Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: LifeOnPluto on January 02, 2013, 08:37:21 PM

Title: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 02, 2013, 08:37:21 PM
I've posted this here, because I think it's more of a friendship / parental issue, rather than a relationship issue. Mods, feel free to move.

I was back in my HomeCity over Christmas. Whenever I'm back, I stay at my parents' house. I sometimes invite friends over - my parents have no trouble with this, and often join in the gatherings. They know and like all my HomeCity friends.

I had a few friends over to my parents' house for cake and coffee. One of my friends is "Zoe". Zoe has been single a long time, and has longed to be in a relationship. Eight months ago, she met "Zac" and they have been dating ever since. Zac is very nice, and I am happy for them both. Their relationship is serious, and they are planning on moving in together soon.

However, Zoe and Zac have a habit of engaging in lovey-dovey behaviour. For example, at the gathering at my parents' house:

- When sitting around the table eating cake, Zoe dragged her chair right up close to Zac's, and nestled into his body (head resting on his shoulder) whilst she ate her cake;

- Later, when sitting on the sofa drinking coffee, Zoe sat so close to Zac that she was almost sitting on his lap. She also spent the entire time stroking his knee. When she wasn't stroking his knee, she was holding onto his arm.

- A couple of times, Zoe and Zac disengaged from the main conversion, and had a brief (lasting only seconds), whispered conversation of their own, which ended with Zoe giving Zac a quick, soft, kiss on the lips.

After the party, my mum (who was also present) told me that that she found Zoe's behaviour to be "inappropriate" and "immature" (for the record, Zoe and Zac are 30). However, despite her discomfort, my mum would never say anything, as she doesn't want to appear ungracious or anything. Nor does she want to ban Zoe and Zac from her house, or anything drastic like that. That said, it is her's (and my dad's) house, and I don't want them to be uncomfortable under their own roof. 

My issue is, I have a few visits planned to my HomeCity in 2013, and there is a chance that this scenario might arise again. I personally feel my mum has a point, but at the same time I acknowledge that perhaps my mother and I are just old-fashioned and overreacting, so I'd appreciate some perspective on this? Do you guys think Zoe and Zac's behaviour was over the top? Or ok, for a new-ish couple?

And if so, would it be rude of me to ask them to tone down their behaviour down next time they visit my parents' house? Or should I just stop inviting them to these gatherings?
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: NyaChan on January 02, 2013, 08:44:59 PM
I think the whole PDA thing can be very subjective.  For my part, the cuddling and stroking is too much, the whispered conversation wouldn't be a big deal unless it was happening a lot, but that is something that would bother me about anyone sitting in a group having a conversation that excludes everyone else.  Now if they were obviously whispering sweet nothings and then kissing and did this multiple times in addition to everything else? For me, that is too much.

ETA:  If your mom is not so bothered by it that she would ban them, I don't think you need to stop inviting them.  I would be interested to see what other posters think about speaking to them about the issue.  I probably wouldn't unless it was in a joking way with someone I was close to and knew wouldn't mind.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: yokozbornak on January 02, 2013, 08:47:58 PM
I personally don't see anything inappropriate or immature about their behavior as described other than maybe the kiss (although that wouldn't personally bother me).  I would feel differently if they were making out or making suggestive gestures at each other.  My DH and I have been married for 13 years, and we still hold hands and are affectionate to each other (like rubbing each others knee) around our friends.  I hope they aren't offended!
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Jaelle on January 02, 2013, 09:06:15 PM
POD to yokozbornak.

Personally, I wouldn't bat an eyelash over this. :)    If it's as mild as that, I'd probably be amused (and happy for my friend).

But everyone's different. If you or your mom are truly uncomfortable with it, I might have a quiet word with Zoe (since she's the one you knew first). But bear in mind that Zoe could be taken aback (I would be) and you might find the friendship cooling.

I wouldn't just stop inviting them without a word. I know if I were Zoe, I'd wonder what on Earth happened and be very hurt.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: greencat on January 02, 2013, 09:14:52 PM
Since they've only been together eight months, there's a chance they might have moved out of the super-PDA stage by the time they visit with you when you're with your family.  If they haven't, you might want to tell Zoe ahead of time that the PDA was making your mother uncomfortable - since I'm assuming you're friends with reasonable people, that should be enough of a hint to get Zoe and Zac to tone it down.

Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Roe on January 02, 2013, 09:22:35 PM
I agree with your mother.

I'm not a prude but there is a time and place for everything and if they couldn't possibly keep their hands off another for an hour or two, then they should've declined your invite.  Eating cake with her head on Zac's shoulders?  How annoying! 
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 02, 2013, 10:00:15 PM
The thing about PDAs is that you think it's inapprooriate until it is you.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: bloo on January 02, 2013, 10:10:21 PM
I agree with your mother.

I'm not a prude but there is a time and place for everything and if they couldn't possibly keep their hands off another for an hour or two, then they should've declined your invite.  Eating cake with her head on Zac's shoulders?  How annoying!

Pod. I've only dealt with inappropriate PDA in my house by my friend's daughter and the new fella she was dating. I came close to saying something to her parents, then her, but I kept waiting for her parents to say something. Turns out the father was waiting for us to say something. The mother tried to defend the behavior but I told her later when we spoke about it that their behavior was inappropriate for a dinner party. I'm no prude nor am I an exhibitionist or have a need to behave in a way that shouts "I have a BF/ DH / lover!"
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: DavidH on January 02, 2013, 10:22:50 PM
Had you not listed their ages, I would have guessed high school.  I think that eating cake nestled up against your SO with your head on his shoulder is a bit much in public.  Whispering sweet nothings together and ending with a kiss in the middle of a small groups is, to me, also a bit much.  Hand on his knee, no big deal. 

I'd jokingly say to them, we have a spare room upstairs if you need a private moment or something of that nature, but this doesn't rise to the level of never invite again. 
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: bansidhe on January 02, 2013, 10:51:24 PM
The thing about PDAs is that you think it's inapprooriate until it is you.

Well...no, not really. I've gone my entire life without engaging in over-the-top PDA. Holding hands in public is one thing, but hanging all over each other is quite another. It annoys a good number of people and tends to come across as juvenile and ostentatious.

I think it would be perfectly fine to ask the couple to tone it down. I doubt they would take offense if OP explains that it makes her mother uncomfortable.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Slartibartfast on January 02, 2013, 11:32:05 PM
I do think they were being rude, but I also understand that at the moment they probably didn't realize or care  ::)  Give it a few months - most couples graduate out of the infatuation stage and go on to become polite company.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: magician5 on January 02, 2013, 11:34:06 PM
Not 100% polite, but they'll be sure to understand, if at some point you tell them "Hey guys, get a room!"
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: hyzenthlay on January 02, 2013, 11:34:26 PM
Wow, people seem to have much stricter standards then I.


I wouldn't think twice of a head on a shoulder, or a quick kiss. The hand on the knee might be a bit much, but it might not be.


I think you'd best tell your friend that any displays of affection are off the table. If they are not allowed to even sit close without bothering you I'm not sure what they would be allowed . . . She can decide if she wants to comply, or not attend your gathering.


(I would think nothing of sitting close to my, now, ex, and we were married for 14 years. Nor would a quick kiss or brief conversation have struck me as excessive.)
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: bloo on January 02, 2013, 11:39:27 PM
Wow, people seem to have much stricter standards then I.


I wouldn't think twice of a head on a shoulder, or a quick kiss. The hand on the knee might be a bit much, but it might not be.


I think you'd best tell your friend that any displays of affection are off the table. If they are not allowed to even sit close without bothering you I'm not sure what they would be allowed . . . She can decide if she wants to comply, or not attend your gathering.


(I would think nothing of sitting close to my, now, ex, and we were married for 14 years. Nor would a quick kiss or brief conversation have struck me as excessive.)

It's hard to explain by posting rules of 'what is/is not appropriate'.

