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Understanding The Avoidant Personality: 6 Ways to Cope


Have you ever had a relationship with someone who appeared loving and interested in the relationship, only to later pull away when things got too “involved?” Did you raise a child who would hug you and show you unconditional love one moment, and the next totally detach from you as if you were a stranger? What about your own mother or father. Did they love you in a strange way, often equating “separateness” or “independence” with love or strength? If this sounds familiar, then perhaps this article is for you. About 5.2% of the US adult population is affected by avoidant personality disorder and almost every contributor (about 60) in the comments section claimed to have experienced a relationship with avoidant characteristics.  This article will explore avoidant personalities and offer tips on how to cope with an avoidant personality.  

154 Comments to
Understanding The Avoidant Personality: 6 Ways to Cope

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  1. I am happy there are a lot of articles about this disorder something I have dealt with some family members for numerous years, and recently my boyfriend who was very attentive in the beginning, and now after months is displaying this disorder with the exception of the being entirely anti-social as he goes out with a friend once a week.

    • Hi Marie:
      Thank you for your comment.
      Avoidant personality disorder traits are very difficult to pinpoint at times because people with social anxiety disorder, depression, or even antisocial personality disorder (i.e., sociopaths) can all display the same traits. Therapists are in for quite the test when they have to differentiate between symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. Perhaps your boyfriend is depressed, which can often lead to isolation and disinterest in socializing or participating in activities once enjoyed. Perhaps, however, your boyfriend is anxious and cannot socialize. So…as you can see, it can get complicated!

      You can, however, still observe behaviors on your own and do research on them using Google. This may help you pinpoint what the problem is and, if you are still with him, help him cope or help yourself cope!
      All the best

  2. i have fear in many people. i dont want to make fun. i allways think to be embarrassed. i am afraid of embarrassment. i cannot do my report to be present in front of the class because i am actually shy. i think always as negative. i am advance in thinking that this will happen next. thats why i always postpone if i cannot do such responsibility as a student.

    • Hi Kanne:
      Thank you for your comment. From what you describe, you seem more socially anxious than anything. I wouldn’t say you have, from what you discuss, an avoidant personality. However, I would certainly have to do a more in-depth clinical evaluation and really focus in on your history in order to know for sure. But from what you describe, you sound socially anxious. Have you heard of social anxiety disorder? If you aren’t familiar with all of the symptoms, you can find more information on it here: http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder.

      The next step might be for your to pursue therapy or medication if your symptoms are interfering with your life. You can find local resources by visiting http://www.therapytribe.com/ and putting in your zip code or city. You can also ask about mental health resources at your local medical hospital. You can even bring up your symptoms to your personal doctor and ask about medication or therapy.

      I wish you well

  3. Hi, really interesting article.
    I have a question, when I was younger I remember feeling too close or feeling too much affection towards someone (friend, boyfriend, etc) and then nothing.
    I work in my house, because working in an office was very stressful. Now I live alone with my dogs, have a good relationship with my family, but I really don’t feel love for any of them (except my dogs).
    I treat my family well, I am polite, I help them when they need, etc, because I know I have to do it, but I don’t feel anything. It has to do with this?
    Thanks a lot

    • Thank you Elbe for your comment.
      Your question is a tough question because I would need much more information on your history than you are able to provide. But perhaps you are experiencing the anhedonia and numbness of depression, or the disconnectedness of a personality disorder. If this is something that has truly interfered with your life, I would encourage you to seek professional advice. Even if you don’t feel you need therapy, you can receive a psychiatric evaluation to see what might be found.

      All the best

  4. Hello,

    I’ve been dating this guy for nine months. From the beggining we have been really close. We are both grad students. We spend most of our time together doing activities so naturally i expect to become very close with this person. It seems he is very guarded and distant even though he is very affectionate. He does not have a close relationship with hid family and comes from a dysfunctional one. Our issues began when he refused to stop talking to an ex who he has been exchanging gifts,cards, and keeping a flirtatious corespondence with for over eight years even though their relationship only lasted three months and has never seen her again since. He told her to stop since i was jealous vs just defending me. He has never had a stable or longterm committed relationship before which concerns me esp. Since he is 33. His longest relationship was 1.5 years long distance with a married older woman whose husband divorced her because of their affair and she continued to cheat on him with influential wealthy men which prompted him to cheat too. He often breaks up quickly with women labeling them as boring and spent lots of time developing superficial romantic relationships. I found out he has lied substantially to me about previous relationships. For example he lied about never cheating, the length of relationships, an abortion he and an ex had, his last partner before me (2 weeks before), denies certain feelings, that he never brought a woman to his home before me, etc. He says that i am different and has shown commitment to seeking help by going to a counselor, and promising never to lie again. He also talks about marriage and is making long term plans with me. However i am afraid he has avoidant personality disorder. He was raised by a single mom who was abused by his father and had another family and wife. His fathers side of the family was abusive towards his mother as well. He avoids talking to her since he feels helpless in helping her health and financial situation since he is in a different country. He hasnt been back to his country in 5 years and instead has traveled all around the world for superficial romantic engagements with women. Since we started dating i encourage him to connect w his mother and he has made more effort and is finally planning to go back to visit his mother and confront his resentment of his country. I notice the change in him but i also see red flags ie lying since he says he doesnt want to taint his image and be judged or trily known to me. Trust has been broken but is it possible to rebuild trust with someone who has apd? if thats what he has. Or am i wasting my time?

    • Hi Tina:
      Thank you for reaching out. You are certainly in a difficult situation. Individuals who have been dating or seeing each other often find out the deepest details as they go along. So it is good that you have dated this person for 9 months and haven’t made any life-long moves yet. Many women do and this often leads to greater pain and sorrow.

      Now, more specific to your question. It is greatly concerning that your significant other has never had a long-term, deeply intimate relationship with anyone. It’s even more concerning that he has not even had a close relationship with his family and that he struggles with family dysfunction. These two details are called “risk factors” because they put him at great risk for lacking the necessary skills needed for having a successful, healthy relationship with anyone. He will need to learn how to develop appropriate boundaries, respect other’s feelings and thoughts, and develop the ability to remain committed to someone he cares about.

      An individual who develops superficial relationships are doing 1 of 2 things:
      1.) Fearing the emotional connection necessary for love and commitment, thus keeping himself protected.
      2.) Playing out who he really is (someone unable to connect at a deeper level) as a result of his past relational experiences

      I want to encourage you to really consider whether this is someone you could spend your life with or even develop a deeper relationship with. If this person has not shown you that they are willing to pay attention to only you, you have a developing problem with this person already. I think you have the right answers deep inside but perhaps are not willing to accept your truth. Nine months is a rather long time to know someone and you have more than likely gotten your hopes up about this person and a possible future with them. The challenge for you is accepting the truth you see, developing strength and courage, and moving on if that is the best choice at this point.

      From what you have shared with me, it is the best decision. This person, no matter how sweet or charming, is “disabled” by his past and his inability to develop healthy attachments. If this individual does indeed have avoidant personality disorder, it will be difficult for this person to trust others, develop healthy bonds, and reciprocate appropriately in the relationship. Therapy is often helpful, but it is a long, tedious road.

      Negative childhood experiences have a strange way of tainting the behavior and thinking patterns of the person. Years and years of negative developmental experiences will not be healed in a few therapy sessions or by medication. It will take a lifetime of self-evaluation, developing trust, and understanding how relationships work. Not being able to develop healthy relationships or attachments is a great void. It’s not only a void for the person with this disorder, but the people wanting a relationship with this person.

      I wish you well

  5. Hi,
    I believe I have avoidant personality. I have all the symptoms and this has been a life long pattern, although I do not have an official diagnosis. I am now working with a therapist but she is not a specialist in this area. I was wondering if you have any advice to help me. Would you advise I get a diagnosis ? Would it change anything? Also I am worried my son will have the same disorder. I believe my Mother had it and turned to alcohol to deal with it . I have a daughter who does not show any signs . My son (11 years old) is not shy and does well at school but he is like me in some parts of his personality. What age will it show if he does have it ? How can I help him if he does have it ? I would be grateful for any comments you have on this. Thank You.

    • Hi Anna:
      Thank you for your comment and your questions. I do not profess to have all the right answers, but I have a few suggestions that might help.
      Have you tried searching for a therapist who specializes in or has experience in working with personality disorders? You can find a therapist with modest fees at: http://www.psychologytoday.com by clicking on “find a therapist.” You can read the profiles of the therapists listed and even email to ask about their fees. Some may offer you a “sliding scale fee” which will allow you to pay according to your income.

      You can also receive a mental health evaluation from your local adult outpatient clinic. Your insurance, if you have insurance, should cover this. You can tell them that you are seeking a second opinion. You can also tell them that you have a suspicion that you suffer from a personality disorder or social isolation. Tell them about your long family history. You might find the answer you are seeking.

      Keep in mind, however, that a diagnosis can be very tricky. Just because you have certain symptoms and so too does your family, doesn’t mean you have avoidant personality disorder. You could have traits of the disorder, but not the full-blown disorder. If you strongly believe you have avoidant personality disorder, you may need to go through multiple therapists until you find the correct diagnosis. This is a sad reality in the mental health system, but a very real scenario. Many kids, for example, are diagnosed with ADHD, but later find that they were suffering from bipolar disorder. After multiple medications, therapists, and evaluations, some people find the correct diagnosis and treatment.

      If you feel you are currently not receiving the right diagnosis or treatment, you may have to move on to another therapist. Now, receiving the diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder will not change much. Some changes might include type of treatment offered. In some cases, the way the mental health system perceives you can also change. Believe it or not, some individuals with the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder are often shunned by some therapists as “dramatic,” and therefore, are played down in many settings. It’s a bias that makes this diagnosis very stigmatized.

      Finally, as far as your son, your son could possibly have the traits you have. Some disorders, if not all of them, have a genetic component. It’s unlikely that a child or teen will have avoidant personality disorder. The disorder is usually diagnosed in early adulthood (age 18), but your son could be diagnosed with conduct disorder or some disorder that has traits similar to avoidant personality disorder. The best way to help your son is to get him an evaluation if his behaviors are interfering with his life.
      I wish you well

  6. i have this.

    Sometimes I want to kill a bunch of people. When I was younger I wasn’t like this. I *did* used to cut my arms but this is different, it’s like there is a pot boiling inside me and nothing helps except punching walls and breaking things. 

    I am a recluse, I got rid of everyone after they abandoned me when my son died, and I can not connect to anyone on earth. Never been able to. I think that every person I ever got close to treated me like garbage and condescended to me and never thought much of me, while I gave them all my love. That didn’t mean much to them. So I guess I don’t mean much at all. I hate because of this. 

    I can not cope with life any longer. I can not lie and pretend like the others do. I want life but I can not find it. I hate because of this too. 

    • Susan, thank you for sharing your touching story and view of life.
      You know, you are not the only one who feels this way. Believe it or not, many of us have experienced, are experiencing, or will experience exactly the feelings of apathy that you express. I can honestly say there has been a time in my life where I felt no one cared about the love and concern I felt for them. Most of us can relate to you if we’re honest. Even people from so-called “privileged lifestyles” feel the way you do. I refer to your feelings as “the human experience.”

