I suppose I was always a rather introverted child. In primary school (up to 11) I only really got on well with a few of the kids, and because I lived some distance from the school (and my parents didn't have a car), it wasn't practical to mix with the other children much outside of school. Other than that, I wouldn't say I was much different from the rest of the kids. After 11, I attended a boys only grammar school and suffered a certain amount of bullying. Strangely enough, when I first went to this school, I was quite intrigued that there would be no more girls at school - it seemed like a good idea!
Puberty for me seemed to happen rather suddenly. We used to go to church once a Sunday. At the end of the service, the choir would file out first, and they were all girls - and I thought nothing much about them. Then one evening as they filed out, it was as though they all glowed with an inner light, as if they were goddesses! I instantly realised that this was the reason that other boys, and particularly slightly older ones craved girls like crazy. Initially I was super excited, and couldn't wait to get started! I just assumed somehow that a girl would turn up before long.
It was only after a while that I realised that there was a huge problem - how do you actually chat with a goddess? When I was with a girl - even for the most mundane of reasons - my mind went completely soft - I just couldn't put a simple sentence together. I remember once when one of the girls, called X came to the door to pass on some message for my parents. I can't tell you what that message was, because I couldn't remember it a couple of hours later when my parents came home! My father just laughed rather knowingly when I told him that I had received a message from X, but I couldn't remember what she said. She wasn't even the best looking of the bunch!
As time went on, I was getting a bit impatient to "get started", and at one point I solemnly prayed to God for a girlfriend. OK, that didn't work, but then I got an invite to join the church youth club - where most of the bunch girls near us were already members (so maybe he helped a bit, but I was a tough case) . Again I felt super-excited. Although this was the late 60's, none of the "swinging" seemed to go on around where we lived. Life was a good deal more puritan than it is now, but my immediate ambition was to have a girlfriend to kiss and cuddle, and go out with a bit. I never really thought about sex - that was too distant.
I tended to hang out with the other boys in the youth club because at least I could talk to them and appear reasonably relaxed. Of course I had a favourite girl, J who seemed utterly perfect. I daydreamed about her constantly, but my only interaction with her was one game of ping pong, during which time I was completely tongue tied. Eventually J turned up at the youth club with a boy. I felt really awful, and once I was alone in my bedroom, I burst into a flood of tears. I could not possibly blame her for what had happened - I knew I had given her absolutely no sign I was even interested in her. Of course, I hid all this from everyone, and I don't think my parents or my brother realised my angst.
When I was about 17 - still going to the youth club - an established couple, D and X (yes the same X that gave me a message for my parents years before) cornered me and asked me if I was interested in L. I totally froze, and just said nothing! L was a girl that I would have loved to have had as my first girlfriend, and presumably she was actually interested in me - otherwise why was I being asked? Incredibly I let that opportunity slip, thinking vaguely that I would ask her myself next week - but of course I didn't.
Somewhere around that time I went on a walking holiday with my brother and our parents. There was a couple of sisters at the holiday center, just about the right ages for my brother and I. He picked up the younger sister almost immediately. The older sister, P wasn't really attractive, and also seemed to smell a bit sweaty. Nevertheless I started to fantasise over P a bit. There was country dancing most evenings, and I actually asked P if she would be going that evening. She replied non-committally, and did not turn up - that was the only time I "sort of" asked a girl out - EVER! Country dancing involves constantly swapping partners, so that may have put her off - I do not know. On the last evening, us teenagers met for a little party. I actually ended up sitting next to P, and put my arm around her. She seemed to relax into me but I couldn't think of anything to say to her - so that didn't go anywhere - and anyway we were all heading home the folowing morning!
Partly because I had had very few distractions as a teenager, I'd done well academically, and I had picked a well known University that I will call MyUniversity, without realising that this university had approximately 10 times more male students than female ones (remember this was late sixties). Getting there was exciting, but I remember the sense of deflation when someone pointed the sex imbalance out to me.
From time to time the college held a disco. I tried several, but never got anywhere, and left after about an hour. Much later I would be woken in bed by men returning with someone they had picked up at the disco. The sound from the room above mine was utterly fascinating, but deeply depressing.
