    Have you seen the Wedding Singer and the discussion about “Church Tongue”?

  46. I often marvel at how much of my life is lived out on the streets and trains of NYC—tears, kisses, all of it. But like you said: our spaces are small, so our lives spill out into the city. And a kiss on a street corner has got to be one of the most romantic things in the world :)

  47. Very interesting! I’ll give my husband a small, sweet kiss on the lips in public, but I would be way too uncomfortable making out in public.

  48. I am Italian and I live in Spain, I think kissing in public has more to do with the way you are and not with place you live, unless you are in a Muslim country where it wouldn’t be allowed…
    I kissed my partner wherever I been and it does depends on what you feel in that moment, can be a sweet kiss or a more passionate one.
    Crying in public for me depends on how desperate you are. I did cry on a street and even while driving in the car…. (I don’t suggested do it… it is quite dangerous!) when I felt really desperate otherwise if I am sad I could keep until I am in a more intimate place.
    In a big city where you are anonymous it is easier showing your feelings in public, in a small village, unless you want all the place speak about you, it would be difficult. And this is wherever you are, in France, Spain, Italy, North of Europe and USA.

  49. In Brazil – we make out ALL OVER THE PLACE! And it’s completely normal! Here it’s mostly because a lot of people live with their parents until they’re married, so they have to show affection somewhere right? But it’s also in our blood to be spontaneous and passionate when it comes to matters of the heart, I suppose :-)

    One of my most romantic and memorable kisses was leaving the bar here in São Paulo on a date where the guy hadn’t kissed me, and it was pouring rain outside – we started running to the closest taxi stand + before I knew it he had his arm around my waist, flipped me around towards him, and picked me up for a big kiss under the rain! Felt like I was in a movie! haha – Meanwhile, passerbys weren’t even noticing us because they were trying to get away from the rain themselves!

  50. I’m totally a PDA person, I can’t help it. I love my kisses and hugs. I don’t do it to flaunt I just find my husband irresistible and isn’t that a good thing?!

    It’s funny because I don’t even notice it – at least most the time. My Mom told me she was embarrassed by my wedding kiss(es), in the moment I didn’t notice I kissed Danny so much. I was just too excited.

    There’s the clip :)

  51. In Tokyo, I see a lot of (young) people holding hands (with a scornful look from older gents and dames at times), but kissing and hugging is still a bit rare. So I feel like I’m intruding when I see people making out in public in North America. I was worried at first that my Japanese boyfriend would not be comfortable with PDA, but I was pleasantly surprised when he would swoop me closer on the streets and lean in to kiss me. He also kisses me a lot at airports (we’re doing long distance).

  52. I think PDA is fine (and kind of wonderful) so long as both people are actually enjoying it.

    And they’re not getting in the way of a busy street or door or whatever.

  53. I am a Dane, but I have travelled a great deal and also I lived in Melbourne for one year when I was a bit younger.

    In Denmark people are not very affectionate in public. However a quick kiss and holding hands in public are completely normal and acceptable. Also I guess it depends on the person. My boyfriend does not care about showing feelings in public, and I do not either. However when we first started dating I thought it was a bit too much holding hands across a restaurant table. Now that we have been together for more than a year though, I would love holding hands in a cafe or restaurant. When I lived in Melbourne I spend a lot of time in public with my now Australian ex boyfriend. I guess when you live in a big city (NYC, London, Paris, Melbourne etc.) there is just a different set of rules for what is acceptable in public. Also when I visited NYC now a couple of years ago I cried in public on New Years Eve (actually at Katz’s diner on the Lower East Side), made out with an Englishman in a tiny bar and had a fight infront of a subway station. Though no one commented on my make out or the fight, a waiter at Katz’s came down to me while crying handing me a napkin and saying: “Miss the next year will be a good year!” So I guess some New Yorkers notice people crying in public :-)

    Great post!

