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Public displays of affection, or PDA, are defined as acts of physical intimacy in the presence of others.
In American culture, there is broad consensus of what is socially acceptable in terms of PDA.
When shown in the media, displays of affection such as holding hands, kissing or hugging are seen as acceptable. When it comes to young adult couples (ages 15-23), displays that are often acceptable in the media are frowned upon.
Los Alamos High School students are used to PDA, since common sights on campus include couples holding hands during the passing period or kissing quickly before class.
“It can be cute but it gets annoying when couples get overly passionate about their PDA,” said Kiersten Temple, a Los Alamos High School junior.
Other students shared the same viewpoint as Temple, adding that over-PG-rated PDA was too much to be shown in public.
In certain public places, such as a library, there have been rules put into place that do not permit any PDA.
At first glance, these rules seem to be unreasonable, but the reality of the situation is that if these rules were not put in place, some couples would go overboard — possibly engaging in acts that are not suitable for public viewing.
Katie Downing, an LAHS junior, said, “I think it is reasonable to have no PDA rules because it controls the few who will go further than just holding hands, but it is sad that people who won’t go further than holding hands have to be impacted by these rules.”
Temple also said that these rules should exist in places where younger children are because if they see a couple being overly affectionate, they will think the behavior is acceptable.
Even if the PDA stays under a PG rating, a lot of people still do not like to see young adults being affectionate with one another.
She said that people are more sensitive to teenagers showing PDA because of the immature and everything-they-do-is-wrong stereotype young adults have acquired.
But she also said that youths “deserve that stereotype because in reality, we are immature and often do really stupid things.”
Downing, on the other hand, believes that a historical social moral that’s been maintained in current times, is to not engage in PDA.
Despite young couples being frowned upon for publicly showing their affection for one another, , it is a bit more acceptable for older couples to do so.
Perhaps this is because the connotations associated with older couples are that they are more serious in terms of the relationship and they are not subject to random, uncontrollable public acts of inappropriate affection.
In contrast, most young couples don’t know what it means to be serious.
They are at an age where they haven’t started to comprehend what they are doing. Young adults usually aren’t set in their ways or know what they want in life.
However, all of these “flaws” in young couples should not undermine the fact that young love may also be pure and innocent and not necessarily colored by derision or disappointment, which can be part of the older couple’s experience.
Based on the concept of a young, pure love, perhaps a little more patience with PDA could be granted, given that the couple doesn’t go overboard.