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Cannot Talk to Women

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So this is the possible reason for his lack of dialogue...note 

"There are so many girls in there, and I can't...I can't talk to them. So...I sit out here...and I wait until they leave."
Duder Reese, Little White Lie

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, especially one he's attracted to, 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 if she has the same problem concerning men, 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, nor are same-sex cases (either romantic or not). 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 and Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality. 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. A subtrope of Situational Sociability, as someone who Cannot Talk To Women is perfectly capable of normal conversation except when faced with the opposite sex. Overlaps with Attractiveness Isolation, when a woman is so beautiful she makes every man unable to talk to her.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Germany from Hetalia: Axis Powers is said to be this, but he talks to young girls and Hungary just fine.
  • Suirou from Kamisama Kiss, which isn't too surprising since he lives in a No Woman's Land. Nanami eventually has enough of his crap though and calls him on this.
  • Misaki Yata from K starts blushing and stuttering when he only looks at a girl he might potentially talk to. Saruhiko Fushimi (incidentally, Misaki's only real love interest) knows this, of course, and misses no opportunity to push that button.
    • In the movie, Misaki trips and falls off of his skateboard because he saw a lingerie ad with a picture of a girl on it. He has no problem talking to Anna, his group's Token Mini-Moe who's 11 years old, though.
  • Mikoshiba of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is very awkward around girls, so the only way he can talk to them is by quoting cheesy lines from Dating Sims...which just makes him even more awkward and embarrassed. Strangely enough, they just eat it up, making him extremely popular.
  • City Hunter: Despite being a hulking brute towering over all the other characters, Umibozu becomes incredibly awkward around women and, if one shows him interest, High-Pressure Emotion-time it is. Made even worse that he mostly attracts pretty women.
  • Akizuki in Blend-S is gynophobic, to the point that he even fears female storekeepers. He's barely able to talk to his female coworkers, and some Ship Tease moments that happen with Kaho end up flustering her because of his inexperience with women.
  • All the men in Prison School turn into sweaty and creepy messes when confronted by females.
  • Yamcha of Dragon Ball was terrified of women in his first appearances. He was only capable of robbing the heroes when Bulma, the only girl, was unconscious. His fear is based around romantic relationships; he was capable of talking to the twelve-year-old Chi-Chi just fine. When he learns about the Dragon Balls, his only wish is to cure his fear of women, but he gets over it anyways after falling for Bulma.
  • Izuku Midoriya, the protagonist of My Hero Academia, is initially a complete and utter mess around the opposite sex, to the point that just talking to a girl for a minute is considered an achievement for him (even if he didn't actually say anything). When a girl gets a little too close for comfort, he instantly exhibits a Luminescent Blush unless he's under fire. He improves in time due to exposure to his female classmates, but he's still way out of his element when things even start to become remotely romantic or intimate.
  • In Tamagotchi Honto no Hanashi, Professor Banzo is shown to have a hard time dating. The catalyst for his Accidental Discovery of the Tamagotchi species was actually him sulking on a bridge over a date going poorly - it was at this bridge where he was hit on the head by a Tamagotchi spaceship.
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
  • Joel from Dr. STONE is an expert watch technician who has spent his whole life refining his craft and is very proud of it, arrogantly bragging and talking down to anyone he speaks with... provided they're male. As it turns out, singlemindedly honing his skills for so long means he barely ever got the chance to talk to girls, so whenever he tries to do so he's reduced to a nervous, stammering mess.
  • Downplayed in Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead. Akira's desperation to get hitched leads to awkward conversations with the opposite sex thanks to his tendency to open them by asking if they have a boyfriend in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse. But once he relaxes and gets his mind off finding a date, he can be a pleasant and easy-going conversationalist.
  • Crona from Soul Eater claims to have problems talking to girls when meeting Maka for the first time. Given that the only woman in Crona’s life up until this point was Medusa, it’s not hard to guess why. To say they can't talk "to girls" is only technically accurate, as Crona is just utterly antisocial regardless of people's gender.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: Yusaku decides that in order to get information on SOL Technologies from an inside source, he'll have to approach his classmate Zaizen Aoi, who is the younger sister of SOL's head of security Zaizen Akira. Kusanagi and Ai immediately point out the obvious flaw in the plan; Yusaku will have to talk to a girl.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America: Steve Rogers, sometimes. Women that he has a professional relationship with, like Black Widow or Scarlet Witch or Carol Danvers, no problem. But if it's a romantic issue, especially when he's out of costume... then the problems start.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: B.A. Felton is usually fine when talking to women—if they're discussing something related to the game. Once he starts going out on quasi-dates with Patty, the poor guy becomes a sweating, stuttering mess.
  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker has been flanderized into this over the years; in the early days, his romantic problems stemmed from the social hazards of keeping a secret identity, with a generous helping of Tsundere behavior from his love interests thrown into the mix during the Silver Age.
  • Superman: Clark Kent is this all day. Not Superman, though. Usually.