But I think most people can tell by body language tbe couple that's together but part of/interacting within a group and the couple that's created their own 'island' within a group. If people want to be 'into each other' then get a room or spend time doing 'date' things. But if they're hanging with other people then they should be spreading out the interaction within the larger group.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: SingActDance on January 02, 2013, 11:49:42 PM
Nothing you described would phase me a bit. It doesn't sound inappropriate at all.

I'm not sure how well your friends know your parents, but my friends and I are even more comfortable with that kind of stuff when we're in each others' homes. I probably wouldn't lay my head on my (hypothetical) SO's shoulder in a restaurant. But just hanging around having dessert with close friends? It wouldn't occur to me that wasn't alright.

Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: MariaE on January 02, 2013, 11:53:05 PM
I think it's amusing that it's so different what would be "too much" for people. Three different posters have all replied that out of the three things listed only one would they consider 'too much' - and they pointed out three different things!!!

Anyway, I'm with SingActDance, none of it sounds inappropriate to me.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: sweetonsno on January 03, 2013, 12:39:03 AM
I think they were rude. There's nothing wrong with small gestures of affection (holding hands, squeeze of the knee) between a couple in a social situation, but at a certain point, you have to wonder why the couple didn't just stay at home so they could devote their full attention to one another. Like bloo said, when it gets to the point where the couple seems to be an island as opposed to part of the group, it's too much.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: MrsJWine on January 03, 2013, 12:51:28 AM
I don't think any of it sounds particularly inappropriate on its own, but I would be really annoyed with it if it were constant or near-constant for the entire evening. I know some couples are really, really into each other at the beginning of a relationship, but when it's extreme, I can't help but get the feeling they're trying to show us all how in looove they are, even if they're not doing it consciously. I know not everyone has that motive with constant PDA, but that's my natural reaction to it.

Was it rude? I don't know. I think it would be hard to say without being there. I'd give it a few weeks or months before worrying about it, though. Most people calm down after not too long.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Talley on January 03, 2013, 02:51:51 AM
I don't think any of it sounds particularly inappropriate on its own, but I would be really annoyed with it if it were constant or near-constant for the entire evening. I know some couples are really, really into each other at the beginning of a relationship, but when it's extreme, I can't help but get the feeling they're trying to show us all how in looove they are, even if they're not doing it consciously. I know not everyone has that motive with constant PDA, but that's my natural reaction to it.
I was going to say pretty much the same...

I don't mind couples touching/holding hands/giving each other a quick kiss on occasion - but if it is going on constantly for hours, like it sounds to me in this case, I would find it annoying and quite inappropriate.  I might also think it is a bit immature, like a teenager, who has a boyfriend/girlfriend for the first time and has to show off how 'in luuurve' they are at all times by constantly pawing at each other.

The level of acceptable PDA might also depend on the activity. If you are watching a movie, I would think it acceptable for a couple to snuggle up a bit, like leaning on each other, and watch the movie like that. If you are sitting at the dinner table, I would think constant snuggling/touching/stroking inappropriate.

In the OP's case, I would wait a few months and see if the two are still behaving like that. If they do, I would take the friend aside and explain. But my guess would be that the PDA dies down with time.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Nora on January 03, 2013, 05:05:28 AM
I'm getting claustophobia on Zacks behalf, but other than that I see nothing wrong with the mentioned level of PDA.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Flora Louise on January 03, 2013, 05:19:19 AM
Sounds like a case of "Look at us. Look at us. Everybody look at us!"  Eating cake while reclining on your man? Girl, please.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Alpacas on January 03, 2013, 05:24:31 AM
Personally i wouldn't mind the PDA they've displayed, as long as it isn't constantly.
That aside, i think it doesn't matter if we would find this normal or not.
What matters is that the mother, who's home this is, felt uncomfortable. So i think OP should maybe ask Zoe to tone it down while in their home. She doesn't need to say "leave your hands to each other while in our home, or i'm never inviting you again" but i think a "Hey Guys, could you please tone it down a bit? I know you're in love but i really do not want to make my parents uncomfortable in their own home." would do it.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Magnet on January 03, 2013, 07:13:04 AM
I would meet up with Zoe and Zach at another location (perhaps their house or really "in public").
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: TaurusGirl on January 03, 2013, 07:17:55 AM
All of the PDA described in the OP wouldn't bother me - it sounds very much like how The Hawk and I interact. We do skooch our chairs closer to each other on occasion, and in casual settings we are generally in constant contact (knees touching, leaning on each other, his arm around me on a couch, etc). For me over-the-top would be full-on tongue kissing, groping etc.
All of that being said, if I were at a friend's house, and they asked us to tone it down because someone was uncomfortable, we absolutely would! So long as were were spoken to politely and respectfully, of course ;)
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: siamesecat2965 on January 03, 2013, 07:42:53 AM
Since they've only been together eight months, there's a chance they might have moved out of the super-PDA stage by the time they visit with you when you're with your family.  If they haven't, you might want to tell Zoe ahead of time that the PDA was making your mother uncomfortable - since I'm assuming you're friends with reasonable people, that should be enough of a hint to get Zoe and Zac to tone it down.

This. My cousin and her BF were the same way; they came to my mom's over Thanksgiving a few years back, when they'd only been d@ting for a few months. And did the same thing. It was actualy quite nauseating as it was constant. They weren't being graphic, but they just couldn't keep their hands off of each other, touching, stroking, rubbing each other's shoulders, etc. My mom and I commented on it, but now that they've been together for several years, its stopped.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: ettiquit on January 03, 2013, 08:29:22 AM
To behave like that constantly is inappropriate and would make me wonder why they bothered to attend the gathering at all.  I think another factor in this is the setting.  No one has met Zak.  He's attending a gathering at his new girlfriend's friend's mother's house.  My DH and I are affectionate when we're with family, but it's not constant, and we've been together for 15 years (so the families know us both quite well).  I wouldn't dream of acting this way in the home of someone I just met.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: amylouky on January 03, 2013, 10:44:27 AM
I think it doesn't matter what level of PDA is acceptable to you, your friends, or any of us. It's your mother's home, and she has expressed to you that she was uncomfortable with their behavior.

I think she's being gracious by not asking that they not be invited again, but I think you do need to talk to them and let them know that they need to tone it down in your mother's house. It doesn't have to be a Conversation, but just something light, ie,  "Hey guys.. can you please lay off the PDA at Mom's house? She's a bit old-fashioned and it makes her uncomfortable to see you snuggling up to each other all night."
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 03, 2013, 11:18:35 AM
I also think it's interesting to see the different reactions to the description. And sometimes I think it's really difficult to just describe something in words, you almost had to be there, to get the "vibe" and see how other people were reacting. I don't think I'd go so far as to call it "immature" or "inappropriate," but as I was reading the description I was kind of rolling my eyes at them.

Even if the PDA isn't "graphic" (however you define that), if they are exclusively paying attention to each other for significant amounts of time, instead of being open to interactions with others, I think that becomes rude. I can see how that would be really difficult to regulate when you're part of the couple though--it's hard to see your behaviors from the outside.

I am also guessing that Zoe and Zac are still in the "lovey-dovey" phase (8 months, after a long time of being lonely) and may have calmed down considerably by the next time you want to invite them to your parents' house. You could do a test run by inviting them somewhere else first and seeing how they behave.

Or, if you wanted to mention it to Zoe, maybe something like, "Yeah, it seemed like you guys were really into each other. That's great, I'm really happy for you. I just wish we would've had more time to chat at the party, but it seemed like you guys were off in your own little world." Okay, it's kind of a soft opening, and someone could easily take that as a total compliment, but maybe someone else can come up with better wording. I do like the "off in your own little world" thing because to me, that would be the rude behavior--they could have been sitting on opposite sides of the counter, not touching at all, but if they were staring into each other's eyes the whole time, they were still rude. But, maybe that's not an accurate complaint in this case, if the mom was more uncomfortable with the actual physical contact.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on January 03, 2013, 11:21:30 AM
I'm an Old Fogey.  I'm with the OP's Mom on this one.  They are obviously very much in the honeymoon phase of the relationship but I'd be very uncomfortable with all the cuddling going on in my home.  I'd understand it a bit more if they were teenagers but 30 year olds should know better.

I like amylouky's suggestion.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: siamesecat2965 on January 03, 2013, 11:27:19 AM
I'm an Old Fogey.  I'm with the OP's Mom on this one.  They are obviously very much in the honeymoon phase of the relationship but I'd be very uncomfortable with all the cuddling going on in my home.  I'd understand it a bit more if they were teenagers but 30 year olds should know better.

I like amylouky's suggestion.

As am I, and I forgot to mention in my story above my cousin and her BF are 50, we definitely old enough to be over that phase!
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: MorgnsGrl on January 03, 2013, 11:32:34 AM
I think it doesn't matter what level of PDA is acceptable to you, your friends, or any of us. It's your mother's home, and she has expressed to you that she was uncomfortable with their behavior.

I think she's being gracious by not asking that they not be invited again, but I think you do need to talk to them and let them know that they need to tone it down in your mother's house. It doesn't have to be a Conversation, but just something light, ie,  "Hey guys.. can you please lay off the PDA at Mom's house? She's a bit old-fashioned and it makes her uncomfortable to see you snuggling up to each other all night."

I agree with this. I don't think what they were doing sounds ridiculously inappropriate, but if Mom is uncomfortable, it seems easy enough to casually ask them to lay off while at her house.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 03, 2013, 11:53:59 AM
Well your mom has more restraint than think I would.  I'd have asked Zoe if her neck was hurt.  I see no reason when eating your head needs to resting anywhere unless your ill.  That's just bad table manners even in a casual setting. 

Disengaging from a group conversation for a short whisper and maybe a light kiss once during a visit would not bother me.  More than once would be overly PDA.

Hand on knee why sitting near each other, fine.  Continually stroking in such a way that it is noticeable by others, unnecessary.

I don't think I'd say anything to Zoe now but at the next visit if it starts up again, I'd probably call her asside and mention that PDA makes your mom uncomfortable. 
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: rose red on January 03, 2013, 01:01:47 PM
Reminds me of one time at a fast food restaurant.  There was a couple in their 30's or 40's sitting in the same side of a booth (nobody on the other side) acting like a teenage couple from the 1950's.  Cuddling, quick kisses, drinking from the same straw, giving looks from lowered eye lashes, etc.  And yes, they were giving off a "look at us, we are so sweetly in love" vibe.  They weren't graphically making out so I thought it was more funny than anything else.

But it's your mom's home and she's uncomfortable so I would gently and casually say something the next time they visit.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Fleur on January 03, 2013, 01:36:28 PM

I think that they were inappropriate, and I'm only in my early twenties! I would never behave in that way in someone else's home, I think it is tacky. OP, you'd be fine to give them-or just Zoe- a quiet heads up.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Sophie Jenkins on January 03, 2013, 02:08:23 PM
Without having been there, if the examples in the OP were the only offenses, they wouldn't have even registered on my radar. Not even a little. I can't call them rude for that. If they were showy about their affection, calling attention to it, or paying no attention to the conversation, that's another matter, but sitting close to one another and a little bit of non-sexual touching? That seems to be too picky.

I had someone at church once approach me and tell me that I was being inappropriate with my husband during bible study because I had my arm tucked into his. We asked the pastor, and he assured us we were fine, but I never wanted to speak to that woman again. I felt horrifically judged for simply sitting closer to my husband so we could share a hymnal.

It's not wrong for your mother to disapprove of their behavior and not want it in her own home, but if it was really as innocuous as it appears to me, don't be surprised if your friend no longer wants to come around and be judged for liking her boyfriend...
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Fleur on January 03, 2013, 02:12:32 PM
Without having been there, if the examples in the OP were the only offenses, they wouldn't have even registered on my radar. Not even a little. I can't call them rude for that. If they were showy about their affection, calling attention to it, or paying no attention to the conversation, that's another matter, but sitting close to one another and a little bit of non-sexual touching? That seems to be too picky.

I had someone at church once approach me and tell me that I was being inappropriate with my husband during bible study because I had my arm tucked into his. We asked the pastor, and he assured us we were fine, but I never wanted to speak to that woman again. I felt horrifically judged for simply sitting closer to my husband so we could share a hymnal.

It's not wrong for your mother to disapprove of their behavior and not want it in her own home, but if it was really as innocuous as it appears to me, don't be surprised if your friend no longer wants to come around and be judged for liking her boyfriend...

I think that laying her head on her boyfriend's arm was coy and attention seeking. I see it as self concious rather than natural, which is what I would find offputting.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: onyonryngs on January 03, 2013, 02:12:47 PM
It seems that your mom already made the decision not to say anything.  I would check with her first to see if she would prefer that you speak with your friends.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Sophie Jenkins on January 03, 2013, 02:17:41 PM
I think that laying her head on her boyfriend's arm was coy and attention seeking. I see it as self concious rather than natural, which is what I would find offputting.

I don't see that the same way at all. It's just leaning on a shoulder- sometimes I do it because my head hurts a little. Sometimes it's because I'm a touch tired. Most of the time I don't think about it at all, which would be the very definition of a natural movement. I guess we're all coming from our own experiences, and I've personally never seen anyone rest their head on their SO's shoulder in a coy and attention-seeking way.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Fleur on January 03, 2013, 02:20:00 PM
I think that laying her head on her boyfriend's arm was coy and attention seeking. I see it as self concious rather than natural, which is what I would find offputting.

I don't see that the same way at all. It's just leaning on a shoulder- sometimes I do it because my head hurts a little. Sometimes it's because I'm a touch tired. Most of the time I don't think about it at all, which would be the very definition of a natural movement. I guess we're all coming from our own experiences, and I've personally never seen anyone rest their head on their SO's shoulder in a coy and attention-seeking way.
Yes, that makes sense we would be coming at it from our own perpsectives. I have never rested my head on my boyfriend's shoulder in public, so that's where I'm coming from.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: ettiquit on January 03, 2013, 02:23:50 PM
I think that laying her head on her boyfriend's arm was coy and attention seeking. I see it as self concious rather than natural, which is what I would find offputting.

I don't see that the same way at all. It's just leaning on a shoulder- sometimes I do it because my head hurts a little. Sometimes it's because I'm a touch tired. Most of the time I don't think about it at all, which would be the very definition of a natural movement. I guess we're all coming from our own experiences, and I've personally never seen anyone rest their head on their SO's shoulder in a coy and attention-seeking way.
Yes, that makes sense we would be coming at it from our own perpsectives. I have never rested my head on my boyfriend's shoulder in public, so that's where I'm coming from.

And also while eating cake.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Fleur on January 03, 2013, 02:26:23 PM
I think that laying her head on her boyfriend's arm was coy and attention seeking. I see it as self concious rather than natural, which is what I would find offputting.

I don't see that the same way at all. It's just leaning on a shoulder- sometimes I do it because my head hurts a little. Sometimes it's because I'm a touch tired. Most of the time I don't think about it at all, which would be the very definition of a natural movement. I guess we're all coming from our own experiences, and I've personally never seen anyone rest their head on their SO's shoulder in a coy and attention-seeking way.
Yes, that makes sense we would be coming at it from our own perpsectives. I have never rested my head on my boyfriend's shoulder in public, so that's where I'm coming from.

And also while eating cake.
Exactly!
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Sophie Jenkins on January 03, 2013, 02:26:37 PM
Yes, that makes sense we would be coming at it from our own perpsectives. I have never rested my head on my boyfriend's shoulder in public, so that's where I'm coming from.
And also while eating cake.

I mostly just think it's a ridiculously inefficient way of eating cake, not inexcusibly rude. I mean... cake. :D I'd want to make sure I didn't lose any of it!
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 03, 2013, 02:33:56 PM
I think that laying her head on her boyfriend's arm was coy and attention seeking. I see it as self concious rather than natural, which is what I would find offputting.

I don't see that the same way at all. It's just leaning on a shoulder- sometimes I do it because my head hurts a little. Sometimes it's because I'm a touch tired. Most of the time I don't think about it at all, which would be the very definition of a natural movement. I guess we're all coming from our own experiences, and I've personally never seen anyone rest their head on their SO's shoulder in a coy and attention-seeking way.

But would you do it while eating?  Have you really had your head resting on someones shoulder while putting fork in your mouth?  I'm actually having a hard time even figuring out how she was able to guide her fork to her mouth properly while her head was at such an angle and chew.  I've been tilting my head to the side and mimicking chewing and it feels really, really weird.  My son saw me doing this so I was explaining to him.  I asked him if he'd think it odd if he cousin and cousin's fiancee were at the house and we are eating cake at the table and the fiancee had her head resting on cousin's shoulder while putting cake in her mouth.  He, as a 16 year old, see's that behavior as really, really odd. 
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Decimus on January 03, 2013, 02:39:04 PM
Hm.  I'd say the cake thing was a little much (I'm also wondering about how you eat cake that way).  If they'd been sitting on a couch, I'd think that'd be fine.  Doing it at the table was bad table manners.

However, I also think there's nothing wrong with mentioning to your friend your mom thought it was a little too much and could they tone it down for her sake, please.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: MrsJWine on January 03, 2013, 03:38:04 PM
I think if you hold the cake plate directly up to your face and gnaw, it works.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: CrochetFanatic on January 03, 2013, 04:26:44 PM
I'm a little late to this one, but I've noticed that different people have different ideas of what is considered "appropriate" PDA and what is inappropriate.  I would have been very uncomfortable, even resentful, but it's mostly because I'm single and I feel like I'm always on the outside looking in at something I can't have.  That is my problem and no one else's, so if I see this kind of behavior I simply find something else to pay attention to, like my shrimp cocktail or an interesting conversation with a friend at the other end of the room.

I don't know if it was appropriate or not.  I think it depends on how casual or formal the gathering is.  Since it's your mom's home, she can object to something that she feels is inappropriate.  Venting to someone about something that's upset you might be a good way of letting off steam, but it doesn't do anything to change the situation.  I think that, depending on the relationship she has with Zoe, it would be fine if she had a discussion with her, just the two of them, and said, "This made me a little uncomfortable, and I would appreciate it if you didn't do this at my house or in front of me." 
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 03, 2013, 08:40:36 PM
Interesting to hear all the responses, and people's different perspectives!

I like the idea of meeting Zoe and Zac in a public place next time, and seeing if they've moved out of the "honeymoon phase". Assuming they have, I won't hesitate to invite them back to my parents' house.

Funnily enough, I had also invited two of my married friends (Amy and Andrew) to the coffee and cake party. They have been together for nearly 10 years, and married for five. They barely touched each other once during the entire evening!

And yes, I did think that Zoe's pose was not ideal for eating cake! I was also concerned that she'd be dropping crumbs down Zac's shirt!
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: SingActDance on January 03, 2013, 10:16:37 PM
I've rested my head against a boyfriend's should and simultaneously been able to use a fork. It's not very difficult. If he has his arm over the back of my chair and I lean my head slightly into "the nook", it is still very easy to eat and carry on a conversation. It's often not a lovey-dovey or sexual stance at all. It's just casual and comfortable.

Anyone ever read that book The 5 Love Languages? Some people's language is touch. A little bit of physical contact, even if it's just a hand on the knee or an arm around the shoulder, makes them feel safe and loved. Some people are, say, acts of service people. And the little physical gestures are, in my opinion, no less innocuous than the boyfriend fixing a plate for his SO, refilling her drink, going to the car to fetch her sweater because she was cold.

I agree that without getting "the vibe" it's hard to say. Obviously if it felt overtly sexual or they were not paying attention to anybody else, that is rude. But touch isn't always sexual touch, even if it's between SOs. YMMV.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: afbluebelle on January 03, 2013, 10:23:55 PM
I've been sitting on this post until I could attempt to do the sideways cake lean nom nom style. Still don't see much wrong in the PDA side of things, but I am in full agreement that this is not an optimal position for enjoying cake.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: mbbored on January 03, 2013, 11:26:14 PM
I've been sitting on this post until I could attempt to do the sideways cake lean nom nom style. Still don't see much wrong in the PDA side of things, but I am in full agreement that this is not an optimal position for enjoying cake.

I did the same thing, but with cookies. Definitely not optimal dessert eating positioning.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: ettiquit on January 04, 2013, 08:08:20 AM
I'm going to try and eat my entire dinner tonight while resting my head on DH's shoulder.  It's chicken and noodles.  Will report back.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: onyonryngs on January 04, 2013, 08:24:12 AM
I think if you hold the cake plate directly up to your face and gnaw, it works.

I will try this the next time I eat cake.  For science.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Snooks on January 04, 2013, 08:57:21 AM
I think if you hold the cake plate directly up to your face and gnaw, it works.

I will try this the next time I eat cake.  For science.

Don't make science wait, I think you must undertake this experiment without delay.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Flora Louise on January 04, 2013, 09:25:18 AM
I'm going to try and eat my entire dinner tonight while resting my head on DH's shoulder.  It's chicken and noodles.  Will report back.

 ;D
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Twik on January 04, 2013, 09:50:31 AM
I think Miss Manners said, about PDAs, that when in a group you should not engage in pleasures that you would not share with everyone else present. So, unless you could see yourself cuddling with your hosts, or engaging in quick smooches with other guests, one should avoid it.

There's a serious principle behind this. The behaviour mentioned in the OP has the effect of setting the lovebirds as a group apart from everyone else. They *are* engaging in activities that visibly exclude the rest of the group. This, particularly when one is being offered hospitality from someone, is offputting and rude, even if the activities are not quite foreplay.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 04, 2013, 09:50:56 AM
Anyone ever read that book The 5 Love Languages? Some people's language is touch. A little bit of physical contact, even if it's just a hand on the knee or an arm around the shoulder, makes them feel safe and loved. Some people are, say, acts of service people. And the little physical gestures are, in my opinion, no less innocuous than the boyfriend fixing a plate for his SO, refilling her drink, going to the car to fetch her sweater because she was cold.

I think this is an interesting point. I'm intrigued by the 5 Love Languages in general and feel like it's explained a lot about the people I know in real life. I wonder if there are sort of "anti-love" languages as well, that really turn off people who experience or even witness them. For example, I suspect that my friend Amy would find it very cloying and smothering if her DH were to fix her plate, refill her drink, etc. unless she specifically asked him to; and if she witnessed a friend's new SO do such things repeatedly for the friend all evening, Amy would find it weird and worth commenting about to me later. But I think Amy would see the couple snuggling physically as positive and adorable. Whereas I would be kind of the opposite--I would raise my eyebrow a bit at a couple snuggling etc. at a party, but if I even noticed an SO doing small acts of service (it would seem so normal as to not even be memorable), I would think it was nice.

But anyway, the point is that the hostess found it uncomfortable, for whatever reason. (I personally feel like understanding the reason behind something helps me to figure out what to do about it.) And I think the hostess or her designee can find a polite way to mention it to the guest--if they choose. Maybe using humor would be a good start? Kind of point out the behavior while hopefully not making Zoe feel defensive. "Thought you were gonna spill cake all over Zac's shirt, eating with your head on his shoulder that way! Ha ha."
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Mikayla on January 04, 2013, 12:14:39 PM
For me, the X Factor is that this took place at a parent's home. 

When I'm with peers, anything goes.  Heck, back in college...oh, wait.   >:D ;)

But even in college, we knew enough to dial back on our tendencies when in a parent's home.  It was respect and just common sense.  That's the part that bothers me the most.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: GoTwins on January 04, 2013, 12:39:19 PM
I think Miss Manners said, about PDAs, that when in a group you should not engage in pleasures that you would not share with everyone else present. So, unless you could see yourself cuddling with your hosts, or engaging in quick smooches with other guests, one should avoid it.