Three years later I was picking up my degree with my proud parents watching the event and then coming back for tea at my college. I remember that moment very vividly, because I was sitting with them, noticing that almost all the other men graduating had girls who had come to share this event with their boyfriends. If only I could have been there with J, or L, or even P, everything would have been wonderful. As it was, all I could think about, was to hope that neither of my parents would mention the fact that I didn't have a girl to share the occasion. I had a first class degree, and yet I would have swapped position with men with a lower class degree but a loving girlfriend. If either of my parents had said anything about this, I think I would have run from the room sobbing - I was that close - but fortunately they didn't say anything - then or afterwards.
In the interval after graduating, I had arranged a period in which I would work at a "work camp" in another European country. The work involved setting up a fitness station in a park! My purpose for going was to take a break from academia, and really meet a girl! Even a first kiss would have been a massive leap forward. A few young people arrived as couples, but one rather petite French girl arrived with nobody attached, and I could think of nobody other than her. I sort of started to trail her, and tried ever so hard to say witty or helpful things to her. After a while, she gently explained that her boyfriend was coming to join her the following day, after which they would sleep in his tent. My heart sank in an instant - I didn't say anything to her, but we both knew what had just happened.
Many of the young people at that work camp got tipsy and fairly randy, but I was simply an outsider to all of that.
Shortly afterwards, I was back in MyUniversity preparing to be a postgraduate student. Part of me was really excited by this, but I knew with a fierce intensity that I simply had to do something about being single. I couldn't possibly blame any of the girls that I had vaguely interacted with, for what had happened, yet I couldn't really blame myself either. I don't think the term "Love Shy" existed back then, but I certainly epitomised that concept. I knew I had to do something drastic to fix my problem ASAP - I could not continue like that.
I never thought of suicide, but I am sure I would have before long. As a chemistry postgraduate, I had easy access to a terrifying variety of poisons.
One idea I had, was to abandon my PhD course, and enter teacher training. Everyone knew that women outnumbered men in that role, so I applied for such a course - feeling guilty because I knew that I didn't really want to teach kids. I also discovered a company called "Dateline" who would match me up with four girls per month, for a fee that seemed quite high at the time. I was given their names and addresses and then my job was to contact them by writing a letter and putting it in an envelope, adding a stamp, and mailing it! Yes, this was 1971 - the internet wan't even conceived of at that time.
I think I already realised that this would push me way outside my comfort zone into actually spending an evening with each girl, and that maybe whatever was the matter with me, would gradually relax with exposure to actual dating! In practice just over 1 in 4 girls replied to me - I'm not sure I could have managed more.
Just about all the girls were in London, which meant a long train journey down in the late afternoon, and another journey home in the small hours. I just gritted my teeth, and accepted that if that was what it would take, I had to do it. I don't remember them all, but they were all different. One girl of 21 was still living with her parents, and was interested in things psychic. She was quite attractive and wore a short dress. Her thighs were impossibly alluring. Of course, I had to spoil things by explaining that science ruled out psychic phenomena! It wasn't that I was arrogant - I was just so pleased to find something to speak to her about. Being LS means there is no time to think on the spot in situations like that. The irony is that by now I am pretty sure that some psychic phenomena are real, and can tell us something profound about reality - we might have been a perfect match! The prospect of each date used to loom over me for days before it happened - and if one was canceled or delayed I felt a peculiar mixture of relief and frustration. However, I felt that despite the huge stress generated by those events, somehow I was giving a slightly better "performance" as time went on.
The last girl I only saw once, actually made the journey to see me, and we went for a long walk together. In those days, social class seemed important (by now I haven't a clue why!), and she was very definitely working class! We sat fairly close on a bench, but nothing much happened, except that as we waited for her train to pull in, she suddenly gave me a kiss on the lips (but mouth closed). After she had gone I was half elated, half depressed I'd had my first kiss (sort of), and maybe that was an invite for something amazing? I even started to wonder if it mattered that she was working class!
A couple of days later she wrote back, thanking me for a lovely day, but declining any further meetings. I can't describe how bad I felt, but I decided to write her one last letter, simply asking her what it was about me that made it impossible for any girl to want me.
