Man and woman about to kiss

Show affection in public too

In Community and Relationship by Barry VissellLeave a Comment

Don’t make the mistake of showing affection to your beloved in public, in the name of being independent or fearing codependence. Something else may be at play.

 

It’s not enough to show love and affection when it’s just the two of you. Don’t ever hesitate to show your love in public as well. Okay, it doesn’t need to be overdone. If your loved one’s an introvert, you might embarrass her or him by gushing too much around other people. Just be sensitive to your partner’s feelings as much as your own.

The problem is usually on the other side, not enough public love and affection. Women as well as men often receive strong indoctrination against showing love. It’s too often viewed as a sign of weakness. I have to admit, I fell into this category when I was 18 and newly in relationship with Joyce. I was embarrassed about showing love in public. I was sometimes even embarrassed about walking next to her. Once, we were walking down the hill from Hartwick College into the town of Oneonta in upstate New York. Joyce had a childlike bounce to her step, completely uninhibited and unashamed. I asked her to walk more like an adult (that is, an adult in my mind!). She refused and told me I needed to accept her just as she was. My response was to cross the street and keep pace with her from the other side of the street. Sometimes I wonder why she stayed with me.

Well, thankfully, I did change! I clearly remember a fraternity party the following year. Everyone seemed to be dancing. Then a slow dance began. I held Joyce close and we swayed to the music. It was perhaps the first time I truly let go of my image of how to act in public. I got lost in the music, the feel of Joyce’s body so close to mine, the smell of her hair and skin. Together, we both got lost in an insulated bubble of love, neither of us caring about what anyone else on the dance floor thought. Problem was, we were alone on the dance floor. The moment the slow dance started, person by person left. By the end of the song, we were the only ones out there and, in the total silence, while all eyes were upon us, some curious, some incredulous, Joyce and I kept swaying in love, completely oblivious to the scene we were making. In that moment, we were announcing our love to the world, and it felt nothing but good!

So how can you love your partner in public? Again, be sensitive to their feelings just as much as to your own. Reach out and take their hand because they like it. If you take their hand because you like it, it may come across as sweet, but it is not necessarily demonstrating your love for them.

When with friends, put your arm around your mate while talking with other people. Give a clear message to everyone about who you’re with and who you love. Do this especially if your partner feels nervous or insecure, or you’re with your friends rather than their friends.

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your beloved in public, in the name of being independent or fearing codependence. Something else may be at play. Another person giving you attention may be flattering to your ego. You might think, “What harm could a little innocent flirting do?” First of all, flirting is never innocent or harmless. Flirting is an exchange of sexual energy. It is degrading to your mate, and gives a clear message that you are not committed to them.

So many times we hear, “My partner is too jealous and insecure!” In other words, they have the problem. Or: “I’m not having sex with anyone else! Why does my partner get all bent out of shape?” The one who loves you will have radar for subliminal sexual energy exchanges, also known as ‘leaking sexual energy’. You may feel you’re having an innocent conversation with another person but, if you’re partner feels hurt or abandoned, pay close attention. You may have something important to learn from them. If you feel it is hampering your style, or obstructing your freedom, to include your beloved or put your arm around them, then you have a problem! It is also your problem if you feel that including your partner might somehow upset the other person. You may have a fear of commitment, or a fear of attachment which, by the way, almost always boils down to your own fear of abandonment.

Love your mate by including them in your conversations. If they’re deeply involved in their own conversation, don’t drag them away. But if they’re standing all alone, you show your love by bringing them into your conversation.

I feel loved by Joyce in public in a multitude of ways. I feel loved by the many ways she looks at me as a way to included me. Whether in social situations or leading a workshop, she has a way of glancing at me when she speaks, that shows me how important I am to her. And when I speak, I feel her attention and gaze upon me. She listens deeply to me, and I feel loved by this. I do the same for her.

Love her by experimenting with different ways of public shows of love and affection. Joyce and I are often in airports. We watch lovers being re-united after a flight. They throw themselves into each other’s arms. Even though we travel together, we had the idea of pretending that only one of us had been travelling. Arriving in baggage claim, a common area of greeting, I might call out to Joyce, “Sweetie, how was your flight?” And then we fall into a lover’s embrace, not ashamed to hold one another close and even passionately kiss as lovers who have been separated. It’s something that is completely sanctioned in baggage claim. Even if it was not, people look at these two passionate seniors and think it’s cute!

About the Authors
Barry Vissell

Barry Vissell

Barry Vissell is a psychiatrist and counsellor near Santa Cruz, CA. He is widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. He is a coauthor of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.

 

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