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How to Shut Down Awkward PDA at Family Gatherings
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How to Shut Down Awkward PDA at Family Gatherings

Patrick Allan, Gawker Media

You've got problems, I've got advice. This advice isn't sugar-coated-in fact, it's sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love .

This week we have a brother who's tired of watching his sister suck face with her boyfriend at family functions.

Keep in mind, I'm not a therapist or any other kind of health professional-just a guy who's willing to tell it like it is. I simply want to give you the tools you need to enrich your damn lives. If for whatever reason you don't like my advice, feel free to file a formal complaint here . Now then, let's get on with it.

Hello Patrick,

My sister brought her boyfriend home for the holidays. They've been together for less than a year and they engage in a great deal of PDA. We were opening gifts in the living room with them and my parents and myself present, and every other time I looked over at them they were kissing passionately. I was opening something from my sister to me and the packing was difficult to open up so it was taking a bit longer than normal so my sister literally laughed and said something to the effect of "don't mind us, we're just going to have a make-out break over here."

This is the second time her boyfriend has been in my parents house. They also were quite touchy and kissy the first time they were here. Aside from my parent's we are all in our early to mid thirties. It sort of bugs me that she is doing this. It feels disrespectful to my parents plus I know it makes me feel awkward and my parents feel awkward. Do you have suggestions for ways to get them to stop? She is quite prone to being defensive and irritable. I know I could just ask them not to make out in front of us but my gut says she would just get mad and it wouldn't solve the problem. Is there a less confrontational way to approach this?

Or am I just being a prude? Her boyfriend seems like a good guy so far, and she is always the one who instigates the kissing/touching. He doesn't exactly shut it down though. I don't know man. I just feel like doing that in front of your potential future in-laws is a weird move. It seems like they are still in the "honeymoon" stage of a relationship where they are obsessed with each other, so maybe it will stop over time? I don't know. Curious as to your thoughts. One the one hand maybe I'm just feeling icky about seeing my sister kiss somebody but on the other hand I feel like expecting them to restrain themselves enough to not to do that in front of us is pretty reasonable. Love your writing. Enjoy your holidays.

Cheers,
Uncomfortable Brother

Hey Uncomfortable Brother:

On the one hand, Bro, they're not teenagers, they're in their 30s. It would be one thing if these were high school kids going crazy in front of mom and dad, but they're not. They're adults who are allowed to do adult things when and whenever they please, even at home around the family. It might be "icky" for you guys to bare witness to, but it's their prerogative.

On the other hand, they're not teenagers, they're in their damn 30s . Honeymoon phase or not, they should be somewhat aware of how their actions make other people around them feel. The whole "don't mind us" makeout announcement is especially immature and just, well, blech . If you're grossed out by this display, I can't imagine what it's like for your parents. I just imagine your sister staring at your parents while she moans and gropes her boyfriend as if to say, "Thanks for giving us a place to bang, guys." You're not being a prude here, Bro, and it's not too much to expect them to restrain themselves around you guys during a family get together. It's too much and, frankly, disrespectful.

Unfortunately, Bro, outside of farcical sitcom antics (like trying to constantly sit between them as a laugh track plays, or spraying them with water like a cat in heat and saying things like "sorry, you looked dry"), confrontation is your best strategy here. That said, you should fall back on the classic approach of explaining how her actions make you and the rest of the family feel. Don't ask her to stop directly (she might start doing it out of immature, rebellious spite), just kindly tell her how you and your parents feel a little uncomfortable when they dry hump while you're sipping cocoa, opening presents, and listening to Amy Grant's Christmas album. If she gets defensive, don't hesitate to mention that you guys like her boyfriend and think he's a good guy, and that they can do whatever they like behind closed doors. All you're asking is that she keeps her tongue in her own mouth while your family graciously welcomes her still fairly-new boyfriend in their home. And if that doesn't work, I'd go with the spray bottle thing.


That's it for this week, but I still have plenty of blunt, honest advice bottled up inside. Tell me, what's troubling you? Is work getting you down? Are you having problems with a friend or a coworker? Is your love life going through a rough patch? Do you just feel lost in life, like you have no direction? Tell me, and maybe I can help. I probably won't make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but sometimes what you need is some tough love. Ask away in the comments below, or email me at the address you see at the bottom of the page ( please include "ADVICE" in the subject line ). Or tweet at me with #ToughLove ! Also, DO NOT EMAIL ME IF YOU DON'T WANT YOUR REQUEST FEATURED . I do not have time to respond to everyone just for funsies. 'Til next time, figure things out for yourself.

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