During the past twenty years a tremendous number of books and magazine
articles have been written about the so-called sexual revolution. However,
virtually no attention at all has ever been accorded a class of people whom the
sexual revolution has totally bypassed. This book will allow the reader to
learn about a very fascinating segment of the population which can best be
described as "love-shy." 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
youngster. The love-shy also include 19 to 24 year old university students who
are similarly incapable of getting started with the opposite sex, quite in spite
of their very strong desires for a close, loving heterosexual relationship.
No, these are not homosexual men by a long shot. In fact, this book is
devoted exclusively to men with very strong and very normal heterosexual urges.
Indeed, it is devoted to men who would like nothing better than be able to marry
and to have children, but who are not moving towards these goals because of severe
bashfulness, shyness and social timidity.
Love-shyness is a life-crippling condition. Victims of love-shyness
cannot marry. They cannot have children, and they cannot participate in the
normal adolescent and young adult activities of dating and courtship. The
love-shy are often misperceived as "homosexual." And they are often made to pay
the price for being "homosexual" without being accorded access to the rewards that
go with a homosexual identity. Because love-shy people are not homosexual they
cannot join up with any of the many "gay rights" organizations or homosexual
And as very few love-shy people are alcoholic, Alcoholics Anonymous is
similarly "off limits" to them. Zero percent of the love-shy ever take part in
any form of gambling or risk-taking, social or financial. So Gamblers Anonymous
is also "off limits" to them. And so are all of the various substance abuse and
drug addict support groups. 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 any body to relate to
as a friend or to count on for emotional support. They deeply crave heterosexual
love and romance. Most of them would like to have children. And yet all of these
normal life activities and rewards are blocked to them. In fact, they are about
as severely cut off from these normal social gratification as they would be if
they were serving a life sentence in a federal or state prison.
So how did the love-shy get to be the way they are? Can they be cured?
And if so, how might this be accomplished? These are just some of the questions
with which this book will deal. Every day love-shyness creates enormous pain and
suffering for some 1.7 million American males whose normal desires for
self-determination and self-expression are thwarted by their condition. And yet up
until quite recently this quite sizable proportion of the population has been
almost totally ignored by authors, journalists, scholarly researchers, the clergy,
and members of the helping professions. This book is, in point of fact, the very
first of its kind ever to be published either here in the United States or anyplace
in the world.
Moreover, this book does far more than merely address the problem of
love-shyness. Fully 300 love-shy males, ranging in age from 19 to 50, were
extensively interviewed and studied for this book. Their lifestyles, personal
histories and thought processes were carefully scrutinized and compared to those of
200 non-shy men. And this book contains the results of this research, all of which
is presented here in the language of the layperson.
In addition, various therapeutic and preventive approaches for dealing with
love-shyness are reviewed in this volume. And those which up to now have shown the
greatest promise are highlighted. To be specific, even the most severely love-shy
man can now be cured (and comparatively painlessly), although the process requires
some amount of time and resources. The how, why and wherefore of therapeutic and
preventive measures which work will be both detailed and explained in this book.
This book was written with the victims of love-shyness constantly in mind.
And as author of this book I sincerely hope that it reaches as many afflicted people
as possible. One of the major lessons which almost a decade of researching
love-shyness has taught me is that the love-shy need to band together both as a
social/political force and as social networks providing needed friendship and social
support. 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 nationwide organization, and of
other support organizations such as "Coed Scouts," and "practice-dating" support
groups. As a socio-political force the love-shy can and should begin making
themselves visible; they can begin now to make their needs known to the "powers that
be." And, most importantly, they can begin their most basic human rights honored
and their needs met.
This book is intended for interested laypersons, therapists, and scholarly
researchers. Love-shyness is a surprisingly fascinating topic. And I believe that
a key reason for its inherent interest and fascination is that most people can learn
a surprisingly great deal about themselves from studying the underlying causes of
behavioral inhibitions. Love-shyness is a form of deviance. It is a form of
behavioral nonconformity. Deviance(nonconformity) is the opposite side of the same
coin as conformity and "normality."
Of course, love-shyness is not a freely chosen form of behavioral
nonconformity. And that is why the love-shy are often regarded as "sick," "neurotic,"
"unfriendly," etc. Freely selected nonconformist life-styles are usually quite healthy.
Every society needs some amount of freely selected behavioral nonconformity. Without
it a society would begin to stagnate. Nonconformists who deliberately and rationally
choose their behavioral style often accord their society and local communities a great
deal of useful "fresh air" and creativity.
But for the love-shy free choice and self-determination are unknown and unsavored
experiences. In short, the underlying roots of both personal and societal health can be
better appreciated through a careful and systematic study of those persons who do not
have such health, and who do not enjoy the free choice and self-determination which most
of us take for granted each day.
So if you want to understand how human beings come to be and feel "free," or if
you simply want to help yourself or a loved one who may be suffering the throes of
love-shyness, read on. I can guarantee you a host of new and useful insights both about
yourself and about those who, despite their strong heterosexual/romantic needs, cannot
obtain or experience the emotionally meaningful love and companionship of someone of
the opposite sex.
DR. BRIAN G. GILMARTIN
Department of Sociology,
Westfield State College,
Westfield, MA 01086
January 27, 1985