Brian Gilmartin is a contemporary social psychologist who developed the concept of love-shyness. 

Professional Life

Brian G. Gilmartin was born on May 18, 1940 and raised near Newark, New Jersey. He studied psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1962. He went on to earn his master’s in psychology in 1965 from the University of Utah. Gilmartin graduated from the University of Iowa in 1969 with a PhD in social psychology, where he specialized in the study of marriage and family relationships.

Gilmartin began his teaching career at Humboldt State University as an assistant professor in Arcata, California. He was a visiting professor at several universities throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including California State Polytechnic, Auburn University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and East Tennessee State University. Gilmartin moved to Massachusetts in 1980, when he accepted an assistant professorship at Westfield State College. Since 1988, Gilmartin has taught psychology and sociology at Montana State University, Northern.

He continues to research and study fields of interest, including neuropsychology of personality, the impact of dog ownership on family dynamics, sexual spouse sharing, and parenting. He is best known for his theory of love-shyness in men and has published several studies and books on the subject.

Contribution to Psychology

Love-shyness, according to Gilmartin, is a form of extreme shyness that can interfere with communication, meeting people, and self-confidence. These challenges can make it difficult or impossible to begin and sustain romantic relationships. Gilmartin argues that about 1.5% of American men experience the condition and that many of them will never marry or have an intimate relationship.

Love-shy men are typically virgins. They don't go out on dates with women and have no or only a limited history of romantic relationships. They are plagued by anxiety in social situations and struggle to initiate conversations with women. Love-shy men also tend to have few friends of either sex. Gilmartin's conception of love-shyness includes only heterosexual men, and men with bisexual or homosexual tendencies do not fit into Gilmartin's framework.

Gilmartin argues that bullying and punitive parenting practices can both contribute to the development of love-shyness. In his book, Shyness and Love, he outlines numerous traits that are correlated with love-shyness, based upon his research. These include:

  • Sinus difficulties
  • Introversion and neuroticism
  • Pressure from parents or other caregivers to behave in stereotypically masculine ways
  • Career instability
  • An interest in highly emotional movies and love ballads

Criticism and Controversy

Gilmartin has been criticized for focusing exclusively on heterosexual men, but he argues that rigid gender roles affect these men the most, making them most likely to develop love-shyness. He makes reference to several pseudoscientific concepts, such as astrology and past lives, in some of his work.


  1. Brian G. Gilmartin. (2002). Directory of American Scholars, Biography In Context. Retrieved from:
  2. Interview with Brian G. Gilmartin, Ph.D. (2011). Interpersonal Science. Retrieved from: