How College Students Really Feel about PDA

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We see it everywhere. Couples express their affection on benches, in dorm lounges and even in Espresso Royale when you just want a cup of coffee. I try to feel happy for them, but can’t stop myself from sneering at the lovefest in annoyance, and usually end up walking away. You might say I seem bitter about not having someone to engage in clothed sex with on top of Espresso Royale tables, and you might be right. So I asked other students how they felt about public displays of affection on campus to see if I’m the only one put-off by PDA. Turns out, I’m not alone.

PDA ranges from simply holding hands to making out ferociously in a Starbucks line while bystanders desperately try to find their way around you. It’s basically sex without the orgasm. “[PDA is] any intimate form of physical communication between two people intimately involved,” said University of Michigan senior Nancy Huynh. “As a single woman, I always want to say ‘aww’ and ‘eww’ at the same time.”

On average, the interviewed students said they saw four or five couples expressing PDA each day, but not extremely graphic PDA like the couple that devours each other’s mouths. Most students admitted they’ve expressed PDA, but insisted that there’s a line as to how far you can go. “I don’t care about people doing PDA, as long as they’re not full on making out and groping each other’s privates,” University of Michigan junior Michelle Sullivan said. There are limits to our discomfort. If you’re going to deliberately shove your happiness in my face, then I’m going to be upset and very likely, disgusted.

Sitting in Espresso Royale, I don’t want to watch you shoving your tongue down your partner’s throat while I sip on my vanilla caramel latte. Time and place are important factors that determine whether or not PDA is appropriate. “In classes, I don’t see why couples feel the need to touch each other while we’re sitting in a large lecture hall,” University of Michigan junior Julianna Dietz said. I don’t know what backwards universe some people come from, but I never get out of bed just to have sex in a lecture hall.

Don’t get me wrong, PDA is nice. It’s reassuring to see people who genuinely care for each other. However, it’s sad to realize you don’t have that when you so desperately want it. “I’m happy for them. It’s just people expressing their love and feelings. It is sad though if you’re single and aren’t able to do it,” said University of Michigan senior Bryan Johnson. It must be nice to have someone by your side and talk to about all your nonsensical thoughts and deep philosophies.

Just because you’re comfortable enough with public displays of affection and sexuality to show it to the world, don’t assume everyone’s the same way. “Couples seem very comfortable. I’d be self-conscious and feel super awkward,” said University of Michigan grad student Alyssa Kargl. “I just have to walk away when I see it happening.” I mean, what else is there to do? It’s impossible to stomach for too long.

We know PDA is supposed to be cute—holding hands, kissing and showing your love. “I love seeing love. If they’re happy, I’m happy,” University of Michigan junior Brianna Marie Jenkins said. But no, even with Jenkins’ affirmation, we won’t get over it.

PDA resembles a butterfly. On the surface it’s pretty cool, but when you look it right in its face, you realize it’s actually not. “I feel pretty grossed out when I see it. I don’t need to be involved in your relationship,” University of Michigan junior Kevin Yanos said. That just about sums up our discomfort. We love love, but we don’t know want to know couples well enough to jump into the relationship with them. Now if you’re asking for a ménage a trois…maybe.

Ha! Just kidding. No one wants to be that person. If we can’t stomach one person, how in the world could we stomach two?

Senior at the University of Michigan studying English and psychology, and minoring in gender studies and entrepreneurship. Love expressing my sexuality and fashion, and hope to one day be the Editor-in-Chief of my own fashion magazine.

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