My Friends Won’t Stop Making Out!
As 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.
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.Published June 23, 2010. Last updated July 22, 2017.