To understand your love-shy personality from a psychological and spiritual perspective, get to know the Enneagram. It's an incredibly perceptive personality typing system that describes nine types of people -- their strengths as well as what they struggle with. Though the Enneagram is ancient, much of its development and refinements have been done since the '80s, by experts in modern psychology.
Being fascinated by the Enneagram for years, I've tried to determine where love-shyness fits in the spectrum of personalities. My best guess is that it is strongest within two types in particular: Four and Five.TYPE FOUR
people, also known as "romantics" or "individualists," yearn for an ideal partner, a soulmate to complete them and rescue them from themselves. They tend to dwell on what's missing in their lives instead of on what they have, sometimes to the point of depression and self-pity. Since envy is the "capital sin" of this type, they look at what others have, at others' happiness, and feel resentment. Fours see themselves as flawed outsiders and usually not appealing or exciting enough to attract anyone decent. On some level, they deem themselves unworthy of love and unconsciously sabotage their attempts to find it. They may think often of the past, dwelling on missed romantic opportunities and holding grudges against those who have hurt them. Hyper-awareness of their own faults makes them very insecure about approaching others. Unhealthy Fours suffer chronic low self-esteem and long-term loneliness. To cope with this, they flee into their imaginations where they can dream of their ideal partner who lovingly accepts all their flaws. Fours also use movies, TV, novels, and porn as substitutes for the relationships and sensual experiences they are missing out on. Often they see their own lives as profoundly sad and tragic. Type Four disorders include depression and Avoidant Personality Disorder (a fear of negative evaluation from others which makes one deathly afraid of rejection).
Type Four is seen by society as more of a "female" type, which gives male Fours a somewhat harder time in life. Their melancholy, sensitive nature goes against accepted notions of what masculinity is supposed to be. Men who are "female" types, like Twos and Fours, are sometimes seen as effeminate or even gay. Michael Jackson, Prince, Johnny Depp, Enya, Sarah McLachlan, Shakespeare, and Patrick Stewart are likely Fours.TYPE FIVES
, also known as "investigators" or "observers," have just as much trouble fitting in and being popular. Fives feel overwhelmed by the outside world and so prefer to focus on their intellectual interests, ideas, and eccentric hobbies. But this comes at the expense of gaining social skills. They can have little regard or patience for the manners, customs, rules and small talk that govern socializing and dating. They are more comfortable analyzing social interactions from a distance or through books than actually participating in them. Although Fives have intense feelings, they have trouble expressing them, giving the appearance that they have none. This doesn't exactly make a good impression in the area of dating. Taking any initiative in relationships, like calling someone up to arrange a date, goes against their passive nature. That unhealthy Fives often feel intellectually superior to others and enjoy undermining or challenging people's cherished beliefs also drives away potential friends. They may long for companionship while giving the impression of not needing anyone.
Both Fives and Fours find themselves isolated from and rejected by others. But unlike Fours who get extremely upset and tortured over this, Fives are more resigned to their fate since they do not care much about social validation. They may reluctantly accept their single status, seeing it as somewhat inevitable. But this resignation can lead to cynicism and even nihilism over love and relationships in general. Unchecked, these negative thoughts grow until the Five can see absolutely nothing good in humanity or the universe. Common Type Five stereotypes would be the absent-minded professor and the 40-year-old virgin living in his parents' basement. Asperger's Syndrome and Schizophrenia are typical Type Five disorders.
Belonging to a supposedly "male" personality type, female Fives may appear overly-analytical, unnurturing, and not behaving the way women are "supposed to" behave. Tim Burton, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Stanley Kubrick, Alan Moore and Emily Dickensen are probably all Fives.
Since Types Four and Five sit next to each other on the Enneagram, it is possible for a love-shy individual to even be a combination of the two. Both are withdrawn types which tend to reinforce each other. For instance, Fours heavily influenced by their Five "wing" have been described as the true loners of society and under stress can become very reclusive, full of self-loathing, daydreaming their lives away, and unable to connect with anyone.CONCLUSIONS
I've described mostly the negative (unhealthy) aspects of these two types for the reason that love-shys are probably not in the best mental health. Yet only healthy
Fours can see past their own flaws to consider themselves lovable and worthy of love. And only healthy
Fives can leave the safety of their minds (and basements) to go out and socialize. Other types like Seven (naturally fun and outgoing) and Eight (the confrontational bad-boy type) probably can attract mates whether they're mentally healthy or not. Some types even become more extroverted as they deteriorate under stress. Not so with Fours and Fives. As they get worse, they only become more withdrawn and isolated. So for them, becoming healthy may be a necessary first step before having a relationship. This is opposite to the common love-shy belief that only a relationship will make them healthy, that the relationship must come first.
I'm not saying ALL love-shys are Fours and/or Fives. Just that those who are should be aware that the self-pity, cynicism, and shame they feel over their condition may not be entirely due to the condition itself. Much of it comes from having a personality predisposed to react to stress in these ways. Only by being aware of these unconscious tendencies can a person begin to change them.
Most Fours and Fives do NOT end up love-shy. But my guess is that most love-shys may be EXTREME Fours and Fives -- people in whom certain traits of Four and Five are OVER-expressed. They may have substantially MORE of the Four's low self-esteem and fear of rejection, or MORE of the Five's introversion and lack of social skills, than is normal. All Fours and Fives have these traits but only love-shys have so much as to be crippled by them.
For fuller descriptions of Four and Five from a general, not just love-shy, perspective, visit the links below. Reading and learning about your condition will not guarantee recovery. But I've still found it fulfilling to gain insights into exactly why I turned out this way. It's also good to read about the other types and realize others have serious problems too, just different ones from ours. Many who seem to lead perfect lives are really just better at hiding their faults from everyone. (Think Tiger Woods before the night he crashed his car.) If you knew what some of these "perfect" people were like inside, what kind of relationships they had, you would never trade places with them for anything. In this way, the Enneagram teaches us to "Never compare your inside to somebody else's outside".http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/TypeFour.asphttp://www.enneagraminstitute.com/TypeFive.asp