      Have you considered seeking therapy? Have you tried a type of therapy known as existential therapy? Existential therapy is wonderful and it’s something I use a lot with many of my clients. It focuses a great deal on matters of life such as those you mention. It’s a wonderful way to discuss those issues most therapists shy away from (meaning or purpose in life, spirituality, God, hopelessness, lonliness, grief, death, life, etc). It’s one of my favorite approaches to use with clients.

      The best way to find an existential therapist is to research therapists in your area at: find a therapist.

      The other thing that is very important here is your statements about harming others and yourself. I encourage you to seek help if you ever feel violent toward anyone including yourself. You are worth more than all of your negative feelings and experiences. Believe that.
      All the best to you

      • Thank you for your kindness and words. 😀 I am not young and have never yet been violent, ever. I will seek help soon to work through the anger. I know sometimes when one has experienced childhood abuse and rejection, and they come to some sort of emotional culmination through sudden memory, trigger, etc.. the experience c an be overwhelming. I think I have sort of come to the end of my limits regarding the lifestyle and environment I was born into and my inability to escape (moving means money) so there is a lot welling up inside.

      • Hi Susan:
        I totally understand this perspective and many other people could as well. It seems to me that as we age, we get to a place where everything finally starts making sense, we develop a non-tolerant attitude toward the things that once harmed us, and we get to a place where we reflect upon our experiences more deeply. I’m sure I will get to the place where you are in some ways once I age into my 40s and up. In some ways, I’m already there. My own mother and grandparents are where you are and this often leads to depression. In other cases Susan, it can lead to an epiphany that will enlighten your future experiences. In a way, where you are is a beautiful place because you’ll learn more about yourself (if you haven’t already) and perhaps develop greater strength than you’ve ever had.
        I wish you all the best

        Take care

  7. “Avoidant personality disorder traits are very difficult to pinpoint at times because people with social anxiety disorder, depression, or even antisocial personality disorder can all display the same traits.”
    This is what I am finding. I have been diagnosed with depression for 24 years (I’m 44). And for the longest time I though my inability to forma long term relationship was solely because of the depression. Now I suspect I could have love avoidance because my depressive episodes are often triggered by me sabotaging a loving relationship. And I suffered some trauma at 13 by becoming the parental figure when my mom was hospitalized at the time for depression. Is love avoidance always tied to childhood trauam? And how does love avoidance related to commitment phobia? Are they the same? Thank you.

    • Hi Jim:
      Thanks for your comment and such a good question. What you call “love avoidance” may in fact be a variety of things such as trauma, anxiety, a phobia of some sort, or simple fear due to a traumatic history where you may have felt betrayed, ignored, unloved, and hopeless. Are you seeing a therapist Jim? If not, I encourage you to try it. You can visit psychologytoday.com or therapytribe and type in your zipcode under “find a therapist.” You might find, if you haven’t already, that a therapist can help you explore through many discussions just what might be causing this so-called “love avoidance.” I know many clients who avoid a love/romantic relationship because it makes them vulnerable and they’ve experienced that vulnerability in a negative way in their past. The best way to deal with this is head on. A good therapist with training in interpersonal relationships or family therapy might really be helpful for you.

      I love your terminology Jim! “Commitment phobia” and “love avoidance.” Although these aren’t clinical terms you are using, you are still expressing a fear of commitment and avoidance of love relationships. I would even search for a therapist who can discuss anxiety with you and help you delve into your childhood a bit.

      I wish you all the best

    • “Love avoidance”…what BS. I certainly hope people like you just stop trying to engage in serious relationships before you damage any more people.

  8. That was a really interesting article. I’ve been diagnosed with social phobia and is set to begin group therapy soon but ever since I heard about AvPD I can’t stop thinking that I might have it. Because I feel like my situation is so much worse than for someone with “just” social phobia. I constantly think that people around me (that includes family and close friends) don’t wanna be with me and I live in CONSTANT fear of being judged and ridiculed. I avoid people close to me because of this. And despite them telling me otherwise, as soon as I’m alone again the negative thoughts come back. I am so tired of feeling like this and I feel like the social phobia treatment might not work all that well for me since I have issues not only with public speaking and likewise, but in close relationships as well. I’ve tried taking this up with my doctor but she dismissed me and now I’m afraid to bring it up again. I would really appreciate an answer because I have no idea what to do.

    • Hi Elin:
      Thank you for your input and compliment. I’m glad you found it useful.
      It isn’t uncommon to second guess your diagnosis or even believe you have been misdiagnosed. Because social phobias and anxiety disorders can be closely related to avoidant personality disorder (APD), it is likely that you (and many other people) have been misdiagnosed. The best way to determine this is to seek a second opinion from someone who is experienced in treating personality disorders or social anxiety. The reason I encourage you to seek someone experienced is because this person will be able to identify your symptoms better and help you “dismiss” a wrong diagnosis. Someone experienced can also refer you to a specialist who can treat you. I encourage you to try searching for a specialist or a therapist who can assess you for APD from TherapyTribe or even psychologytoday.com (by clicking on “find a therapist”).

      In addition to this, I would give group therapy for social phobia a chance before you seek out anything else. It’s good to keep an open mind about your current treatment because once you make up your mind that it won’t help, you reduce the chances that it will. Give it a shot and see how you feel after a few weeks. If you are still not feeling right about this treatment, try something else. You might even have to try a different doctor if you feel “dismissed.” This is not the way you should feel. I would, however, caution you that perhaps your doctor has the right perspective and doesn’t want to feed into your concerns because it closes your mind to your current treatment. Who knows! Keep in mind, ultimately, you have control over what type of treatment you want and who you want to receive treatment from.

      I wish you well

  9. hi i would like to know that are teens affected by personality disorder ???? cause i dont know but i many times feel that i dont love any one but my self and many times feel like running and screaming from where i live and i have been deprived of love since I was a child and i am a person with a troubled past and i feel like a total misfit and there’s so much anger in me that i feel like breaking the whole house and i cant even love my mom my dad n not even my self and there are times when i feel that why was i born and i think i really need some psychiatric help so it would be a real favour if you would reply and give me your opinion and insight.

    thank you so much,
    vallrin.

    • hi Vallrin:
      Thanks for reaching out. You are certainly in a tough position and I do want to encourage you to seek counseling. Ask your mom or dad or even a teacher to help you find mental health counseling. Tell someone that you trust that you feel you would benefit from counseling or therapy. It is tough reaching out and letting people know that you need them to help you. But give yourself and your life a chance by reaching out for help. You indeed did that by contacting me!

      Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what you might be going through because I would have to see you in person. But I would say that you could be struggling with a lot such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD (a disorder that occurs after a traumatic history), and many other things. This is why it is important to tell someone that you need therapy because a therapist can evaluate you to see what you might have.

      Teens cannot be diagnosed with a personality disorder because you are still growing. Young people who turn 18 are more likely to have a personality disorder. But you could be showing some traits or “symptoms” of a personality disorder early. Please reach out…you won’t regret it.
      Take good care of yourself.

      • thank you so much for your reply and sorry that i wasn’t able to contact you as soon as possible but you said that personality disorders are seen in people or teens who turn 18 or are 18 and the thing is that ill be turning 18 in nearly two months so just wanted to clarify that can i have avoidant personality disorder ?? or any other personality disorder ??? cause it might be that at times i might be overreacting but the thing that still haunts me is that as much as i am willing to forget my past i just cant and its cause i see small children with their parents and it reminds me that how my mom left me emotionally damaged by leaving me wen i was 5 yrz old and since then i have been having various mood swings and i find myself unstable so there as just some questions in my mind and totally confused and at loss so i am writing this in the hope that you will be able to throw some light on these issues
        thank you again 🙂
        vallrin

      • HI Vallrin:
        I can sense the anxiety in your questioning. As I said in our previous discussion, it would be difficult to determine what you have right now because I’d have to meet you in person and go over your history, symptoms, etc. But what I can tell you is that you should have a therapist evaluate you. If you have insurance, you can ask your local hospital for information on local mental health therapists who could see you each week. You can also go to http://www.therapytribe.com and type in your zipcode to locate a therapist.

        Sometimes if you truly believe you have a personality disorder, you are sensing the right thing. Perhaps you do, perhaps you don’t. I’m not sure what you could have. It could simply be anxiety. This is why I encourage you to see someone soon.
        I wish you the best

  10. I think this article is very interesting and allows an opportunity for more observation to be given concerning the close proximity of the characteristics that this type of disorder entails in comparison to many other that have very similar characteristics.

    • Thank you Latoya. I’m glad it was helpful. 🙂

  11. I have been a relationship with a man for the last 18 months. I thought we were great friends above everything else. He did blow hot &cold from very early on in the relationship saying things like ” I don’t want us to be so close or see each other as often” but then a coupe, of days later he would text me and ask me to go out. I didn’t try and put and put any pressure on him, I was happy because of my circumstances to take things slowly, although I really grew to like him as. A person and value the time we had together. He asked me to go on holiday with him and we had a fantastic time. He wasn’t particularly anxious for sex, although we did have a physical realtionship that seemed to work.
    One night around six weeks ago, we were out together and, as always, having a gretq laugh, lots of conversation when all of a sudden he turned to me and said that he had developed a “possible” connection with someone else and he was going to try and pursue it. I was naturally upset and he began to say ” what is the problem?” Then he said he had become “bored” with our relationship and that he had been trying to tell me for ages that he wanted to cool things and. I took no notice.
    I have been devastated since. I don’t think this other relationship exists in reality. I think it’s a fantasy! What has really upset me is that one minute we were having a great time , the next he was doing this!
    Since this time I have tried desperately to talk to him. We have been out a couple of times but he won’t talk. He gets mad and I get mad because it seems he won’t “hear” me. All I can see is that the friendship we had has disintegrated into this and where I once felt I could trust the real me with him, now I feel anxious and wary. If is horrible to feel like that.
    I have been reading a book called “Attached” and I am realising that he is Avoidant and his behaviour has made me anxious and appear needy. I am feeling embarrassed about how things are but after reading the book I am beginning to realise that the problem is more his than mine!
    I think I have pushed him away and I wish I I had known and understood him more a bit earlier. I feel I have lost him forever , as a partner and as a friend and the latter hurts much more!
    Very sad!!

    • Hi there “Edgy,”
      Thank you for writing in and sharing your story. Believe it or not, your relationship mirrors many relationships today and your emotions mirror those of individuals who have experienced avoidant personalities. Firstly, I want to commend you on getting out of the relationship because if he isn’t healthy, you won’t be either. Relationships involving avoidant personalities often entail an imbalanced emotional and psychological connection where the healthier person is more likely to give more than the unhealthy, avoidant person. We must keep in mind that although the core of avoidant personality disorder is fear, the person is unhealthy mentally and emotionally which can affect your stability. You will likely feel very drained, stressed, and as you stated, “desperate and needy.” You will most likely feel needy and desperate or as if you are giving more in the relationship than the avoidant person.

      Even if he were to get therapy, it would take him a long time to develop the skills he needs to have a healthy relationship. The therapy process can be painful. I know it might be difficult to see past all the qualities he has and maybe even see past his kindness or whatever drew you to him. This is what makes personality disorders difficult to live with because the unhealthy person with the disorder cannot see just how much they are harming other’s around them. That’s one of the biggest problems with personality disorders. Individuals with personality disorders view the world entirely different than you might and changing those thoughts or perspectives is difficult if not impossible. I encourage you to do a single Google search on treating avoidant personality disorder.