    Fan Works 
  • In Juxtapose, Kensei struggles to speak to women, particularly older women, despite his naturally brazen and outgoing personality. This isn't helped by his Quirk, "Scan", which lets him instantly learn all of a girl's measurements if he so much as touches them with his hands. He learns to settle down around Megumi and Mei after they start hanging out, but strangers are still a problem for him.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Kyril sees himself as a man who is not very good with women, and he would rather face a gang of outlaws instead. Downplayed in practice, since he is able to talk to them normally. It's just that he, in Lily's words, is far too brusque in his mannerisms, not to mention how he is like this to everyone else.
    • Soren, the Cowardly Lion he is, stammers more frequently when interacting with women.

    Films — Animated 
  • Near the end of Inside Out, Riley bumps into a boy at the hockey rink, apologizes, and hands him back his water bottle. He stares at her slack-jawed and buggy-eyed, cut to the inside of his head where his emotions (save Fear) are running and screaming in a blind panic while a siren blares, "GIRL! GIRL! GIRL!"
  • Shang from Mulan can talk to Mulan, even about emotional things—when she's disguised as a man. When she's unmasked, however, he quickly develops a crush on her and turns into a giant dorky stuttering mess when she's around.
    Shang: fight good.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Agent Cody Banks: Cody Banks himself has this problem and it makes his first mission all the harder; he is supposed to covertly bodyguard the daughter of a scientist by posing as her friend.
  • Gender-flipped for the protagonist in Eighth Grade: when her crush, Aiden, walks into the room shirtless at the pool party to collect his cell phone, Kayla can only moan incoherently and then babble inanely that sometimes she charges her phone, too, because phones run out of power.
  • 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: The First Avenger: Captain America. It's even a plot point, and Peggy Carter even calls him out on this at one point.
  • Spider-Man: 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).
  • Kopps: Jacob has this attitude most of the time towards Jessica.
  • Disney's RocketMan: In his first meeting with Julie, Fred can barely spit out his full name while awkwardly trying to introduce himself.
  • One of Harold Llyod's movies, Girl Shy, revolves around this trope.

  • 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."
  • Discworld: 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). In later books, this is more or less dropped, as wizards become either more concerned with their next meal or the Disc equivalent of computer geeks who have trouble relating to any non-wizard regardless of gender.
  • 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).
  • The protagonist of Expecting Someone Taller has this in spades. The Rhinedaughters' attempts to seduce him to get his Ring of Power fail because he simply can't believe an attractive woman is talking to him. When one of the Valkyries is sent to fall in love with him, she has the same problem, and most of their interactions consist of staring at their own shoes.
  • In The Goblin Emperor Maia notes that having grown up in isolation, he has no experience in talking to noble ladies. (Female servants seem to be no problem, he met some of those.) Fortunately, the first lady he is introduced to at court is also one of the most fashionable, beautiful women there, and after somehow getting through a conversation with her without completely making a fool of himself, he is much less intimidated by other ladies than he might have been.
  • Journey to Chaos: Basilard has a history of flubbing his attempts at charming women, which is especially distressing for him considering that his personal dream is for his firstborn child to inherit his Ancestral Weapon. In Looming Shadow, he needed his teenage novice to explain how he upset his latest lady love.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The only girl that Harry is comfortable talking to is Hermione Granger because they're Like Brother and Sister. His attempt to ask Cho Chang to the Yule Ball is an Epic Fail.
      Harry: "Wangoballwime?"
    • Ginny also suffers from this in the earlier books, with her tongue-tying crush on Harry.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hugh Laurie's "Sophisticated Song" from A Bit of Fry and Laurie describes such a character:
    I wear sophisticated clothes, I say sophisticated things,
    Everything about me says I am a Sophistication King,
    But when I'm with you, can't seem to find my cool;
    Yeah, when I'm with you, I just sit there and drool!
  • Mark from Peep Show may as well be the poster boy for this trope. Every attempt he makes to be suave, charming, or sometimes even just friendly is just so...... awkward.
  • Raj from The Big Bang Theory is unable to talk in the presence of any woman he isn't related to, 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 had 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. By "single-minded focus" we mean, 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".
    Zoe: (sees Kaylee storming off) Struck out again, did you?
    Simon: This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but... I'm not actually very good at talking to girls.
  • Red Dwarf: The Tongue-Tied song as performed by the Cat and cast. (Originally used in the radio show Son of Cliché).
    • In-Universe Rimmer states he’s always been awkward around women and not “overly sexed” apparently due to all the cabbage he was forced to eat at school. In “Parallel Universe” Rimmer has trouble talking to his own Distaff Counterpart who in turn Cannot talk To Men.
  • 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 (2008), 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.