There's a serious principle behind this. The behaviour mentioned in the OP has the effect of setting the lovebirds as a group apart from everyone else. They *are* engaging in activities that visibly exclude the rest of the group. This, particularly when one is being offered hospitality from someone, is offputting and rude, even if the activities are not quite foreplay.
This perfectly sums up how I feel. While their PDAs were not necessarily over the top, there is a time and a place for everything. Your friend's parent's house is not the place.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 04, 2013, 12:47:40 PM
I think Miss Manners said, about PDAs, that when in a group you should not engage in pleasures that you would not share with everyone else present. So, unless you could see yourself cuddling with your hosts, or engaging in quick smooches with other guests, one should avoid it.

There's a serious principle behind this. The behaviour mentioned in the OP has the effect of setting the lovebirds as a group apart from everyone else. They *are* engaging in activities that visibly exclude the rest of the group. This, particularly when one is being offered hospitality from someone, is offputting and rude, even if the activities are not quite foreplay.
This perfectly sums up how I feel. While their PDAs were not necessarily over the top, there is a time and a place for everything. Your friend's parent's house is not the place.

I had never thought of PDA in this way before but it does explain some of my reservations about it.  Thanks for posting it Twik.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: JoieGirl7 on January 04, 2013, 01:08:01 PM
I think it would terribly rude to talk to the couple about what they can/can't do in your mother's house.  Just meet with them somewhere else other than at your mother's house.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: MrsJWine on January 04, 2013, 01:28:56 PM
I think if you hold the cake plate directly up to your face and gnaw, it works.

I will try this the next time I eat cake.  For science.

Don't make science wait, I think you must undertake this experiment without delay.

I love science. Who says it's boring?
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Roe on January 04, 2013, 01:52:20 PM
I think Miss Manners said, about PDAs, that when in a group you should not engage in pleasures that you would not share with everyone else present. So, unless you could see yourself cuddling with your hosts, or engaging in quick smooches with other guests, one should avoid it.

There's a serious principle behind this. The behaviour mentioned in the OP has the effect of setting the lovebirds as a group apart from everyone else. They *are* engaging in activities that visibly exclude the rest of the group. This, particularly when one is being offered hospitality from someone, is offputting and rude, even if the activities are not quite foreplay.

And this explains perfectly why I found them rude!  Thanks Twik for explaining it so well. 

Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on January 04, 2013, 01:54:14 PM
I have to agree.  It makes me feel that my simple presence is an intrusion.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 04, 2013, 02:00:31 PM
I think it would terribly rude to talk to the couple about what they can/can't do in your mother's house.  Just meet with them somewhere else other than at your mother's house.

Hmm, I wonder about this. Certainly there are times when one can, in a polite way, ask someone to modify their behavior in your home, with the option that all of you can meet somewhere else if they don't want to make that modification. (I'm assuming the OP would be a designee of her mother if she spoke to them about it, not that she would be an interfering third party.)

I guess the question is, is "level of PDA" one of those things that can be politely asked about, or not?

It would definitely be easier in some ways to just meet Zoe and Zac somewhere else, at least until they seem to have cooled off a bit on the PDA. But I don't think that's the only polite option. And what if that goes on for months or years, until Zoe finally asks why she hasn't been invited over lately? I think it would be a harder conversation to have at that point.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: bloo on January 04, 2013, 02:07:12 PM
I think Miss Manners said, about PDAs, that when in a group you should not engage in pleasures that you would not share with everyone else present. So, unless you could see yourself cuddling with your hosts, or engaging in quick smooches with other guests, one should avoid it.

There's a serious principle behind this. The behaviour mentioned in the OP has the effect of setting the lovebirds as a group apart from everyone else. They *are* engaging in activities that visibly exclude the rest of the group. This, particularly when one is being offered hospitality from someone, is offputting and rude, even if the activities are not quite foreplay.

And this explains perfectly why I found them rude!  Thanks Twik for explaining it so well.

Ditto!
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Sophie Jenkins on January 04, 2013, 02:35:13 PM
In a dinner party, does everyone at all times engage in conversation with the entirety of the rest of the group? At every dinner party I've attended, people will occasionally converse with one of their neighbors, and sometimes partake in the general group conversation.

If it's not rude to occasionally exchange a few words with the person beside you who is not your SO (provided, of course, that you are not ignoring the rest of the group for the majority of the evening), why would it be wrong to do so with a significant other (with the same caveat as before)?

Is it required that all people with significant others behave in public as if their SO is not their SO? Because that's the vibe I'm getting from many of these posts.

This is the behavior in question:
Quote
- When sitting around the table eating cake, Zoe dragged her chair right up close to Zac's, and nestled into his body (head resting on his shoulder) whilst she ate her cake;

- Later, when sitting on the sofa drinking coffee, Zoe sat so close to Zac that she was almost sitting on his lap. She also spent the entire time stroking his knee. When she wasn't stroking his knee, she was holding onto his arm.

- A couple of times, Zoe and Zac disengaged from the main conversion, and had a brief (lasting only seconds), whispered conversation of their own, which ended with Zoe giving Zac a quick, soft, kiss on the lips.

If the behavior as mentioned was constant through the entire evening, pulling them away from paying attention to everyone else, then yes, that would be rude. But it would be rude if it were anyone separating themselves from a conversation regularly. A couple few-second conversations concluded with a quick kiss, sitting close to a SO and touching them in a non-sexual way, and eating cake in a very inefficient way (C'mon, cake should be better appreciated!) don't seem that bad, unless the visit was a very short one.

And as a person who occasionally kisses her husband in public, who enjoys sitting beside him with her arm tucked into his, and who will rest her head on his shoulder if she's tired or headachey... being approached and told that my behavior was rude and making people uncomfortable would make me feel lectured and unwelcome.

I have often seen it said here that actions have consequences. That is true. Their behavior, though not bothersome to me, was unacceptable to the OP and her mother. As a consequence, they might no longer be invited over. That's fine. But keep in mind that informing the friend of this may have the natural consequence of the friend no longer wanting to be invited anywhere. These would all be people acting in polite ways, just with varying levels of how much PDA or judgment they are willing to bear to maintain a friendship.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: greencat on January 04, 2013, 03:22:54 PM
Actually, at formal dinner parties, you are not supposed to be seated with your SO, just to avoid the dinner being a bunch of couples mostly talking to each other. 

Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Sophie Jenkins on January 04, 2013, 03:28:50 PM
Actually, at formal dinner parties, you are not supposed to be seated with your SO, just to avoid the dinner being a bunch of couples mostly talking to each other.

I am aware of what a formal dinner party was supposed to entail, but the couple in question was seated next to each other at this party.

And my question of the appropriateness of a person conversing privately with anyone else (not a SO) still stands.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: MariaE on January 04, 2013, 04:01:54 PM
I think Miss Manners said, about PDAs, that when in a group you should not engage in pleasures that you would not share with everyone else present. So, unless you could see yourself cuddling with your hosts, or engaging in quick smooches with other guests, one should avoid it.

There's a serious principle behind this. The behaviour mentioned in the OP has the effect of setting the lovebirds as a group apart from everyone else. They *are* engaging in activities that visibly exclude the rest of the group. This, particularly when one is being offered hospitality from someone, is offputting and rude, even if the activities are not quite foreplay.

I can see this to a point, but I don't agree with it 100%. If DH and I are watching a movie with a group of friends and we happen to sit next to each other, I see nothing wrong with holding his hand even if I wouldn't do so with everybody
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 04, 2013, 04:32:44 PM
In a dinner party, does everyone at all times engage in conversation with the entirety of the rest of the group? At every dinner party I've attended, people will occasionally converse with one of their neighbors, and sometimes partake in the general group conversation.

If it's not rude to occasionally exchange a few words with the person beside you who is not your SO (provided, of course, that you are not ignoring the rest of the group for the majority of the evening), why would it be wrong to do so with a significant other (with the same caveat as before)?

