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My Friends Won’t Stop Making Out!

Jun23

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Dear Amy,

Advice Smackdown ArchivesAs a devoted follower of your blog and the Advice Smackdown, I’ve deduced that you’re the sort of person who knows All Sorts Of Good Ways To Deal With Stuff. I’d like your take on the following situation.

My best female friend, whom I’ve known for some 15 years, began dating a male friend of mine around a year ago, after I’d introduced them. They’d both been in rather unsavory relationships beforehand, and initially I was thrilled they’d gotten together, not only for their own sake, but because they didn’t really run in the same circles before and now Hooray! I can hang out with both of them at the same time! But! They are incredibly public with their affections. Like, if a group of six of us goes out for dinner together, they spend 2/3 of the time staring into each others eyes and playing tonsil hockey and not participating in group conversation. It’s easy enough to ignore in a larger group, but if just the three of us are hanging out, it’s unbearable. They’ll interrupt me mid-sentence to kiss.

It’s become so difficult to interact with them as a couple that I’ve started avoiding situations where I have to see both of them at the same time, but those situations are pretty rare — they live together and do most things together. I receive texts and facebook messages from both of them independently inviting me to hang out, saying they miss me, wondering why I’m not meeting them for cocktails, etc. I’ve briefly discussed the issue with my female friend, telling her that I’m happy she’s happy but it’s not fun to be interrupted by makeouts, and it hurts her feelings, so I dropped the issue. What should I do? They’re both very important people to me and I don’t want to lose their friendship.

Thanks,
Kissing is Gross

Here are my thoughts on Public Displays of Affection and the whole “how much is too much” debate, since everybody has different thresholds on what’s okay and what’s excessive: Personally, I find hand-holding, arms around the shoulder and the occasional quick kiss to be just fine, at least in the casual social situations you’re describing. Once you start doing more than that — constant kissing, kissing with tongue, sitting on laps, groping  — you’ve entered Gross Out The General Population territory. And that’s the backbone of proper etiquette: Don’t Do Things That Make Other People Uncomfortable.

AND THEN, it sounds like your friends are doubling up on the rudeness by ignoring everybody. Even if they are just gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes and NOT playing tonsil hockey, it’s still disrespectful. Swap the boyfriend for a cell phone and imagine your friend spending every group or friendly get-together talking to someone else or compulsively texting or checking email. Totally annoying, right?

So how would you solve that problem? You’d likely be direct, like, Hey. Could you put the phone down? Am I boring you? Is there something more important going on that you need to attend to? Or something like, Yeah, I’d love to have lunch with you this weekend. Can we pick a restaurant outside of your cell phone coverage, though? Ha! But seriously. Please leave your phone in the car or something this time.

It sounds like you tried to be direct with your friend but backed off when her feelings seemed hurt. (Which: GAH. Yeah, she and her boyfriend probably think they are just cute and adorable and everybody is just so happy for them, but come on. She’s GOT to know that PDA can bother people, and it’s only respectful to take those feelings into account, even if you disagree and think you’re just being cute and adorable.) You’ve GOT to try again. The next time they bug you about why you aren’t hanging with them, TELL THEM. Hey. I miss you guys too, but I’m feel like a third wheel when we hang out because of the constant PDA, like you guys would really rather be alone than spend time with me, or would rather make out than listen to what I have to say.

If it hurts her feelings, I’m sorry, but it has to be said. She has to know. I have a terrible track record when it comes to calling friends on bad behavior because of “rocking the boat” fears, but sometimes you just have to. The friendship will quickly become a one-way street otherwise, if you aren’t free to gently tell her that HEY. THIS IS REALLY BOTHERING ME AND MAKING ME NOT WANT TO HANG OUT WITH YOU THERE I SAID IT  BUT I STILL LOVE YOU THOUGH PLEASE DIAL BACK ON THE MAKING OUT FOR MY SAKE PLEEEEEEASE.