  54. I am a Dane, but I have travelled a great deal and also I lived in Melbourne for one year when I was a bit younger.

    In Denmark people are not very affectionate in public. However a quick kiss and holding hands in public are completely normal and acceptable. Also I guess it depends on the person. My boyfriend does not care about showing feelings in public, and I do not either. However when we first started dating I thought it was a bit too much holding hands across a restaurant table. Now that we have been together for more than a year though, I would love holding hands in a cafe or restaurant. When I lived in Melbourne I spend a lot of time in public with my now Australian ex boyfriend. I guess when you live in a big city (NYC, London, Paris, Melbourne etc.) there is just a different set of rules for what is acceptable in public. Also when I visited NYC now a couple of years ago I cried in public on New Years Eve (actually at Katz’s diner on the Lower East Side), made out with an Englishman in a tiny bar and had a fight infront of a subway station. Though no one commented on my make out or the fight, a waiter at Katz’s came down to me while crying handing me a napkin and saying: “Miss the next year will be a good year!” So I guess some New Yorkers notice people crying in public :-)

    Great post!

  55. my husband grabs me and kisses me and twirls me around in the school playground after school pick-up. so embarrassing. he does it on purpose! :-)

  56. We kiss and hold hands in public – we don’t have a full on make out sesh but I wouldn’t be against it, haha. We do lots of coupley stuff in public.. like dancing in the cheese aisle at our local Waitrose (we were trying to make our mind up over whether to buy the brie and needed a moment to think…) xx

  57. There is something so magical about kissing in public. All of a sudden – the world is no longer there and it is just you two! So different then kissing anywhere else. Plus you can add a view… and I especially love the comments and looks – they only wish they were kissing my man x

  58. Haha considering my age, I don’t really have a say in the usual PDA I perform haha but I find what you’re saying so interesting! Usually I would say no to PDA after holding hands and a kiss on others, before thinking okay take it home. Haha, It just seems that sometimes, it’s not about the moment, but just about showing it to other people for some. You’ve made me reconsider though- not everyone is doing it for that reason. After all, kissing in the rain isn’t known for it’s romantic feel for the impression it has on other people – though it does often make for a good photo (breakfast in tiffany’s in mind)..

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  60. I live in Perth, Western Australia, and here everything out of the norm is a spectacle! Perhaps I am more anti-PDA than most but the most you can get out of me is a quick peck and the occasional holding hands!

  61. Fell in love in Paris, 5 years ago.
    Ok, there was not really PDA going on then, but every time we meet at an airport, there’s so much tension no matter if it’s meeting or separating.
    No matter where, we hold hands, hug, kiss on the cheek, mouth or nose, whatever. We just try not to do that all the time, especially when with friends, as I feel awkward when others do that in my company.
    This is wherever we are in europe, not just one country!

  62. Living in Finland small kisses are okay, but you don’t see much else in here. Old people and teenagers like to hold hands, which always makes me happy. I just started a relationship with a bit older guy who loves to hold hands, hug and kiss in public and this makes me feel safe. No one has complained or made comments about this. But There’s lots of guys who think holding hands should only be done in dark corner or so. :D

  63. I grew up in Italy, where PDA is more or less a way of life, so I’m all for it. Unfortunately I live in Zurich, Switzerland, where it isn’t as acceptable :-(

  64. Your article reminds me of a quote from The Great Gatsby: “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
    I live in Vienna, Austria, wich is obviously not as big as NYC and you don’t see people kissing everywhere but that doesn’t stop me and my boyfriend from kissing in public and most of the time we get looks like “aaaw look at those young lovers (although this year we have our fourth anniversery =)). Except one time when we kissed in a hardware store and a grumpy man told us to stop, wich was kind of funny.. =D

  65. I totally agree with what you said about living in NYC and suddenly being comfortable showing all sorts of emotion in public. I have sat upon many stoops and cried my eyes out, gone through a break up and had steamy make outs. I sort of love how memories like those color the streets of NYC for me now.

