Ask Amy: He doesn't like public affection with boyfriend

March 7, 2014 

Dear Amy: I'm gay. My boyfriend likes to hold my hand on the walk to the grocery store; he likes to hold my hand in the grocery store, and he likes to kiss me in front of people.

I am very physically affectionate and romantic when we are alone.

I've told him that I just don't like being public about my affections.

It makes me anxious. And, yes, sometimes I'd just rather avoid having someone say something or give us a look.

I've been very open with him about my anxieties, but he acts like it's something I have to get over.

It feels like a burden for me rather than the joy it is for him.

I'll often just hold his hand because I feel guilty about letting him down.

Am I a coward? Is this something I have to get over?

— Handholdingphobe

Dear Phobe: If you are self-conscious about publicly disclosing your sexuality for fear of "getting looks" from other people, then yes — that is something you should get over (and I assume you will).

However, it is not your boyfriend's job to "out" you. He should let you take this process at your own pace.

Additionally, you sound like someone who is just not into public displays of affection. Being pushed in this way when you are uncomfortable is embarrassing, as well as a turnoff. You should respect and enjoy his exuberance, but he needs to dial it back and respect your reserve.

So yes, if it makes him happy to hold your hand, then you should try to relax and enjoy this closeness. But if he can't refrain from kissing you in public, knowing how uncomfortable it makes you, then you might not be compatible, long term.

There's nothing worse in a relationship than feeling smothered. If he backed off, it would give you the chance to perhaps initiate some closeness without being pushed.

Dear Amy: Thank you for your sound advice to "Left Coast," the long-haul trucker who was embroiled in a romantic drama with another trucker.

Nobody should ask someone else to turn their own life upside down and quit their job after one night.

I agree with you that this behavior has "Fatal Attraction" written all over it!

— Shuddering

Dear Shuddering: "Fatal Attraction" has that effect on people. Thank you.


You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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