A type of Cannot Spit It Out
, this is a condition befalling certain male characters (usually), especially those on the younger side, or who otherwise are lacking in social graces. When he encounters a female, he loses all capacity to speak
, or at least make meaningful sentences
. He may stammer, blurt out embarrassing nonsequiturs, or become entirely mute. The trigger may be restricted to attractive females, or just the one
, in which case it's likely to be Gibberish of Love
The female, for her part, may become irritated and impatient with this behaviour, may be understanding and accommodating (or even condescending), or may even respond in kind, in which case getting any kind of conversation going will take something akin to a miracle.
Despite the title, female characters who cannot talk to men are not uncommon. In this case it's usually triggered only by male characters they find attractive or have a crush on; if a female character literally has difficulty talking to any male at all, it's usually a sign that she had an abusive or domineering father
, grew up in a misogynistic culture
, or had some other bad experience that explains the issue
. When a male character cannot talk to women, in contrast, it's almost always an issue of a general lack of confidence and/or experience and is rarely portrayed as a result of trauma.
Related to, and not to be confused with, Love Makes You Dumb
. Also related to Socially-Awkward Hero
and the Chaste Hero
, who can talk
to them, but just doesn't understand affection. In extreme cases may become Allergic to Love
Anime and Manga
- Cody Banks, in the Agent Cody Banks movies, is like this.
- Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Harold has a crush on one of his neighbors, but he can never get up the nerve to talk to her until the end of the film.
- Captain America. It's even a plot point, and Peggy Carter even calls him out on this at one point.
- Peter Parker again. He never works up the nerve to tell Mary Jane how he feels until she comes to him.
- Applies to Andrew Steyn (Marius Weyers) in The Gods Must Be Crazy.
- In The Fisher King Parry (Robin Williams) stalks Lydia (Amanda Plummer) and only finally speaks to her when constrained to do so by Jack (Jeff Bridges) and his girlfriend Anne (Mercedes Ruehl).
- Audrey, Wait!: James' first line of real dialogue with Audrey after she tries to make conversation with him is "...the store needs more butter pecan."
- Rincewind is mentioned to be a rarity among wizards, in that he can talk to a woman without needing a cold shower and a lie-down after. However, if the subject turns to sex, he's completely out of his depth (wizards as a whole aren't supposed to marry or rather have sex, as this increases the chances of a sourcerer being born).
- Dave Barry recalls a high-school friend of his blessed with the ability to talk to girls, which allowed him to ask out a girl on his date (via his friend, who asked a friend of the girl, who asked the girl).
- Raj from The Big Bang Theory is unable to talk in the presence of any woman, unless he's drunk or believes that he's drunk. One time he was able to hit on Summer Glau after having a drink of beer. When he was told it was non-alcoholic he clammed up. He seems to get better at this later on, at least with those he knows well.
- And as of the end of Season 6, he seems to have been cured of this.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Kendra the Vampire Slayer had a hard time talking to men who weren't her Watcher or a vampire, due in part to being brought up by her Watcher to focus single-mindedly on slaying.
- Oh, she wasn't just bad at talking to men. She was forbidden from speaking with them by her Watcher.
- In an episode of That '70s Show, Eric can only say "Uh...... bluh." in the presence of a girl he finds really attractive. This same girl refers to him as uh bluh throughout the episode.
- One of Jeff's main traits in Coupling. At various times, he's accidentally claimed to have a wooden leg, a dead girlfriend and a collection of women's ears in a bucket.
- Simon Tam of Firefly uses almost these exact words after accidentally insulting Kaylee in "The Message".
- Red Dwarf: The Tongue-Tied song as performed by the Cat and cast. (Originally used in the radio show Son of Cliché)
- Chandler in Friends, Depending on the Writer. "The One With The Cheap Wedding Dress" (and only that one) had him completely incapable of talking to a pretty girl. He thought being with Monica would make this easier, since there was no question of romance to complicate things, but it didn't.
- After awkwardly asking Princess Mithian out on a date in Merlin, Arthur mutters to himself "I've never been much good at this." Something of an Informed Attribute (or misattribute) considering he's always seemed at ease around Guinevere — the assumption is that she was the exception to the largely off-screen rule.