Is it required that all people with significant others behave in public as if their SO is not their SO? Because that's the vibe I'm getting from many of these posts.

This is the behavior in question:
Quote
- When sitting around the table eating cake, Zoe dragged her chair right up close to Zac's, and nestled into his body (head resting on his shoulder) whilst she ate her cake;

- Later, when sitting on the sofa drinking coffee, Zoe sat so close to Zac that she was almost sitting on his lap. She also spent the entire time stroking his knee. When she wasn't stroking his knee, she was holding onto his arm.

- A couple of times, Zoe and Zac disengaged from the main conversion, and had a brief (lasting only seconds), whispered conversation of their own, which ended with Zoe giving Zac a quick, soft, kiss on the lips.

If the behavior as mentioned was constant through the entire evening, pulling them away from paying attention to everyone else, then yes, that would be rude. But it would be rude if it were anyone separating themselves from a conversation regularly. A couple few-second conversations concluded with a quick kiss, sitting close to a SO and touching them in a non-sexual way, and eating cake in a very inefficient way (C'mon, cake should be better appreciated!) don't seem that bad, unless the visit was a very short one.

And as a person who occasionally kisses her husband in public, who enjoys sitting beside him with her arm tucked into his, and who will rest her head on his shoulder if she's tired or headachey... being approached and told that my behavior was rude and making people uncomfortable would make me feel lectured and unwelcome.

I have often seen it said here that actions have consequences. That is true. Their behavior, though not bothersome to me, was unacceptable to the OP and her mother. As a consequence, they might no longer be invited over. That's fine. But keep in mind that informing the friend of this may have the natural consequence of the friend no longer wanting to be invited anywhere. These would all be people acting in polite ways, just with varying levels of how much PDA or judgment they are willing to bear to maintain a friendship.

POD , my fiancÚ and I are a very touchy. Couple, and while we do tone it down in company, I would feel affronted if confronted with it.

Two questions:

1. Why is it assumed that it will wear off after a while?
2. Why is it assumed that it's to show off the people that you are with someone?
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: greencat on January 04, 2013, 04:48:28 PM
When you're in a relationship, you want to feel assured that your partner is thinking about you and wanting to give them the same assurance in return.  Touching is a very basic way to communicate this assurance in the beginning of the relationship, and it serves the additional social function of broadcasting "Hands off!  This one is mine!" whether or not either partner actually feels threatened in the relationship by the other people in the room. 

Eventually, most relationships progress to the point where the partners feel secure enough that they don't need to touch so demonstratively or at all.

A little affection between a couple is a good and positive thing - but Zac and Zoe sounded like they were displaying inappropriate levels of territory-marking type behavior for the situation.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Sophie Jenkins on January 04, 2013, 05:06:36 PM
A little affection between a couple is a good and positive thing - but Zac and Zoe sounded like they were displaying inappropriate levels of territory-marking type behavior for the situation.

I think this is the main point of contention- I totally disagree that it sounds inappropriate. To me, this sounds like a completely normal amount of affection for a cake and coffee gathering with a friend.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Roe on January 04, 2013, 05:46:21 PM
I think holding hands is just fine.  I assume that isn't what people are reacting too because hand holding is pretty common. 

For me, it's the head on shoulders while eating cake that is making me roll my eyes.  If I had friends like that (esp in their 30's) that would be the last time I invite them over.  Seriously, how childish and annoying can they get?

I have a friend whose DH *constantly* calls her 'babygirl.'  Yes, babygirl, over and over and over.  Yeah, try listening to babygirl about 100 times every night and it gets annoying.  Another friend and I made a game of it in order to get through the evening. 

Luckily, the 'babygirl' in question is close enough of a friend that otherfriend and I tease her about it.   Ha!  But I will admit, I can only take hanging out with her and her DH in small doses.  Too much 'babygirl' for me. (btw, friend is in her 40's and not a babygirl)  ;) 
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Marcia on January 04, 2013, 06:53:32 PM
Had you not listed their ages, I would have guessed high school.  I think that eating cake nestled up against your SO with your head on his shoulder is a bit much in public.  Whispering sweet nothings together and ending with a kiss in the middle of a small groups is, to me, also a bit much.  Hand on his knee, no big deal. 


I agree. At first I thought these were people who just graduated high school last year. I lean toward more immature behavior given their ages.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Raintree on January 04, 2013, 07:30:17 PM
It's a bit too lovey dovey in a group setting to me. And I agree with the mother that it's immature, like a couple of teenagers. Nothing wrong with a hand on the knee, or a quick touch in conversation, but I think leaning on each other during the eating of cake, is a bit much. The whispered conversation followed by soft kiss, well, if that was the only thing then I'd probably think it was no big deal, but combined with everything else, constantly, all evening, it becomes nauseating.

I know a couple who got together in their 40's, and all of a sudden both of them were posting on Facebook, "My sweetie and I are having a romantic dinner!" "My sweetie this! My sweetie that!" and posting links to each other's public walls to romantic songs with the comment, "I love you so much, my sweetie!" Everyone in the wider circle of friends was just rolling their eyes and commenting that it was all a bit much. This is what the OP's description reminds me of.

Darn, I don't have any cake to go try this eating manoevre.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Allyson on January 04, 2013, 07:48:15 PM
I think it's the frequency or constancy that would decide 'inappropriate' or not for me. If that was everything PDA-related they did for the whole evening and they were engaged with the rest of the group, I don't see an issue. But like everyone here has pointed out--everyone's line is a bit different. While nearly everyone can agree making out is not appropriate, and also agree that getting upset about a couple who briefly touch hands would be way over the top, there's a huge middle ground.

I do know couples who seem to be the attention-getting type of PDA, but I don't think that's always the case. It's as rude to assume that couples are doing it for attention as it is to assume that single people are 'jealous' if they don't like it.

On a side note, I know siblings in real life named Zoe and Zac so this post freaked me out a little. :D
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: TurtleDove on January 04, 2013, 07:52:04 PM
Eventually, most relationships progress to the point where the partners feel secure enough that they don't need to touch so demonstratively or at all.

My parents have been married 44 years.  They are still openly affectionate toward each other, even in public.  I think it's great.  It isn't a need for security.  It is an expression of genuine love.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: LadyR on January 04, 2013, 09:09:22 PM
None of that seems inappropriate to me. Honestly, at a gathering with DH's siblings, all of the four couples will partakes in some number of these displays. Same with when I get together with friends, I consider it normal.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Miss Unleaded on January 04, 2013, 09:31:01 PM
Eventually, most relationships progress to the point where the partners feel secure enough that they don't need to touch so demonstratively or at all.

My parents have been married 44 years.  They are still openly affectionate toward each other, even in public.  I think it's great.  It isn't a need for security.  It is an expression of genuine love.

Agreed.  I've been married for three years, engaged for a two before that and am now approaching 40.  This behaviour isn't dissimilar to how my DH and I behave.  Perhaps not leaning on his shoulder while eating (because it sounds quite awkward) but the rest seems pretty normal to me.  It doesn't really have anything to do with security, it's just a display of affection.  As long as they weren't making out or showing inappropriate amounts of skin I wouldn't consider this rude. 

Since it makes your mother uncomfortable, OP, my advice would be to not invite them back again.  I wouldn't count on them having changed at all.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Softly Spoken on January 04, 2013, 11:27:25 PM
The thing about PDAs is that you think it's inapprooriate until it is you.

Last year that was me, and looking back on it I feel like an idiot.  :-[ I was twitterpated and I didn't give any thought to how what I was doing looked to anyone else. There is a time and a place.

I've given it a lot of thought and I've come up with a theory about why PDA, even the milder stuff, can make people feel 'ishy' - I call it the "Couple Bubble." When a couple who are in an intimate group setting suddenly focus all or the majority of their energy and attention on each other instead of the group, they are effectively ignoring the people they supposedly came to spend time with. This is rude. The aura of the space changes - suddenly everyone else feels like they have walked in on the couple's private time when in reality the couple has spilled their intimacy into the public space. I think the vibe usually comes from immature/new/"honeymoon" couples who are so high on the pheromones that they kind of forget that they aren't alone. A secure, long-term couple holding hands gives off a way different vibe - they are connected confidently and almost subconsciously instead of being laser focused on each other.

