Here's something that you've heard a billion times but is so important that it bears repeating: Guys usually don't talk about their feelings, especially when navigating something that is really unpleasant. "When men feel vulnerable, they tend to hide their anxiety really well," says Judith Hall, Ph.D.,professor of psychology at Northeastern University, US. "Plus, many men think talking about an issue only makes it worse. However, their body language can point to what's really going on."
Luckily, women are naturally more gifted at reading the emotions behind various expressions and gestures. Yet, research has also found that peo ple tend to get worse at reading a lover's body language when they've been in a relationship for more than a year, says Paul Ekman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California at San Francisco, US and co-author of Emotional Awareness.
That falloff in perception poses a danger to your relationship, because you won't get at what's truly swirling inside your guy's head... Or know how to respond. So we've created this bodylanguage boot camp, so that you can pick up the latest on non-verbal cues.
"For the first time ever, it's clear you can train yourself to recognise the mean ing behind microexpressions - flashes of emotion that last only about one-fifth to one-twenty-fifth of a second," says Ekman. "A person can display a feeling he either didn't know he had or is trying to hide, and you can glean information from it." The key is responding carefully since men get more uncomfortable when you tell them what they're feeling. With the help of body-language expert Janine Driver, we've pinpointed five critical facial expressions and gestures that indicate a man is feeling vulnerable, bummed, or angry. We then tell you how to react to these emotions in the best possible way.
He's acting oddly distracted
His moves: He's flitting around the house kind of erratically and doing things like getting a drink from the fridge, talking on the phone, and compulsively checking his e-mail- all in rapid succession-so that he can avoid your gaze.
What they mean: He's probably feeling embarrassed about something stupid he did. Maybe he's totally hungover even though it's the morning he's due to meet your parents or he accidentally blabbed a secret about your friend that you told him in confidence and made him swear not to divulge.
Your move: Slowly go up to him from behind and envelop him in a hug. You can stroke his chest or wrap your arms around his waist- whatever actions you know from experience are the type to make him feel calm. Then after a minute, whisper "Is there any reason you seem to be all over the place?" As he won't have to answer you face-toface, he'll be more likely to spill.
He has a slumped posture
His moves: His shoulders are slumped, his eyes are downcast, and his hands are crossed over his crotch in a protective manner.
What they mean: He feels inadequate. The sad little-school-boy upper-body pose may be familiar, but the way he's protecting his groin is a grown-up indication that's far more meaningful. It shows that his ego has taken a big blow-he lost a huge account at work, blew the threepoint shot in the championship game, or heard that your ex just sold his Website for a ton of money-and he's reacting by protecting the body part that represents his masculinity.
Your move: Let him know you're physically there for him. Even if he's not ready to broadcast his defeat to the world, it'll mean a lot to know that you have his back. So while standing or sitting beside him, lightly stroke the top of his forearm. When he starts to breathe calmly, nuzzle up to him as if you're seeking protection in his body.