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If you ask any man off the street what his love language is, chances are that he will tell you it’s physical touch. That may be true and it may not be—as Dr. Gary Chapman explains in The Five Love Languages, many men interpret their desire for sex to be an indication of physical touch as their love language. But while sex drive doesn’t necessarily equate to a physical touch love language, many men do find that they feel most loved when they receive physical touch from their partner. I can tell you, this is certainly true for me.

In Dr. Chapman’s book, he explains that there are five ways in which a person best feels or receives love: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, and acts of service. Getting to know how your partner receives love is the first step in learning how to properly express to him the love that you feel. There’s nothing worse than loving gestures going unappreciated or feeling like your partner doesn’t really care.

As a guy, it’s tempting to immediately think of sex when you think of physical touch. But what I discovered as I learned about the love languages is that there is a lot more to physical touch than just sex. What’s more, sex alone is not going to fill up your physical touch guy’s “love tank” (as Dr. Chapman calls it). A physical touch guy needs to be shown love in nonsexual ways, too.

There are a lot of ways of touching a guy that makes him feel loved, and, if your guy is holding off on sex until marriage like I am, it’s helpful to know what those are.

So putting that sexy stuff aside, here are five tips for making your physical touch guy feel loved.

01. Initiate touch.

It’s no fun to constantly tell your partner how you want to be loved; sometimes you wish they just knew. Of course it’s helpful for you to have a conversation with your guy about love languages, so you both know how best to express love. But after that, it’s important to initiate physical touch so that he doesn’t always have to ask.

This can be hard for some women, especially if you are not a touchy-feely sort of person yourself. But as Dr. Chapman reminds us, every one of the five love languages can be learned. And, like everything, practice makes perfect.

The truth is, when someone whose love language is physical touch feels that they are constantly the ones to initiate, they can begin to feel as if they are burdening their partner—especially if she seems unwilling to show love in this way.

Make an effort to touch your guy frequently. You don’t have to be hanging on him constantly, but an occasional light brush of the arm or a shoulder squeeze can go a long way.

02. Experiment with nonsexual touch.

As Dr. Chapman explains in his book, “Of the five senses, touching, unlike the other four, is not limited to one localized area of the body.” This couldn’t be more true for men especially.

Even if you’re a physical touch person yourself and know what you like, you need to remember that this isn’t about you. A touch that makes you feel most loved may not necessarily do the trick for him. A back rub, hug, and kiss seem to be ways in which everyone wants to be touched by the person they love, but preferences will be different for everyone.

For some reason, when my fiancée holds me from behind, I feel more love than probably any other way that she could touch me. There is something about her holding me in this way that fills my “love tank” up quickly. We would not know this if she hadn’t walked up behind me and hugged me one day. It may seem silly, but this way of touching has helped our relationship so much.

03. Ask for feedback.

Not only is it important to try touching your guy in ways that naturally come to you, but you should also make a point to solicit feedback. By doing this you can establish a few go-to expressions of love, and you can set helpful boundaries in case a certain touch is irritating or perhaps even too sexually frustrating.

There are many unique ways that your partner will also feel love that are unexpected. The only way to discover them is to try different things, such as resting your head on his shoulder, rubbing his leg, or playing with his hair. Encourage him to tell you what makes him feel loved and what doesn’t.

04. Be thoughtful about how you touch others.

I feel extremely loved when my fiancée goes out of her way to touch me on the shoulder as she passes behind me. It may sound silly, but to me, that light touch on the shoulder as she moves around the room means “I love you,” and it would mean less if she offered the same gesture to everyone else in the room, too.

Be thoughtful about how you touch others when your partner’s love language is physical touch. If there is a certain touch you use to show your man love, try to reserve that for him. I am not saying to never touch another human being. What I am saying is to be mindful when you do because if you’re with someone whose primary love language is physical touch, your touch carries a lot of weight.

05. Find a comfortable level of PDA.

To be clear, I am not suggesting making out in the middle of a restaurant or any other public displays of affection that will leave others in your vicinity uncomfortable. But as a physical touch guy, I can tell you that holding hands, hugs, and hand squeezes—even when people are around—make me feel especially loved.

Try holding his hand in front of your friends or giving him a tight and slightly longer hug when you greet him. Doing these kinds of gestures when someone could be looking will show him that you love him and you don’t mind if others know it. Talk about your love tank going from zero to sixty.

When sex isn’t on the table, the physical touch guy’s love tank doesn’t need to run on empty. Give these tips a try, and discover the perfect way to say “I love you.”

Photo Credit: iFloyd Photography