Almost three out of every ten love-shy men interviewed for this study were not at all afraid to talk publicly. In fact, many of them greatly relished every opportunity they could obtain for talking or entertaining in some way before the public. These men were shy only in situations where there is no script—where there is no clearly defined, non-ambiguous role to play. Hence, many love-shys are shy only in situations where there is no purpose apart from pure, unadulterated sociability…. [P]ut this person in a coctail [sic] party situation, or worse yet in a one-on-one situation with a woman whom he finds attractive, and he will freeze.
Of course, in all candor I must agree that seventy percent of the love-shys I studied were too shy to speak publicly. However, it appears quite clear that any remedying of this deficit would in no way assure a remission of the love-shyness problem.…
The moral here is simply that of let’s take first things first. An inability to function in a purely social, sociable situation wherein there is no purpose apart from pure friendliness, is far more debilitating to a person’s personal, social, and business life, than is any inability to deliver speeches or any inability to start conversations with strangers.
– Brian G. Gilmartin, Shyness & Love (1987), p. 141 [emphasis mine, in bold]
Amen, amen, amen! This passage is the one in this book that electrified me, despite my not really fitting the description of love shy male. I think it applies not just to love-shyness but to Social Anxiety (SA) and Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) as well.
“situations in which there is no script…” Yes, that’s what triggers my social anxiety. I wish it didn’t, because I think deep down I actually have a talent for improvisation – just not the guts to let it out.
Btw, the passage I’ve quoted supports my lack of faith in something like Toastmasters to help people who suffer from extreme SA or AvPD . Sometimes I read well-meaning but useless advice for “overcoming shyness” that suggests joining Toastmasters, and I roll my eyes. Toastmasters is a great organization for “normal” people, or even the moderately shy. I’m not dissing it. But for S.A. or AvPD, imho, fear of public speaking isn’t a priority problem. After all, even most outgoing people are afraid of getting up in front of a group and talking.
What I’d like to see is a “Toastmasters” for SA and AvPD, such as:
You get the idea. Feel free to add your own suggestions. All in good (ironic) fun.