  66. I had never been into PDA until last fall I was dating a guy long-distance and I went to Ottawa to visit him. Because he was living in such close quarters with friends, our kissing was reserved for the street. There was something really liberating about stopping on a quiet street and just kissing without a care about the people walking by! I mean, what were they REALLY going to do about it, right? ;)

    You’re right about the anonymity in numbers and big cities. I have cried several times in public…often airports…and the disconnect of our society really makes it just as private as crying alone. A sad but convenient fact about our world!

  67. I don’t mind a kiss or hand holding. I encourage hand holding. But I do not like to make out in public. And I don’t like to see it either, although I’d never tell anyone that!

    I have cried in public though. At the airport, in fact. I actually wish someone would’ve given me a tissue.

  68. I love the idea where the “city becomes an extension of your living room”. Makes me miss my time in New York three years ago.

  69. I have bawled my eyes out in public before, when it is emotional enough you don’t even notice. Still looking back it seems embarrassing.

  70. I’m a native New Yorker, and I DO NOT like PDA. At all! I don’t like doing it or seeing it. Not just a peck kiss, or hand holding. I’m talking about the making out in the street/subway/starbucks. Yuck.


  71. Don’t. Thats all I gotta say. Just Don’t:0

  72. NYC public as an extension of home was absolutely something my husband and I experienced on our honeymoon there. Which, given we were honeymooners, was fantastic.

    We normally live in Sydney, Australia and I think we are pretty relaxed about most forms of PDAs here. We kiss and be silly everywhere and plenty of people do but not everyone. No one seems to judge and I like that … though people do stare. My favourite is when you see older couples being affectionate, I want that for my marriage to be together for all that time and still unable to resist each other.

  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

  74. Please don’t! unless you are in a dark place and no one is watching, but I guess that wouldn’t be considered making out in public. Ha!

  75. Love this! All for showing some affection in public.

  76. DO. DO. DO.


  77. fantastic i really love this post

  78. I have no problem in kissing my husband in the street, and actually, in Argentina we kiss eachother all the time, with friends, colleagues (not lips, and just once, not twice as Spanish).
    Buenos Aires is a big city, but people take care and watch and comment sometimes. In NYC it is true, nobody cares about anything!

  79. I feel the same way about dancing! If there are only a few people out on the floor, I feel shy:)

  80. This vocalizes so much of what I’ve felt this year living in Philly! My boyfriend and I are long distance and we have fought, made out, laughed, cried, all around this city. We’ve even had more than one person egg us on if they saw us kissing (including a comment, “Keep it going”)! Times when I’ve cried on the subway for whatever reason, people are generally either respectful and don’t ask or will ask and be very polite/concerned.

  81. In comparison with my friends and fellow students I was like a fossile when I first kissed. I think I was 15 years old. In my country The Netherlands we don’t mind kissing on the streets as well. And drunk guys pee in the streets as well. I think it’s similar to New York over here but without the tons of people of course. Oh and if you live in a small village, than it’s different because everybody pays so much attention to each other. But in cities they are,more open.


  82. I envy people who kiss in public because my husband is even too shy to hug me longer than a few seconds in public!

  83. Like other teachers who have commented I see waaaay more PDA than I’d like to at school… There is a time and place for it, and I do miss how much more affectionate my husband and I were in public when we first started dating. Living in a smallish city where I frequently run into my students (and their parents) I’m much more conscious of who I might be making out in front of… Vacations are prime time for PDA. Something about being in a new city where there is no chance of running into anyone we know makes us much more adventurous.
    That said, I have no problem breastfeeding in public, and have even fed my baby on the sidelines of the rugby field while coaching the school team. So maybe a kiss in front of students wouldn’t be much worse.

  84. My husband and I enjoy being all lovey dovey at home or out and about. It grosses our kids out (though, I think that they secretly find comfort in the fact that their parents love each other).

