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Posts Tagged ‘affection’

A couple months ago, Subtlekate had a great post on non-conventional parenting, which had me thinking about what sort of parent I am.  Being a parent is a huge responsibility, and it is totally transformational– once you put on the parent hat, it’s something you wear forever.  Most of us want to be the best possible parent we can be.  So reading Kate’s post had me thinking about the choices I made as a parent, and if I could figure out how to describe my parental “style.”  This is what I wrote in reply:

I dunno what sort of label I have as a parent, I haven’t really checked in on that sort of thing. My ex and I didn’t get a book on parenting, we just let instinct, common sense and tips from family and friends guide us. I do know the one thing I made a conscious effort on was to make sure that I showered them with affection from the get-go. Lots of hugs and kisses, snuggling, holding hands, running fingers through hair. Even now at their ages of 11 and 9. Pretty easy since I’m very affectionate by nature, but I’m aware that there is cultural pressure for men to not necessarily be that way and I just didn’t want my kids to imprint on that. I want my son to grow up being a very affectionate man, and I want my daughter to grow up expecting the men in her life to be affectionate.

I’ve thought a lot about those last two sentences over the months since I wrote it, and on this Father’s Day I thought it was good to reflect on it a bit and put up a blog post about it.  I spent a lot of time with the kids this weekend, and just really basked in fatherhood, listening to what my kids wanted to talk about, asking them lots of questions on what they were up to, what they thought about stuff.  But what touched me the most as we walked to and from various places throughout the weekend, how each of them would periodically reach out and put their hand in mine, even if it was just for a minute or two.  My daughter, six months to 12 and my son, just a month shy of being 10, holding their old man’s hand.  Giving that affection right back to me in spades.

Affection is so affirming, it fills you with love, warmth, happiness, security.  My ex was so non-affectionate to me for much of our marriage that I was terrified the kids would somehow become imprinted with the idea that that was what they would expect in their adult relationships.  Thankfully, their mom is very affectionate with them so between the both of us being very affectionate parents it’s my hope that they will grow up and find affectionate people to pair up with.  Love, looks, sexual chemistry– all that stuff is great when it comes along, but it can also ebb and flow or be fleeting.  Affection though… affection is the bedrock of happiness in a healthy relationship.  If you can reach out and hold hands with your partner, no matter how old you are or who’s around, then you know you’re home.

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Much like other people coming out of a long-term relationship that has ended, thoughts often turn analytical – what went wrong, and how can I avoid that in the future?  One of the points of this blog is to help me stake out qualities I’d like to find in future partners, and while I know that no one is going to embody all those qualities, I think it would be helpful for me to look inside and recognize that there are things I’d like in a girlfriend, thinks I want in a girlfriend… and things I need in a girlfriend.

Affection is a definite need.

I’ve always been someone who expresses affection in physical ways.  I like the reassuring touch, holding hands, hugging, leaning against your partner, the spontaneous “just ‘cause” kiss.  Reaching out and running your hands through her hair.  Fixing my shirt collar or picking off a fuzzball from my clothes before work.  I know some people view this sort of thing as being needy or insecure, but for me it’s just something that feels good and lets people know “I love you” at a fundamental level better than any words can express.

You and me babe

I’ve heard people express disapproval ranging from being awkwardly uncomfortable to flat-out disgusted when seeing others engage in “Public Displays of Affection.”  Sometimes the lovers will be heckled with “go get a room!”

the horror...

Me, I personally love seeing PDAs.  It warms the heart to see two people out and about in public and yet totally willing to make it crystal clear to everyone around that this person here is their love.  Whether it’s the teenaged girl curled up in her boyfriend’s lap at the football game, or the elderly couple holding hands as they walk down street, it’s a happy reminder that there is love in the world to be had.

Thinking about PDAs, I decided to Google it and see what came up.  Not surprisingly, there is a lot on the internet about it.  There’s even a website called MorePDAs.org!

GIMME MORE!

Askmen.com had an article titled “Acceptable Public Displays of Affection” with the subtitle “Why do you need to know?  Because you don’t want to be that couple.”  Which is funny… but personally I’d rather be that couple than the ones watching.  The article then goes through rating various PDAs on a scale of Acceptable on one end, Unacceptable on the other, with some middle ground of Acceptable but with qualifiers.  It’s quite amusing and definitely comes from a “macho” point of view (especially the Unacceptable ones).

Acceptable:  Hand-holding

Acceptable, within limits:  Kissing

Acceptable, but tacky:  Space invasion

Acceptable, but not advised:  Ass smacks

Unacceptable:  Declarations of love, Pet names, Babying

I found a website named Lovepanky.com– which I find frickin’ awesome– how could you not visit a site called Lovepanky??  They had several articles on the subject.  The first one I ran across was just called “Public Display of Affection.”   The author gives an amusing anecdote about getting distracted in the movie theater by two young lovers in the row in front of her providing more action and romance than the chick flick she was there to see.

Another article was titled “Kissing in Public—Does It Turn You On?”  The author writes:

Public affection can have its hate club, but deep inside, our voyeuristic sides can’t help but get turned on by some good kissing in public!

I kinda assumed they’d be talking about doing the kissing in public, but it seems to be more about watching other people kissing, and provides some counter-argument against those who claim to be offended by that sort of PDA.

Then there’s the Lovepanky.com article entitled “Public Display of Affection Etiquette.”  Aha!  Here are the rules they lay out (and check out the article for more details):

#1 Make it look good (cute and sweet vs. gross and vulgar)

#2 Stop when it’s uncomfortable (for the people around you)

#3 Kissing tops the list (though don’t try and reach for your partner’s tonsils)

#4 Don’t bite and lick (‘nuff said)

#5 Don’t flash skin

#6 Don’t use PDA to seduce someone else (Ha!)

#7 Watch the age (of the people around you)

#8 Don’t touch someone else (the personal anecdote is fun)

#9 Don’t slip your hands in (hee!)

#10 Watch your reputation

So how do you feel about Public Displays of Attention?  To me, it comes down to the core word affection and for public display of it you should use some degree of common sense and tact.  But the showing and sharing of affection is important to me.  The next woman in my life will need to be comfortable with giving and receiving public displays of it.  Tell me what you think about PDAs in the comments!

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