      In cases such as yours, I often encourage the person to keep a distance, protect themselves emotionally and psychologically, and maybe even end the relationship if it is too detrimental and unhealthy. It will be difficult, but you will thank yourself for doing it in the long run.
      All the best to you

      • Thank you. Yes, it is difficult. I live in a very small town and dread bumping until him. I expect he will ask nd out again, as a friends!! I want to say no!!, this week he is away on holiday and I have done so much thinking.
        Yours right. He isn’t healthy mentally and the effect on me has been though. I keep a journal and reading if back this us such a pattern, yet I kept raking him back, so grateful that he still wanted me!, that feels pathetic now.
        He would tell me that I am a lovely person who deserves so much and then he has done this!!, clearly unstable!,
        Thanks again. The jigsaw pieces are fitting!, but why do I still like him!??

  12. I think I have just been reading about me. This is me and now I understand why my relationships don’t work… I don’t like to share my deepest thoughts (scared the other will run away), need time alone, I don’t get close easily to people because I don’t open up (scary to do so), and then I’m dissapointed that I just don’t seem to easily make friends. Last year I met someone that I thought was great, she could have become a friend, but she even told me once “that I never show my true self”, which is true… But now that I know, what can I do about it?

    • Hi Bella:
      Thank you for your comment. It’s tough to tell what the “remedy” would be in such a situation. Opening up to others is difficult and truly requires that you trust the other person or know how to show bits of yourself overtime. I am “slow to warm up” and have always shared bits of myself a little overtime. You certainly don’t have to share your entire hand just to have friends! If you do, then that’s not a real friend as I’m sure you are aware of of.

      I would encourage you to consider either therapy or support groups. You can also consider practicing opening yourself up to others each day. If you find someone who seems kind and open to you, try to share a little about yourself or your day and take baby steps each day. Sharing a little about yourself with people around you, might help you learn how to overcome being afraid to share.

      I wish you all the best

  13. Although I don’t think I have the “disorder”, I do recognize myself in a lot of the symptoms…

  14. Hello!
    I’m comming in a community where there is this guy,
    who I’ve fallen in love with. I’ve known him for a year now,
    and until now we’re just friends. I started to really like him
    a half year ago, and I’ve tried almost everything, I think, to
    try to allude to him the fact that I like him. Just to figure
    out whether he’s feeling the same. But nothing.
    It’s not many times I’ve been all on my own with him, but when
    I had then he’s just very nice. We talk well together.
    We have this common friend who knowns about my love for my guy,
    and he’s trying to help me. But he thinks my guy is
    avoidant, because he’s 24 and never had a girlfriend, and he’s
    not interested either.
    I know he doesn’t have a close relationship to his parents, and
    I researced a bit about avoidants, and then I discovered this can
    be one of the reasons for this avoidant behavior.
    So what should I do? My friend says I just need to get to know
    him more, and then maybe something will happen. But how do I
    do this the best way? I don’t want to intimidate him.

    Thanks a lot in advance!
    Best regards,
    Anni

    • Hi Anni,
      What a complicated case you have here. There are two ways to look at this. 1.) He sees you but isn’t interested or 2.) He doesn’t understand cues and would do better with a direct statement. Lets face it, guys can be very difficult to communicate with and sometimes you just have to come out with it. The other way to look at this young man is that he is probably going through a lot due to not having a relationship with his parents or even others. Perhaps there is more to this story than meets the eye! Of course, he could certainly be avoidant, but he could also not be interested or just simply doesn’t get it. The best way to deal with this might be to have a very blatant conversation with him.
      Take good care of yourself!

      • Thanks a lot for the answer! 🙂

        Have a nice day!

  15. My boyfriend and I lived together for four years. He had a rough upbringing with alcoholism and emotional neglect. When we met we seemed to have an instant bond. We did everything together, watched movies, went places, and laughed together every day. We called each other soulmates and said “I love you” every night before we went to sleep. We had sex regularly as well. He always did have trouble communicating. When I was talking directly to him he would stay silent. He wouldn’t look at me or even turn down the volume on the TV. If we had a disagreement he seemed to completely shut down. He would even lay down and close his eyes, or even put a blanket over his face. He would always later apologize, and I knew he did suffer from some anxiety and bouts of depression, as well as low self esteem, but it was frustrating. I knew these behaviors were dysfunctional, but I never knew how bad it could get. A couple of months after our 4th anniversary we spent the week together, just like we did every year when the kids went away for the week in the summer with their father. Everything was great. A couple of weeks later he began acting very cold and distant toward me. It was out of the clear blue. After a couple of days I asked him if anything was wrong but he said no. I was suspicious and confused, I had a feeling I was losing him, but I didn’t know why. One night it looked like he was chatting with someone on his iPad. He even put a passcode on it, which he had never done before. Of course I figured it out, and I saw he was talking to an 18 year old girl at work, he is 28. They were “baby” this and “baby” that. They had already kissed and did some other things. He told her about his “situation” liek he was in jail with me or something. I felt physically sick. I confronted him, he broke down sobbing with me, said he never meant to hurt me, etc. I asked him to stop seeing her and go to counseling with me or move out, he chose to move out for a girl he was talking to for 2 weeks. He turned into a complete stranger to me. He said he had been “unhappy for months” and that he didn’t love me anymore. What did I miss? No one is that good of an actor. I think he had been having a workplace flirtation with this girl for months and around the time he began acting differently was when it crossed the line. I now suspect he has more than just anxiety, depression and social anxiety. I think he may have Avoidant personality or at least some traits of it. There seems to be no other explanation for his ability to completely disconnect from me in a matter of 2 weeks.He moved out 3 weeks ago and I am left with more questions than answers.

  16. I started seeing this guy 5 years ago. And since the very beginning he wasn’t consistent. He gets upset if I see others inbetween, he will fall out with me for weeks after silly arguments even if we make up afterwards I will be sure to not hear from him for a while and he will ignore me. We became very close last year then he had to go away he got suspicious that I was out with another guy and again fell out with me and when he came back told me he didn’t want a relationship. We continued seeing each other then stopped speaking for months. When I eventually contacted him after he asked why it took so long. We saw each other again and again we became eztremely close and again another break and I thought enough is enough. I told him I’m
    In love with him and asked why he was treating me like this. We spent the next 3 weeks together again and I stupidly mentioned another guy and he got super upset and became cold and dismissive. I noticed he had then started making contact with random girls on Facebook. I raised this and he mentioned that we are not married and I’m doing this too. He then spoilt me immensely on my birthday, told me he didn’t want a relationship that evening then took me away to the hamptons for his. Showed me an amazing time was so attentive and romantic then stopped speaking to me again. What kind of behaviour is this ?

    • Hi there.
      I would say this is a person who certainly has an “avoidant” and emotionally detached demeanor. There is certainly some personality issues here that collides with your perspective of healthy relationships. Have you discussed these issues with him and some of the ways you feel he “avoids” you? It’s difficult to determine but sometimes people are just not ready to be in a relationship due to their emotional “baggage” and may need to step away until they actually can. Some people need to step away for good because the relationship will never grow and move forward, but rather stay stuck.

      It doesn’t appear to me that he is healthy enough to be in a relationship. A relationship between two equal adults consists of many reciprocal interactions that reinforces both of your needs to be close, be intimate(in mind, body, and soul), to grow, and to share. This is not a relationship where he is “sharing” or being open. You cannot build on this! Right now, he’s “in control” because he keeps you wondering and responding to him, even after he breaks things off for a while. I encourage you to explore your reasons for responding to him or contacting him after months of no contact. What are your goals? Are you curious? Why? Who is doing the most “pulling” in this relationship?

      If he is capable of not speaking to you for a while and seems to “disappear” perhaps you should question his dedication to the relationship or willingness to be transparent. Has he been this way in the past?

      I wish you the best with this complicated personality. I’ve had my fair share of encounters!

  17. Hi,
    Thank you, this article is very insightful. This is me, but have not realised this before. I have turned into this, Is that possible? I am in a amazing but volatile relationship since almost 3 years, with someone I adore and respect and love dearly,a person that is very grounded, with a strong personality. In the beginning I was positive, adventurous and excited about our venture in love, it felt natural and perfect. But since a year I found myself almost being obsessed about his fidelity, as he had a history of being unfaithful. This has trigerred a fear in me. And since then and I am pulling back, wanting to break the relationship, jeopardising our situation, being moody, I have in the heat of arguments asked/begged him to leave me numerous times. I have always felt that because of his strong potentially dominant, alpha male traits I am resisting being walked over, with him I always feel like I need to put up a fight to exist and he is never wrong, but I believe after reading your article perhaps I have a problem. I have a fear of being hurt, abandoned……fragile self esteem. I know that I became so unstable. I have always find it difficult being social, but have always had quality one on one relationships, and really tried to stay social, connected and challenged but lately I want to isolate myself completely. I have tried therapy for the last years but feels like nothing is really helping. I need to be probably diagnosed I suppose. thank you

    • Thank you Lou for your comment.
      Avoidant Personality Disorder is a complicated disorder to live with, diagnose, and treat. It takes years of psychiatric treatment, medication to help with anxiety, and therapy. It is very common to feel like nothing is helping. It’s a long journey and we all have different needs. Perhaps the type of therapy you have pursued isn’t useful to your needs. I encourage you to learn more about different therapy styles such as existential, CBT, trauma-based, etc. You can simply google these things to find out more information. A trauma therapist would easily focus on how your life and things that have occurred in your life can affect your attachment, emotions, and relationships. Existential therapists do the same but focus mainly on how you can operate more effectively in your life and derive meaning from your experience.

      Sometimes therapy doesn’t work because we’re either not finding good therapists (which is very difficult) or we have a therapist who doesn’t focus on the things we need them to focus on.