    Newspaper Comics  
  • 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 and Sally, 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 principal 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...)
  • Christian from Cyrano de Bergerac isn't a complete idiot, given the Hurricane of Puns he made about Cyrano's nose, which even Cyrano admitted was Actually Pretty Funny after calming down. However, he gets hopelessly tongue-tied around women he likes. Hence the need for Playing Cyrano.

    Video Games 
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], it's Riku, of all people, who shows this. He gets utterly flabbergasted talking to Shiki, she even lampshades it. Turns out those fanfics of him being smooth were horribly wrong.
  • When Guybrush first meets Elaine in The Secret of Monkey Island, he quickly degenerates from awkward stammering to spouting 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 gets so unnerved that he tends to shout at random, meaning his prospective love interests have to work very had to get to speak to him in normal terms. Developer's Foresight also worked Lon'qu's tendencies into other parts of the game: In the Barracks, most characters have the same few quotes for everyone except family members, but Lon'qu has completely different, more freaked-out lines when talking a woman, he has an extremely low chance of greeting a female Avatar in the Barracks unless she marries him, and in the final chapter, when Grima pulls the Avatar into darkness and everyone is calling out to them, Lon'qu has a different, more awkward-sounding line if the Avatar is female, and is actually the only character whose dialogue can change for this scene.
    • 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 prospective 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. Appropriately, she is the Developers' Desired Date for the aforementioned Chrom.
  • Rune Factory Tides Of Destiny: Bismark is overall a timid young man, but he can barely do more than stutter when he has to talk to any female person other than his sister. This actually gives Aden the idea to have Bismark talk to Sonia because she's just a spirit in Aden's body, so he should find it easier to talk to her, while seeing the male Aden. Oddly enough, when Bismark is in work mode, he has no problem talking to any customer, regardless of gender.
  • Shining Resonance:
    • Agnum doesn't have any problems talking to women until he tries flirting with them, which is when he chokes. He unlocks the "Shy Boy" trait once he admits it.
    • Rapple has the same problem when it comes to Ms. Emma's adopted daughter, Primula. It's obvious to everyone that he has a crush on her, except he usually ends up insulting her instead. At one point, he asks Yuma for advice since he has several girls vying for his affections. But Yuma dodges the question by saying he isn't really sure, either.
  • 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.
  • Nero in Devil May Cry 4, unlike his uncle Dante is somewhat shy around beautiful women, even when with his childhood sweetheart Kyrie he rubs his nose awkwardly and has trouble making eye contact, especially after she happily puts on the necklace that he was going to give her personally. He’s also very awkward around Gloria and tries his best to Ignore the Fanservice, this becomes Hilarious in Hindsight as Gloria is actually Trish a demon clone of his grandmother Eva. Averted in Devil May Cry 5 as Nero has Like Brother and Sister level rapport with Nico.
  • From Bust a Groove we get Hiro, a 20-something disco dancing narcissistic who loves the ladies...but cannot talk to one without becoming a flustered mess. To make matters unfortunate, they love him back.
  • Ren Hojo, one of the protagonists in Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, is very uneasy when interacting with women, often unable to look them into their eyes while talking to them. The only exception to this is Rui, his assistant, who, due to spending much time at his residence because he's disorganized at times, notices that he talks in his sleep when he has nightmares and deduces that his nightmares may be the reason this trope applies to him, and one of her journals ends with the question: "Are the women he's dreaming about really that frightening?"
  • Downplayed but Leon Kennedy in the Resident Evil 2 (Remake) has shades of this. He’s as cool as a cucumber when talking to Marvin Branagh or Ben Bertolucci but is notably more awkward and shy around Claire Redfield and Ada Wong, as he often pauses mid-sentence and gestures with his hands when he runs out of things to say while talking to them in a dorky fashion. In this version, Leon is also taken aback at Ada suddenly kissing him not responding to it like in the original and becomes very quiet afterwards only responding in brief sentences. This is because he’s finally concluded that Ada was using him and speaks to her with full stern confidence after Annette Birkin confirms his suspicion.
  • Makoto in Ensemble Stars! generally tends to be rather shy and lacking in self-confidence, so he naturally suffers from this. He was doing fine for a while since he goes to a One-Gender School, but once Anzu transfers in, he tends to get tongue-tied whenever they're left alone together.
  • Downplayed with Torian Cadera in Star Wars: The Old Republic, who is just inexperienced with women on account of being eighteen and having been an outcast in his Proud Warrior Race Guy culture. This contrasts with the Bounty Hunter Player Character, whom the game encourages to be a shameless flirt. Driven home when he meets up with the female PC on Taris: held at gunpoint by Torian, she gets the option to flirtatiously tell him she just couldn't stay away after their previous meeting, which confuses him enough for her to get the drop on him. He is in fact the subject of the Romance Sidequest for female Hunters, and if un-romanced or if the PC is male, he comes to them for dating advice.