  85. I was super uncomfortable with PDA when my mister and I started dating- even holding hands. Now public kissing it just an extension of how much I love him- it comes completely naturally. As for a full make-out session- bring on a big, (big) crowd. I agree that there is anonymity in numbers but also a time and a place!

  86. My first kiss with my husband was on the street in NYC, too — right outside Tompkins Square Park, maybe the least romantic park in the city!

  87. I’m not big on PDA, but I think it’s probably because I was raised in a small town and with a big family, so the concept of ‘privacy’ was nonexistent. In NYC, I’m sure it would be a different story. I have noticed the same counterintuitive sense of personal space one gets on the crowded streets of New York, and I love it!

  88. I love this post. The topic of PDA is often discussed in my house. On our first date my husband surprised the hell out of me by kissing me in the middle of in a crowded street! Since then we are still trying to find the balance between what I think is acceptable in public and what he thinks is acceptable (which is pretty much anything!). Hand holding, hugging and a little kissing I think are okay but a full on make out session is probably better left at home :) Love your blog.

  89. We’re big hand holders and little kisses here and there. Occasionally I’ll give my husband’s butt a quick squeeze and he’ll even grab a boob here and there. But when it comes to a full make out session, we’d rather be at home…as it always leads to something more ;). Maybe its because we are from a smaller town, and you can’t really call Sacramento a Big City either. It’s just never felt right to either of us.

  90. I always HATED pda until I met the love of my life. We never full on make out in public, but if we kiss or snuggle on the subway or hold hands, I think to myself, “How could anyone look down on two people in love?”

  91. I totally say DO! I am one for living in the present – and if the spirit moves you to kiss, than you should go ahead and kiss. Who cares what others think – it is not about them, and note this is coming from a single lady. It makes me smile to see couples in love and living in the moment – just don’t take it too far. Some things are better kept to some privacy, but that does not have to mean the bedroom… ;)
    Much love,

  92. I’m totally okay with most PDA – from adults anyway. I teach high school at a Catholic school and luckily the most I ever see is hand-holding. There’s a pretty strict no PDA policy at my school which makes it so jarring when I go to other schools or I’m at football games and things like that and I see kids making out. How quickly I seem to have forgotten how much I loved PDA at their age…
    Also, living in Spain was a huge eye-opening experience for me in terms of my PDA comfort level. I felt like such a prude the first time I went on a walk in the public park near my piso. People were practically dry-humping on the benches and nobody batted an eye!

  93. I live on the prairie, in a city of 50 thousand people. There is no public really. I mean we have streets of course, but never really crowded. And yes, if you make out in the street, you will get stared at. We don’t have public transportation. So I cry at work or home. Which are two minutes apart. We hold hands when we travel, definitely to bigger cities. I think PDA definitely has something to do with bigger places.

  94. So true. My boyfriend and I always argued in the street rather than our tiny apartment in NYC because we didn’t want the neighbors to hear and judge us. =P Our most intimate conversations probably took place in those streets.

  95. I’m totally comfortable with it…in theory. Like I don’t think it’s a big deal at all when I see people making out in the street, but weirdly I get really shy when it’s me.

  96. When I studied in Rome PDA was EVERYWHERE. To the extent that you sometimes wanted to pull up a chair and just watch because it was so out of the ordinary to us students from PA. I am not very affectionate anyway, so my husband and I are minimal in our public displays.

  97. Kiss hello? Kiss goodbye? Sure, but I don’t make out with my husband in public. I think I probably was a bit more into PDA in high school but now I don’t really feel comfortable. We also aren’t very kissy people. I definitely do not cry in public. That is what my car is for.

