In traditional societies men and women were seldom left entirely
to their own devices in rearing children. If a mother or a father happened
to be under great stress or for some other reason could not properly
care for their child, a relative such as an aunt or an uncle would take
over for a time. In fact, even in the contemporary United States most
families seem to be enmeshed in a kinship network which provides a
considerable amount of help on occasions when things become a little
too tough. Recent studies on child abuse have documented the fact that
abusers tend to be far more isolated from relatives, kin, and chosen
friends, than nonabusive parents. Men who beat their wives similarly
tend to be isolated, as do their victimized wives.
Accordingly, it seemed appropriate to ask both the shy and the
non-shy men some questions about the extent to which there might
have been other adult relatives around, besides their parents, upon
whom they could have depended for emotional support as they were
growing up. One of the questions I asked required each respondent to
react to the following statement:
"When I was growing up I had at least 3 or 4 other adult relatives
besides my parents to whom I could turn for help and emotional
The results were remarkable, and convey a strong suggestion that emo-
tional support networks among relatives and kin serve to enhance chil-
dren's capacities to cope effectively with stress and to deal competently
and self-confidently with the world.
Zero percent of the older love-shy men indicated that the above
statement was true for them. Only 9 percent of the younger love-shy
men indicated that it was true, whereas an impressive 59 percent of the
self-confident non-shy men indicated that it was true.
Respondents were given the opportunity to check that this state-
ment was "very untrue" for them, or merely "untrue". The dramatic
differences between the three groups of men become accentuated when
it is observed that 94 percent of the older love-shys indicated that the
statement was "very untrue" for them, compared to 71 percent of the
younger love-shy men, and only 13 percent of the self-confident non-
Each respondent was further asked to indicate just exactly how many
relatives (other than parents) he had had available for help and emotional
support during his formative years as a child and teenager. Fully 53
percent of the non-shy men indicated that they had had three or more
relatives to count on. Only 8 percent of the younger love-shy men and
zero percent of the older love-shy men were able to indicate that while
growing up they could count on three or more adult relatives.
In fact, 87 percent of the older love-shy men said that there had
been no relatives they could have counted upon as a child for help or
emotional support. The analogous figures for the love-shy and non-shy
university males were 68 percent and 27 percent respectively.
As for the present time, fully all 100 percent of the older love-shys
and 71 percent of the younger love-shys agreed that "there is no one I
can turn to". Zero percent (nobody) of the non-shys agreed with that
statement and sentiment.