      I hope this motivates you to give it another try and really look for the therapist that focuses on avoidance personalities, attachment, or relationships.
      I wish you the best

  18. Hi Tamara, you article as really interesting, i really appreciated it. I have just broken up with this guy after a 20 month relationship. he is 57, somewhat older than me, divorced after a 20 year horrible, toxic marriage. his ex-wife has recently died after long illness and suffering, where my boyfriend was standing by her and i was standing by him. so we have just gone through an emotionally draining period. moreover, i know his dad was a crude and agressive man who often physically abused and cheated on his mother, and that he has a particularly close relationship with his mother now that she’s 86.
    at the beginning of our relationship i only wanted a friendship with “benefits” with this man, i wanted to be pals with him and also have sex and i told him so. but it turned out that we were really very similar inside, it seemed like he and i were the same person in our likes, sensibilities, interests, sense of humor etc., we really enjoyed being together and sharing our probems so we quickly formed a strong bond. especially he, he seemed very into me, sending me lovely emails, love poems, and wanting to be with me often. our sex life was totally beautiful and spiritual, something that i had never experienced before. this went on until i felt that i had completely fell for this man even though i had been trying hard not to. i felt that for the first time in my life i really loved someone deeply and i wasn’t just “in love”. i felt that i loved without an agenda, without wanting to take it to the next level, marriage, family, or whatever. i was just really happy the way we were and hoped it will be like this forever. at this point i never told him i loved him because it is really hard for me to say those words or talk about my feelings, and he is the same, never talks about his feelings. and he never said he loved me either. but we often said how much we cared for each other or missed each otehr, etc. there was a period of about 10 months when we were both very happy in this situation. then the problems began. first there were scenes of jealousy on his part and accusations that i didn’t want to spend time with him, make love to him, etc… when it was so obviously unfounded. then he started to want to spend less time with me and he often rejected my proposals to be together, he withdrew saying he needed alone time or was busy, while at the same time the jealousy and the accusations that i wasn’t interested in him, continued. there were periods of total bliss and harmony alternating with periods of rejection and pulling away on his part. not being able to cope with the stress, i tried to end the relationship many times. but at this point he always pulled me back and i didn’t have the strength to go through with the separation.during one of our blissful periods just very recently, i decided to open my heart, something that is extremely had for me to do, and i explained to him that i truly loved him, that it wasn’t the usual blind love when you are in love and don’t see the other person clearly but something that i felt was based on his real person, the way he really is. although he didn’t say he loved me, too, that day he seemed really happy withthis confession and i was happy too that i was able to be completely open with a man regarding my feelings. but shortly after this, he became distant and wanted to spend even less time with me than before. the more he was pulling away though, the more i suffered and tried to close the gap he had created. it just all degenerated to the point where i finally broke it off – today 🙁 – and now he seems to agree that this is a good decision, although even when i confronted him, he didn’t clearly say so. it was a bit hard for me to understand why he was into me for so long and then, when the relationship could have gone to the next level he pulled away. and also why, if he had no feelings for me anymore, he didn’t just say so and send me on my way. but it seems to me that his previous relationship had followed the same pattern. he often referred to his other women as too clingy, which is why he broke off the relationships. i honestly don’t think i was too clingy, because i just wanted to continue the relationship with the same intensity as we had before, i didn’t even want to take it to next level, like living together, etc., but now he seems to think of me as too clingy, too.
    it seems to me that this man has avoidant personality disorder, and surely i also might have something like love addicted, i don’t know. what do you think? thank you.

    • Hi Emily, Thank you for your comment.

      Firstly, this is a very complicated case and it would certainly take a therapist a while to get to know you, your history, your needs, and true wants in order to give you a detailed response that would truly reflect the truth of your situation. Because I am on the outside, I can only give you an “outsiders” opinion, if you will. The first few sentences put me on alert which were that you “wanted a friend with benefits and made that clear from the start.” This was possibly the first step toward “failure” in this relationship because you already went in with the notion of “just friends” and “friends only fulfilling sexual needs and desires” and nothing more. I suppose you could say that this “jinxed” or “structured” the relationship from the beginning. What man would not want a woman who only wants “benefits” and nothing more? Of course, he would take you up on that offer.

      Once the relationship began, you “fell for him,” which ultimately means that you wanted something more because perhaps you wanted something more all along. As you know, you don’t fall in love with someone who only offers you “benefits.” Once this happens, you are taking the relationship to a different level, whether you are aware of that or not. He went into this relationship with the idea that you only wanted “benefits” and now that you are claiming to be “in-love” with him (whether he knows that or not), you are pushing things a bit with these feelings. You may not have vocalized that you wanted things to move to another level, but your emotions are saying just that.

      Basically, the relational foundation is mixed signals and confused desires. In situations like this, it is often healthy to move on because the relationship is “confused” and both of you don’t seem quite sure what you are looking for. I wouldn’t say he has an avoidant personality disorder because the relationship itself is “avoidant” in nature. In other words, the relationship sets the stage for the type of behavior he has exhibited.

      I encourage you to pursue a therapist who can support you in exploring these relationship issues and possibly helping you determine if this is a pattern in your own life. Of course, we’ll never know exactly what kind of relationships this man has had in his life, but perhaps he could benefit from therapy as well. But in the meantime, I encourage you to be mindful of your own health and support at this time.

      Take care

  19. Hi Tamara

    I believe I might have developed an avoidant personality because of a 7 year relationship from my 19 to 26 that went awefully wrong. I was a stable, mentally healthy and very happy boy (had a wonderful childhood with happily married parents) the girl was unstable and form a broken family. So I tried to fix her, which I did but in the process I think it broke me, especially since when she was finally strong and confident she dumped me and left me with no self esteem but more important no clue of who I was and what I wanted in life because my entire life had been taking care of her.

    Anyway, after 6 months of crying and 6 months of rebuilding myself I finally realized my life was so much better without her and I had wasted so much time on her, losing my own life energy in the process. 6 months after that I met my recent ex-girlfriend. We were together for 5 years but since the beginning I had this feeling she was not the one for me.

    I was never over the top for her and instead of looking at all her good qualities (strong minded, open, fearless, loving, caring, funny, kind, loved me to death) I focused on all the things I didn’t really liked about her. Not independent from her mother, not intelligent enough, not engaged in finding herself, not interested in better quality music/books/movies, no passion for a hobby, not sporty/physical health minded enough, not interested in expressing her own femininity by dressing elegant/seductive, not exploratory of her sexual desires, too much watching tv-shows instead of going outside and discovering oneself, not adventurous enough. In many of those things I tried to stimulate her by showing, talking, discussing, but at the same time that made me feel like I was always pulling her wagon or, even worse, trying to change her into somebody she maybe was not. So I kept on saying, if you want her to change, than she is not the one for you. On the other hand I see changing in the areas I mentioned as part of discovering oneself, like I had to do after my 7 year failed relationship because I hadn’t grown during. So I also believed that she could change/blossom into a person I would feel more connected to and I waited for that to happen. Some things did change in 5 years but it was minimal and finally after having spend the last year long distance due to studies, I decided to break-up (1.5 moths ago).

    But now I wonder, every minute of every day of every hour. Did I focus on the negativities because I have become avoidant, because if a person is not perfect she is not the one? I myself am still not the same happy person I once was, full of confidence and I still don’t know what I want in life and because of that keep having a low self esteem. (So there is work on myself too) Then again, she accepted me fully for who I was with all the insecurities and we did have fun together, she did change a bit, and now that she recently started her first job and moved out of the house I wonder if the changes would increase.

    Did my avoidance behavior get stimulated by the fact that I was the one who had to pull her wagon in order for her to realize she needed to grow into a woman instead of remaining a girl? Also, did my avoidance buttons get even more pushed because there was no easy time for the relationship in 5 years, making it eerily similar to my first failed relation (even though she herself was strong in bearing all the emotional pain (unlike the first ex) caused by her home situation that was about to explode (daily fights between parents or parents and siblings while I was passive bystander living under the same roof out of practical necessity), her best friend died in an accident, parents eventually got into horrible divorce and in the process she cut all contact with her father because he acted as a jerk, her mother lost her high paying job, we went on long distance for a year, etc.)

    I also read a lot on the net that people need to actively keep being interested in each other to let real love grow while at some point I believe I stopped caring for her self growth and started focusing only on my own development and future, excluding her from my plans. If I had done the right things, looking in each others eyes, enjoying the feeling of holding hands, exploring each others bodies, going for walks, focusing on all the good things in that person,… things might have been different. Can I still do this now after the break-up? I pained her a lot so I’m not sure if she would let me try and also, living in 5 years of thinking she is not the one did not leave me with any romantic feelings for her, so I would have to force it for them to come back. On the other hand, I miss her a lot, I really want things to work with her, I remember all the fun we had. We talked deeply after the breakup about what I missed in the relation and she agreed with many things and thought change would indeed be good. We also made one attempt to “date” and see if we could get reacquainted and work on the problem but there seems to be a rift between us now and because her trust is gone she expects me to build her trust in me first before we actually become an item again and start working on the problems. But since currently there are no romantic feelings from my side, I don’t have the energy to do such a thing on my own. Especially since there is no guarantee that working on the problems will actually solve my persistent idea of her not being the right one. The thought of losing her to somebody else pains me a lot, why can’t I make it work? Am I avoidant? Did I not engage enough in the relation from the beginning out of fearful/ avoidant behavior and thus real love never had a chance to develop? If there is still a chance, should we try to save what we already build in 5 years now that I am conscious of my disorder? Or, I had so many (small) complaints, maybe I need to accept we were not right for each other after all and not try to force it?

    I’m a mess and don’t know what to do…

  20. Hi Tamara

    Thank you for a very interesting article.

    I had an ex-boyfriend, who I am very sure, had RAD. He would be very warm, tender and true affectionate/ a little shy, in one moment, and then suddenly in the next he would be very detached and cold, acting like we almost didn’t know eachother.

    My ex seemed to have traits from both borderline, but also avoidant, npd etc. What would describe him the best was actually when I read about RAD That was when it all maked sense.

    What you describe here about Avoidant personality disorder, sounds a lot similar to borderline personality disorder.
    Is there any difference between avoidant and borderline personality disorder?

    And is it possible to have both personality disorders?

    . Thanks again

  21. I was married to a woman for 14 years when she all of a sudden told me she did not feel in love with me anymore. We never had any arguments and she never told me how she felt. In looking back at our relationship, I now believe she has an avoidant personality disorder. She is extremely shy and never had any friends. She never opened up to me emotionally, and seems incapable of expressing her true feelings. The symptoms were always there, but I didn’t know what it all meant. Now I realize that she never confronted me or even disagreed with me. She just withdrew when she didn’t like something. She was passive aggressive, and never was affectionate. I met her and married her young. I never really dated anyone else so I never knew what a ”normal” relationship was. I just accepted it, and thought that she was shy, and it’s how she is.

    Reading through various articles, I realize this is what she has, but she would never accept it. Not sure what I can do to help her. But she doesn’t love me, and I don’t want a wife who doesn;t love me. She makes it seem like it’s beyond her control, when I know love is a choice. How do you stop loving someone you’ve been with for over 20 years? It is what it is…

    • Thank you Tom for your comments. It’s really difficult to live with someone for so long and then meet a bump in the road that derails everything. It’s emotionally and psychologically detrimental to everyone involved. Change is difficult, but change that comes abruptly is even more difficult. I’m glad to see that you appear insightful about what possibly went wrong and why things went wrong. Sometimes insight is all we need to heal and move on.

      I appreciate your desire to want to help her, but I caution you here because some people do not believe they need help! Most individual with personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder are difficult to treat because they are often very awkward in relationships and do not see how their behaviors affect others. In most cases, the individual will appear needy, but truly not understand the effects of their behaviors. Personality disorders are tricky and if this is something she really has, she would need professional help.

      My most famous saying is “it is what it is” because sometimes we cannot try beyond our level of capability. We can’t. The truth is that you you are left to find strength and courage to keep moving on.