If she’s half as good of a friend as you say she is, she’ll listen. If she doesn’t, stick to your current plan of avoiding situations where you have to deal with them as a couple — at least until they’ve been together long enough to cool down and quit with the schmoopsiepoo nonsense on their own. (In my personal history, the overly-affectionate couple often morphs into the “couple that won’t stop fighting in front of everybody and it’s making us all SO UNCOMFORTABLE.” So there is also that.) It sucks, but so does having friend who cares more about sucking face than your feelings.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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12 Responses to “My Friends Won’t Stop Making Out!”

  1. EB Jun 23 at 2:25 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah, totally gross!
    And Amy you are SO RIGHT about the morphing into public fights thing.
    Really, I think that it is a turn on for them – it was for my friends who behaved similarly. The more people around, the more disgusting it got, until we just started making a game of ditching them places (“Oh, you were in the bathroom? Sorry! We took a walk down the street..”) or taking lots of pictures of it, like, “Yeah! This is what that looks like, and we are really tired of it!”
    Frankly, I’ve had people accuse my partner and I of not being very affectionate. My response? “Well, we see each other all the time, but tonight we are out to dinner with YOU.”
    Because really, they see each other all the time and they need to lay off a little when they are in social situations.

  2. Lisa M Jun 23 at 4:05 pm Reply Reply

    eewwwwww.

  3. Christen Jun 23 at 4:23 pm Reply Reply

    Gross! If the female friend’s feelings were hurt because her behavior upset her friend, she needs to grow up. When your behavior or words offend someone – even if you mean no harm – apologize and get over yourself. She wasn’t asked to change her behavior in private – I don’t get why the feelings were hurt? Amy’s analogy to being with someone who is texting during a visit was spot-on since the issue here is being rude and exclusionary.

  4. Jaymee Jun 23 at 10:41 pm Reply Reply

    Ok, first I would like to start out by saying that I LOVE Amy’s line, “Can we pick a restaurant outside of your cell phone coverage…” I will most definitely be using that one!!

    Now to the kissing thing:

    How old are your friends? When I first started reading this I thought ya’ll were probably in high school because this type of behavior is most common with high school aged kids. Then you said they live together and I was shocked since most likely if they are living together ya’ll are older than high school. Your friends need to grow up! It’s that simple. They are acting like teenagers and if there is anything worse than seeing a teenager act like a teenager, it’s seeing an adult act like a teenager. It’s absolutely disgusting! My advice would be to tell them to grow up, act like adults, and keep the makeout sessions private.

  5. Ariel Jun 23 at 11:12 pm Reply Reply

    My husband says I have a problem with PDA and that I’m not affectionate enough with him in social situations, but this is EXACTLY why I’m not—I’m being CONSIDERATE of those around me who do not care to see our tongues down each others throats. I love holding hands with him, giving him lovey pecks on the cheek when we’re at dinner with friends and whatnot, but I know how annoying it is if we’re not participating in the company of those we meant to hang out. I’m like Amy in that I believe proper etiquette is not making others around me feel uncomfortable (to a degree, of course). I was just at a birthday dinner last night and the couple who sat at my table (friends, but not close to me) just kept talking about how they have sex and how sexy your hair looks tonight and you’re so cute and OHMYGOD, SHUT UP. Not to mention the nose nuzzling and kissing..while I am the only other person at our table sitting right across from them. People are oblivious. End Rant.

  6. JB Jun 23 at 11:24 pm Reply Reply

    I have a slightly different suggestion on how to talk to your friend…

    Since she seems to take things personally, ONLY talk to her about this using “I” statements.
    (“I feel [[angry, sad, etc]] when you [[mow the lawn, talk to me that way, etc]]“). You can google ‘I statements’ for more info.

    Ex:
    -“I feel uncomfortable when you make out in front of me.”
    Then…PAUSE. Let it be awkward. Let her think of something to say.

    If she responds with, “well we just love each other and it’s not a big deal and…” …Then respond with another “I” statement.

