Friday, September 3, 2010

Love Shyness - A Bleak Future

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

Despite being heavily criticised, Maslow's hierarchy of needs serves a rough guide to the needs of the individual in an individualistic society. Love shy males by their very nature suffer physiologically through lack of sex, love and belonging due to the absence of sexual intimacy and also fail to reach self-actualisation due to their issues related to spontaneity, etc. If Maslow's hierarchy was to be believed, love shy males would therefore be at higher risk of personal failure than their non-shy counterparts. Let's see what Gilmartin discovered about the love-shy population and their success in life.


In a study of white, college educated males in 1982, Gilmartin discovered that 3.6% of the non-shy population was unemployed while 16% of the older love-shy males were unemployed at the time of the interview. Basically love-shy males are extremely prone to unemployment, prolonged under-employment and/or part-time employment.

Annual Income

The average income for the older love-shy males in 1979-1981 was only $14,782 despite 93% of these love-shy males having an undergraduate degree and 42% having at least one graduate degree. Despite not giving comparative figures for the non-shy population, Gilmartin states that this number is low and represents an unrewarded and ignored segment of the American population.


Of the 100 older love-shy males interviewed, all were living in small one-bedroom apartments. Gilmartin judges that 73% were living in less than desirable neighbourhoods and their living quarters were often cramped and cluttered.

Socioeconomic Mobility

Gilmartin noticed that based on the reports of the older love-shy males, their socioeconomic status had been reduced in relation to their upbringing. For example, a love-shy male who grew up in a middle class household (which is interestingly true of the majority of love-shy males) is more likely to drift into the lower class in adulthood. This seems counter-intuitive considering love-shy males are more likely to obtain higher education - a term which sociologists call "status inconsistent". These "status inconsistent" people are seldomly happy, content or productive.


If love-shyness leads to low income and career instability then this also has further implications in the ability for the love-shy to overcome their limitations. First of all, in terms of confidence, their financial condition does not allow them to feel in control of their lives. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, society looks down on those earning less, which affects their ability to attract women. For example, OkCupid has tracked the number of messages a man gets in relation to his age and his income and not surprisingly the lower the income, the less messages a man gets, particularly above the age of 23. Women are still attracted to men who bring home the bacon.

Basically, they are stuck in a downwards spiral. Their love-shyness leads to low income, which makes them unable to find a mate, which does not help their confidence, etc, leading to more career instability, and so on.

In a 1977 survey of happiness and income, 46% of people earning >$20,000 were "very happy", compared to 33% for $10,000 to $19,999, and 29% for those earning less than $10,000.

At Work

Those love-shy males who do obtain work often struggle with issues of confidence and social networking - critical areas for many jobs. This can lead to a stagnation in the advance of ones career and general distrust from their colleagues.

In a questionnaire developed to measure the attitudes of the love shy and their non love shy counterparts, the following results were obtained.

100% Non-Shy
32% Older Love-Shy

Easily discouraged:
0% Non-Shy
100% Older Love-Shy

Seldomly let ones-self down:
72% Non-Shy
4% Older Love-Shy

Enjoy making decisions:
88% Non-Shy
38% Older Love-Shy


Gilmartin offers the following advice.
[Yes, it appears as all-caps in the book]
Completion of a major in a technical field with only a "C" average will very likely get a love-shy man a much better career opportunity than will an "A" average in a non-technical discipline that is not clearly related to the job market.
Intellectual self-enlightenment or "insight" is now recognized by most psychologists as being quite useless from the standpoint of curing love-shyness.
It can be asserted with considerably certainty that love-shy men who major in technical fields and who develop salable, technical skills, adjust to their adult lives a great deal better than do love-shys who major in the liberal arts, social science, education and humanities disciplines.
This is something I have personally thought about over the past six months or more since I started reading this book. Doing a degree in physics is all well and good from an intellectual point of view, but it doesn't build a foreseeable stable and profitable future, things which most people require to feel confident within themselves. Another problem is the lack of females who are in the field, which decreases the probability of meeting someone who shares similar interests.

Despite my love of physics, I'm not sure I can exactly feel content with the picture of myself being 40 and living alone in a small flat in Germany...I've yet to come up with a reasonable picture as to where my future will take me. There are a million other ancillary issues which complicate things too. They all lead to me having a lack of motivation in finishing my PhD.


Kip said...

Good to see your post! I consider myself a near-shy and believe I can offer at least a bit of helpful insight.

I consider myself a near-shy because I share many of the characteristics while technically not meeting all of the criteria, and I believe I know why.

I believe that love-shys are the product of egregiously inept and neglectful parenting. Specifically, I believe love-shyness results when boys fail to bond with their mother.

This leaves the love-shy with an unfillable psychological void. He literally does not know how to properly relate to females, i.e. girls now and women later. Since he doesn't know how to relate to them, the safest strategy is to avoid and withdraw and sigh wistfully.

Gilmartin's subjects typically had no sisters and a mother who was emotionally unavailable.

In my case, I was an only child of parents who were drug users; they divorced when I was two and handed me off to friends who were married alcoholics with one older son. Oops, not good.

When I was six, my father's sister rescued me, and took me into her upper middle class home where the environment was much closer to normal. (My father had asked her to check up on me, she took me to her family for a holiday weekend, and decided that I was so messed up that she refused to return me to the alcoholics.)

My aunt placed me in a Catholic parochial school, which on the whole is a place much more favorable to love-shys than typical public schools.

Parochial schools have much lower tolerance for bad behavior - including bullying - than public schools. The schools have higher behavior standards and the children do behave better. Indoctrination in patriarchal religion is a price worth paying for an environment that does not further beat down the love-shy, and is often discarded upon leaving that environment. I know many products of Catholic education who today consider themselves 'post-Catholic'.

So I had environmental advantages the vast majority of love-shys do not have. I've had girlfriends in high school and partners in college but not any new ones after college.

So I think that love-shys should try to have early successes, because successes only become more difficult as one moves beyond their schooling.

And I agree with Gilmartin on selection of a college major; I got a liberal arts degree and I have never been close to a real job or a decent income.

Kip said...

p.s. When I was in college I joined a science fiction fan club. SF fan clubs often are populated by people who are a little different, a little quirky, and more tolerant. I found this club to be a good place for a love-shy who enjoys science fiction, with more women participating than you might expect.

Jade Graham said...

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