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The Difference Between Shy Men and Shy Women

by Dr. Seth Meyers - March 11, 2016

Shyness is one of the biggest challenges people face in dating. Simply put, many men and women don’t have the kind of personality that makes them want to strike up a conversation with a random stranger, and there is nothing wrong with that. As a psychologist, I find that neither the bubbly nor shy personality is necessarily better; it’s all about accepting the advantages and disadvantages that come with each type. For shy men and women, they come to the dating table with a frustrating challenge. You might have wondered whether there’s a difference between shy men and shy women, and I have found that there definitely are obstacles unique to each.

The “Snobby” Reputation

For shy women, the men they date often confuse them as being snobby or goody-two-shoes. Men sometimes look at shy women and often presume that they think they’re too good for everyone else. Men, on the other hand, are rarely viewed as snobby. Keep reading and you’ll see what I mean.

The Arrogant, Egotistical Personality

Gender is a fascinating topic, one I spent years studying in college (go Vassar!) and graduate school. Whether you’re a man or a woman, your gender has everything to do with how people see you. What’s interesting with shy men is that women often perceive them to be arrogant or egotistical. Men who are shy actually often try to overcompensate by posturing themselves as the silent, strong type. The problem with this posturing is that this is not who these men really are; it’s a facade, meaning that it is a psychological defense.

The Timid, Weak Woman

One of the biggest misconceptions about shy women is that they are timid, meek or weak. If you see a woman who appears shy at a gathering or party, never assume that her true character is one that is weak or timid. In fact, shy women are some of the strongest people you could know, observing life with keen insight and using caution before jumping into situations. In other words, that woman who appears timid or shy might actually be a powerhouse at work where she’s, say, the Executive Director or CEO.

The Strong, Silent Man

Just as ludicrous as the assumption that shy women are weak is the opposite assumption that shy men are strong. You’ve heard people talk about the strong, silent type of guy, but don’t presume that a man is strong just because he seems controlled and quiet. Yes, some shy men are strong, but some shy men are also insecure. The point is to avoid judging a book by its cover.

What shy men and women have in common …

Overall, men and women have more similarities than differences. In the ways that matter most in life – what they need and want from relationships and life, in general – men and women are more similar than different. Shy men and women are alike in that a cautious style defines how they approach everything: people, problems, and tasks. Shy men and women often make great partners in relationships because they tend to be less impulsive than their extraverted peers, and they are often reliable and good at commitment. Finally, shy men and women are also alike in that they need a real, substantive conversation to draw them out. While some people will tell you who they are the second you meet them, shy men and women are looking for real talk, not just silly small talk or mindless chatter.

The Takeaway Message

Let’s all agree that it’s annoying how we have a tendency to make such broad assumptions about people we don’t know at all. When it comes to sizing up a man or woman in a potential dating situation, keep your eye on some of these enduring myths and remember that the person you see on the surface may have more or less depth than you first imagine!    

About the Author: Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve