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5 Touches That Lock Your Man Down

Use these moves and he'll fall even harder for you.

According to the latest scientific research, one of the keys to a super-happy relationship is giving not just good talk, but good touch. A recent study revealed that touch can express several important, specific feelings (such as love, happiness, and respect), and new research from Sweden discovered that a physical caress activates the emotional area of the brain of the person being stroked. “Handling your boyfriend or husband in strategic ways will make him feel even closer to you,” explains Paul Dobransky, MD, relationship expert and author of The Secret Psychology of How We Fall in Love. Read on for the sneaky moves that will strengthen your bond without his even realizing it.

If he's stressed...
Stroke his earlobe between your thumb and index finger. His ears are packed with a ton of sensitive nerve endings that connect directly to his brain. “And when you stimulate them, it tells his mind to dial down,” says David Givens, PhD, director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies. In fact, this technique is so effective, it’s often used by massage therapists to relax their clients.

When you do it on your guy, try experimenting with different pressures to see what he’s most responsive to, and use leisurely strokes. The same Swedish study found that the most effective caresses were actually slow, not fast. If you really want to make an impact, work this spot while you whisper something soothing yet romantic in his ear (“I’m so lucky to be with you.”). When you do this, your breath creates another form of touch in this already heightened area, since the sound waves generate little vibrations that cause the tiny hairs on his ear to stand on end—in a good way. “This makes the earlobe stroke even more powerful, since you’re reinforcing it with another intimate move,” explains Givens.

When he's telling you a story...
Reach toward him with your palm up. It’s a move known as a half gesture, since it prompts him to complete the action (that is, put his hand in yours). And it’s particularly effective in a situation like this, when you want him to know that you’re really listening to something that’s important to him. “Whenever you do a half gesture, it subconsciously makes the other person feel more connected to you, since it triggers him to be in sync physically with what you’re doing,” says Givens.

The hand-on-hand contact is also key. “Humans are the only animals besides chimps who evolved to use their hands not just as tools but as a way to communicate emotions as well,” says Givens. As a result, touching his hands is one of the most primitive, basic ways of conveying that you care. Plus, the fact that your palm is up also signals to his brain that you’re open to whatever he’s saying (if your palm was down, it would give a closed-off vibe. “This is important because it makes him feel like he can share anything with you, and that kind of transparency creates a strong relationship,” explains Dr. Dobransky.
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To let him know that you love him...
Run your fingers through his hair. In the animal kingdom, this type of touch is called a preening gesture. “Animals use it to show affection to their mate and to nurture their offspring,” says Givens. We have the same primitive instincts, so whenever you make this gesture, your guy automatically interprets it as the nonverbal equivalent of those three little words. Often, this caress is most powerful when it’s done in tandem with other preening gestures, such as playing with his clothing (smoothing a wrinkle in his button-down, adjusting his collar, etc.). “It’s going to get through to him more effectively, since he’ll be getting the same message from multiple spots on his body,” says Dr. Dobransky.

Also, it’s important to note that out of all the moves shown here, this is probably the most important one to try in your relationship. “Love is a difficult feeling for men to discuss in a conversation,” says Dr. Dobransky. “Their brains are hardwired to communicate more through actions than words.” So doing things like running your fingers through his hair makes it easier for your guy not only to understand
how you feel about him but also to show you how he feels in return.

When he's pissed off about something...
Gently squeeze his trapezius muscle (the area between his shoulder and neck). Anytime your man gets angry, more adrenaline starts pumping through his body, and he automatically switches into fight-or-flight mode. As a result, you’ll notice that this muscle will tense up big-time (men tend to carry more stress there than women do). Touching this spot will help prevent his bad moodfrom escalating. The nerve pathways here are a two-way street—just as his bad mental attitude will make his trapezius tense up, relaxing the area with a light squeeze will send calming signals to his brain. Plus, the physical contact also subtly reminds him that you have his back—literally. (Check out coaches on the sidelines and you’ll see that they often squeeze this spot on a player before he heads out onto the field.  

“This is a supportive gesture that suggests to him that you two are a team,” says Givens. But if your guy’s anger is directed at you, you should do this move from behind (so your chest is resting against or nearly touching his back). “That way, you’re not stepping into his personal space face-to-face, which he would instinctively interpret as an aggressive move,” says Dr. Dobransky.

To give him a sexy ego boost...
Put your hand on his chest. The key to keeping things spicy? “Playing up his masculinity,” says Dr. Dobransky. “He wants to feel like he can protect you.” It sounds kind of primitive, but guys like to be reminded that they’re men and we’re women; touching this spot is especially effective, since they have pecs and, well, we have boobs. “This gesture says to him, ‘I find you masculine, and you make me feel feminine,’” explains Dr. Dobransky. “It’s that kind of polarity that  maintains sexual chemistry over the long term, which is crucial to a healthy relationship.”

Putting your hand here will cause a spike of dopamine in his brain (a neurotransmitter that boosts excitement). “That’s important, since it will make him feel more passionate toward you,” says Dr. Dobransky. Touching his chest is also an early courtship gesture. In other words, it’s something you’re more likely to do at the beginning of a relationship, and it falls by the wayside once you’re a long-term couple. So when you do this move, it will bring back some of that crazy-in-love (and -lust) feeling he had for you when you two first started dating…and then he’ll have a hard time keeping his hands off you.

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