      I wish you well

  22. Hi. I’ve been reading about attatchment disorder. I’ve found that there’s both avoidance and anxious attatchment disorder. I identify with anxious, but I find, in efforts to balance, sometimes I swing into the avoidance as well. I am involved with someone who shows classic signs of the avoidance attatchment disorder. Both of us has the “risk factors” and super disfunctional families and childhood trauma. I seem to idealize him, I have an extreme affection for him. Often It feels as though he doesn’t care about me at all except for sex. He says he does but cannot elaborate. (He foes do things gor me sometimes, like he fixed my washer) but no kisses or affectionate tou hes except sex, no calls or texts….All the while I overinindate him with my feelings. Can we find a happy medium or is this a really bad mix?
    Thanks, Layla

    • Hi Layla,
      Thanks for your question. If you want my honest opinion…I would encourage you to move on. If he cannot tell you why he loves and cares about you (which is not hard to do if the feelings are true), then he doesn’t love you. I often tell women and young girls that they often know the answer deep down inside but out of fear, question themselves or someone else, hoping to hear something different or to see the situation differently. Someone who seems to only want one thing (sex) and is struggling with a possible attachment disorder, is probably not healthy to fall in love with. If he is actively working on getting treatment (seeing a therapist every week or every so often) and understands his behaviors and your needs as well, I would say stick around with this guy. But it appears he is in denial about his own illness and inappropriate behaviors. I would not put too much of my hope in this situation Layla, as hard as it might be.

      Take good care of yourself

  23. I suffer and I do mean that literally from this disorder. I didn’t know anything about this disorder until recently. It is very hard for me to maintain healthy relationships. I search for myself to see why or what others will think of me.I close myself off from all emotion. I don’t want to live like this anymore. I seemingly have passed this on to my daughter. Is there a process to over coming this disorder.

    • Hi there,
      thanks for your comment.
      You are certainly dealing with a lot. I’m sorry to hear just how much this disorder has affected you and possibly your daughter. The only way through the challenges of this disorder is by pursuing a very good therapist. You want a therapist who is genuine, compassionate, patient, experienced, and willing to stay with you for as long as you need them. The best tool for dealing with attachment issues is a good and safe relationship with a therapist. That therapeutic relationship can not only teach you how to interact in a trusting relationship, but also learn the tools needed for facing challenges and fears.

      I encourage you to search for a good therapist if you don’t already have one. It will be tough and possibly a long process, but it is well worth it once you do. You can type in your zipcode for local therapists at http://www.therapytribe.com.

      All the best

  24. Hello there. Oh where to begin. It had been suggested to me that I am likely to have this disorder by my councilor.
    All the 19 years of my life have been living hell for me. When I was a baby I changed care givers within the first year of my life. Then I was gave back to my heroin induced mother for about 5 years until she went to jail for 3 years. I stayed with my alchoholic grandmother. An intense custody battle sprung up. Then my mom got out. It was great at first. I had a mom and I was happy and she was painting beautiful pictures in my mind of what our life could be. That didn’t last long. She started drinking. Both my mom and grandmother would , every night, scream and physically beat on each other. My mom was always popping up on major news stories for some shitty thing she did. We lived in a small town. The school kids made fun of me. I isolated myself. I took care of myself. It wasn’t safe to trust anyone and the world was scary. When I was about 15 we got into a car accident and rolled down an embankment. I had to be the adult. Everyone else was too toxicated. It changed something within me when I had to pull my drunk mother from the car. Around the same time , but another incident, my mom admitted that she was too intoxicated to drive so she made me. First time I ever drove. I didn’t even have a permit. All the while she is flipping people off out the window. A little bit later she went to jail again. Painting pretty little pictures. I didn’t buy it this time. When she got out she found this old guy that she pimped herself out to for pills and pot. I met him and gained some sort of weird bond with him, for he was there for me when my mother wasn’t. My mother told her boyfriend about pimping herself out to him. Her bf was never the same after that. They would both get drunk and he would beat her. I would hear it from my room. I am 18 at this time and I would storm into that room and catch him in the act. He looked like he would lunge at me but instead started punching the wall. Pushed me, and started wrecking the house. One day they were both drunk and pissed off that they went over to the one my mom pimpped herself out to and killed him and his son. That shook me. That man had been there for me when my mother had dislocated my knee. She went to jail for that and I believe she won’t get out for a long long time. I was physically and mentally abused by both mom and grandmother.
    Those are major events of my life. I went through that and still managed to get through 3 semesters of college. I have gained some sort of mental dependence on cannabis, but I more so use it to stop my intense nightmares. I didn’t turn out too bad. I cringe away from intimacy of any kind. Hugs make me tense up. I can’t keep eye contact. I haven’t made a friend since my mom dislocated my knee. I still have the friends I had before that though. I am quite charming to everyone I take the time to talk to and no one would even know that inwardly I am cringing at their sniveling petty need to draw me in for small talk. When someone even hints at a criticism I completely shut off and put on my mask of blank indifference, though inwardly I am cursing them for their insensitive nature . Then I take diggs at myself for not being able to Handel what other people can. I moved states right after my mom went to jail. I now have a job, a loving family(dad’s side), I am seeing a couciler but refuse to take legal drugs. I just stick with pot. Little by little I am learning what normal is. It’s a hard adjustment and most days I don’t leave to house except to go to work. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. I have gained a lot of wisdom and self acceptance from what was shared, also it feels nice to put my story out there. Thank you.

  25. My youngest son (who is in his twenties) has this. It stems from a time when he was 4 years old. I had been taking care of two siblings almost around the clock from the time my son was one years old. Then suddenly, their mother moved. the only time their mother had them was from one at night until 8 the next morning. These two were like my son’s brother and sister. When they moved, my son went into a 6 month depression (approx.). He appeared shy, but as he became an adult, we realized there was actually something different than shy, because he would go up to a stranger and start a conversation. He also has aspergers.

  26. Hi. I’m searching about the avoidant personality disorder and read your article.I hope you could help me.
    At first i don’t know why attending social gatherings is stressful for me. Then i would always feel like people don’t like me or don’t accept me. I would always feel like “i do not belong”. I talked to my brother about it and he said that it’s not what i think and i just have to express myself more to not feel things like this. I also talked myself about it, to not think about these things but i can’t help it. My mind would always find a way to think about it and make myself feel depressed. I would often compare myself to my friends or other people thinking they are better than me, or something like that. And i hate myself for that. I started researching if i have any personality disorder and tried a personality disorder test. And base on the results, i have Avoidant personality disorder. I’ve read the symptoms and most of them were true for me. Do i really need to undergo treatment and look for a therapist? Are there any other ways?

    • Hi Mich, thank you for your comment. I encourage you to do your own research online by looking up social anxiety disorder. The difficult part about avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety disorder is that both can look similar. This is why you would need someone who specializes in social anxiety disorder or personality disorders to have a therapy session with and possibly engage you in a series of mental health assessments. Because this can be time consuming and overwhelming, I encourage you to read up on social anxiety disorder. You can even read about child and adolescent social anxiety disorder and then move to adult social anxiety disorder. See if you see yourself and see if there are things that you can do to help yourself cope and then consider seeing a therapist. Doing all of this will help you do a process of elimination and keep you from believing that you have a personality disorder, something you may not have afterall.

      Take care.

  27. All of the online test results show I have this disorder. I have absolutely no attachments to anyone…not family, friends, nobody.

    I’ve always thought I just don’t like people.

    Is there a difference?

    • I think there is certainly a difference. There are times when i don’t “like people” and what to be alone. I was always a fan of living way out in the country near a pond with the animals, in the quiet! There’s nothing strange or abnormal about this unless you find yourself feeling detached from people in such a way that you have no empathy or concern for others. If this is the case, perhaps you are experiencing an avoidant personality disorder. However, as I stated before, it’s difficult to determine this because it could be social anxiety or even something more such as an inability to form attachments with others. An inability to form attachment with others could have something to do with your childhood.

      Great questions.

      As a side note, I will be offering online based Q&A sessions every week on Wednesdays and Thursdays on my personal site (Anchoredinknowledge.com) in January 2016 for those who have questions and would like comprehensive information. Stay tuned if this is something you’d be interested in!

      Take care

  28. Good article. Think I may have this. It seems, through what I’ve read here, that it is a life long condition, so does getting therapy even really matter? I’ve always thought me always being alone (I have a few friends and like little moments of social interaction….just not too much, just enough before I blow it & they find out I’m weird) was because I went through some molestation years and supposedly us who went thru that can’t trust and are damned to be alone….

    • Hi Scott,
      Sorry for the delay in my response.
      But thank you for your kind comment. I think therapy is a tricky endeavor because you can find a therapist who is really informed about life and themselves and who can truly share some wisdom or knowledge with you or find someone who completely confuses every aspect of your life. The search for a good therapist can be long and tedious but well worth it once you do. Getting therapy now might help you explore ideas and feelings you have hidden deep inside or refuse to look at. It might also help you figure out how to cope with “avoidance.” The only thing I would say is that you should search for the right therapist to help you.

      I wish you well

  29. I clearly have AVP. I come from a family of three siblings. My mother was the supportive parent. I am sure my relationship to her was normal when I was a baby. I do remember feeling unloved at times. I know my father loved me but he was often in a bad mood, screaming and yelling at us and my mother. Bi-Polar, very irritable. I have never been truly close to him. I have usually been alone all my life with a few romantic relationships but mostly sort of long distance crushes. I have about one or two very close friends. I am an artist, very creative. I do not mind the solitude to much but I also struggle with depression.

  30. About 6 months ago I decided to finally look into finding someone to talk to in hopes of improving my social life. I had started listening to a podcast that had a weekly Therapy segment which turned me to the idea of talking to someone.
    So, I finally built up the courage to set up a consultation with someone, I went, and that’s where I stopped. I didn’t feel comfortable with her, and I left feeling worse than before.
    So jump ahead to the present. It takes me about a month to finally look into the Employee Assistance Program my place of employment provides, and just browsing through the different disorders I stumbled on this one. Obviously I can’t self diagnose, but I had already considered that whatever it is I’m dealing with is at least based in anxiety if nothing else.
    My avoidance isn’t just limited to real life social interactions it also affects me across social media as well. Although I occasionally try to put myself out there I usually avoid public places where I’m not with at least one person that I know wants me there. I’ve also started avoiding family gatherings as well.
    As a recent example, Saturday night I went to a local baseball game, a company outing, I found a couple co-workers who seemed thrilled that I was going and met up with them. After the game was over a cover band was there to play as well. I wanted to stay and listen so bad, but because the co-workers I had came with decided to leave I couldn’t bear to stand in the crowd alone while everyone else seemed to be having a good time. I just kept picturing them seeing me as that girl who was there alone. I quickly started becoming depressed and went home before I couldn’t hide my emotions.
    I want to do things, I want to understand why it is I don’t have relationships like others seem to, why there’s always a barrier. I want close friends, to be able to be close to family. I don’t have bad relationships with anyone, I just don’t have what you would call meaningful ones. I don’t even want to consider romantic relationships, though I don’t want to be alone forever.
    What I’d really like to do is delete this entire comment and pretend I didn’t just spend the last half hour writing it.
    But I know if I don’t start somewhere, I’ll forever be hoping that one day things will snap and suddenly I’ll feel accepted somewhere.
    And I want to thank you for responding to so many of the previous comments. What you do is truly an amazing thing.

    • Hi Chris,
      Firstly, thank you so much for your honest story and for your kind comments. I am glad that I get a chance to share in on the lives of others through whatever platform I have. That’s what being a “helper” is all about.
      I’m so glad that you have learned to accept (by being open about it) where you are and the truth of your life story. I believe that when we begin to accept our reality, we develop the wisdom and strength needed to be stronger and more capable in our future. I see that for you.