Her reply rather stunned me - there was nothing wrong with me, but she had broken up with a previous boyfriend recently, and realised while she was with me that she was not ready for a new romance.
At this point fate took a strange turn. I got an advertisement for a free dating scheme run by the Students' Union. This seemed a bit pointless when men outnumbered ladies by such a wide margin (though the sex difference was already starting to narrow a little). I reminded myself that I had decided to leave no stone unturned to start my first romance - so I filled in the form and sent it off - expecting absolutely nothing to happen.
In due course, this produced one girl's name - M (I later discovered that M had met a number of men through this scheme, but somehow I became the chosen one).
At her suggestion we first met in her bedsit in college. We didn't have an expensive meal - though I offered to take her out for one - we ate chocolate biscuits, drank coffee, and chatted! My previous experience with dating (!!) told me to basically go along with her approach, and to just let my shyness carry me. It did feel a lot more relaxing, just eating biscuits and coffee. At the end of the evening she held out her hand, so we shook hands, there was no kiss, but crucially we did agree to meet again to watch a film.
As I made my way home, I felt a strange mixture of elation and caution - was this really going to develop into something? The term "friend zone" had not been invented, but I suppose I was afraid that something like that could develop. Because of that, I tried in subsequent meetings to inject a tiny physical element into our relationship - I held her hand as we walked, or on other occasions I put an arm round her shoulders. Strangely enough, I did worry slightly that maybe she was a bit overweight!
A few weeks later, we were walking in the college grounds, just about to part for the night, and I asked her for a kiss. She said "Oh No!", and this utterly crushed me. I don't know what more I said, but I fled home in a dreadful state. I didn't sleep that night, tossing and turning, trying to work out what to do next! Things seemed to have been going so well before this blow. In the end, I decided that I would go and see her the following evening, and apologize!
It seemed absurd to apologize, but keeping her was far more important than my dignity. She was very nice, and invited me in, and everything carried on as before. I discovered later that she thought kisses should be spontaneous - no asking permission - how could I possibly know that? However, it wasn't long before she unexpectedly gave me a little kiss (still not opening her mouth) just as we parted.
The next time it was time to part, we came together for a kiss as before with mouths closed. I wasn't completely sure if people really did kiss with open mouths (I was only 22 - LOL!), so I fumbled about a bit until she opened her mouth and I followed her example. We kissed with tongues for at least an hour - totally losing track of time. Amazingly my plan had worked I had a wonderful girlfriend!
Thus in about 6 months I had moved from being an extremely Love-Shy man, who didn't even know how to kiss a girl, to the threshold of a glorious romance. Interestingly, M no-longer seemed overweight, and I realised somewhat overweight girls were the most appealing. I guess my brain made that adjustment at some point - totally unconsciously!
Of course, I declined the offer of a place on a teacher training course and absolutely loved the rest of my time at MyUniversity. I really attribute my success to my determination to date and date and date until something clicked.
I know that most of you reading this account, have never had a girlfriend, or not for a very long time, and maybe you are wondering whether you are LS or INCEL and whether so much has changed since 1972 as to make my experiences irrelevant. Well, you will not know if you don't try my approach. I suspect almost all the INCEL/LS men are extremely awkward with women they are trying to date, whatever they think. I can see that successfully asking a girl out face to face would be extremely exciting, but that only works if you aren't LS, and still pretty young. After that most women have a partner, so you have to wind yourself up to ask one girl after another, so it is far better to use a dating app than to just let the years roll by, as they do - faster and faster.
I think if I had spaced my effort out a bit more, I'd probably have failed - I needed to feel that this was urgent. I also learned quite a lot. Nobody who is LS can possibly hide that fact from a potential girlfriend, but that is reasonably OK just so long as you stay in character and don't try to lie about your dating history. Women vary a lot, and I can tell you that some women are happy to let a relationship build for a bit. Women vary a lot. At least some women value a man who doesn't instantly demand sex. After all, women can end up with an unwanted pregnancy (or violence), so they obviously want to take care.
