Life Advice



Single File: Serenade to Shyness

Susan Dietz on

So many men suffer from shyness. It fills their letters as they describe stirrings that must lie dormant, unexpressed and waiting for inspiration. The fear of being laughed at, taken for a fool -- or, worse, being ignored and unseen -- is keeping them parched and mute.

A love song of appreciation might go far to soothe their frustration, and this is my offering. Shyness often comes with a high degree of sensitivity, compassion and reliability. When a shy man utters the words "I love you," you can well believe he does. When he (at last) says aloud what has long been ripening in his heart of hearts -- his sacred soul -- you can order the wedding dress. His verbalizing his commitment to you has taken longer than it would have taken one of his slicker, more confident brothers, but it's his truth. And now your truth. Period, end of report.

As for yours truly, well, you guessed it. Give me a shy man -- every time. I will be likelier to trust his words and his quiet public demeanor than I would the public show of a slick operator. In my estimation, the shy person stands apart, a different breed. People of either gender who come on like gangbusters turn me off. Men who present themselves too well do nothing for me. I would much rather be challenged with a treasure hunt, the interesting journey of discovery: What inspires him to present himself as shy and quiet? In this world of bluster and bravado, an oasis of quietude deserves notice. Is he really that sure of himself? I'm fascinated by quietude. Yes, admittedly, it could be a facade fronting a big nothing, not very much to treasure or hunt. Then again, if past is indeed prologue, in my life the people who have sparked my interest have, in the long run, turned out to be standouts. A shy, quiet man arouses my antenna every time.

In a thrilling evolution, women are beginning to share the role of initiator and therefore can better understand and empathize with the shy male forced by custom to initiate socially -- and sexually. The gender who traditionally could hide her shyness behind a lace fan or dazzling smile is discovering that her hiding place is gone. She must come out of hiding and realize she can (and often must) be the initiator. If she wants the man -- or the job -- of her dreams, she had better clear the hurdle of shyness (aka self-doubt) and put herself into motion. And in a wry twist, as she herself feels the twinges of social shyness, she's so much better able to help a man move beyond them. Think about it.


The next time you encounter a shy someone, go out of your way to make the person comfortable. And remind yourself to look beneath the surface reticence to the decency and sincerity that could be lurking just underneath. Resist the impulse to dismiss the shy person from your thoughts as eminently forgettable. You might be doing yourself a huge favor.


Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at We've uncovered another treasure trove of "Single File" paperbacks -- in perfect condition, signed by Susan, ready to enjoy. Send $15 and your address: Susan Deitz, C/O Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.



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