Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Love Shyness - Common Symptoms

This is part of a series on Love Shyness. The index can be found here.

As I mentioned in the previous post - normality can exist in groups where otherwise the individual might be considered abnormal. The following characteristics are shared by many Love Shy individuals. Gilmartin suggests that love-shy males should satisfy all these criteria, however personally it does not seem entirely reasonable to be disqualified over one or two criteria. Those which I have put in bold are, I believe, key to love shyness.
(1) He is a virgin; in other words, he has never had sexual intercourse.
(2) He is a person who very rarely goes out socially with women. None of the love-shys studied for this book had dated more than four times during the year prior to being interviewed.
(3) He is a person without a past history of any emotionally close, meaningful relationships of a romantic and/or sexual nature with any member of the opposite sex.
(4) He is a person who has suffered and is continuing to suffer emotionally because of a lack of meaningful female companionship. In short, he is a person who desperately wishes to have a relationship with a woman, but does not have one because of shyness.
(5) He is a man who becomes extremely anxiety-ridden over so much as the mere thought of asserting himself vis-a-vis a woman in a casual, friendly way. This is the essence of "love-shyness".
(6) He is a man who is strictly heterosexual in his romantic and erotic
orientations. In other words, he is a person who is in no way a homosexual.
(7) He is male. No female love-shys were studied for this research.

Personally I no longer qualify for many of these symptoms yet I still believe it is still relevent.
1) I was fortunate enough to lose my virginity to a strong girl who "took care of me". Although I could equally imagine this still being relevant today had I not been that fortunate. Given that I have been fortunate enough to meet quite a few strong ladies, is this perhaps a sea-change brought about by the sexual revolution?

2) I make continual efforts to spend time with strong women friends, but dating (particularly online dating) is still problematic.

3) Still relevant. Being 26 and without having dated anyone longer than a couple of weeks troubles me immensely.

4) Still relevant. It is perhaps not surprising that deprivation can lead to obsession, initiating a downward spiral to depression.

5) Somewhat relevant. I've developed immensely in the confidence department over the past few years thanks to many different techniques.

6,7) Relevant. Although it is still possible to be female or homosexual and love-shy, it is much more problematic for heterosexual males who are often culturally expected to "make the first move". Females and homosexual males are (generally) fortunate enough that they can rely on others to take the lead. This was more of a problem in previous eras however some cultural norms are hard to shake.

Before the age of 20 I would have satisfied all the above criteria. Suffice to say there is hope out there to change ones fate. Even if one cannot "solve" love-shyness, it should still be possible to progress out of the depths of despair to a level where one can function as a human being.

It's important to note that love-shy males are not the following...

1) Closet homosexuals - Love shy males are not attracted to members of the same sex. Many love shy males may be confused by others with homosexuals as they are less likely to interact with females. Indeed, my father has noted this many times, somewhat jokingly, somewhat seriously.

2) Male lesbians - Love shy males are not males who feel they were born in the wrong body yet are only attracted to females.

3) Asexual - Despite the lack of sexual activity, love shy males are not asexual, some in fact may be hypersexual, that is they may have an unhealthy preoccupation with sex coupled with a lack of release valve. This leads to a negative perception of their sex lives contrasted with asexuals who aren't obsessed.

Could most nerds be considered love-shy?
I don't believe that anyone can be correctly classified as "love-shy" unless he truly craves emotionally meaningful female companionship. Deprivation is never enough by itself to cause mental anguish, pain and suffering. A person cannot feel deprived of something unless and until he actually wants the thing of which he is being deprived. A person who truly feels deprived of something he very dearly wants will necessarily suffer a very great deal (1) from anxiety, and (2) from very painful and highly distracting feelings of preoccupation.
What's the difference between those who are deprived and those who are love-shy?

