Love Shyness

I’m close, but not that bad, am I?

A few years ago I read “Shyness and Love” by Brian Gilmartin.

I also found this article from the Sunday Times (UK) in 2009:

Love shyness: the ‘condition’ crippling men
The Sunday Times
August 9, 2009
They dream of intimacy with a woman, but can’t even bring themselves to say hello. Are these men just very shy, or are they suffering from a rare psychological condition?
Amy Turner

The entire article is worth reading. Here are some excerpts, followed by my comments. (Sorry, I can’t seem to find a link to the article. It might be hiding behind the Times’ paid site; good thing I downloaded it for myself).

John is 24, and I am the first female he’s ever been to lunch with. He is cripplingly, tongue-parchingly nervous, and it’s distressing to watch. I reach across the table, intending a reassuring squeeze of his forearm. He recoils and begins a sort of shallow panting. I don’t wish to frighten him, I say, horrified. “I know, you can’t help it. I’ll be all right.” He takes a deep breath. Then, blinkingly, stutteringly, he tells me his story. By the end of our two-hour meeting, I hold the record for the longest conversation John has ever had with a female other than his mum. He has never kissed a girl nor even made friends with one. . . . [T]he men who claim to suffer from love shyness (LS) all have in common the complete inability to initiate or to engage in romantic interplay. This renders them terminally, heartbrokenly, virginally lonely. They hold down jobs, they have some friends — these men are not antisocial, unattractive losers. They are normal, unassuming men in whom the confidence to approach women is missing.

John is sobbing when Amy’s article begins. That’s not me: I hide my emotions behind a poker face, repress them, and people have a hard time deciphering what I’m feeling. No way would my Gatekeeper let me show such vulnerability in front of another person, male or female. (Maybe that’s your problem, heh.)

Here’s the touchier part: I too lack that intimate experience with girls. But I have made friends with them. I don’t think I have the inability” to engage in romantic interplay, I was just to shy and too pessimistic and too “Beta” to do so; I never thought the girl would reciprocate. I have been one of those “unassuming men in whom the confidence to approach women is missing.”

Gillian Butler, a clinical psychologist and the author of Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness, says: “There’s lots of advice for women about how to get over shyness, but shyness can be much harder for men to deal with because it’s seen as a feminine trait.” . . . The problem, says Gilmartin, is that, according to all social rules, men are supposed to approach women, so love-shy heterosexual men fare badly. In women, shyness is seen as an attractive quality, but if a man is too shy to initiate a conversation with a woman, his chances of a love life are slim.

True, very true. I think shyness is hard for men, not because it’s feminine (it isn’t), but rather because shyness deprives a man of the traits which make women all hot and wet for them: assertiveness, taking the initiative, self-confidence, and a devil-may-care attitude.

They [the men who visit Love-Shy.com, an online discussion forum] unanimously believed LS should be recognised as a psychological disorder.

I disagree with this. First of all, way too many human traits have been declared disorders, imho, and we don’t need another one. Secondly, as conditions go, this one isn’t as serious; love-shy men are no threat to themselves or others and are typically quite gentle and nothing like the serial killer type. It’s a painful condition, but only one person is suffering and we don’t take it out on others (like women with Borderline PD do).

John describes how last Halloween some workmates invited him to a party at a pub. He knew a young waitress to whom he felt attracted would be there. He grew more and more anxious until, on the night, he found himself rooted to the spot in his living room, unable to go.

I’ve been through situations like that. Someone wants me attend a social event. I act noncommittal. I either make up an excuse not to go, or even if I say I’ll go, I freeze up like John at the last minute. Once in high school, it backfired on me: A friend told me he’d pick me up to go to this party. I waited and waited and he never showed up. Later he told me that they decided not to take me because they thought I’d just sit in the corner not saying anything. That hurt. (And yes, he wasn’t much of a friend.)
Another time, I skipped out on the going away party of a coworker friend because there was someone attending that I felt too self-conscious and intimidated around. Man, I hated myself for skipping out like that.

