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OK! What is wrong with the two of you?! Seriously! He likes you, and you like him, and you should just be together! Jeez, Louise! Happiness is not THAT difficult!
Lily Aldrin, How I Met Your Mother

When two characters are attracted to one another, but are both so incredibly shy and awkward that neither one of them has the guts to do anything about it. In the end all it usually takes is for someone else (or something else) to give them a gentle nudge in the right direction and they'll get together.

The pair usually comprises a regular character and a Temporary Love Interest, but it can also be a Beta Couple with a Will They or Won't They? plot of their own.

Subtrope of Birds of a Feather. Compare with Belligerent Sexual Tension which also has trouble getting together, but for different reasons. May be a driving force behind Will They or Won't They?. Not to Be Confused With The First Cut Is the Deepest, a trope also described as "once bitten, twice shy."

Examples of Twice Shy include:

Anime & Manga

  • Pictured above: Yoshiko Fujisawa and Hikaru Matsuyama from Captain Tsubasa. They clearly loved one another but not only she was too shy to tell him directly and too troubled by how she'd have to move away to the USA, he so wanted to win the Nationals for her sake before she left that he neglected to let her know how he liked her as well. Leads to a mutual Anguished Declaration of Love, a brief Long-Distance Relationship, and then to them staying 100% together..
  • Kenshin and Kaoru from Rurouni Kenshin went through this so long, it almost got annoying. Kaoru was too shy to tell Kenshin how she felt, and Kenshin wasn't sure if he deserved someone like her...
  • Rito and Haruna in To Love Ru are the very definition of this.
  • So are Miyuki Kobayakawa and Ken Nakajima from You're Under Arrest.
  • Ippo Makunouchi and Kumi Mashiba from Hajime no Ippo. For reference, Kumi was first introduced in chapter 36, the manga is already past its 1000th chapter.
  • The first Sailor Moon has Shy Blue-Haired Girl Ami Mizuno meet a similarly shy genius named Ryo Urawa (who also had Psychic Powers). Only the intervention of her friends (and her saving him from his inner great monster) gets them on a date in one episode.
  • Kiri and Elraine from Double Arts. She's too shy and thinks he's clueless about her feelings, and he's convinced that the boost in sexual tension caused by confessing to her would make life trapped together too awkward.
  • Julia and Ran from Strawberry Shake Sweet.
  • Junpei Manaka and Aya Toujo in Ichigo One Hundred Percent. Actually, its even the main reason why this series DOESN'T end with a First Girl Wins scenario.
  • Kind of exists between Kenichi and Miu of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. It's slightly subverted in that they're very good friends, but Kenichi is too nervous to take it to a romantic level, and Miu is incredibly jealous of any other girls who hang around with Kenichi, but she doesn't take the initiative either. Also a case of Everyone Can See It, as all of the masters are totally aware of it, and are watching to see what will happen. At the very end, they're married with a child.
  • In Full Metal Panic, Sōsuke and Kaname fit this trope to the "T" — especially later on. Kaname has problems taking on the aggressive role of romantically pursuing Sōsuke (as she's shown to constantly be waiting for Sōsuke to take the initiative, and is constantly disappointed when she finds out she misunderstood his actions as being romantic advances). And Sōsuke... has huge issues with romantic intimacy. He's shown to become very nervous when confronted with anything "inappropriate" and too sexual, and has a tendency to clam up or run away. The most he appears to be able to muster with Kaname is to shyly hold her hand, which results in some highly frustrating Will They or Won't They?.
    • Examine the freak-out he had in the beautician shop (he didn't at all like the idea of someone holding blades near him.) Then examine how, with Kaname holding a pair of scissors near his head, he is somehow relaxed enough that he falls asleep while she's trimming his hair. He's not even that relaxed around Tessa, or Kalinin. They Will.
  • Similar to the above is Hayate and Hinagiku from Hayate the Combat Butler. Hinagiku also has problems being the aggressive one and generally wants Hayate to be the one to get things started. Hayate is unbelievably chaste and believes he can't/shouldn't have a girlfriend because Athena very strictly enforced in him that he needed to be able to financially support a girl forever first...did we mention his nickname is the God of Poverty? Also there was some major guilt over how things ended with Athena, where he commited a massive mistake despite her giving him a big warning about how he was doing stuff wrong.... This leads to various characters questioning the two of them over whether something is going on, usually with hilarious responses.
    • Given the seeming epidemic of Cannot Spit It Out and Oblivious to Love in this universe, this seems to apply to almost every pairing and for the unrequited ones they merely believed this is the case...except for Kotetsu who just cannot take a hint.
  • Sawako and Kazehaya of Kimi ni Todoke. She's shy, innocent and unassuming to a fault, he's a truly genuine Nice Guy who doesn't want to push it. Without Yano, Chizu and Ryu nudging them, they would probably both graduate before they got around to doing so much as hold hands.
  • Ran and Shinichi of Detective Conan. Every single time Shinichi turns back, they just keep beating around the bush instead of telling each other how they feel. For 16 years (not in story). Straight. Shinichi did end up giving Ran an indirect confession in the London Arc, though, and much later Ran 'replied' via kissing him on the cheek in Kyoto (and it´s implied they later kissed on the lips)
    • To a degree, this was the case for Shiratori and Sumiko as well.
  • In Bakuman。, Mashiro's uncle and the woman of his dreams Azuki's mom were completely crippled by this. It's likely that Mashiro and Azuki would have fared even worse, if Takagi hadn't dragged Mashiro bodily into speaking with her and agreeing to draw manga.
  • I''s would probably be about half the length if it weren't for this trope.
  • Firo and Ennis in Baccano take this Up to Eleven by engaging in Innocent Cohabitation for upwards of seventy years, despite his falling in love with her pretty much as soon as he met her. Somewhat justified since Ennis is pretty much Asexual and having a hard time figuring out what love, marriage, and sex even mean.
  • Feldt and Setsuna in the Mobile Suit Gundam 00 movie show signs of this. Feldt's feelings for him are so obvious Everyone Can See It but Setsuna has his own intimacy issues, not to mention his recent transformation into an Innovator. The farthest they get is a hug when Setsuna wakes up from his ELS Mind Rape-induced coma... at least that's what we see; exactly what happened between the hug and Setsuna calling the bridge that he's taking the 00 Quan[T] (with a teary Feldt following closely) is left up for interpretation. What is shown is that Feldt declares when the others try to send her back to Setsuna that she cares for him which is enough for her.
    • The main problem is that after entering the final battle, Setsuna goes to the ELS homeworld and they never meet again. Even if they were to meet after the epilogue, Feldt is already in her seventies while Setsuna is most likely immortal. And in the manga based on the movie, he definitely chooses Marina over Feldt.