    Web Animation 


    Web Original 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Billy, in the beginning, cannot speak to Penny (Laundry Day/ See you there/ Under things, tumbling/Want to say/ love your hair/ there I go, mumbling). This may or may not apply to all women, as Penny is the only female character in the first two acts.
  • In DEATH BATTLE!, according to Boomstick, Wizard gets shot down by women easily.
    Boomstick: (after Wiz does the lowdown on Harry Potter's Firebolt's acceleration) That's faster than Wiz gets shot down by a woman!
    Wizard: Right! ...Wait, no— back to spells!
  • The Deserter Cain from AJCO is the only character who suffers from this, which is unfortunate as the women he spends the most time with are a manipulative old woman and a violent, condescending cyborg. Ought to be noted that he still flusters even when around the least intimidating female on the whole server, a teenager younger than him by several years - he cannot talk to any woman.

    Western Animation 
  • Double D from Ed, Edd n Eddy has serious problems speaking to girls, which becomes a key plot point in "May I Have This Ed?", as he tries to avoid going to the prom at all costs.
  • Soos from Gravity Falls can talk to women fine in general, but not when he's actually looking for a girlfriend. He freezes up and spouts whatever first pops into his mind, leading to pick-up lines such as "Your face is good! I'm a Soos!". It takes the equally shy Melody to coax him out of it.
  • In early episodes of South Park, Stan was so nervous around Wendy Testaburger he'd throw up whenever she'd so much as walk by, at least once causing a Vomit Chain Reaction.
  • DC Super Hero Girls: Gender-flipped. Diana is an Amazon princess who has been trained in combat, athletics, history, diplomacy, debate, leadership, and basically everything a young girl could possibly be expected to need in any situation. But the island had no men on it, so when Diana suffers Love at First Sight when she sees Steve Trevor, she immediately becomes a completely useless blubbering mess.
    Jessica: The Amazons prepared her for everything... except talking to boys.
  • In the Family Guy episode "To Love And Die In Dixie", Chris gets established of having a hard time talking to girls, his nervousness either leaving him unable to get the words out or creating awkward situations when he does. After spending the episode making friends with a new Alabamian neighbor, Sam, only to realize that Sam's a girl, he ends up finding a way to get over his insecurity.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cannot Talk To Men


Trying to talk to Gabriella

Cricket is in such mad love with Gabriella that he can barely even get a sentence out even when he's that close to her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / CannotTalkToWomen

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