Post # 1
Bees, I need a second opinion. Well, really I don’t NEED one. This subject is obviously none of my business, but it just got me thinking and I’m wondering how others view these things.
My cousin has recently announced his engagement. The whole family really likes his fiancée and we are all happy for them both.
But I have noticed something. I remember his last girlfriend (I’ll call her Mary). “John” acted much differently with Mary than he does with his fiancée (“Jane”). With Mary, anytime they went out in public, they held hands. He was very obviously affectionate with her. When they went out to dinner, he always wanted to sit next to her in a booth, not across from her, and often shared food with her. He always walked around the car to open the door for her.
With Jane, his behavior is very different. I don’t question at all that he loves her. He includes her in all family occasions and talks about her a lot. But, he rarely holds her hand in public. He also never sits next to her in a restaurant booth or opens her car door.
It simply may be that Jane is not as comfortable with affection in public as Mary was. But there is something I can’t put my finger on that makes it seem like it’s him that is choosing to act differently. It’s like he was more solicitous of Mary’s welfare but acts like Jane is fine fending for herself. To me, it is very obvious that he acts differently with his fiancée than he did with his ex-gf.
Does this matter? I want him AND Jane to be happy. And I do think they are right for each other. I really think Jane is better suited to him than Mary was. Of course, I am aware it is NONE of my business and I would NEVER say anything to either of them, it makes me wonder. Maybe I am reading WAY too much into it, but it reminds me that he started seeing Jane only a few weeks after Mary ended things with him (and they had been talking about marriage) and a year later he and Jane are now engaged.
I guess my question is in a situation like this, do you think the lack of physical affection is indicative of anything at all? Or do we all just have different styles of interacting with different people? If one’s actions and body language is very different with a partner than it was with a previous partner, does it follow that one’s emotions/attachment to that partner are correspondingly different?
Post # 3
@Neva: Maybe he sees Jane as more of an equal and a partner and Mary was someone he needed to take care of more.
Also, they may just be much more secure in their relationship and not *need* to be touching at all times.
My FI and I are very independent and rarely hold hands in public, but our relationship is very strong and we are equals.
I’ve been in other relationships where my bf at the time was very physically affectionate in public, but I was not his equal, he saw me as something that needed protecting and taking care of, not as a person who could take care of herself.
Post # 4
I think it’s just what you said, that we have different styles of interacting with different people. Sometimes (not always, of course!), more PDA can actually signal more insecurity in the relationship.
Post # 5
Maybe Mary was very insecure, and wanted/needed all the constant closeness and attention. And maybe Jane is not like that. Just my two cents.
Post # 6
@stillme: I also think that PDA doesn’t necessarily translate to happiness within a relationship. I had a friend who was always incredibly touchy feely in public with her husband and shocked all of us when she told us they were getting divorced!
You never know what people’s relationships are like when no one else is around. My opinion is everyone has a different dynamic in different relationships.
Post # 7
@KatNYC2011: That’s a really interesting perspective. FI and I are both pretty dependent (not co-dependent, we’re just not spirited individualists and we rely heavily on each other), and we hold hands a lot in public.
Post # 8
Yes, you are reading into this too much. I am probably a little sensitive to this because my mother mentioned almost the exact same thing with me/my husband vs. me/my ex in kind of a questioning manner that REALLY bothered me. I was pretty upset that she would question my feelings because of what she perceives as our interaction during the limited times that she sees us together.
My husband and I are not as touchy-feely as I was with my ex for a lot of reasons. Primarily because now we’re grown ups 🙂 You date differently in college than you do as an adult, and you date differently when you know he is the one and you trust him vs. when you’re in the middle of an overly dramatic relationship that could end at any time.
Don’t make the mistake my mother did by 1) assuming something was wrong and 2) (worse) bringing it up.
Post # 9
I agree with everyone above. My FI and I aren’t into PDA, and the only reason why is because we are both secure in our relationship and mature. In my high school relationships, yeah I was all about hand-holding and kissing in public, but now that kind of stuff just seems a little immature in a ‘look I have a boyfriend!!!’ kind of way. None of my friends in serious relationships act super affectionate towards each other when they’re around others, and I would think it was weird if they did. Your cousin has probably just grown up a little bit.
Post # 10
I dont think it means anything at all. we behave differently towards different people based on their comfort level with certain things. Personally I find that couples who are overly touchy in public arent always that close emotionally. I dont do PDA either… i feel its totally unnecessary. everyone already knows we are in love why “prove” it?
Post # 11
I agree with previous posters. My brother was engaged, and they called off the wedding two months before the day. He had always been super snuggly with her, and it seemed like he was afraid to leave her alone. Like, he’d bring her home for a weekend and not want to golf with my dad (he loves golf) because he didn’t want to leave his girl by herself. Ironically, after they broke up it sort of came out that there wasn’t much passion behind the scenes, and it seems like a lot of their PDA was sort of trying to be “the perfect couple” when everything else was lackluster.
He hasn’t found a new love yet, although since they broke up he’s been much more outgoing and fun. His last girlfriend (things didn’t work out), he wasn’t afraid to leave her by herself and seemed like he was less about trying to fit into her life, and more about trying to live his life and hope he found someone who wanted to be part of it.
So I actually think that’s a positive thing. Relationships that need constant tending and reassurance seem a lot less stable to me than those where the two partners can go out, have fun, and regroup at the end of the night together. Not saying all PDA is bad, but sometimes it can be a crutch.
Post # 11
I think your reading too much into it. Perhaps john matured perhaps its a different dynamic with the current girl. My fiancee and I are very touchy and lovey but sometimes we dont sit next to eachother and sometimes we dont hold hands. The more were together the more we are casual to just sit near eachother. It depends on who else is around and how we are feeling also.
Post # 12
@CorgiTales: I’m really not assuming anything is wrong. Honest. I just can’t help but notice the difference and it makes me wonder what is causing it. I would never ever say anything to them (or to anyone else for that matter) about it. That’s why I asked the question here. At this point, it’s really an academic question anyway. Yeah, I’m probably really overthinking it, but I tend to do that with everything!
I don’t think it is a maturity issue however. These are all adults in their early thirties and none of them strike me as particularly insecure or needy. John was 31 when his relationship with Mary ended and is now almost 33, so I don’t know that he’s really changed very much.
I’m guessing it’s just more of a comfort level thing maybe? My guess is that maybe Jane isn’t as comfortable with affection in public and he is honoring her wishes. Or it could be, as KatNYC2011 has mentioned that he (for whatever reason) viewed Mary as someone who needed taking care of and doesn’t have that concern with Jane? I’ll never really know, of course. I just find it interesting to contemplate.
Post # 13
I’m very aware of other couples PDA – even simple things like hand-holding or sitting next to, etc.
I don’t think it’s a sign of anything that he’s different with Jane than Mary…. but I could see how it makes you wonder.
We could sit and theorize on lots of different scenarios about the why’s to his behavior change and they could make a whole lot of sense.
I guess the bottom line is: does he want to spend the rest of his life with Jane. Sounds like he does and that’s what’s most important. Not the amount of PDA he displays.
Post # 14
It could be that Jane is, like me, really uncomfortable with PDA. It’s not personal – I always have been. Especially in front of my family or my SO’s family (EW!). If I started dating a new person who was all PDA-y, I would tell them to cut it out.
Post # 15
I’m not a fan of PDA. You will never see me making out in public. Lots of women are like that. Likely John is a guy who will go with whatever his current girlfriend prefers.