Is It A Red Flag If Your Man Isn’t Into PDA?

We all express our love differently, but if your guy isn’t into PDA at all, you can be left wondering what’s wrong.

By Keelia Clarkson3 min read
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Think about the last happy couple you saw. You probably remember a couple walking down the street holding hands, or sharing a sweet, quick kiss just because, or snuggled up together in a movie theatre, or giving each other a reassuring hand on the small of their back. You most likely imagine a couple who was engaging in a public display of affection.

For many of us, interacting physically with our significant other, even just through a short touch on their arm, is normal, even expected. While the kind of PDA that acts as if no one else is present is not it, showing little expressions of affection out in public is typical for most couples.

But what if your boyfriend doesn’t do PDA? What if he doesn’t ever initiate holding hands or kissing your cheek in any public setting? Even worse, what if he actively avoids your advances when around other people? Is it a red flag if he isn’t into PDA?

He Might Not Have Learned It

As natural as holding hands, touching his arm, or walking with your arm around him feels for you, he might not have ever learned how to be physically affectionate. If he was raised in a family that didn’t interact physically, or even in a culture that didn’t encourage touching, even the simplest, littlest touch could feel unnatural to him, and won’t even occur to him to do. 

Offer him understanding and grace if he wasn’t raised in a touchy-feely household or culture. As healthy and natural as physical touch is for us, it’s actually a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.

Start a Conversation

Chances are, your boyfriend won’t magically pick up on your desire for more physical touch if you don’t express it to him. So it’s important to start a conversation that explores what he feels about PDA, without getting accusatory or judgmental.

Start off with a positive affirmation: “I really love it when you hold my hand,” and let him know that you’d like him to do it more often. Express to him, without criticizing, that physical touch is important to you in order to feel loved in a relationship. Instead of focusing on what he’s doing “wrong,” tell him what makes you feel valued.

Teach Him Your Love Language

Don’t leave the ball in his court, even after you mention physical affection to him. Even if he heard you and wants to improve his physical affection, he might need a little encouragement to actually get started. 

As healthy and natural as physical touch is for us, it’s actually a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.

The best way to help him get more comfortable with PDA is by setting an example yourself. The next time you’re out, take his hand as you walk through the parking lot, or lock eyes with him as you wait for a table at a restaurant and kiss him, or snuggle up to him at a movie theatre. 

It Could Be a Red Flag If He Doesn’t Listen

So you had a totally non-judgmental conversation with him, told him exactly what would make you feel loved, and even set an example for him. But he still hasn’t made any progress. He’s still distant in public, and you’re feeling totally unheard and uncared for.

In this case, it’s crucial to open the conversation back up, with a bit more directness. Ask him if he’s thought about the last conversation, or why he hasn’t made any changes in his behavior. While you can’t force him to be someone else or expect immediate change, it’s still important that he respects you and your desires, and actually makes an effort to learn your love language. If he doesn’t seem to care about your love language, this could be a red flag.

But You Should Also Leave Room for Him To Be Himself

All of this being said, there’s no universal rule of how much PDA is normal, ideal, or okay; it comes down to not just the couple, but the individuals in the relationship. And you can’t go into this conversation assuming he’ll completely change and be just as comfortable with PDA as you are.

You might always crave a bit more affection, and he might always err on the side of less. It’s important to both focus on getting your needs and love language recognized while allowing him to be comfortable with whatever PDA you engage in. For couples that have comfort levels on opposite sides of the spectrum, it’s essential to meet in the middle and care about what the other needs – with you prioritizing his comfort, and him your love language.

Closing Thoughts

There are countless reasons your boyfriend might not be touchy-feely. But it’s not an immediate red flag if this is the case, and often enough, it can be solved with some good, old-fashioned communication.

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