      Chris, this might be helpful to you. I once spoke to a client about this very subject and shared these words with her:

      I want to make you aware of the fact that so many people don’t have the relationships we think they do. So many people live “happy lies.” Not that this will make you feel better, but I believe it will certainly readjust your perspective a bit. Sometimes we have no idea what other’s relationships are truly made of. A lot of us just see the outward part of the relationship and cannot see that the persons in the relationship are in bondage or fear. All we see is that we want connection too without considering all the details. So many people don’t have families or friends, more than you can imagine. You are not alone.

      Even if this is not the case for you or doesn’t relate to you, I want to remind you that you have a “lane to drive” that is yours alone. In other words, your life story is yours alone and will not look like everyone else’s. You may have these desires to connect now, but perhaps it’s not that time for you yet. I believe that once it is your time, you will know it and whoever is supposed to be apart of your life will be (forever). I was once told by my spiritual grandmother, who was very well connected to her Native American heritage, that I should only be concerned with my lane because every lane has a different beginning and a different ending. She was right. That’s the only thing that keeps me content with what I have in the now. I have a feeling that once you stop pressuring yourself, you will finally find contentment. I certainly did.

      All the best to you!

  31. This is mostly true, except I can get deep friendship, deep relationships, relate to people in way they care back. I just get paranoid when the pressure is on. I over react when I get unfriended, I go mad if I have one fight.

    One of my most fast friendships was spilling my guts in an early way, except I didn’t act early enough and get in their and build the friendship, which is my problem. I need to freaking CHILL!

    I lack the support system I need. Due to being wary of getting close to lots of people, and I had arbitary rules about who I could befriend.

  32. I recognize all of the symptoms in myself! What can I do to work through this and become normal or is it something I have to live with!? I want to change but it seems I’m helpless to change or I start trying and have a setback and give up.

    • Hi Jean
      Thanks for your comment. It’s tough to live with attachment challenges. If you are not already, I encourage you to seek a therapist who can help you explore why you’re suffering with the symptoms that you’re suffering with and how you can change them. While I don’t want to say that this is something that you have to live with, I will say that we as adults are often programmed by the things that happen to us early in life. It’s tough to get rid of the things that have been programmed into our emotions, our mind, and our experiences. Because of that it’s going to be very difficult to change but it’s not impossible. There are ways that you can learn to live your life in a healthy manner in relation to other people. I think just trying to be insightful about when you are losing control and experiencing some of the symptoms discussed in this article can be helpful. Personal insight is a wonderful therapeutic tool.

      One way I teach my clients, mainly children and adolescents, to gain insight is by journaling their emotions and their experiences once or twice a week. Journaling allows you to see your thoughts and your emotions on paper and keep track of how you’re feeling from day to day. This is a good way to start out just to see what you feel, how you feel, what you think, and why. The other thing you might be able to do is ask family members to point out when you are showing some of those traits. Some family members can be very prejudiced and biased when it comes to this but if you have a very authentic family member who doesn’t fear telling you like it is, use that person to help you. I also encourage you to seek a therapist who has experience in relationships and social skills building. You might also find it helpful to read books or different articles online that speak to attachment issues and how to heal.

      It’s a very tough subject but I wish you all the best

  33. Seems to me this article only scratches the surface on the issue. The real cause of this disorder can be hidden in the layers of coping strategies that are C-PTSD. The underlying shame of who you are, if it came from early childhood, can be almost ghost-like. Relinquishments in cases of adoption(forced or not result is same), medical emergency preventing bonding of the mother/child, and death of the mother, jail etc. all result in trauma for the child. How does one overcome the “primal wound” and the shame one has felt from the very beginning of their life? Who do you go to when nobody understands? Not even therapists that I have spoke to know of the primal wound… how can you help if you don’t understand where I am? Most mentally ill people are poor or have very little means to find an average therapist let alone finding someone to help with C-PTSD… nobody knows anything about it! What to do…? Suicide attempts get old.

  34. Seems to me this “disorder” is a direct result of complex PTSD that manifests in “personalized” distress symptoms and behaviors. Are you familiar with the primal wound and the shame and unworthiness that comes with it? How does one overcome shame and find help if the counseling and therapy workers have no clue about it? This article only scratches the surface of the issues C-PTSD can develop into. Who do you go to when the hope has gone? The mental health field is so lacking in resources…

  35. I think this may be my problem. I have been diagnosed with depression a few years ago but came off the pills when I no longer felt I depressed. I still display everything you mentioned (apart from the fantasizing about breaking up a bosses marriage) I want to stop being this way but I dont know how. It effects my relationship with my son as im too scared to do anything that may draw attention to myself. It wasnt until I was 22 that I was able to go grocery shopping by myself. Ive never had problems getting into relationships but maintaining a feeling of closeness with someone over a sustained period of time has proven difficult. I find myself quick to anger which is not good for my son or mother. Ive recently started a relationship thing with someone but I deny every compliment and shut down everytime he tries to tell me he loves me or if he gets too close. I could rattle for hours about everything… infact I did but deleted everything I wrote. How can I fix myself?

    • Hi Samantha,
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds as if you have been struggling with these “symptoms” and just want to know how to make it all stop. Many of us can relate to your frustration as we all have something we’d like to stop from affecting us in our daily lives.
      Avoidant behaviors are typical for those who have experienced previous trauma, loss, grief, abuse, and even relationships that ended badly or abruptly. When we experience these situations, our body and brain is affected physiologically and it’s as if the brain re-wires itself. It is not going to be easy (although not impossible) to change. My goal with young clients is to help them develop awareness and find healthy ways of coping in their relationships. change will follow in due time with hard work, support, and dedication. For you, I encourage you to take baby steps in your relationships with others. When someone compliments you, remind yourself that perhaps that compliment is true and you should accept it. I encourage my young client’s to develop a card to carry in their pocket with reminders on why accepting love from others is okay. I also encourage my client’s to think long and hard about why their relationships tend to end prematurely. Journaling about this is often very helpful to look for patterns and connections.

      Essentially, you cannot accept love if you don’t love yourself. Have you thought about pursuing a therapist?
      All the best

  36. I’m not sure what I have. I know I have a lot of self hatred. I think there was another article about childhood neglect with 22 signs (19 out of 22 seems extreme, but its where I fell) so I’d assume that’s a pretty good starting point. I just thought it was odd how well this described myself. Though, as a guess, it would probably more the previous condition manifesting itself this way. A little less in the room of fantasy though, I don’t have fantasies about being happy, it might be healthy but I don’t have any unspoilt frame of reference. The illusion just hits too hard with the fact that it is illusion. I have good social skills, its just that employing them involves dealing with people and they’re not bad or anything, they seem petty or weak. They complain about little things, I can’t relate to that.

    I am on some level grateful for the utter lack of guidance growing up, if I embraced the idea of actively wanting a future, the skills I developed for figuring things out that most take for granted would be really useful. I can’t say that I know why I’m sharing at all, its just that I have someone in my life that I really care about that I keep pulling away from. I can’t bring myself to not care about her no matter how much I wish I could never feel affection at all. It bothers me, and not much does. She matters to me, same with that. This reminds me that maybe its not all the same, but its not just me struggling with feelings like this. It was ingrained early on in me that love is weakness, and no matter how much I feel a deeply empathetic nature that lets me read others better than most, to act on it would be impossible. This hits me at core in the most relevant dilemma in my life. Can’t believe I unloaded like that, but I don’t regret it. Thank you for putting out the content that you do, it’s insightful.

    • Wow, what an authentic and insightful comment Marshall. Thank you so much for your kind comment, your wisdom, and your humility. One of the many things that tend to motivate me and inspire me is the humility and the brokenness I see in people who have experienced hardships. I often tell many of my clients and even remind myself that the pain has an ultimate benefit. That ultimate benefit is one of the things that you mention (which is that if you had never experienced what you did, you would never had learned like you have). I also believe that with suffering comes wisdom. I know there are some negative consequences of pain which includes being fearful of life, your brain being wired by inappropriate messages such as “love is weakness” and even maybe a fear to explore life general. But I also believe that this has a purpose in your life. You’ll probably look back and say “wow I really have grown” I believe that in due time you will find a way to accept love and grow in the way that you feel you need to.

      I wish you all the best

  37. I recently dated someone who seems to exhibit many of the characteristics you present in this article. However, I also read about Borderline Personality Disorder and it seems to fit him as well. So could you please briefly explain what are the main differences between the two? Thank you!

    • Hi Laina,
      thank you!

      The difference between BPD and AVD is that someone with APD avoids as much attention and drama as possible, while some individuals with borderline personality disorder tend to gravitate toward the drama and the attention at times. You must keep in mind that individuals with BPD often suffer from a lack of identity, fear of rejection, emotional intensity, and sometimes intense levels of anger and mood symptoms. Someone with AVD maybe like this but their attitude, there goal directed behavior (what they seek to gain from the behaviors), and their way of seeing life will be different. Some individuals with borderline personality disorder will do things for attention or just because they’re so angry and out of control in their emotions. Most individuals with borderline personality disorder have suicidal thoughts and engage in cutting, burning, or hurting themselves in some way, primarily teens. Individuals with avoidant personality disorder do not tend to be this emotionally unstable. It’s a very fine line, and it really will take someone with experience in this field to pinpoint those differences.

      I hope this makes sense.

  38. Hi, I met a lovely man 4 years ago, he was doing some design work for me. We quite liked each other and spent lots of time chatting about our lives. He was involved with what I would call a very toxic person who I believe is an over intellectualized dismissive avoidant. He was very unhappy, but had a toddler with her. They were not married.
    18 months ago, he left her. He is living with he’s parents and sharing the care of the child with the ex. Our friendship grew and was encouraged by his close friend. The friend told me that I should be patient, as there was significant interest in starting a romantic relationship with this man.We clearly like each other very much! When things started to get a little intimate,, he started pulling away, making excuses or delaying meeting with me.
    He has since accused me of wanting to be “friends with benefits” and is now very uncomfortable in my company, I suspect he is having panic attacks as he leaves the room or says he has to go at odd times. He becomes very anxious, nervous and embarrassed.
    He is happier talking for long periods over the phone.
    I wonder if he is a fearful avoidant. I have sent him a letter, declaring that I am in love with him and I am happy to let him set the pace. I have told him that he is safe with me and that I understand he has been through a lot with the ex. I have yet to hear back from him. I have a counselling diploma and work in medicine. I’m not sure what else I can do to make him feel safe to proceed with either our friendship or move up to a relationship.

  39. Dear Tamara
    Thank you for your article and your kind words to everybody either suffering from avoidant personality or beign involved with one with this personality type.