  • Peter Parker with many of his early love interests. He just thought no one could be interested in a dweeby little science nerd.
  • Cloak and Dagger. Ty's too shy to ever think a girl like Tandy would be interested in him. Tandy thinks Ty only loves as a friend. Cue the UST...

Fan Works


  • Magrat Garlick and King Verence II in Discworld. Not only did he stick around, they got married.
  • The Remains of the Day deconstructs this painfully.
  • In Invisible Stanley, one of the sequels to Flat Stanley, Stanley helps a shy couple get married by creeping up invisibly behind the man, imitating his voice, and proposing to his girlfriend.
  • Nick and Lirael had the subtlest of hints towards a mutual infatuation in Abhorsen, which were complicated by his death. Luckily he got better, or else Garth Nix wouldn't have been able to confirm their infatuation in the short story "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case".
  • Piro and Ibronka in The Viscount of Adrilankha.
    • Ibronka has got one of the best lines in all of Dragaera on the subject: "My dear Viscount, come over here and kiss me before I die of embarrasment"
  • Edward Ferrars and Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility.
  • To Live has Fengxia and Erxi...and they are both absolutely adorable, especially considering the setting of the novel.

Live Action TV

  • Black Books: Manny and Rowena.
  • Cheers: Cliff and a costume party guest.
  • Coupling: Jeff and Julia. (A rare example where the new character actually stuck around, as opposed to mysteriously vanishing by the next episode.)
  • Firefly: Kaylee and Simon. Although in Kaylee's case, it's less that she's shy (hell, she got her job on the ship thanks to a one-night stand with the previous mechanic), and more that she feels inferior around Simon.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Barney and Robin in the fourth season. The page quote, however, is from season 1, where Robin was pining over Ted (who had been pining over Robin, but had just gotten over it and moved on.)
  • Miracle Workers: Laura and Sam
  • The Office: Andy and Erin.
  • The Vicar of Dibley: Alice and Hugo.
  • The X-Files episode 2 Shy. The killer kind of survives on this.



  • Anton Chekhov's play The Cherry Orchard. Self-Made Man Yermolai Alekseevich Lopakhin, the buyer of the titular orchard, has a troubled relationship with Varvara aka Varya, the Tsundere adopted daughter of its former owner, Liubov Andreevna Ranyeshkaya. In one of the last scenes, he works up the courage to ask Varya to marry him, but ultimately feels too shy and guilty to do so. This scene fits in well with the overall tone of the play --which has all of its characters suffering because of their inability to act decisively.
  • In the musical Double Digits, the duet "Oh, no!" is sung by a popular jock-boy and a quiter girl who is tutoring him in maths. To whit:

 Boy: She's so smart, I'm so dumb.

Girl: He's so cool, I'm so glum.

Boy: Why would she...

Girl: Why would he...

Together: ... have any interest in me?


Video Games

Visual Novels

  • Bram and Henrietta in Shikkoku no Sharnoth. After a conversation with Mary, Henrietta decides to make her feelings clear. Too bad Bram dies pretty much immediately after she calls to meet up with him.

Web Comics

  • Marten and Sara in an early Questionable Content strip.
    • "You almost got a date, but you were dumped in favor of an epiphany."
    • Marten and Faye, too. Marten seems to have this issue a lot.
  • Xkcd has this, and this.
  • Varied because they already went together, but fell apart then in this strip of Loserz.

Western Animation

  • Ulrich and Yumi from Code Lyoko, when not verbally fighting one another.
  • Danny and Sam from Danny Phantom. Though it comes to a Last-Minute Hookup it's still freakin annoying.
  • And Fanon in Phineas and Ferb uses this to explain why Phineas and Isabella aren't together yet. While Isabella has very clear attractions to him, she has yet to actually confess her feelings to him. Phineas, on the other hand, is so ambiguous towards her it rivals sadism.
    • Candace and Jeremy seem to be a canon example, though for a long time it was hard to tell if Jeremy even liked her back. Season two made it a bit more obvious that he was nervous around her, with the episode "Nerdy Dancing" specifically switching their usual dynamic (he was trying to impress her rather than the other way around).
  • Bright Eyes and Lancer in My Little Pony Tales until their friends' failed makeover attempts forced them to come clean and admit their feelings for each other in a Be Yourself moment.
  • The Nutcracker Prince has Clara Stahlbaum and Hans, alias the human incarnation of the titular Prince.

Real Life

  • The Yaghan language, spoken in Tierra del Fuego, is able to express this in one word. Mamihlapinatapai. "Two people are both at a loss as to what to do about the other."