Gay/Lesbian Issues/PDA


Hello Reece,

I'm hoping to work on a problem with myself. I've met this amazing woman who seemed to breeze through the process of one day realizing she's gay, and telling everyone in her life. No problem, no hesitation, no anything. I've never met anyone like her, and after dating a series of egotistical, selfish women, I think I've finally met someone different.

This is where my problem starts. She is very open about who she is and very into touch. As for me, my last relationship of 9 years was with someone who couldn't be out of the closet at work, and no pda ever occurred.

When we had passed the point of kissing when parting ways, we had gone out to lunch. I wanted to kiss her as I left, but I couldn't do it and went in for a hug. I felt awful. We've gotten to the point where she wants to do things like hold hands while walking down the street, and stroke my arm and leg during dinner. I really like her, but I keep reverting to the girl who freaks out. I don't want to.

I've told her that it's something I need to work on but I don't know how. She left for work for a month this weekend so I can't just get used to things without her here. I want to work on myself. It's not fair to her that I look scared to be with her. I'm not. It's not ok for me to freak out if she's holding my hand. It's rude. She's amazing inside and out. I just don't know how to get to the point where I'm ok with pda.

Greetings Anna and thanks for your message.

I appreciate you sharing with me your hesitancy with PDA between you and the amazing woman you've met. I also sense you are feeling challenged why there's a barrier for you in comparison to her public expression towards you.

There's a number of issues to consider and without having a counseling session for me to get to know you a bit better, I can only share some mere thoughts:

1. Each person has their own sense of comfort, safety and security

Just because she can display affection publicly doesn't necessarily mean that you have to or that you are feeling comfortable enough to do it. It doesn't mean you don't care about her, don't love her or feel less attracted to her. You may not be able to name concretely why but it is important that you are upfront that your lack of PDA doesn't mean otherwise.

2. It may not be in your character to be so upfront in public

Regardless of sexual orientation, some people are more private and prefer to be that way. For some, it's about maintaining a sense of privacy. For others, it can provoke anxiety, fear or an uneasy feelings. Some people are not out to everyone and prefer to disclose in different ways that are more controlled environments.

3. Homophobia is alive and well

Some people are really hostile. Some people have a resiliency to not take on homophobic statements and bullying and others not so much. If the latter is the case, it's not your fault but a societal issue.

4. With homophobia is internalized homophobia

It can be overt "I don't like being this way," to subtle "I truly not at ease with myself and therefore not comfortable with PDA."

Not saying that this is you, but can be a one of many reasons.

If you're ready to get over your PDA, you may want to consider expressing your affection incrementally in more controlled environments first than build from there. Perhaps it's just sitting closer together where your thighs are touching. Then move to her putting her arm around you. Perhaps its playing footsies under the table. Maybe a peck on the cheek and a hug... then a longer hug the next time. Take note on any anxieties, stresses, feelings and emotions that may come up for you and share with her these feelings to draw on her support. Her empathy can be very helpful.

Remember, you don't have to go from 0 to 60 immediately. Slow and steady can be helpful in building your comfort level.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,

Dr. Reece Malone

Gay/Lesbian Issues

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Reece Malone


I can answer questions on sexual orientation, gender identity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual sexuality (youth and adult), coming out and disclosure, transgender and gender-non conformity including transition process, how to support a partner of someone GLBT, sexuality and faith/spirituality/religion, safer sex and harm reduction, comprehensive sexuality education, and questions from service providers working with LGBT individuals and families.


I'm currently a full time sexuality educator and facilitator specializing in sexual orientation and gender identity. I hold the positions of the Education Program Coordinator at the Rainbow Resource Centre (supporting LGBTTQ individuals, families and allies) as well as clinical sexologist at Four Rivers Medical Clinic in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. My roles include: sexuality education, counseling/therapy, media spokesperson and consultant. I have sat on several non-profit sexuality organizations as well as been a consultant to the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada. For more information visit:

American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors and Therapists, The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, The American College of Sexologists, The Canadian AIDS Information Treatment Exchange, The Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, The Sexual Health Educator's Network (Manitoba), The International Society for Sexual Medicine.

Malone, R. (2010). "ShoutOut Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Heterosexism." Rainbow Resource Centre. Winnipeg, Canada. Malone, R. et al (2010). "Your Questions Answered. Gender Identity in Schools." Public Health Agency of Canada. Ottawa, Canada.

Undergradate degree in sociology - specialized focus on human sexuality Masters of Public Health (Sexology) Doctorate of Human Sexuality

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