- Charlie Brown from Peanuts may be one of the biggest examples, at least when it comes to girls he actually likes (as opposed to ones like Lucy, who are mean to him). For four whole decades, he tried to bring himself to introduce himself to the Little Red Haired Girl, but always chickened out. He was a little braver late in the strip's run when he met Peggy Jean, but he still was shy and nervous around her, and nothing serious ever developed. (Even if Charles Shultz had not passed away, he said he never planned to change the strip so dramatically as to actually change Charlie Brown's character, preferring to keep him the way he was.)
- Captain Martin Crieff is not terribly articulate at the best of times, but introduce him to a female first officer and, well, see for yourself...
Linda: Do you [like being a pilot]?
Martin: Yes, I do. I like it. Like you. I mean, I like it, like you do. Not I like it like I like you. I don’t like you. I mean - I, I don't not like you, I just I don't like you as much as I like being a pilot. [...] Well, not yet. I, I mean, I'm sure if I got to know you I'd like you more than being - well, probably not more than because I love being a pilot and I don't suppose I'd love you - well, I suppose I might. No, I mean, I'm just going to go and have a wander down the cabin now."
- An unusual example in Oliver Goldsmith's 1773 comedy She Stoops To Conquer where the male character, Charles Marlow, plays this trope straight when it comes to upper-class women but subverts it with those of the lower classes. (The title comes from the fact the principle female character, Kate Hardcastle, whose father is trying to arrange a marriage between her and Charles, pretends to be a servant in order to win his affections. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues...)
- When Guybrush first meets Elaine in The Secret Of Monkey Island, he is unable to do anything except utter random syllables. In their second meeting he acquits himself better, but the conversation quickly turns to increasingly saccharine pet names, which in a way is worse. He relapses into gibberish in later games whenever a woman is upset with him, indicating Guybrush just cannot take a woman's scorn.
- Akihiko in Persona 3 proves completely incapable of talking to women other than his teammates, and in the female protagonist's route in the PSP version he gets pretty tongue-tied around her at times as well.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Groose quickly loses track of what he was doing or saying when Zelda is talking to him.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud was too shy to talk to his crush Tifa when he was a little kid, and would watch her from outside her house instead. He seems to be able to talk to her by the time he's a teenager, but is unable to express his feelings for her until the night under the Highwind.
- Firion from Dissidia 012 can't seem to work up the nerve to talk to Lightning. Not even when his friend Cecil tries to assist. Turns out all he wanted to talk about was the wild rose she'd picked up (he'd found it himself earlier, but then lost it).
- Fire Emblem Awakening:
- Lon'qu is the most notable example. It's initially Played for Laughs, but several of his supports open up his Dark and Troubled Past, making it a lot less funny: it's a rare case of trauma actually factoring into his fear. His childhood sweetheart and Only Friend, Ke'ri, was murdered in front of him in an attempt to protect him, and his failure to protect her stemmed the fear that any woman he'd get close to would eventually be killed. The result of this is him acting cold towards just about everyone, and every time he interacts with a female character, he tends to shout at random. His prospective love interests have to work very had to get to speak to him in normal terms, and if playing as a female Avatar, he has an extremely low chance of greeting you in the Barracks unless you marry him.
- To a smaller degree, there is Prince Chrom. Whenever he tries talking to a girl who isn't one of his sisters, he always tends to say the wrong thing; as a result Chrom has a tiny pool of prospect brides, and at least one of them (Olivia) pretty much runs away from him more than once.
- One can argue, on the gender flip side, that all of Sumia's awkwardness, sporadic lapses in common sense, and abysmally low self-esteem are the reasons why she has an equally small pool of potential husbands. She seems to be so scared of approaching guys that she almost always bungles her tries to get close to them.
- Gaius from Rune Factory 3 suffers from this when it comes to Evelyn. He blushes madly and stammers whenever talking to her, failing to get out whatever he means to say and in bad cases agreeing to her offers to make him new clothes. Some of his random dialogues will also involve asking the main character how to go about getting the attention of someone you like. He's still surprised when the main character knowns about his crush.
- Averted in Tales of the Abyss. While Guy Cecil is terrified at the thought of being touched by women, he has no issue with talking to them, and is actually something of a natural charmer.
- Katakura Kojuro from Sengoku Basara claims he can't talk to women, which is ironic considering it's his stoicism many women in and out of universe find attractive.
- The character of the socially inept nerd Michael in Jen Babcock's webcomic, C'est la Vie.
- A more comedic version occurs in Loserz, with Ben spouting random, usually inappropriate things whenever he tries to talk to a girl he likes. Note that this only manifests with potential love interests, as one of his closest friends is female.