    “I feel sad and I feel like you don’t want to spend time with me, like you’d rather be alone.”
    Another pause….Then she might come up with another excuse or attack you….”Well it’s not a big DEAL and why are you Overreacting and blah blah blah…”

    Then…you guessed it, a slightly different “I” statement.
    “I feel icky whenever you do that, like I’m unwillingly intruding on your private life.”
    Another pause….you get the idea. It’s ok to repeat previous statements too.

    If this continues for 12 rounds and she still doesn’t bother to offer to change….then say CALMLY, “well it looks like there is nothing that can be done. I just wanted to tell you how I feel.” Then get up and calmly walk away. At the very least, you’ll feel really good b/c you’ll have gotten all your feelings out :) .

    HOPEfully she’ll wise up…if not, then you’ll know it for sure. Honestly, people only change if THEY want to, and they usu don’t change due to someone telling them to. But knowing how their behavior makes other ppl FEEL…that may, or may not, be enough to inspire them to change. Good luck!!

  7. KC Jun 24 at 1:13 pm Reply Reply

    Completely agree with the “I” statements. It is frustrating when a person is self-absorbed, not to the extent of being so awful you can’t be friends, but just enough that you feel taken advantage of, that you aren’t respected by the friend in the same way that you respect her. Like JB said, you can only speak for your own feelings, it leaves you on higher ground and more than adequately explains the problem.

  8. Karen Jun 24 at 2:24 pm Reply Reply

    JB has it down pat! I love that. JB is right, use I statements and let it be awkward. And if she doesn’t get it, maybe the next time she wants you all to get together, say, “I’d feel uncomfortable, like I’m intruding…so can I take a rain check?” Or something like that.

  9. Deedee Jun 24 at 5:32 pm Reply Reply

    Way, way, way, way back in my high school days (long time ago): My best friend would be this way with her boyfriends.  (more than one, but only one at a time!).  We usually hung out in a group and when she and her current hunk of love would start in with the smacking and groping, the rest of us would just get up and leave.  They usually did not notice us go, and really never said much later about it.  It didn’t really make her stop doing it.   But at least we didn’t have to be their audience if we left. 

    Maybe you should get up and leave when the lovebirds start making out next time.  If they notice you leaving and ask why, just say “you guys seem to want to be alone right now.”

  10. Deedee Jun 24 at 5:38 pm Reply Reply

    Oh – one more please.  My brother-in-law and his girlfriend are absolutely disgusting with the PDA.  At family gatherings, or visits they cannot keep their hands off each other.  They are in their forties.  And have been together for about 6 or 7 years.  So I guess some people never grow out of it.

    (nobody says anything to them about it we just gag and laugh about them behind their backs – yeah we are all real mature too!)

  11. Tdot Jun 28 at 3:42 pm Reply Reply

    I wish you would write a followup article on this exact topic but for family members who do the PDA thing. I am very much like Deedee – I have a brother and sister in law couple who got married over a year ago and every time we are with them I kinda wish we weren’t – they have these minute long sessions of looking into each others eyes and having passionate conversations about how much the other person rules or they will just make out for a few minutes. Sometimes they just touch each other, not necessarily inappropriately but it def. involves a lot of stroking and patting that makes my skin crawl, like they should be in a dark theater or their own bedroom. It drives me crazy because I used to be such good friends with the brother…

    anyway, I don’t really know how to bring it up with them, mostly because there is a lot more at stake than a friendship – this would totally slash familial bonds and I can’t do that; also they are stubborn and a grudge would be held for many years (they have in the past, but not with me).

    Right now we are on great terms, but they got all upset when she recently got pregnant and I told them I was a little grossed out that her facebook picture became one of her pee-stick showing a positive. I would love an ultrasound or one of hundreds of other options, but seeing a peed-on stick every morning while eating breakfast and checking my facebook – not the greatest…

  12. Question-Asker Jul 03 at 10:54 pm Reply Reply

    I’m the one who asked the question initially. Thanks for answering, Amy! I’m going to call my friend and talk to her about it again… thanks for all the good advice, everyone.

    Oh, and for the commenter who was wondering about our ages – we’re all in our late 20’s/early 30’s. Yeah. They should have outgrown it by now.

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