The Case For PDL (Public Displays Of Love)


“Why don’t they just go and get a room?”

We’ve all had that experience at a restaurant, mall or other public place where a couple decides to show their fondness for each other with the rest of the world through an over-the-top kiss, an indecent grab or a full-on make-out session.

Most commonly known as public displays of affection (PDA), these moments are just plain awkward.

As Catholics, we know that the majority of PDA should be reserved for the privacy of a married couple’s home, but that doesn’t stop the rest of the world from partaking in these moments. I’m not talking about hand-holding or even brief kisses, rather the obnoxious displays of affection that make us blush and turn away.

Until marriage, we should all support chaste affection, which fellow CatholicMatch blogger Mary Beth Bonacci described in a recent post. Chaste affection represents the small tokens of affection we can show the person we love, while still saving our bodies (temples of the Holy Spirit!) for marriage.

Rather than PDA, I’d like to make the case for public displays of LOVE or PDL. Anyone can show affection, but it takes an open and honest heart to love others. Love is a verb – it must be active and not just felt. When we say we love someone, there is, of course, the emotional aspect, but true love goes beyond attraction. Think of a married couple in your life. What do you think has sustained their marriage? Passion or desire? How about faith, trust and loving acts of kindness?

In a world ridden with PDA, we as Catholics can show PDL during our dating years and beyond. Instead of an intense lip lock, open a door. Instead of sitting on top of each other in a corner booth, make him or her dinner at home. And instead of a suggestive back rub on a park bench, take a romantic walk hand in hand.

Over-the-top PDA is for insecure teens and attention-seeking adults. As Catholics, we’re called to make public displays of love on a daily basis, not only to significant others, but to those around us – roommates, co-workers, family members and neighbors. By showing love to others through our actions, we radiate Christ’s love for all of us.

PDL is a witness to Christ’s love, so skip the PDA and display true love instead.



  1. Peter-551700 February 20, 2013 Reply

    I am in favor of PDA when appropriate. The appropriateness relates to the place and situation. A simple kiss during Mass at the time of expression of friendship/love is fine. Huggs and kisses at the airport upon greeting is great. “Making out” in public is over the line. Civility can be acquired and learned. Generally the rule should be— don’t do in public what you wouldn’t want your mother to see.

  2. Erobert-937934 February 19, 2013 Reply

    I wish my wife was still here so I could pda her more than i did. Yes,there is a limit to the intensity.
    But, you that negatively comment probably would’nt make the sign of the cross in public

    Bob—a romantic

  3. Joann-834813 April 1, 2012 Reply

    Very good advise!

  4. Stephen-725391 March 30, 2012 Reply

    Unfortunately, lack thereof killed my marriage!

    • Stephen-725391 March 30, 2012 Reply

      It’s like smoking, or drinking, or speeding, or ad infinitum – DON”T do it if you don’t like it, but DON’T knock it until you try it!

      • Stephen-725391 March 30, 2012 Reply

        Just heaping more Catholic Guilt onto a platter of CATHOLIC GUILT already heaped high!

        • Stephen-725391 March 30, 2012 Reply

          In fact, I would suggest that nuns wearing the Habit, the priests wearing the Collar, the laity saying the rosary in hand in public or wearing the Crucifix outside the clothing is a PDA, and SHOULD be done.

  5. Lesley-158563 March 30, 2012 Reply

    Well said!

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