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Why hugging matters

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Couple hugging

How often do you and your man do it? Can't remember the last time, or are you at it every single day? We're talking about hugging. A simple act of affection goes a long way in keeping your relationship happy and healthy. And for long-term couples especially, you can often forget how much it means to be hugged.

We've got the help of relationships expert Dr Pam Spurr to look at what his hugs mean and how you can get your man to be more affectionate.

Why hugging is so important
Affectionate body language like hugging can say far more than words ever can, and in fact most of what we communicate comes from signals that aren't verbal.

For couples, hugging helps bridge the gap between what happens in the bedroom and what happens in your day-to-day life. It keeps that all-important intimacy when you're not making love. Stop hugging and you might lose that special intimacy and forget how good it can make you feel.

'Cuddles and affection are incredibly important to your relationship. They make you feel emotionally connected to each other - and when we're under so much stress in our daily lives that's really important,' says Dr Pam.

'Also when you have physical contact through cuddles your body produces the love and well-being hormone Oxytocin. Oxytocin makes you feel good around your partner and that feel-good effect is carried with you after physical contact.'

What his hug says about him

A hug can reveal a range of emotions. It can be sensitive, playful, caring, sweet and even sexy.

Want to know what his touch means?

The bear hug: 'A big bear hug shows his protective impulse at that moment. He's feeling big and manly, and wants to be in charge,' explains Dr Pam.

The tender kiss: 'A tender kiss demonstrates how deeply he cares for you.'

The back pat: 'Beware the pat on the back though, that's incredibly platonic and doesn't bode well for your romance!'

The caress: 'Finally,' reveals Dr Pam, 'I think you know what a sexy caress means - yup, he's in the mood.'

How to get him to be more affectionate
Does your man cuddle you enough? Dr Pam has some helpful advice to get him cuddling again.

'Unfortunately many men aren't naturally affectionate. We know they can be because we see the big bear hugs they give each other on the footie-pitch after a goal. But off the pitch many shrug-off hugs because physical contact has been off-limits since when they were children. And they repeatedly get that message as they grow up.

'And as for PDAs (public displays of affection)? You've got to be joking! Unless you've got a metrosexual man, many men don't want to touch/hug/cuddle in public.

'Don't despair, because you can encourage more physical affection with just a few tips. First off, don't ask him to cuddle you, but instead snuggle up to him, and say something nice about him. He'll equate you being near to him with getting a compliment. And compliments feel good.

'Next, make sure you touch him at critical points in the day like when you say goodbye, or hello, as you kiss his lips stroke his shoulders. That reassuring touch is bonding and stimulates him wanting to give it back to you.

'Finally, whenever he touches you by accident - or even if he touches you on purpose - again use that technique of snuggling up and saying something nice so he associates that good feeling with touching you.'

Dr Pam Spurr's latest book How To Be A Happy Human - 10 Essential Principles To Change Your Life is available to buy now.

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