Holding hands and sitting close is fine, but not to the exclusion of all the other people that are there.

I will admit to embracing/cuddling with my then-bf at a party - it was very casual with many little groups, we were both introverts trying to support each other...not making excuses just explaining...but in hindsight we should have disengaged and mingled. It doesn't make sense to spend group time hanging on your S.O. - you can presumably hang on them any time!

IMHO, hanging on your SO while you eat seems really excessive and kind of silly - if you spill you'd get it on them too! ::)

Basically I feel it's the fact that the PDA takes focus away from the group/socialization that makes them inappropriate. If you are swooning all over your new sweetie and ignoring your hosts and other guests, and interrupting them with distracting behavior, you are being rude.

(Ignorance of the law is no excuse but I hope ehell can forgive me, it was my first real relationship). :-\
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: JoieGirl7 on January 05, 2013, 12:57:06 AM
I think it would terribly rude to talk to the couple about what they can/can't do in your mother's house.  Just meet with them somewhere else other than at your mother's house.

Hmm, I wonder about this. Certainly there are times when one can, in a polite way, ask someone to modify their behavior in your home, with the option that all of you can meet somewhere else if they don't want to make that modification. (I'm assuming the OP would be a designee of her mother if she spoke to them about it, not that she would be an interfering third party.)

I guess the question is, is "level of PDA" one of those things that can be politely asked about, or not?

It would definitely be easier in some ways to just meet Zoe and Zac somewhere else, at least until they seem to have cooled off a bit on the PDA. But I don't think that's the only polite option. And what if that goes on for months or years, until Zoe finally asks why she hasn't been invited over lately? I think it would be a harder conversation to have at that point.

I don't think its possible to say something in this case without making the couple very uncomfortable.  And if the point is for the mother not to be uncomfortable, I don't see it as an option.
 
It's like, I will bring up this uncomfortable subject and make you feel bad about behavior that you felt was OK because my mother is uncomfortable with it.

I doubt that the OP is Zoe's only lifelong social outlet.  People naturally gravitate towards people they are mutually comfortable with.  I would certainly take offense if someone objected to the kind of PDA mentioned the OP.  It's casting a judgement on behavior and making it known.
 
This is different from saying something like "please take your shoes off" or "please don't stir your tea with a fork, the sound sets my teeth on edge."

These people are in their 30s.  They are comfortable with their level of behavior and the Op and mom are not.  It's like not liking the syntax someone uses or how often they check their phone.  There are just some things about people that you either put up with or find other friends.

It's like saying "I like you but change for me."  If I'm in my 30s.  No, sorry, not going to.

My husband and I are fairly affectionate with each other depending on the level of formality.  I certainly wouldn't feel that sitting in someone kitchen with their mom was a formal event.  And I would find it odd if they were to comment on me touching my husband affectionately.
 
Overt sexual touching would be something that you would bring up right when it happened and say, "please stop that or leave."  If this behavior wasn't bad enough to do that, its not bad enough to bring up with the couple.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: pwy a wyr on January 05, 2013, 02:58:18 AM
Woohoo! I have chocolate cake in the house! I must try this tonight. Added bonus of a houseguest to assess level of discomfort. I will report back tomorrow. (rushes off to get white coat, giant video camera and clipboard)
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 05, 2013, 10:35:28 AM
I think it would terribly rude to talk to the couple about what they can/can't do in your mother's house.  Just meet with them somewhere else other than at your mother's house.

Hmm, I wonder about this. Certainly there are times when one can, in a polite way, ask someone to modify their behavior in your home, with the option that all of you can meet somewhere else if they don't want to make that modification. (I'm assuming the OP would be a designee of her mother if she spoke to them about it, not that she would be an interfering third party.)

I guess the question is, is "level of PDA" one of those things that can be politely asked about, or not?

It would definitely be easier in some ways to just meet Zoe and Zac somewhere else, at least until they seem to have cooled off a bit on the PDA. But I don't think that's the only polite option. And what if that goes on for months or years, until Zoe finally asks why she hasn't been invited over lately? I think it would be a harder conversation to have at that point.

I don't think its possible to say something in this case without making the couple very uncomfortable.  And if the point is for the mother not to be uncomfortable, I don't see it as an option.
 
It's like, I will bring up this uncomfortable subject and make you feel bad about behavior that you felt was OK because my mother is uncomfortable with it.

I doubt that the OP is Zoe's only lifelong social outlet.  People naturally gravitate towards people they are mutually comfortable with.  I would certainly take offense if someone objected to the kind of PDA mentioned the OP.  It's casting a judgement on behavior and making it known.
 
This is different from saying something like "please take your shoes off" or "please don't stir your tea with a fork, the sound sets my teeth on edge."

These people are in their 30s.  They are comfortable with their level of behavior and the Op and mom are not.  It's like not liking the syntax someone uses or how often they check their phone.  There are just some things about people that you either put up with or find other friends.

It's like saying "I like you but change for me."  If I'm in my 30s.  No, sorry, not going to.

My husband and I are fairly affectionate with each other depending on the level of formality.  I certainly wouldn't feel that sitting in someone kitchen with their mom was a formal event.  And I would find it odd if they were to comment on me touching my husband affectionately.
 
Overt sexual touching would be something that you would bring up right when it happened and say, "please stop that or leave."  If this behavior wasn't bad enough to do that, its not bad enough to bring up with the couple.

I believe you can bring up behavior to someone you know makes a host uncomfortable.  If I invited a friends over to my mom's and the friends and I had frequently discussed religion, I would be fine saying that my mom was uncomfortable with religious discussions so in the future we probably shouldn't discuss it at her house. 
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: LadyL on January 05, 2013, 11:11:20 AM

I've given it a lot of thought and I've come up with a theory about why PDA, even the milder stuff, can make people feel 'ishy' - I call it the "Couple Bubble." When a couple who are in an intimate group setting suddenly focus all or the majority of their energy and attention on each other instead of the group, they are effectively ignoring the people they supposedly came to spend time with. This is rude. The aura of the space changes - suddenly everyone else feels like they have walked in on the couple's private time when in reality the couple has spilled their intimacy into the public space. I think the vibe usually comes from immature/new/"honeymoon" couples who are so high on the pheromones that they kind of forget that they aren't alone. A secure, long-term couple holding hands gives off a way different vibe - they are connected confidently and almost subconsciously instead of being laser focused on each other.

POD to this. I think there is a very different message communicated by body language in these cases, mainly whether the couple is focused on each other to the exclusion of others, or whether they are being affectionate but with their attention tuned to the group. For example, private conversations, gazing into each others eyes for prolonged periods - eye contact in general being focused mainly on each other rather than the group - communicates an "internal" focus. Their relationship is their primary focus, the group is secondary. It can come across as showing off or just being oblivious to the world.

Things like holding hands or putting an arm around a shoulder, but maintaining eye contact and conversation with the group is a lot less obtrusive to the group dynamic. When LordL and I are affectionate we do so in a way that is sort of in the background, not the foreground, if that makes sense.

The worst I've seen recently was LordL's brother, who had his girlfriend sitting on his lap in an arm chair.  Then she fell asleep. So she was basically napping *on* him with about 8-10 people in the room. Awwwwkkkwwward.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on January 05, 2013, 11:20:12 AM
Sitting beside an SO on the couch, even if sitting closely, would be expected.  Even the arm around the shoulders wouldn't bother me.  But 'practically sitting in his lap' would.  Her hand on his knee wouldn't bother me but her hand moving and stroking him definitely would.  (I almost typed 'wood'.  Freudian slip, that.)  A couple of quickly whispered conversations, followed by a quick peck wouldn't bother me but if it affected the flow of conversation in the room, it would.  It would also bother me if there were many instances of whispering throughout the evening.  It would make me wonder why they bothered to show up since they so obviously would prefer to be alone than with the group as a whole.