John has been in love. “Probably just the once. When I was 10 there was this girl I really liked. She was younger than me, so when I went to secondary school I lost contact with her and never saw her again.” He has an enduring memory of playing outside with the girl, and of the sun slowly going down, and never feeling happier. In fantasy he often takes the memory further and, imagining himself as a child again, he kisses her.

Oh boy, been there done that. When I was younger I spent way too much time fantasizing about girls I liked and almost no time actually doing anything about it. Even today I sometimes find myself thinking about women I met years ago and having a brief daydream about them. Yeesh.

John says: “I cannot remember a time when to get a girlfriend was not my deepest ambition. There are other things I want, but if I can’t have that, it’s pointless.” Yet he feels unable to seek company. “That’s what I’m missing the most — the close friendship a relationship would offer.”

There’s quite a bit in this brief statement. He has one-itis without the “one” (since he has no contact with women). Thankfully I’m not that bad. One thing I’ve learned from reading about Game and what attracts women is that a man must not seem like his life is incomplete without a girlfriend. He must go out and have a life first, then invite a woman into it. Also, I’ve read Gilmartin and he recommends that love-shy men actually need more male friends in their lives — something that Game supporters advise as well. John and others like him fail to recognize that one can have close friendships with anyone, not just a Significant Other. His aim is too narrow, believing that only a romantic opposite sex relationship will provide that companionship he so desperately desires.

Many talk about “PUA” techniques, a reference to online “seduction communities” where “pick-up artists” who consider themselves successful with women sell their advice.

Think Game isn’t important? Even some of the guys on the love shy forum have heard of it.

He has a gentle manner and is not unattractive, yet he feels that he has no qualities that appeal to a woman. “I’ve got absolutely nothing to offer.”

Yes, I’ve had self-defeating thoughts like that too; though sometimes I think I intimidate some people by not showing emotion.

An unhappy childhood is also characteristic. Some describe beatings and put-downs. Some describe smothering parents.

Yes, unhappy, but I’ve always been unhappy. My parents never beat me, never put me down, and never smothered. Yet I was still unhappy. It’s as if I’ve no one to blame but myself.

A regular refrain is: “I’d feel embarrassed to tell my parents if I had a girlfriend.”

For me it’s the opposite. The few times it looked like I was close to having a girlfriend (or even be dating), I would automatically fantasize that I was telling my parents. It’s as if for me the embarrassment is in not having a girlfriend. I also sometimes feel bad about my folks not having any grandchildren.

The article mentions dysthymia (“a chronic, free-floating but shallow depression, and lack of energy and enthusiasm for life”) which I have suffered from. It also mentions Asperger’s (which isn’t me, but some of you maybe). And Incel — involuntary celibacy in men who are continually rejected (again, not me — my celibacy is from not having the guts to even try much in the first place — ugh. Incels apparently are more like

Seb, an out-of-work accountant from Sydney, Australia, is a regular Incel poster. At 40, he has never had a girlfriend despite having asked many women out. He says that repeated, “often cruel” rejections have made him suicidal at times.

It’s funny. I recognized a few traits in the condition that I had, but still I wouldn’t describe myself as Love Shy. When I was younger, particularly during my childhood and adolescence, I could’ve been described that way. But I believe it got replaced by my developing an Avoidant Personality instead, which is not necessarily confined to relations with the opposite sex. I tend to be shy all-around, as well as regarding the opposite sex. The article mentions that some love-shy men are only shy in that one area.

However, the Sunday Times article mentions something I’d forgotten — Brian Gilmartin’s belief in Paranormal Activity, which I think he ought to have kept quiet about in order to maintain his credibility.

Oh well, we all have our quirks.

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2 thoughts on “Love Shyness

  1. The Times article is available (probably in violation of copyright) on the Web site of the Beijing Times.
    [Edited: link was to a .cn domain, I don’t trust them — inlone1]

  2. I agree with a lot of what you say. I really want to “get it” and I understand a little about having goals and ambition and drive and not worrying about girls that would put in the right frame of mind to get girls. That lonely depression though will just eat at your soul and haunt you though….thats insanely tough to deal with….PUA is not the answer. Bars and Clubs are not the answer.

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