  98. I am totally weird about pda and i grew up and lived most of my life in orange county, ca. not in a small town, but definitely not a big city. now i’m in barcelona and i see people kissing on the metro almost daily, on the street, in bars, etc. i see people cry on a weekly basis, and i’ve come home mid afternoon and seen someone peeing on our building stoop. i think it has everything to do with living in a densely populated place. people are outside more, so you see more. so i’m trying to be better about pda. :)
    p.s. i love that the guy yelled “look at the lovers!” so cute!

  99. Love this! With so many people squeezed on this island, we’re all forced to interact and see more than our fair share of any type of emoting, PDA included. So I say just do it. Laughing, crying, kissing. There’s always something more shocking happening around the corner :)


  100. Neither of us is really into PDA.. I’ll cuddle up to him if we’re next to each other on the subway/bus/taxi and occasionally we’ll share a peck in public, but that’s about it. I know we love each other, but I just don’t feel the need to grope on him in public lol!

  101. I like it when my boyfriend surprises me with a kiss or hug in public. Its romantic. And I really enjoy seeing elderly couples holding hands as they walk down the street. It makes me smile:)

  102. I find that it makes people happy, to see people happy in love. Little kisses and hand holding are sweet displays of affection.

  103. I was waiting for the Tube in London a couple of weekends ago, and right next to me and my friend, a couple started kissing. Sweet at first, until they got WAY too into it, with him grabbing her bum etc. Too much!

    That said, a cute couple giggling and kissing and so on is really sweet to see (then I want to punch them for being cute and coupley while I’m all single. Bitter? Me? Noooo)

  104. Here in Spain there is PDA everywhere, I’d say it doesn’t matter how big is the town you live in. But it is true that the older the people, the less the PDA. Dramatically less, and it looks like something has to do with social manners or something like that. Personally, I don’t get it. Love and being loved is the best thing ever, and we all know that.

  105. Oh I love this. We live in London and it’s the same here as NYC regarding crying in public. I’m not completely sure but people might be more reserved with full on snogging though if they’re not teenagers or new lovers. I love a bit of PDA myself but my boyfriend is more restrained (we’ve been going out for a long time!). Paris is more my style – people (not just teenagers and college students) kiss passionately in public. Yeah- bring on some PDA. I love it! x

  106. Love this post!
    C’est tellement réaliste et poétique à la fois!
    Never stop writing!

  107. I don’t mind a little kiss in public and hand holding definitely, but in confined spaces such as on the tube in London when you’re all squashed in and there’s a couple about 30cm away audibly kissing, like you can hear them sucking each other’s faces… yeah, that’s not nice.

    • I totally agree about the confined spaces point. I was on a whale-watching boat with a couple who made out the whole time, and we just couldn’t look away. There was lots of ear-sucking and neck biting . . haha, I don’t remember the whales, but I can’t forget that grossly epic PDA!

  108. I live in southeastern Michigan near ann arbor :)

    It’s pretty normal to see public displays of affection such as hand holding, small kisses, etc. but I still think it’s odd to just be fully making out in front of people.

    my fiance and I keep it a bit more reserved. We would do a long smooch but no tongue action in public!

  109. I love this. My husband and I live in Minneapolis and while Minnesota is politically liberal and super hip in many ways, it is still a state filled with conservative/timid Scandinavian people. Kissing in public is often viewed as “rude” or “gross.” And crying in public? God forbid we have emotions. Our Minnesota-nice nature requires someone to stop and ask why you are crying. My husband and I have always loved PDA and always will. I think it’s important to show the world that we love each other. I don’t ever want to be timid about that, especially as we start raising kids. I want them to know that affection is healthy and good and that their parents love each other. Way to go, New York! We’ll do our duty here in the midwest to show there is some love in the air.