Although M and I are still together, we did separate on a couple of occasions - which gave me some more experience of dating agencies (still before the internet) and more recently, we decided to have an open relationship because she had utterly lost interest in sex. This was when I used actual web dating, and again I discovered that it took time to get anywhere, but it gave me two more romances.
I want to help all you LS/INCEL men find yourselves a girlfriend, so this section is for you. These notes are based on my own experience and also on things I have read on the Love-Shy forum.
Being shy isn't an impossible problem - I think at least some women (such as M) prefer shy men. She will very quickly realise you are shy - you can't hide it. What will really upset her will be if you suddenly jump out of character and start discussing sex. That sort of thing can happen because you are tensed up and try a line of conversation that goes utterly wrong. I suspect that for most LS/INCEL men the shyness is all that is wrong. Ordinary men simply enjoy flirting with women and asking them out. Many times that will fail, because most women have a partner already, but an ordinary man just shrugs that off and turns to another girl. Perhaps they flirt with a super attractive girl almost for a laugh, and every now and again they actually pull her! They enjoy the chase even if they fail, and they also become extremely good at the game. This is the obstacle you have to overcome.
If you could pick up a woman by just waiting for a nice one to come along and asking her out, you would not be reading this! If you want to solve your problem, you have to more or less throw everything at it. That means using Tinder and swiping girl after girl after girl. Alternatively use a web based dating scheme, which will be a bit slower, but shy girls might prefer things slower - send out several messages each night, and remember the replies might not be immediate. If you don't get any replies think about improving your photograph - go to a photographer and help him to help you - tell him it is for dating. If a girl gives you her phone number, she probably expects you to ring her - not just send her messages (even though that is a lot easier). For me, this phase lasted about 4 months - yes it is pretty gruelling until it works. People with other phobias - say spiders - find that exposure to their fear is unpleasant at first, but after a bit the phobia weakens....... You need to get used to the chatting up/dating process.
In the early stages, try to say 'Yes' to whatever your girl suggests. For example, while this lockdown nonsense* is continuing, she may propose to meet up at her flat or yours. If she does, just say yes.
Suppose for example, she is in your flat and it is maybe too late for her to go home. Offer her your bed and explain that you will sleep on the sofa. Let her invite you into your bed if she wants to. Even then, be careful - she may have invited you in, but doesn't intend to have sex with you. Remember - that might be for some practical reason, such as she is on her period. Some women are embarrassed to discuss such things. You are so close if you get that far, be very careful not to wreck your chances. I am not saying you would rape her, but even a hint of such behavior will wreck your chances beyond repair.
If something goes wrong - such as it did when I asked M for a kiss, don't argue back off and apologize. It takes time to get used to the ways women think (and again, they aren't all the same), for example I'll bet there are other women who would object to a spontaneous kiss, so the only safe thing is to apologize. Following this approach can save your budding romance and give you another chance. Don't argue about anything until you feel you are safely into a romance.
Not everyone finds dating easy - as you obviously realize - so try not to always pick the girls that every other man will want. In an ideal world everyone gets paired with someone so don't be too ready to reject a woman. Also, remember that girls look much, much nicer when they smile.
It may be worth GOOGLING for some less attractive women. Try to select one that is roughly in your age range, and attempt to fantasise what it might be like to kiss her. Try to imagine her smile, and what it might be like to undress her. Also think about how she might feel in bed naked and aroused.
Each time you date a woman, unless she walks out on you(!!), you should tell them how much you enjoyed the evening, and ask them if they would like to come out again. You might ask them out for something active, or to a concert, etc. Think out where you are going to offer for the next date ahead of time. Asking for a second date can be hard to do, and you need that practice. The sheer tension of being on a date may well mean that you didn't enjoy it, or that she looks drawn and unattractive - so don't decide she isn't right for you the first time you meet her.
Talking to a woman isn't easy, and nice phrases need some practice. For example, "I really enjoyed this evening with you - I'd love to see you again!" Try to avoid improvising - it is so easy to come out with a muddle - use a phrase you have prepared in advance. It is also useful to speak the phrase out loud in front of a mirror, smiling as you do it. Look yourself in the eyes as well.* This guide was written during the age of the corona virus!