What Is "Power PDA"? Meet the Steamy Fall Dating Trend of 2022

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You’ve seen them—and their hands—everywhere: Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker (aka ‘Kravis’). From watching the couple fondle each other at family get-togethers to tongue-touching moments at the Grammys, it’s clear that these two can’t keep their hands off of each other. Which begs the question: When did shameless public displays of affection become OK? As kids, most of us were taught that intimacy is something that happens behind closed doors. Yet, after our hormones were proverbially locked up during quarantine, it seems as if the attitude towards PDA has changed. And there’s actually a name for it. It’s called “power PDA.” Read on for everything you need to know. 

'Hardballing' Is the Gen Z Dating Trend That Seems, Dare We Say, Healthy

Coined by the dating app Bumble, “power PDA,” is defined by unapologetic displays of affection—from kissing to ass grabbing—and places very little importance on who's around to see it (or anyone who might feel uncomfortable by it). “People are really making up for lost time,” Dr. Caroline West, relationship expert with Bumble, explains on the Dermont & Dave podcast. “Two in three Bumble daters are saying they’re into [the power PDA trend], and I think it’s related to how touch-starved we were during the pandemic,” says Dr. West. “People are really making up for two years of having nobody touch them—and touch is a basic human need…we need cuddles, and not just more ‘adult time,’” adds Dr. West. 

It’s worth mentioning, however, that power PDA involves much more than, uh, cuddling. The trend basically says, go ahead, straddle your fiancé in front of the real estate agent. They can leave if they don’t like it (which is exactly what the agent does in episode two of Hulu’s The Kardashians). Plus, Kravis is just one of many celebrity couples to promote this phenomenon. TMZ’s home page has basically become a soft-core porn site, between reportings of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s passionate parking lot kiss to Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly’s tonguing on the red carpet (parodied below—you’re welcome). 

To that end, power PDA speaks to a larger theme we’re seeing with defiant dating trends. From intentional dating to Gen Z’s hardballing tactic, it’s clear that people are looking to take more radical approaches to their relationships in 2022. “If you were single during lockdown, you might have thought, ‘Oh god, I’d love someone to snuggle up with or make my banana bread with,’” says Dr. West. “But in reality, it gave [people] time to reflect on what they want, and [harness] what they can bring to a relationship.” As a result, it makes sense why we’d see a dating trend that celebrates the connections we’ve found (or survived) post-isolation. It allows couples to tune out the judgments or pre-dispositions of others and enjoy the release of oxytocin that follows each moment of intimacy. 

Naturally, we can’t promise Boomers will understand your desire to make out mid-turkey bite at the Thanksgiving table this year. But life’s too short—and if you can bear grandma’s side eye—power PDA can actually be an empowering tool to show your partner how much you love (like, love love) them. 

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Assistant Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Assistant Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...