Because life is too short
While you might have previously gagged at the sight of a couple holding hands in the supermarket, a number of celebs have recently put PDA back into the spotlight. Over the past year, we’ve seen Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly tongue on the red carpet; Kourtney Kardashian straddle Travis Barker on a boat; and Ben Affleck tenderly fondle J-Lo’s ass on a yacht. It’s official: playing things cool is out, spitting in your SO’s mouth in public is in.
Of course, PDA isn’t anything ‘new’, per se. John and Yoko literally invited the world to watch their honeymoon as they staged a week-long bed-in for peace in Amsterdam back in 1969. But back then, the public and press derided the pair for daring to be so openly in love. Now, things have changed, and we’re lapping up the chaos and spectacle of the celebrity PDA.
There’s also evidence to suggest that we’re all keen to get in on the PDA action too. Research published by Bumble found that nearly 70 per cent of daters around the world say they are now more open to PDA following the pandemic. COVID-19 has undoubtedly had a huge part to play in this rebranding of PDA: we’re all sick to the back teeth of isolating and social distancing, so it’s no surprise that as we tentatively return to normality we’re practically glueing ourselves to our loved ones. Keeping your hands and bodily fluids to yourself is so 2020.
Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari (@dr_kalanit) is a London-based psychologist and author. She explains to Dazed that PDA can mean different things for different people: “Maybe for some it is about hugging and holding hands, and for others about kissing publicly. We display affection in different ways and interpret behaviours of affection differently,” she says. “For some, it might be a statement about commitment or exclusivity, whereas for others it may be a way to connect and keep the connection. It can be a gesture of love if one knows that kind of display of affection is wanted by their partner, or a spontaneous expression of love.”
“They might want to come across as a couple or a ‘unit’, or want to be perceived as a passionate couple or a couple in love. It might be a natural and spontaneous way for them to connect, or it might be an indication of their unspoken need for acceptance, attention, 'breaking norms', publicity, or status,” she continues.
“There is a huge difference between the varying acts of affection, from holding hands, hugs, kisses, ‘french kisses’, or more provocative public displays of affection. Each act of affection is communicating something different from the next.”
It’s certainly true that there’s a difference between Travis Barker sharing a video of Kourtney sucking his thumb with all 6.4 million of his followers versus kissing your partner in the dimly-lit corner of a bar. But while the acts are different, the sentiment behind them is arguably the same: as we’ve been soberly reminded over the past 24 months, life is too short!
Playing things cool, being aloof, or pretending not to care is simply not it. Post-pandemic life should be about unashamedly revelling in joy. As numerous lockdowns have shown us, the freedom to be with your loved ones isn’t something we can ever take for granted. So, yolo. Why not post an Instagram video of you and your partner in the bath? Or canoodle on a gondola in the middle of Venice?
Whether or not you think it’s nice to see hot, rich people exchange saliva, we’d all do well to take a leaf out of their book. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should rush to upload a sex tape (unless, of course, you and your partner want to). But the underlying philosophy which underpins all public displays of affection is, essentially, ‘fuck it’. And that’s something all of us can surely get behind.