Only about 5.5 percent of the male population in America never marries. Approximately 50
percent of this group is believed to be composed of homosexuals who have chosen not to marry.
And about one-half of what remains is composed of heterosexual men who for a variety of personal
reasons have similarly chosen on a voluntary basis not to marry.
This book is about heterosexual, "single, never married" men who have never voluntarily
chosen to remain "single, never married", but who have been constrained to remain that way
because of severe shyness in informal social situations involving women. This form of chronic,
severe shyness can best be labeled "love-shyness". And it afflicts approximately 1.5 percent of
all American males. More succinctly, love-shyness will effectively prevent about 1.7 million
males currently residing in the United States from ever marrying and from ever experiencing any
form of intimate sexual contact with a woman.
Today many young women complain about what they perceive to be a serious shortage
of eligible heterosexual men who are desirous of a permanent, intimate, committed relationship
with a woman. As this book will make quite clear, the love-shy constitute a rich and long
neglected supply of such men.
Until quite recently the problem of shyness was ignored by social scientists. Yet few if
any personal problems are associated with greater suffering for the individual victim or pose a
greater potential danger for society. Shyness inhibits and very often obviates free choice and
responsible self-determination. This poses a very serious dilemma because American society was
founded upon the principle of rational self-direction and self-determination. Indeed, the
principle of free choice underlies the very philosophy upon which our legal and political way
of life rests.
The American way of life is also in very large measure dependent upon the ability and
willingness of all citizens to speak out, to voice their ideas, and to contribute to the common
good commensurate with their strengths and abilities. It is further dependent upon each person
being able to constructively deal with and satisfy his or her own needs. No person who is
prevented from playing meaningful roles in or from being an integral part of his or her society
can be stable. Unfulfilled and unhappy people tend to create problems both for themselves and
To be shy is to have oneís actions(or lack of them) misunderstood, misinterpreted and
misread by others. An extreme fear of the pain of anxiety prevents the shy person from taking
the kinds of action that are in accordance with his or her values, wishes, knowledge and
rational judgment. More simply put, shyness inhibits people from assuming a sense of
responsibility for their behavior. It makes them feel and truly believe that they are
not in the "driverís seat" of their own lives and destinies. Shy people disclaim responsibility
for their inaction and for their seemingly(to others) unfriendly, detached attitude. This
inability to effectively deal with the interpersonal anxiety which for them accompanies normal
social intercourse makes them feel that they are not "in charge of" or responsible for their own
lives and for the behavior which they manifest to others.
The fact that shys can seldom perform up to the level of their potential is a further
problem as it gives rise to a tremendous waste of human resources and talent. Shysí extreme
fear or interpersonal anxiety and of rejection prevents them from taking prudent risks and from
developing necessary social skills. This leads to a vicious circle of ever increasing shyness,
social withdrawal, and low social self-confidence.
The Webster dictionary defines shyness as being "uncomfortable in the presence of
others." The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the wordís earliest recorded use was in an
Anglo-Saxon poem written around 1000 AD, in which it meant "easily frightened." They define
shyness as being "wary in speech or action, shrinking from self-assertion; sensitively timid;
retiring or reserved from diffidence, and cautiously averse in encountering or having to do with
some specified person or group."
Most definitions stress that shyness pertains to social fears and anxieties. Accordingly
this book views shyness as:
A state of behavioral inaction or avoidance in social situations that
is out of harmony with a personís conscious wants, needs and values, and which is precipitated
by a real or imagined social situation clashing with that personís low interpersonal anxiety
threshold and unusually strong fear of anxiety.
Social situations can be classified into two basic categories: (1) the impersonal, and
(2) the purely sociable. Many social situations entail no essential purpose apart from pure,
unadulterated sociability. These are fundamentally ambiguous situations in which there is no
clear script, and in which there is no role to play. On the other hand, many people are shy in
certain kinds of impersonal social situations. This is particularly true with regard to
situations calling for such public performance as speech making in front of a large
audience, singing and acting in public, piano playing, etc.
This book will concern itself with victims of the first type of shyness. 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 social situations
has a far more deleterious, damaging impact upon a person's mental health and happiness than any
other kind of shyness. And this is why such shyness warrants careful study and scrutiny.
Of course, people who are very shy in purely friendly, social situations are quite often
also shy in impersonal situations as well. Yet it is almost always much easier to cure shyness
in impersonal situations that it is to cure shyness in purely informal social situations. In
order to function effectively in any impersonal situation all a person needs to do is (1) learn a
'script' or 'role' as well as he/she can, and (2) gain sufficient self-confidence to go public
In purely informal social situation, on the other hand, 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. In American society many people(especially males) have developed a trained
incapacity for 'being themselves.' They cannot 'be themselves' because they do not
really know who they actually are! People become themselves--develop a firm sense of
identity--only through informal interaction from early childhood onward in informal friendship
and kinship groups. For reasons this book will make clear a significant minority of American
boys grow up friendless, as social isolates.
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 be 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.
The same thing applies to rehearsals in preparation for putting on a stage play or musical.
At the outset some of the performers my be quite frightened about 'going on' before a large,
paying audience. Yet as regular, disciplined rehearsals effectively hone up the players' roles
to the point of perfection, most of the initial stage fright subsides, and each player begins
looking forward to opening night. Yes, even fine actors and actresses will have some stage fright
as the overture blares away on opening night. But as the curtain goes up these jitters are
almost always forgotten. The actors and actresses take command because they know their
roles and are very comfortable with them. The chance that anything unpredictable will happen on
stage as the performance unfolds is almost nil.
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.