Decoding his body language: What a guy really means to say

“Because men have learned to socialize through their actions, they’re constantly sending signals about how they’re feeling,” says body-language expert Kevin Hogan, author of The Psychology of Persuasion. “All you have to do is observe them.”

We can help: Here’s how to train your eye to pick up on your guy’s innermost thoughts. (Guys really are wired to talk less. Here, learn How to Understand the Male Brain.)

He's Lying
The clue: He keeps scratching his nose or ears. "When a man is afraid of being caught in a lie, his heart rate often accelerates and blood rushes to his nose, ears, and forehead, creating an itchy, tingly sensation," Hogan says. (Touching your face isn’t the only giveaway. Learn How to Spot a Liar.)

Your move: To get the truth out of him, put on your friendliest face. Then frame your questions in a way that sounds like you're being curious rather than accusatory, says Leslie Seppinni, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles. A fibber will rarely plot out the minutiae of his story, so if you listen long enough he may get tripped up in his convoluted tale and spill the beans.

He Has to Confess Something, and It Isn't Good
The clue: He draws in his lips. "When a man has to get something off his chest, his mouth will tense up and he'll press his lips together as if he can't decide whether he should open his mouth and unload the bad news," Wood says. (Some men hide things they’re afraid you won’t understand. Learn What to Do If He’s Keeping Secrets.)

Your move: When an inquiry sounds sincere, it can relax a suspect—er, man—into making a confession. Say something like, "You look upset. Anything you want to tell me?" No matter what, maintain a poker face, even if what he says upsets you. "The best way to get information from a guy is to keep a neutral expression while he speaks so he won't change his story based on your reaction," Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happy Families.

His Ego Is Wounded
The clue: He holds one of his wrists. "It may appear that he's adjusting his watch, but it can be a sign that he's feeling insecure," Wood says. It's like he's protecting himself; his arms act like a shield positioned across his body.

Your move: Guys love to feel like superheroes, so when his boss chews him out or you inadvertently insult him, his confidence can plummet.

"When a man's feelings are hurt or he's trying to sort out a particular issue, he feels powerless," Haltzman says. "Give him some solo time to think the issue through and regain control."

He's Second-Guessing Your Relationship
The clue: He always seems to be holding something in his hands. He may be avoiding intimacy, since keeping his paws occupied prevents him from touching you.

"Creating physical distance until he's ready to make a decision is often how men process their feelings," says body-language expert Patti Wood. (Do you fight over the little things? Learn How to Solve 5 Common Relationship Problems.)

Your move: Call him on it. Say, "I love that we're so open with each other, but I feel like you're not telling me something." If he blows you off, press him by saying, "I can handle whatever it is." This might convince him you won't freak out—a major fear men have about self-expression, says Haltzman.

If he starts talking, well, great. But if he's indecisive about the relationship, suggest taking space until he knows where he stands.