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No public displays of affection for Brits on Valentine’s Day




A staggering 65 per cent of Brits won't be more affectionate to their partner on Valentine’s Day, according to a new survey of 2,000 people by MSN.

People from Yorkshire top the list of Valentine’s Day cynics with almost three quarters (71 per cent) confessing they won’t fall victim to the Valentine’s Day hype by being more loving towards a partner. They are also the most likely to feel really uncomfortable when they see other people openly showing their affection.

At the other end of the spectrum, people from the North East (44 per cent) are the most likely to admit they will be more affectionate on the 14th and the most likely to say that being publicly affectionate makes them feel secure in a relationship.

Relationships expert Tracey Cox comments on the findings: “I’d like to think if people aren’t more affectionate on Valentine’s Day, it’s because they maintain a high level of affection all year round. But I suspect MSN’s findings are more a reflection of our cynicism about the commercialism of Valentine’s Day than anything else!

“Public displays of affection (or PDA) are not just fuelled by a natural desire to touch your partner. Some touches are for reassurance; others are to warn off potential rivals. Zoologists call these ‘mate guarding’ or ‘mate retention’ tactics. When one partner is über-affectionate and ‘all over them’ it’s usually because they feel insecure and want there to be no confusion that their partner is taken,” says Cox.


When it comes to PDA, Britons say they have few issues with hand holding, kissing on the cheek and linking arms. However heavy petting is a big no-no – 94 per cent of Brits find this unacceptable, with 90 per cent objecting to kissing with tongues, ahead of bottom-slapping and grabbing, which 89 per cent object to.

Cox explains, “Get a room’-style PDAs are too lusty and simply make people feel embarrassed. Sex is something most people do in private and most people are happy for it to remain so. Seeing heavy petting in public is a glimpse into someone’s intimate private lives that we often don’t particularly want to see.

“Bottom slapping and grabbing – usually done from male to female – reeks of sexism: it reminds us of the old scenario with the boss and the secretary. Done in jest it’s OK, but not too many women are happy with this one,” adds Cox.

The reputation of the “stiff upper lip” Brit continues, with more than a quarter (27 per cent) of those surveyed saying they feel too embarrassed to hold hands, cuddle or kiss with a partner in public, with 28 per cent saying they feel really uncomfortable when they see others being affectionate.

“It could be down to people’s individual personalities. Some may think feelings and affection should be kept private. Sometimes it’s because seeing other couples so obviously happy highlights failings in our own relationship. If your best friend’s partner is always holding hands, hugging or kissing her and yours doesn’t, it can make your own partner seem cold, distant and lacking,” says Cox.



PDA in the regions

The Welsh are the most likely to dislike showing affection in public. Fifty eight per cent of Welsh people say they don’t like indulging in PDA, followed closely by the Scots in second place with 56 per cent.

The Scots are also the most likely to admit they feel embarrassed when a partner is affectionate towards them in public and one fifth of Scots said they would never express affection towards a partner publicly.

Yet it’s the Northern Irish to be most cautious of when it comes to PDA. They’re the most likely (17 per cent) to find PDA a sexual turn-off and also the most likely (13 per cent) to end a relationship because of it.

East Anglians, on the other hand, are the most likely (55 per cent) to enjoy being affectionate in public.


PDAs in order of acceptability

1. Holding hands
2. Kissing on the cheek
3. Arms linked
4. Arms around waist
5. Arm around shoulder
6. Kissing on the lips
7. Cuddling
8. Bottom slapping
9. Kissing with tongues
10. Heavy petting

Locations for PDA in order of acceptability

1. At a nightclub
2. On holiday
3. At a party
4. In a pub
5. On the street and at the beach
6. At a bus or train station
7. On public transport
8. At the public pool
9. At the gym
10. At work


Read our full interview with Tracey Cox on the subject of PDAs


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