    • I grew up in Minnesota and my husband is from Mpls as well. But we moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and lived there for 20 years. Brazilians love to be in love and show their affection in public all the time. I have to say, we don’t fit in MN anymore. When we kiss in public in MN, even our adult children roll their eyes at us. But after 26 years of marriage, we’re still in love and aren’t shy to show it in public! I figure it’s good for Minnesotans to loosen up a bit, and maybe we’ll help them. :)

  110. My husband and I notice this so much since moving from a small city to Toronto! I remember once being on a bus in the small city and saying to my friend “I’m meeting so and so later but I don’t have her number” and literally the person in front of me turned around and said “I have her number!” and then gave it to me. Things like that just don’t happen in the bigger city :)

  111. SInce moving from DC back to the Midwest, I’ve noticed our PDA (which we didn’t do a ton of before) has dramatically decreased. Number 1 reason: We have to drive everywhere now. In the city, we walked most places which was good for hand-holding. Actually, we don’t really hand hold… we do more of this low-five clapping thing while we walk. It’s funny how much I miss that. Oh, and we had our first kiss in the back of the cab. Like there was no one in the front seat!

  112. I love this post! As a same sex couple, my wife and I feel sometimes afraid of kissing in public. Since our marriage became legal in Spain, we felt more secure and comfortable but it’s difficult… anyway, we always hold hands in public. And sometimes we hug, and kiss, and hug, and laugh and kiss… ;)
    You get used to weird looks and ugly comments… and I feel that nowadays people are getting used to us to, so that’s good.
    Love is always right so I’m all for PDA!


  113. I live in the middle east and not surprisingly PDA’s are a big no no. One of the things I love about returning to our home country for a holiday is being able to walk down the street with my husband holding his hand… Bliss!

  114. I love that last old black and white picture. My fiance and I are not that affectionate but then again it depends on where we are. Usually we’ll hold hands, hugs, and quick kiss on lips or cheek and then there are days when he’s slapping my behind and I can’t help but giggle.

  115. Last spring my husband and I were in Vancouver out at a little cove/park area. I’m almost certain we saw some youngins actually having sex in broad day light. I was shocked.
    I love holding hands and kissing. I love love and I love being in love.

    • Haha, I am from Vancouver and to say what you saw is a bit much is an understatement. But, I will definetly say we’re quite open to all love here! Hope you enjoyed your visit.

  116. I live in Denmark and feel like I’m the loudest, most overly affectionate person in the world – as an Australian/Canadian Mommy I’m constantly shouting across spaces at my kids and people’s heads turn and they give me the oddest stares – Danes are so quiet. Also people are just not affectionate in public so when my husband and I are holding hands, kissing, hugging, cuddling – people do look at us as if we’re drunk or something – very funny, I think people just assume we’re foreigners – which we are so I’m ok with it!

  117. Ha, ha! Just smooches and squeezes for me and my hubby! I think it’s sweet to see that, but anything more is a little… I don’t know, uneasy-making?

  118. In NYC you kind of have to make out in public if you’ve just started dating someone – or especially a first date. Because inviting someone into your apartment usually means inviting them into your room if you have a roommate which is a bit too intimate for the first few dates. I used to live on one of the most congested streets of Manhattan – St. Mark’s Place and dreaded the goodbye, make-out kiss right in front of my building and surrounded by countless eaters at Mamouns but it beat letting the guy come to my room!

  119. When I lived in Europe, I noticed a huge difference in how much PDA is acceptable. In suburban America, making out in public seems really weird. But making out on the grass in a park in Madrid? Totally normal. My husband is a lot more shy. He gets uncomfortable if I kiss too long or squeeze his butt in public… mostly I do it to see him squirm (and because duh, I love him and I don’t care who knows it!)

  120. Per the How I Met Your Mother episode, you’re not a New Yorker unless you cry in public and don’t care! I just moved from Chicago to Providence, but I had moments on the El where I would cry and just not care. And my now fiance and my first kiss was across the table on New Year’s Eve in a bar, and then we had major PDA on the El platform afterward. Viva wearing your emotions on your sleeve, always!

