You fell in love with the wrong person. It was hard to tell whether he was truly interested. But there were too many signs of interest to rule out that he definitely was not interested. Yet he never made a move, he never asked you out, he never responded to your obvious hints and signs.
Frustrated by the ambiguity in his behavior, you decide to make a move. You don’t like to ask guys out. But you decide that you will make an exception. You plan your move very carefully. When you finally get around to asking him, you don’t use words like “date,” “going out” or “hooking up.” You ask him if he wants to watch a movie with you that came out a few months ago. You mention that you have wanted to see it for a long time and that you were wondering if he would like to join you.
Shockingly, he turns out down. He is nice about it. He says that he has other plans but you have a strong feeling that he is lying. This terrible feeling in your stomach makes you regret having asked him. The next few days you completely ignore him. But then you sense these signs again. You feel that he is definitely interested. Yet nothing has changed. He doesn’t ask you out, and there is no way you are going to ask him again. You have no idea what is going on with this guy but suspect that he might be commitment phobic.
Commitment phobia, or what is better known as an avoidant attachment style, is a problem that plagues many men and women and that is often confused with love shyness. It is important to keep the two apart, because they are grounded in very different feelings and issues, and while a relationship is possible with a person who suffers from love shyness, it is almost impossible to have one with a person with an avoidant attachment style.
An avoidant attachment style involves a strong fear of committing to almost anything. It usually is manifested in a fear of making romantic promises, accepting date requests, making date requests, committing to anything that is more than a week out into the future and a fear of intimacy. Yet a person with an avoidant attachment style may have no problems with casual sexual encounters, talking to the opposite sex, flirting, hooking up. They just can’t handle being in a relationship.
Individuals who suffer from love shyness do not have a fear of being in a relationship as such. They have a strong fear of talking to the opposite sex. They may even feel ashamed of feeling anything, including sexual arousal, in response to the opposite sex. If you ask them out, they may be dying to go out with you, they may have fantasized about you for months or years, yet they cannot bring themselves to say ‘yes’ to a date. They cannot even bring themselves to hook up with you for the night.
Individuals with an avoidant attachment style may be virtually indistinguishable from love-shy individuals at the pre-relationship stage. They both have problems committing to dates or admitting to their feelings. But avoidant individuals usually don’t have problems chatting with people who might be possible romantic partners, flirting with people or hooking up with people. Love-shy individuals usually cannot do any of that. They may have opposite-sex friends but only if there is no possibility of a romantic encounter.
There are lots of other differences between avoidant and love-shy people. Avoidant people normally cannot be cured in any short-term program. Love-shy individuals can. Love-shy individuals may give in to persistent pursuers with strong personalities. Avoidant individuals would only give in to an individual like that if there was a good chance of keeping the encounter completely casual.
Perhaps only time will tell whether you new love interest is avoidant or love-shy but if you continue attempting to interact with them, you will eventually be able to tell. The avoidant person may hook up with you but will most likely become very distant and perhaps disappear for a long period of time afterward. Becoming more familiar and intimate with the avoidant individual makes them act even more weirdly. The love-shy individual may loosen up a bit after getting to know you. They may also start depending on your company. An avoidant individual would never do that. They would want to be self-sufficient and would never want to get into the habit of spending time with you.
If you want to find out whether avoidance or love-shyness is the real problem, you can also observe your love interest closely in social encounters. If they seem to get along just fine with other people and even seem good about flirting with members of the opposite sex, then they are probably avoidant. If they seem lonely and isolated and seem to have difficulties talking to others, especially members of the opposite sex, then they are probably love-shy.