Shyness, Love, & Heterosexual Interaction

Why is the happiness and contentment of males so much more strongly influenced by successful heterosexual interaction than that of females? Most researchers today believe that the answer rests on the fact that women tend to be capable of finding emotionally intimate companionship vis-a-vis their own sex whereas men are able to satisfy their needs for emotional intimacy only in the company of women. Furthermore, non-dating females can normally manage to develop and maintain their socioemotional social skills and social self-confidence in their all-female peer groups. In contrast, non-dating males are usually isolated from social networks involving same-sexed peers.

— Brian G. Gilmartin, Shyness & Love (1987), p. 13

Bear in mind that this was written a quarter-century ago, and for all I know (but don’t have time to research), subsequent studies have produced findings that mitigate or even contradict Gilmartin’s claims.

For example, Robert Glover’s No More Mr. Nice Guy groups have been providing stronger connections among men. The rise of the Manosphere on the Web also has provided men a chance to share their struggles with each other.

Also, since I’ve learned about “Game” and the “Red Pill” philosophy (thanks to bloggers like Heartiste, Roosh, Paul the King, Badger, and the Private Man), I’m more skeptical about Gilmartin’s theory — for example the idea that men need the love of a woman to make them happy seems simplistic and, well, “Beta”.

Like it or not, you might be on your own when it comes to happiness, regardless of your relationships. (And don’t anybody tell me “you don’t know what it’s like, being so lonely for so long” — ohhh yes I do, I’ve never had sex and never had a gf, there you go I admitted it). A favorite quote of mine comes from Richard O’Connor in his book Undoing Depression: “Happiness is not something others can give you or you can get for yourself, but a byproduct of living well.” [note, this might be a paraphrase and not a direct quote, but it’s pretty close.]

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F*ck Feelings – the blog

If you have any sort of mental illness or emotional issues and haven’t yet visited Dr. Lastname’s F*ck Feelings web site, you ought to. Now. (Well, right after you read my post, that is.)

Anyway, here’s a selection of my favorite inspirational quotes from F*ck Feelings:

“If doing what makes us happy was really most important, life would consist solely of eating gallons of Cherry Garcia while watching an endless ‘Jersey Shore’ marathon. And that does not a life make.”

“Just because mental illness doesn’t have a clear cause or a cure doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence. It’s merely a life sentence, so you might as well stop groping for answers and learn to deal.”

“Your flaws don’t have to be your downfall… especially since they’re not going away.”

“OK, if you can’t change someone, what can you do to stand being around them?”

“Accepting that we are all fucked by life is a basic tenet of the f*ckfeelings.com philosophy; there’s a certain zen to it, as we encourage not just being one with the universe and its glory but also with its amber waves of pain.”

“I’m not your friend, so I’m going to skip straight to telling you to shut up. I don’t like to hear people be mean to themselves. Don’t do it in my presence.”

“If you expect your medication to solve all of your problems, with no side effects, then your preferred method of transportation to the enchanted pharmacy castle should be a unicorn.”

“Just as everybody wants to go to heaven without having to die, everyone wants to find true love without having to suffer through dates.”

“Don’t begin the process of self-improvement by listing all the reasons you suck.”

 

“It is downright unfathomable”

It is perfectly possible for a person to go through life quite happy and content, and yet never get over his/her fears of public performance, public speechmaking, etc. In contrast, it is downright unfathomable for a person to go through life incapable of comfortably interacting in informal social situations, and still remain happy and content. Simply put, shyness in purely informal social situations has a far more deleterious, damaging impact upon a person’s mental health and happiness than any other kind of shyness…..

In purely informal social situations… there is no “script” or “role” to learn. Purely sociable situations are inherently ambiguous by nature. They call for the participants to be themselves, and to be able to spontaneously improvise their performance as they go along…. People become themselves — develop a firm sense of identity — only through informal interaction from early childhood onward in informal friendship and kinship groups….