  121. Funny, I don’t even notice PDA. Unless it’s really obnoxious groping, so I have no idea what it’s like around here. We’re out and about a lot, so there is definitely public kissing and hand holding. And we got engaged in public in NYC :) Sometimes it’s nice to be surrounded by people and energy but also in your own little bubble at the same time.

  122. My boyfriend and I had our first kiss on his rooftop overlooking a rather busy street. It was nice to know we weren’t totally alone, but still have our privacy.

    I love being able to kiss anywhere – sometimes you just feel so much love! – but I usually do like to find little hidden spaces (behind a column, on a side street) that give us the sense of being alone. It can feel so coquettish and passionate if we’re just going for a ho-hum walk to pull him aside and plant one on him, and in moments like that, the city feels empty and full at the same time.

  123. Ha! My husband and I border on a little too affectionate. We definitely kiss in public, but I think public making out is not okay here in OKC.

  124. I don’t mind small kisses in public, but I wouldn’t be comfortable making out with people around. My husband is barely comfortable with a peck on the lips! We both grew up in small Southern towns though, so most people don’t show a lot of PDA.

  125. Love this post!!!

    I bet you got inspired because you saw someone on a total-on make out session hahaha…

    anyways, honestly I don’t like PDA..especially because SD is so small and everybody knows everybody and it might be a little embarrassing…

    HOWEVER, when I went to Mexico nobody knows me there and there was this ‘far away love’ thing going on with a boy there so I didn’t care!! hahaha i didn’t really enjoyed it because a part of me was ‘shy’ but another part of me was like f* it…nobody knows me here.

    Brunette Letters Blog

  126. Just saw The Great Gatsby this weekend and your comment about anonymity in numbers made me think of that line when Jordan Baker says “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” So true!

    Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with showing affection in public; even steamy makeout sessions. I’ll take love over public displays of hate any day.

    • Ha, I was JUST about to post the same line! It’s very true :)

      And yes, I’m with you. Kissing in public is no biggie for me.

  127. My husband is much more open with PDA than myself. I hate it when he kisses me in the gym!

  128. i’m not too sure about a full-on make-out session, but i think a passionate kiss in the middle of a busy street is incredibly romantic :)

    on the flip side, breaking up in public is just awful…i broke up with my ex at a hole in the wall sushi joint in the east village. it ended with him storming out and me crying and stuffing my face with both our entrees. i wasn’t even that hungry. i felt stares coming from all directions, but the woman sitting next to me actually tried comforting me, which i was grateful for! i wanted to hug her!

    • i feel you, emmy. a college boyfriend dumped me while we were on the metro in paris, and i felt like the city was singling me out for mockery for the rest of the time i was there. (except for the man who bought me dinner when i was walking around crying by myself. even though i suspect you mistook me for a hooker, sir, i appreciated the dinner. i still think about those frites.)

  129. Here in my town in the North of Italy the most I do in public with my hubby is a small kiss on the cheeck or holding hands :-)
    In the streets I see “serious” kissing only made by teenager :-)

  130. Oh man, about two years ago, after a pretty bad breakup- I bawled my eyes out on the train from Wall Street to 86th. I mean, sobbing crying. No one bothered me and just left me alone; so, I agree that even though we live in this huge city, there are times, where you can just go about your business.

    That’s not the topic of this post, but as some other commenter said, I also wear my heart on my sleeve so PDA is something I am extremely comfortable with and engage in often.

  131. I’m totally comfortable with passionate PDA, though only in front of strangers (like the anonymity of numbers you mention). I recently started dating a man who works next door to my workplace, and it is a serious struggle to keep our hands off of each other during work hours (even just a hug outside – what if our co-workers are lurking?!).

    Also, thank you for sharing Melissa’s article. I’m moving to NYC this summer and that’s something I often think about. I like what she says, “For me, it’s not that I want apathy, just privacy. To be noticed, but not interrupted.”