If the deprived person is accorded an opportunity to work towards the thing he so strongly desires, his energy-wasting preoccupation and distractability will rapidly dissipate. However, the love-shy man cannot do this. The love-shy man is prevented from working towards his female companionship goal by his intractable shyness and inhibition, and by the inordinately strong fears of interpersonal anxiety that accompany love-shyness and which are intrinsic to it. Simply put, the mere thought of asserting himself in a friendly way vis-a-vis a girl whom he finds attractive fills a love-shy man with overwhelmingly painful (and forbidding) anxiety feelings. Hence, he can only continue to feel preoccupied and painfully distracted.
By now most people should be able to recognise themselves in this as love-shy or not.

Not a day went by from the age of at least 10 to my early 20's when I did not think about "someone" constantly. The first thing I thought about when I woke up was them and the last thing I thought about before going to sleep was them. Some crushes continued for years without anything happening. School was always a battle of attention between my work and the object of my desires. Yet the mere thought of acting on those feelings was enough to freeze me on the spot. Saying a friendly "Hi." was out of the question - so too maintaining any eye contact despite desiring to look at them all the time.

Do you have a friend or family member who seems to be love shy? Next post I will look at the symptoms you can look for in others which may indicate that they might be suffering (and it really is suffering) from love-shyness.


Anonymous said...

Im a 20 year old male who has had sex twice but am still very love shy. The reason could be that the women i were with werent that attractive and i was drunk

Anonymous said...

"downward spiral" of depression...
Man I beat you are Nine Inch Nails fan, and I think many love-shyies who discovered this music are. And Trent?... I suppose he was, analysing the lyrics of PHM gives a lot of reasons to think so. It is mostly about relationships you pretend they were, but actually not, and he signs like to some abstract women. Remember Something I can never have.

Tiyana said...

This is absolutely fascinating to me.

Reason: I'm currently seeing a young man who's about a year and a half my senior (26), and I think he fits this description perfectly.

Backstory: we met on an online dating website, and all over his profile he was very clear that he was a virgin and intended to stay that way until he decided to get married to someone. He also stated he was searching for a long-term relationship but has "social phobia" and just isn't into emotional intimacy. (Imagine the time I've had trying to figure that one out, haha.) However, only after days of interacting with him on the site's chat feature, he suddenly changed his mind and started discussing the possibility of sleeping with me--even though I, too, stated I was a virgin and planned to wait until marriage!

Afterwards, he got embarrassed, changed his mind again and became wary about meeting me in person--reason being he felt I was looking for something more serious than he was and felt "I deserved better." Still, we ended up agreeing to meet in order to determine whether we had physical chemistry; in addition to having the chance to meet me (he felt we had a lot in common), he was also interested in some sexual exploration just short of intercourse (that, for both of us, was considered off-limits) in order to establish whether or not we had the physical chemistry required to consider a more serious relationship down the road. (Says he just doesn't want to "waste anyone's time.")

I can go on about the incongruities of this man and our whole interaction in general, lol, but I honestly believe he fits the bill of someone who is love shy. In person, he's actually very tender with me and I genuinely feel he is as comfortable around me as I am with him, so I've posed questions to him to get him to try and explore his reasons for being wary of emotional intimacy. For one, he says sex (intercourse) is "more work" than touching and giving/receiving oral pleasure. (I took this to mean "more emotional.") But then I asked him, "If you don't want to be emotionally intimate, then why do you continue to kiss and stroke me so gently?"

His answer: "I don't know."

I've only known this guy for about three weeks now, but I must say is the most interesting, fascinating person I've ever met. The funny things about all of this? (1) He's in graduate school now studying clinical psychology and is going for his doctorates (just 'cause he can); and (2) I'm pretty sure he exhibits none of the known symptoms of social phobia. Yet, interestingly enough, love shyness is listed as a possible subset of social phobia.

I have noooo idea where any of this will lead, lol, but I'm rather intrigued with this guy (and, of course, attracted to him, but that's beyond the scope of this post). I kinda feel like I may be a sexual surrogate to him, in a way, so I'm interested to see what his thoughts would be on all of this if I presented it to him, if he's even aware of a thing such as "love shyness"--being a clinical psychology major 'n' all.

Guess we'll find out.

Lisa Frideborg Lloyd said...

Very interesting - thanks for sharing a male perspective on love shyness. A lot of things I have experienced now make more sense!