Brits are comfortable with public displays of affection - as long as they don't involve tongues

Most Brits are okay with public displays of affection up to kissing without tongues – but they’re less comfortable once you get past that (Picture: Getty)

We’ve got a reputation as a bit of a prim and proper nation.

But when it comes to public displays of affection, it turns out that Brits are fairly comfortable – unless it involves tongues.

New YouGov Omnibus research produced for Yahoo UK’s podcast Britain Is A Nation Of… found that the majority of Britons are comfortable with any display of affection up to kissing without tongues.

92% said holding hands in public is acceptable, with 90% saying the same for hugging. Just over two thirds (68%) also said they were comfortable with people around them kissing without tongues.

But if it goes further than that, people tend to be less approving – with just one in six (15%) comfortable with people kissing with tongues in public.

The research also revealed how different age groups vary in how comfortable they are with certain public displays of affection, or ‘PDAs’.

Young people are more likely than older groups to be comfortable with people kissing in public (without tongues), with eight in ten (78%) of 18-24-year-olds okay with it, compared to six in ten (58%) of those aged 55 and above.

Listen to the full episode of Britain is a Nation of… below

When it comes to kissing with tongues, as a whole people are far less approving, though again it can depend on age. One in five 18-24-year-olds think it’s acceptable compared to 6% of people aged 55 and above.

There’s also a difference between men and women, with one in five men (20%) comfortable with people kissing with tongues in public, compared to just one in eleven women (9%).

The research also revealed that one in ten Brits think hugging in public is not acceptable and one in 12 disapprove of holding hands in public. 

Speaking on the latest episode of Britain is a Nation Of, Dr Becky Spellman, psychologist and We-Vibe relationship expert, said: “When I work with couples I ask them how they tend to behave behind closed doors and in public.

“What’s interesting is that some people who are very passionate and very affectionate act in a completely different way when they’re outside and people can see.

“Some people who are very tactile with their partner when they’re in public can act like a totally different person which I think is fascinating.

“There can be real inconsistencies with how people act.”

To hear more unpacking of statistics about British people, listen to the full episode above, or download it on Apple PodcastsAcast, or Spotify to listen while on the go.