    I met this 50 yearl old man almost 18 months ago. My attraction to him was instant , he is charming ,wise ,funny intelligent and handsome , own his very successful business and coaches a soccer . He in my eyes is perfect so I develop this deep strong infatuation with him . I dreamed to even be near him , I would make excuses to have meeting with him just to be near him . So I couldn’t believe my luck when he started to flirt with me and sent me hinting emails . We eventually moved to a Facebook emotional affair wich was ver intense and naturally moved to physical , the sexual chemistry was unreal nothing I had ever experienced in my life ( I am 44 yo)
    We continued having spodaric hot sex and everyday we would chat ,we made each other laugh and I could confided anything with him but he always told me he is not in to love or relationship, so I had never pressured him I was just so happy to be living this amazing sexual experience with such an amazing man. Is always me beign besotted with him and telling him how amazing he is and him just responding that I deserve to live this experience ( I can truly say he brought the woman in me nothing any other man has done before)! but about a month ago we had another jet amazing sex session and the next day he told me he felt it was different very different but he didn’t want deeper connection to distract him in his life. Then 3 weeks ago we met in a hotel for the first time ( he always told me he would get a hotel for us to be with each other all day ) we had an amazing connection but then he stopped midway saying he was tired . We fell asleep on each other arms but he soon made the excuse he had to leave to not worry his 21 year ol,son if he wasn’t home ( really ?)!
    Ever since that night he has avoided us beign together ,he never mention it or was kinky and insinuative as before even when it was my birthday last week. He is working like mad and says he is too tired never has the time to see me even though I am so ready and available .
    I finally asked him whether he was too tired or just not interested in me ?
    He told me he needs to think about us , is beign 4 days and no contact with me at all … I know he is and avoidant personality , I done a lot of reading on it . What puzzles me is what should I really do? I am so tempted to contact him but Know deep in my heart and bc of the traits of this type of personality he has probably forgotten me all together with no remorse or feelings of empathy what so ever .
    I am heart broken, devastated, feeling sick with sadness anxiety and longing to be in his arms again.
    I had never beign clingy , I am so confident in the woman I am ,I love life jet his indifference has turned me into anxious and clingy , the pain is tormenting me is so painful to feel the rejection, is unbearable . I am actually scared to fall into depression
    My fear is that he is such an amazing man in so,many ways and I have to keep in contact with him bc of business is that I won’t be able to recover from this heartbreak .
    I thank you before hand for taking the time read this long message
    Love To you

    • Hi Andrea,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am glad that you found this article helpful. I am always encouraged by people like you and if it weren’t for people like you, I would not be here writing on PsychCentral.

      I am so sorry you’ve had to deal with such a situation as this. It is no shocker that you are heart broken, devastated, and feeling overwhelmed by anxiety. The situation you are in shows that the man you like is more needy and “ill” than you thought. He has possibly had trouble developing appropriate and loving relationships with women his entire life. It appears his connection to women is based entirely on sexual intimacy and not emotional or psychological intimacy. Perhaps his view of women is inappropriate and limited to say the least. He would benefit from seeing a therapist and discussing what could be a pattern of inappropriate relationships and sexual encounters with women. I don’t doubt there is something under the surface hiding from you.

      The most important thing to remember with someone like this man is that you have to protect your emotions, values, and character as a woman. You come first, not the person who is likely to hurt you. I encourage you to seek out the support of a therapist to talk to. We all need that support sometimes. You can find a local therapist at therapytribe.com or http://www.psychologytoday.com and click on “find a therapist.”

      All the best to you

  40. Usually I write my posts after reading (every single) comment, but I really want to say this before my opinion is swayed.
    I haven’t really heard of avoidant personality disorder, but have always known avoidance was my greatest mental health challenge and have never read something that explains me so well. I thought, I will share this with my mom because I think it may help her understand the challenges I’m facing. But then I read the suggestions and was left with a gut wrenching feeling that she would and should totally abandon me +
    I recognise that I can learn from this and try hard not to avoid and thus hurt people but the article pretty much said I’ll probably will never change/it will be ridiculously difficult and no one can really help. Now I have to rectify that one with my silly brain! Really, I knew that I hurt people but I always try my best not to.
    I actually really respect this particular author, but I can’t help but think others may have the same spun out reactions to the post as me… Especially because other avoiders may just be drawn to this.

    Now to read every single comment to check if anyone else feels like me to validate my opinions haha. sigh

  41. The article seems unclear to me. Can someone have an avoidant personality (as described in the Attachment Theory) without having an avoidant personality disorder (as described in the DSM-5)?

    • Hi Plaq,
      It is my understanding that avoidant personality disorder is quite different from an avoidant personality. Avoidant Personality Disorder has a set criteria or number of symptoms and behaviors that must be present before a person is diagnosed as such. But an avoidant personality can be present in a person who simply avoids everything from discussions, reality, and relationships to jobs, responsibilities, etc. When I mention “avoidant personality” I am referring to a person who avoids everything at all costs. When I use the term “avoidant personality disorder” I am referring to the DSM diagnostic criteria.

      I could have made this more clearly known in the article. Thanks for asking for clarification.

  42. Thank you for answering so many questions here. I saw the subtype of AVPD called self-deserting and thought I saw myself in it as I live my life slightly removed, zoned-out, and largely in a very rich fantasy world. The fantasies are particularly compulsive if I do not have a work project on that distracts me. I rely on work to make the world interesting and without it I get bored and fantasise. These fantasies quickly become obsessive and I end up trapped in my own head. I saw the comment above about the lady who does not love her family. I also don’t love my family, and can’t really remember having feelings for them for a long time. I remember feeling a very strong love towards my mother when I was a small child, but I haven’t since I was at most 10. My mother left the family when I was 14 and I didn’t mind/did not feel upset. Having said all of that, I do not dislike my family. I do feel we are all separate and not a unit, but I have nothing against them individually. Their hearts are all in the right place.

    I used to be extremely socially phobic but not until my late teens following a series of rejection-based events and a couple of years of isolation. Prior to that, I was precocious and a bit arrogant. I did not bond well with the other children (did not feel close easily), but I did not experience any conflict with them either, and was very confident in my own ideas and quite assertive. Nowadays, I am not socially phobic and have very little social anxiety, but I find that I dismiss others very easily and do not get to know them. I am trying to change this as I have realised the compulsive fantasies are providing for unmet social needs (I spend most of my time alone), but have noticed the process makes me feel anxious (but I am not sure what I am scared of). I have also had mild relationship difficulties with one instance of not being able to enotionally disconnect from a previous partner for six years, even though I was in a four-year relationship during that period and had no contact with the ex partner; and I notice now I have compared notes with friends that a lot of things that upset other people don’t upset me (for instance, someone not holding my hand is not something I get upset about), so I stay in distant relationships for a long time without noticing. I was also in an abusive relationship once, which is down to my passivity in the face of anger. I feel an animalistic fear if others are angry at me and sometimes that means I will do anything they say just to make it stop. I am also very uncomfortable if I feel any form of dependency on others. Sometimes – rarely, however – I can feel overly attached, but this is very distressing for me as it feels like the locus of control has been removed from me. I have in recent years lost all interest in relationships and love, although if I really face up to it I can see this is motivated by a strong fear and sense of shame. As I do not fully grasp the benefits of being in a relationship, this doesn’t phase me too much. Mostly, I am just finding that I am very unhappy and although I’ve had a lot of therapy and have been with my current therapist for well over a year, I struggle to understand why and what I can do about it. I doubt this is AVPD due to the fact I am able to ‘put a public face on’ for social interaction so appear ‘normal’, if you like. But is there anything you would suggest I try?

    • Hi Anon,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Have you had a trauma therapist before? If not, perhaps a trauma therapist could help you understand why you avoid certain situations and relationships. I think we all have trauma to a certain degree that affects our adult life and relationships. “Trauma” could be anything from a failed marriage with emotional, psychological, or physical abuse, the loss of a parent unexpectedly, foster placement as a child or teen, a medical condition that is unexpected and severe (e.g., cancer, diabetes, schizophrenia, etc), or a host of other events that you were not prepared for. Years of isolation and feelings of rejection can also be explored by a trauma therapist. A good trauma therapist is able to help you explore the foundation of your relational challenges and suggest tool you can use to move beyond them. I encourage you to do a Google search for trauma therapists in your area. You could also visit http://www.psychologytoday.com and search for a trauma therapist by “filtering” or narrowing your search with their search settings. http://www.Therapytribe.com is also another site. I also encourage you to search on Google and Youtube to locate articles, videos, ext. on trauma. Educate yourself to it. You’d be surprised but perhaps this has something to do with your “symptoms.”

      I wish you all the best

      • Just want to share that I just ended a 3.5 year relationship with. 57 year old man that I believe has AVPD. I’ve spent 3 years in frustration, confusion and in love. I believe he and I are perfectly compatible in every way, and so does he. But then he does all these strange things.. . . Mostly avoiding risk in relationship, I.e.mwont buy me gifts for fear it might not be the right gift, not calling his family in years for fear he might not know what to say to them. Not ever sharing anything he is feeling about himself, except just being pessimistic. Avoiding financial obligations, and then avoiding fixing it. When I’m upset, he avoids me.. . Sends texts that lead me on such as, ” I will try to call later.” He actually hopes, if he waits long enough, I will forget and he won’t have to be confronted once again. In the last couple months, As we’ve been slowly breaking up, he has pulled me close only to push me away. I thought I was going to lose my mind.. Spent all of June and July in tears and agony. I love this man with all my heart. . . But I’m in harms way until he gets some really serious help. Never in my life have I endured anything more baffling than this wonderful man’s awful behavior. I know that sounds crazy, but he is the greatest man in so many ways. Then, he acts like a scared little boy. My heart is breaking.

  43. Thank you, I’ll look it up. I’m not sure what would be traumatic, though. Mental health difficulties (initially anorexia) started at 13 and nothing particularly untoward happened at any point before this. My family probably weren’t perfect but this has already been explored in therapy. I’ll check out what trauma therapy means, though, I might have already had it. Thanks for the feedback!

  44. Hi,
    I have a small question. When avoidant personalities want to break off and run away, many people say that the guy knew he couldn’t get intimate, and had to run away. And acknowledged it was their problem.

    Is it possible that some may not do that at all?

    My ex was extremely loving in the beginning, but towards the last one week before the breakup, started finding faults with me and criticizing for small things like I don’t choose restaurants when we go for dinner, then making false accusations and yelling at me like I am rude to his friends, completely backing off from me and getting cold, not caring about my feelings about something that he did. If I mentioned something he did that I didn’t like, he said he understood what I felt, but he would just try to tell me why what he did was right, and why he doesn’t see a reason to change it. Like am asking for too much, and he is feeling a ‘gap’ within us. But I would tell him these things in a loving way, so we would end with ok, he gets it. But he didn’t. Though it was only a couple of things I told him in 7 months of dating that I felt bad about what he did, it seemed too much pressure to him.

    And eventually he said I broke his trust over one thing when I didn’t, he just perceived it to be that way. And I tried explaining and convincing him for hours that I didn’t, it was a miscommunication. But he ignored all that I said, just insisted that I did, and that’s why he can’t be with me. And that was that. He couldn’t be with me as he couldn’t trust me anymore. He protects himself from people, doesn’t open up, doesn’t trust others, and that’s why can’t do relationships, only superficial dating, he liked me a lot and trusted me enough to have a relationship with me, and I broke that, now he is very hurt and will take a long time to recover and open up to people…In his words. The harder I tried to convince him that I had never intended to break his trust and I didn’t do it, that’s just his perception, the more he backed away, got mean and cruel and left. With the attitude that HE is hurt.

    On the other hand, in the beginning, even before entering the relationship with me, he said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to because though he likes me a lot, and especially because he does, he wants to protect himself from me because he doesn’t know how to do relationships, has never done one before, and the ones he considered failed. So he was very scared. But he said he liked me so much he wanted to try.

