Phillip Petree offers a succinct explanation regarding his expertise in man issues.

"I am a man," he said.

He's also divorced, the father of four grown kids, an Army veteran with an MBA, former bar owner, scuba bum and now, author of the provocative book "The Man Puzzle: A Guide to Understanding Men."

Petree, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., said he interviewed thousands of men, and women, over a decade, and dissected the research of dozens of relationship experts for the nearly 400-page book, which tackles everything from physical difference between the sexes (yep!), masculinity, emotion and the complexities of communicating with the opposite sex.

A few slices:

Q: Why do some men respond with one-word answers?

A: Men generally speak in shorthand. You ask, 'How was your day?' and he says, 'Fine.' And you think he doesn't want to talk about his day. But he's actually telling you in great detail everything he wants you to know about his day. It went fine. He got to work on time, made it to all his meetings. If you start digging, he'll start shutting down. When he says fine, your response can be, "Oh, good. I can't wait to hear more about it."

Q: Why don't men like to argue?

A: Men believe that most arguments are over the wrong things, are a waste of time and nothing gets resolved. It's important to go into every conversation with a guy with the understanding that you might be wrong. It allows you to approach the problem differently.

Q: What's up with sex?

A: Well, first, lingerie is not all that popular. The No. 1 thing that men found attractive was her wearing his button-down shirt. It's like a trigger. Also, men want more foreplay. There's this reputation that it's like a light switch, but it's really not, unless you're 18 and all it takes is the wind blowing. As you get older, that's not the case. Men, they want to be thought of as desirable. They want a dirty note, a text message, sent to them over the course of the day.

Q: You compare online dating to buying cookies. Why?

A: You're in the grocery store, walking down the cookie aisle, looking for a snack. Do you buy every kind of cookie? Of course not! You wouldn't choose 75 percent of the brands. You might choose from another 20 percent if that were all there were. But that last 5 percent? Those are the brands you'd pay good money for. That's the choice that makes you happy. When someone is rejecting you, it's the same thing. He's shopping for the cookie that will make him happy and you're not his favorite brand. Don't believe me? Just stand in the cookie aisle and watch all the people who buy perfectly good cookies that you walked right by. And be patient. There's a guy who is looking for you.

Q: Signs that he likes you?

A: He returns phone calls, e-mails and texts within a reasonable amount of time, which means hours, not days. He plans dates without asking. He's beginning to accommodate you into his plans, with statements such as, 'On our next vacation.' He leaves his deodorant and body wash in your bathroom.

On the other hand … he's likely creating distance if he takes longer to return your calls, texts and e-mails, starts planning nights out with the guys and, suddenly, every little thing gets turned into an issue.

Q: Are you doomed in this case?

A: Not necessarily. A one-time event should not be considered a bad omen. Instead, when these things start happening consistently, you need to have a conversation. But remember that men don't like the sneak attack. He needs time to think about things. So, express why you're concerned, such as, "I'm afraid we might be growing apart. I'd like to set aside some time to step back and talk about this." Then wait.

Men usually want two or three days.


Follow Gail on Twitter: @grosenblum