Since a person cannot learn a “script” or “role” in preparation for effective performance in purely friendly, sociable situations (which are in many ways inherently ambiguous), there is no easy way a person can gain the self-confidence he needs in order to test himself out. In doing the research necessary for delivering a stimulating public lecture, a person will inevitably gain quite a bit of self-confidence. At the outset he might be “scared shitless” about talking for an hour before a large audience about some subject. But the more he learns, the more he wants to share, and the faster and smoother his “script” manages to get put together….

Purely sociable situations do not allow for any such beforehand preparation. To most readers of this book “being friendly” in purely sociable situations seems to be “the most natural thing in the world”. To a severely shy man, on the other hand, it represents a far more frightening prospect than does assuming responsibility for any public lecture or public performance.

Brian G. Gilmartin, “Shyness & Love”, pp. 3-4.

Wow. I resemble that remark. (And I hate it — not the remark but my resemblance to it). I think passages like that are what provoked my interest in that book, even though I’m really not “love-shy” myself.

 

Introduction to the “love-shy”

Painful:

The love-shy include fully grown men in their late 30s and 40s who are not only as “virginal” as it is possible for anyone to be, but who can also be accurately described as less experienced in ordinary dating, courting, and elementary kissing than the typical, contemporary 12-year old…  incapable of getting started with the opposite sex, quite in spite of their very strong desires for a close, loving hetero-sexual relationship…. men who would like nothing better than to be able to marry and to have children, but who are not moving towards these goals because of severe bashfulness, shyness and social timidity….

With very few exceptions, the love-shy do not take drugs. In fact, they do not allow themselves to become involved in anything or in any activity, wholesome or otherwise, for which there is any kind of existent social support group.

That is the whole trouble. The love-shy do not have anybody to relate to as a friend or to count on for emotional support…. In fact, they are about as severely cut off from these normal social gratifications as they would be if they were serving a life sentence in a federal or state prison….

As of now, there is no “Shys Anonymous.” I strongly hope that one of the fruits of this book will be the development of such a nationwide organization, and of other support organizations such as “Coed Scouts,” and “practice-dating” support groups.

From preface to “Shyness & Love”, by Brian G. Gilmartin (1987), pp. xxi-xxiii.

Shyness & Love

Several years ago, I managed to locate a pdf copy of Brian Gilmartin’s “Shyness & Love” book about love-shy men.

Cover of "Shyness & Love" book

 

Since I have noticed that many visitors to my blog are brought here by searching for the term “love shyness”, I am going to begin posting excerpts from the Gilmartin book when I have time.

Since I don’t consider myself to fit the entire description of a “love-shy man” — see my first post about it here — I must confess that my primary reason for posting this is to bring more traffic to my blog!

 

If social interaction feels threatening

The following is a mashup of rational responses I have written to myself over the years, regarding the feelings of perceived threat I’ve dysfunctionally experienced in social interactions.

  • Most interactions are not about power or control. They simply aren’t. Even disagreements aren’t necessarily a power struggle – especially not over personal control.
  • You needn’t wait till you have just the right personality before allowing human relationships to occur in your life. Most interaction isn’t something to be gotten right or wrong.
  • Hi just means Hi. Maybe they’re not acting friendly with me in some effort to get personally involved in my life.
  • Maybe he/she is not a threat. Maybe they’re not trying to change me but to communicate with me.
  • Why should I have so much riding on what a stranger thinks of me (and temporarily, at that)?
  • You don’t have to know exactly what someone’s personality is like before you can interact with them.

Can’t Compare

Negative thought:  feeling I don’t measure up (socially in particular) compared to others.

Rational Responses (me):  Comparing myself to someone has no objective impact on my personal worth one way or the other. It affects only my emotions, not who I am. The only person I should compare myself to is me. There will always be someone who’s better than me at something – so what? Some people just have more skill than others. I don’t want to demand that another person not be so socially attractive. Getting down on myself won’t change them and just damages me. As long as I believe my social worth is measured by how others are there’s no way I can win, because no matter how socially adept I become, someone will always be better — there’s a few billion people out there who are more socially talented than me.

~ ~ ~

A related idea: “We don’t blame ourselves if we don’t know how to fly a plane or perform surgery when we never learned those skills. Likewise, there are communication skills, and relationship skills that make life move along better. They’re not taught in school and often not at home either.”

Richard O’Connor, Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You