The whole leaning her head on his shoulder while eating cake would just have me (internally) rolling my eyes and wonder if they'd reverted to high school.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Gwywnnydd on January 05, 2013, 12:45:37 PM
Anyone ever read that book The 5 Love Languages? Some people's language is touch. A little bit of physical contact, even if it's just a hand on the knee or an arm around the shoulder, makes them feel safe and loved. Some people are, say, acts of service people. And the little physical gestures are, in my opinion, no less innocuous than the boyfriend fixing a plate for his SO, refilling her drink, going to the car to fetch her sweater because she was cold.

I think this is an interesting point. I'm intrigued by the 5 Love Languages in general and feel like it's explained a lot about the people I know in real life. I wonder if there are sort of "anti-love" languages as well, that really turn off people who experience or even witness them.

Absolutely, someone using a love language that doesn't jibe with your own is a huge turn off.
For example, my ex-DH is very into gift giving as a love language. Well, gift giving scores a big fat zero with me. He would try showering me with gifts, and I would feel disrespected, unheard, and irrelevant. "You're spending money we can't afford, on something I don't need and have no room in our overcrowded house for, not because you think I'll like it, but because YOU want to give me a gift. And now I'm the female-dog because I'm not thrilled to be receiving a gift."
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Giggity on January 06, 2013, 08:03:14 AM
POD , my fiancÚ and I are a very touchy. Couple, and while we do tone it down in company, I would feel affronted if confronted with it.

Two questions:

1. Why is it assumed that it will wear off after a while?
2. Why is it assumed that it's to show off the people that you are with someone?

Because it does, and because it generally is.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: marcel on January 06, 2013, 09:36:40 AM
POD , my fiancÚ and I are a very touchy. Couple, and while we do tone it down in company, I would feel affronted if confronted with it.

Two questions:

1. Why is it assumed that it will wear off after a while?
2. Why is it assumed that it's to show off the people that you are with someone?

Because it does, and because it generally is.
re 1. I do think it often gets less further in a relationship.
re 2. completely disagree, I have never seen PDA as a way to show off, so I diagree with the statenment that it generaly is.

I have stayed out of this discusion, because I am not American, and I have found that the Dutch opinion of this issue is completely different.

I have never been able to get over it when my ex told me that her parents (Americans in America) told her certain behaviours, which I found comnpletely normal made them uncomfortable, and was considered inaropriate by many people in the US.

Needles to say tat with my cultural background, the people in the OP seem fine, however, if it makes the mother of the OP uncomfortable, she should tell her friends this, so they can adapt their behaviour in her house.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 06, 2013, 12:58:14 PM
Just to throw in another opinion... I don't think PDA always means a couple is showing off. If it's a new couple, especially if one or both haven't dated much, just being able to rest your head on someone's shoulder or rub their knee might seem so wonderful and novel, because you've rarely had a person to do that with, that it's hard to stop whenever you're together. It's hard to be aware of yourself around others/in public when you're still reveling in the feeling of having someone to do this with. At least, I think this is true for some people. It doesn't make the outcome less annoying; but again, I like to think about the why, as it helps me figure out what to do about it.

I remember, long ago, when my friend Amy had her first serious boyfriend. Fortunately he lived far away so we didn't have the PDA aspect, but she talked about him all. The. Time. I would say 95% of the things she said involved him somehow. Seriously. Anything anyone else said would remind her of something about this guy. "Wow, the weather is nice today." "Oh, Joe was just telling me how bad the weather was in his city..." "Pass the salt, please." "You know, Joe is on this low-salt diet..." And a lot of it was about how wonderful and perfect and amazing Joe was, and how he thought she was wonderful and perfect and amazing. "I talked to Joe for three hours last night and he said I was so smart and funny, and he couldn't wait to see what our children looked like, he hoped they had curly hair like me..." [Where's the "disgusted" face?] Nor did she change her behavior even after increasingly pointed comments from the rest of us. This lasted for the entire six months of their relationship, until she flew out to see Joe special and he dumped her and started dating someone else two days later.  >:( She did learn from it, though, and didn't act that way about any future boyfriends, even the guy she's now married to.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: snowdragon on January 06, 2013, 01:05:02 PM
It's the mother's home, her comfort is what should be the benchmark. If Zoe and her BF can't be in the home of someone else with out making their host feel uncomfortable then Zoe and BF don't come over.  It should not be incumbent on a host to leave so their guest can engage in a way that is out of the hosts comfort zone - no matter what the activity is.
 
 
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 06, 2013, 07:53:20 PM
Just to throw in another opinion... I don't think PDA always means a couple is showing off. If it's a new couple, especially if one or both haven't dated much, just being able to rest your head on someone's shoulder or rub their knee might seem so wonderful and novel, because you've rarely had a person to do that with, that it's hard to stop whenever you're together. It's hard to be aware of yourself around others/in public when you're still reveling in the feeling of having someone to do this with. At least, I think this is true for some people. It doesn't make the outcome less annoying; but again, I like to think about the why, as it helps me figure out what to do about it.

I remember, long ago, when my friend Amy had her first serious boyfriend. Fortunately he lived far away so we didn't have the PDA aspect, but she talked about him all. The. Time. I would say 95% of the things she said involved him somehow. Seriously. Anything anyone else said would remind her of something about this guy. "Wow, the weather is nice today." "Oh, Joe was just telling me how bad the weather was in his city..." "Pass the salt, please." "You know, Joe is on this low-salt diet..." And a lot of it was about how wonderful and perfect and amazing Joe was, and how he thought she was wonderful and perfect and amazing. "I talked to Joe for three hours last night and he said I was so smart and funny, and he couldn't wait to see what our children looked like, he hoped they had curly hair like me..." [Where's the "disgusted" face?] Nor did she change her behavior even after increasingly pointed comments from the rest of us. This lasted for the entire six months of their relationship, until she flew out to see Joe special and he dumped her and started dating someone else two days later.  >:( She did learn from it, though, and didn't act that way about any future boyfriends, even the guy she's now married to.

The bolded is very insightful and I think a major reason for Zoe and Zac's PDAs.

It could also partly be the need for reassurance, as a PP suggested. I know they are both currently figuring out their boundaries as a couple. For example, Zoe told me that in the earlier months of the relationship, she got upset when Zac would do things with his (male) buddies, but not invite her along, but she's reached the point where she's realised it's ok for them to spend time apart every so often. 
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: TurtleDove on January 06, 2013, 09:47:02 PM
I don't engage in over the top PDA, but I am 39 and my BF is 47 (dating 1.5 years) and at our lunch with his parents and kids today we would randomly touch each other, not because we were insecure or needing to mark territory, but because we love each other and it just kinda happens.  I think some people are simply more touchy feely than others maybe?  And like I said, my parents do the same thing.  My sister and her husband (married almost 14 years) do too.  It's good to see, in my opinion, for kids too.
Title: Re: Friends' PDAs, versus mother's discomfort. Who is right?
Post by: MyFamily on January 07, 2013, 01:23:53 PM

- A couple of times, Zoe and Zac disengaged from the main conversion, and had a brief (lasting only seconds), whispered conversation of their own, which ended with Zoe giving Zac a quick, soft, kiss on the lips.

This is what would bother me. They disengaged from the main conversation and had a private conversation that did not allow for anyone else present to be a part of; that is rude to me.  We had some friends who did this, and it reached the point my dh did not want to interact with them.  It has been probably around 7 years, but even now, after they married, divorced, she's remarried and had a child, my dh still doesn't want to be around her (I refuse to have anything to do with her ex because he abused her).  Their interactions and just stepping back from the conversation like that was rude.  And I'd say the same thing if two people who weren't a couple did the same thing.  It is one thing to have a side conversation at a party that would easily allow others to participate if they wanted to discuss that subject, but the type of conversation they were having doesn't allow for that; and even if it was short, that feels rude to me.