  132. this is so funny. I have always been kind of ditzy when it comes to pda. since I’m old-fashioned, pda has always been kind of a safe zone. there’s not much chance of things getting out of control when you’re in public!

    • I agree, Shanti — you know things won’t get out of hand when your date kisses you outside. :) My first kiss was on the top of the Empire State Building, and after a while we heard someone say, ‘Hey look, it’s the same couple.’

      Three years later we’re always kissing or making out in public. In NYC and London it feels acceptable, maybe a bit less so in a small town, but that doesn’t stop us.

      My favorite comment so far has been, ‘You should be in the movies!’

  133. I’m totally comfortable with PDA, but my boyfriend hates it! He doesn’t even like to hold hands over a table in a restaurant because he says it’s ‘tacky.’ And heaven forbid I try to kiss him in front of my parents! That’s just asking for trouble :)

  134. When I lived in NYC, I definitely had my fair share of make-out sessions/cries on the streets. Now that I moved to LA, I notice when I am driving, I often see people in their cars crying or fighting or picking their nose. It’s funny how they have this false sense of privacy.

    • So true! In LA, your car is your extension of your living room and you see people do everything.

  135. there’s something to be said for the spontaneous make out. even after five years (plus ten dating!) there’s nothing like it when my husband plops a big one on me:)

  136. I live in a small town (pop. ~2000) and I’d say that I’m comfortable with a moderately passionate kiss, but not all the time. In the summer we get a lot of tourists, do there’s a little more anonymity then, but even so.

  137. I seriously love your blog. Cute first kiss story! I teach high school, and sometimes the amount of PDA my students portray (even when they aren’t dating) is crazy/annoying to me! For me, I’m always a fan of holding hands and simple kisses with my hubby when we’re out and about.

    • Ugh, I’m with you. I also teach high school and it’s like a neverending game of “Truth or Dare” out there!

    • Yes yes yes! I teach at a Jr. High and it’s ridiculous what some of these kids do!

    • Yes yes yes! I teach at a Jr. High and it’s ridiculous what some of these kids do!

  138. How interesting, I never thought about it that way. I’ve definitely made out with boyfriends on streets, as well as publicly cried my eyes out on numerous occasions when I lived in NYC. And I was proposed to in a park near our apartment which was the most romantic thing to me.

    But since we’ve moved away I don’t think we’ve had a single public PDA, how sad!

  139. A great post.. I really wear my heart on my sleeve, I can’t hide my emotions even if I want to! So PDAs are just an extension of that. I left London a few years ago and have found that cities provide a weird mix of anonymity and community that I could never quite get my head round. I am yet to visit New York, but from your description I think I am going to love it when I eventually get there!

  140. PDAs in Paris are definitely par for the course. It happens everywhere and we’re happy to see people to much in love!!

    xoxo PARIS BEE kids blog

    • IJ says...

      I totally agree with you! Paris is the PDA city par excellence… First time I experienced it, I felt a little bit shy though. Then I realized that is why some people call it “The city of love”.

    • I can’t wait to experience that part of Paris myself! I’m heading there for the first time with my boyfriend very soon.

    • This comment has been removed by the author.

    • …i completely disagree. tweens making out on the metro platforms is uncomfortable and rude.

    • I wouldn’t say only Paris but France in general.

    • This comment has been removed by the author.

    • I’m French and traditionally, it’s considered as ill-mannered to kiss/do touching things in public. I know it’s getting more and more common, but people from so-called good families don’t do that (I’ve never seen my parents kissing ever!) There might be some religious influence in that.

  141. I love this, because I think you really hit the nail on the head about being comfortable on the streets, as an extension of our own homes. Growing up in NYC makes it then weird to go somewhere else, because now that I live in a rural community, everyone notices everything you do!

  142. ha love this post.

    not really related, but the other day I said “Oh Ella I love you!” on the street as a cute boy her age walked by. I clearly made her uncomfortable and quietly apologized as soon as I realized my error. haha