    So my question is, do you think that though he blamed me completely for the breakup and disappointing him and breaking his heart, etc, do you think he knows deep down that the problem was in him, and he just made up an excuse to run away without feeling guilty? Or does he honestly think I was at fault?

    He is 26 (I am 36), lost his father who, he was close to when he was 17, and doesn’t have a very open and deep relationship with his mother and brother. Very superficial. He also told me something his grandparents did had broken his trust once, and he hasn’t spoken to them for 7 years, so if someone breaks his trust, he just breaks contact with them.

    I felt that when we were together he really liked me, before becoming this cruel, insulting, and mean person. Is it possible for someone to really want someone so much, and yet behave so horribly and run away?

  45. Sorry, he wanted to * protect me from himself. As he didn’t want to hurt me.

  46. My 18 year marriage ended three years ago. After healing and therapy time, I started to build a new life, and started dating someone new. He was a classmate of mine, younger than I. I was skeptical about dating him because of our age difference, but decided to take a chance. At first, he pursued me, and wanted to spend time with me. I have a lot of friends, and he didn’t want to spend time with my friends, or introduce me to his. I tolerated this, although I was far from happy about it. As time went on, he seemed to further detach from me. He needed a lot of “alone” time where he would be incommunicado. This was hard for me, as I had some abandonment trauma from my marriage. However, I worked on taking excellent care of myself, and I was able to greet him lovingly when he would return from his “alone time.” He then started to insult me when I would greet him affectionately, calling me names like, “old whore,” and “old cunt.” When I called him on it, he claimed that he’d suffered an attachment injury, and proposed that we no longer have a relationship that was anything but sexual. I declined. I’ve looked, and it seems that he fulfills a lot of the criteria for avoidant personality disorder, in that any bid for intimacy ultimately got rejected. Understanding this diagnosis has helped me to take the blame off of myself (“was there something I could have done different”) and see this person’s behavior as disordered.

  47. Hi.
    Like many of the comments that I’ve read on this board, I feel that I too have this disorder. I’ve always had trouble with getting dates, relationships and falling in love. I feel most comfortable with myself and feel most comfortable when I’m at home reading, practicing music, or enjoying the outdoors by myself. I started dating this girl and she understands that I’m shy, but I do admire her outgoingness and we’ve done many enjoyable things together. She keeps pushing me to get married. Then she decides to move in without my permission and now she’s basically taken over my house and I never get any time by myself. She keeps pushing marriage and keeps giving me deadlines. We are no longer intimate because I just never feel like being intimate with her anymore. I don’t want to loose her but on the other hand I don’t feel I’m happy either. I was thinking of going to see a therapist.

  48. BACKGROUND
    I am 31, born in Fort Myers, Florida but now I live in Nashville, TN. Nicole my mother has never really been very affectionate and though we are close we dont say things like “i love you’ or hug. I’m not close to my brothers nor my father really but me and my father aren’t so bad as my older brother who i grew up with (didn’t live with my other brothers) who never really seemed to care much about me and he used to say how i acted like a ‘white girl’ (i’m asian & black) and had no connection to my culture. Others have described me as “white” as well since I’ve been an adult. I’m an ISTJ based on the Myers-Briggs personality type.

    5 Examples:
    a high school friend lost her mother but i did not go to the funeral because I wanted to go out to a party

    i constantly talk about myself and the things i like/want but when others talk i usually dont listen and often dont recall what they’ve said leading me to constantly having re-ask questions about things they have already told me. i am constantly in my own head thinking about myself so i am rarely ‘present’ during a conversation if it’s not about something i care about.

    i was sexually abused multiple times when i was young (preteens) by a much older man who was a family friend and though i knew it was wrong, i enjoyed being eaten (cunnilingus). now i watch and read porn involving gangbangs, incest, rape and though i tell myself they are just fantasies, i fear that deep down, i desire these things

    i am selfish and i always ask for things from my husband but i don’t ever think of giving. i am lazy in bed and though he does everything to please me, i find it hard to muster up the same enthusiasm to please him. i also fear doing things badly in the bed so i dont put my maximum effort but then that ultimately leads to me being bad in bed which my husband eventually admitted after I pried it out of him due to him trying to spare my feelings by not telling me. multiple times while we were dating when he was sick, I didn’t check up on him until i realized he was really ill. however, whenever i was sick, even with just a little flu, he would always call to ensure i was ok.

    i love my space but part of that is due to my fear that people will get tired of me or disapprove of me once they get to really know me. i am pleasant & polite on the outside but deep down i don’t care about people. a coworker once died and while everyone was crying, i just didnt feel much emotion. i cried a few crocodile tears to not seem heartless and to be apart of the group but i truly didnt feel sadness. i only seem to feel sadness whenever something happens to my pets. even when my little nephew is sick, i dont care much and i’m actually happy since i won’t have to babysit him.

    These are JUST 5 examples. Do I have Avoidant Personality Disorder or some other disorder such as Bipolar Disorder which my mother possibly suffers from or do I have symptoms of being a sociopath? Would love your feedback especially on what i need to do to be a better wife before my husband divorces me

  49. my marriage is on really shaky ground and now that I realize or have been made aware of my behavior i want to do something before it’s too late

  50. I am 56, wife 55, married 34 years. We have been living the push/pull dynamic for all of our marriage. I wanting more emotional and physical intimacy and her wanting her distance, job, kids, everything but me. I fell into a major depression about 7 years into out marriage, was medicated for 10 years I felt abandon by her, she was just not there. Seemed like she had no idea what I was talking about with emotional and physical intimacy. My medication took around 6-8 months to work. I was so happy to be out of the “shithole” of depression, I tried to focus my life on things I did have control over which was not my marriage. During the beginning stages of my depression, my wife found out she was suffering from depression also. She has been medicated since. The medication was only working for her about 50% of the time. So basically 1/2 my married life has been watcher her lay on the couch.
    I have stayed in the relationship this long by repressing my own emotions, wants and needs within the relationship just to cope. The distancing or should I say the “pushing away” has been extremely tough to deal with. Stuff she has said to me along the way, I look back now and wonder why I stayed. I have always encouraged her many times to seek more help for her depresssion along with her harmful views of “sex”. She had told me at one point “if we never had sex again, I would never miss it”, along with ” I feel like I’ve been raped by you” amongst other things. Why did I stay?
    About 2 years ago, I came to the conclusion that there has to be something better out there and there is only one person in my life that can change this and it’s me. I began to start the process of leaving her. During this process I fell into my second depression. Luckily I knew the signs and caught it early. I did not want to continue to exit the marriage having it tainted by my own depression so I have stayed till now. I have recently discovered the topic of “AvPD”. The more I read the more it blew my mind about describing what had been happening to me in my life. The “isolation”, the “negative” thinking, the lack of any emotion, the “push me away”, the complete disregard for any suggestion I would make. Intentionally ignoring things I was talking about to telling me she didn’t listen because she felt I was talking down to her. Actually I have never been accused of that in my life and I have managed people for over 30 years. And what blew me away the most was the part about walking together, her always being 1 step infront of me. It has been that way for as long as I remember. I have questioned her on it several times and she tells me it was because she walked faster than I. I told her that didn’t make any sense because the gap between us would just become greater if that were true, not remain only 1 step infront of me for 2 miles.
    When she found out that I was going to leave her she told me “we can fix this”. In February, we went to a marriage counselor and the counselor gave her assignements. More affection from her, hormones and a couple other things which including continuing to see a psychiatrist. She has stopped seen the psych in 2 months, and never followed through on anything so far. Prior to last week I had been researching “lack of intimacy” to “fear of rejection” which I thought were close, but untill i stubbled on AvPD nothing fit quite right. If your spouse continues to deflect and resist any suggestion she may have a problem, and continue to believe the problem is with me. I think the writing is on the wall.
    Thank You so very much for helping to educate me. When you live in a rural State, the access to good psychiatric help is few and far between. It also sounds like this is a fairly new discovery to the mental health world and hope more people are able to find their way. Thanks,

  51. I am currently working with a teenager (15years), as a therapist. I just started with him 2 weeks ago. I was told by his parents that when the boy was 3 years old, he suffered a seizure, which left him blind for about 3 weeks. But since then onward, the boy has become a “recluse”. The parents thinks he was just being a shy boy. But then, he is affected academically because he is very poor with spellings and not good with numbers too. He speaks well but tend to avoid people. He seems to relate well with his immediate family members but tends to avoid others who are not his family. He does not initiate conversation but responds to questions with one liners and sometimes won’t respond at all. He only wants to do activities within his comfort zones and never wants to do anything he thinks is not possible for him to do. For example, he will never accept to run, instead he will jogs. He enjoys riding bike, swimming and basketball but not any other activity. He does not want to trust anybody, always skeptical. He has strong opinion about others. For example, he thinks that he cannot trust me ‘one bit’ ,( to use his terms for describing me in one of the things I asked him to write) in fact, I discovered today in another write up I gave him, that he finds me “annoying and boring “. He tends to be stubborn. He feels he is only doing certain things with me because I was paid to do it and wouldn’t want the money wasted. He never wants to laugh openly even when he finds certain thing amusing. At first I thought he was just an introvert but now I am beginning to think that he is suffering from Avoidant Personality Disorder. What do you think and how can I help him more ? I would also like to communicate with you via email

    • Hi CEC,
      Difficult case indeed. I would shy away from a personality disorder right now as 15yrs old is a complicated age to apply the label of a personality disorder. Of course, in our field, we can hypothesize that perhaps this is personality based. But I think we should exhaust all other possibilities first. Have you considered an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Anxiety Disorder (Selective Mutism, Social Phobia, etc.), or even an oppositional defiant disorder. I would lean, however, more toward autism or an anxiety disorder. I would explore the family dynamic and try to get a feel for how he communicates within his family and how generations before him communicated. He appears rigid and “afraid” to experience life like most kids his age.

      Have you tried behavior modification with him? Encouraging him to do therapeutic “homework” by making concerted efforts to try new things and engage outside of his comfort zone.

      Good luck with this difficult case!
      Take care

  52. Hi Tamara,
    I have recently become close to someone I’ve known more distantly for a couple of years, and am certain they have undiagnosed borderline and also avoidant PD. I’ve discussed this with a friend who has borderline and another who is a psychiatrist and they agree. We became emotionally and physically close, on the brink of a relationship. He seemed really happy, I’m now realising this was partly borderline intense emotion, at the time and a few hours later, but he contacted me the next day, in a very low mood, saying he’d been worrying about it and didn’t know if he could cope with a relationship. His previous relationship had ended badly several years ago and he’d decided never to get involved again. We stayed in touch and a few weeks later I saw him socially with other people around and he seemed very happy to see me. But the same pattern followed and by the next day he was avoiding any contact with me. I tried to reassure him with occasional texts, as I’d been doing since we first became close. But now he says it’s all too much, that I’m constantly pushing him (friends assure me I’m not by normal standards) and I have to back off and take things slowly if I want us to stay friends.
    Obviously, I’m trying to do what he asks, but am finding it very difficult to know what I should do for the best. Borderline advice is often that pushing away means they want you to come closer, but I hadn’t realised the extent of the avoidant PD then. He knows he has problems, and knows at least part of what I think they are, and that they can be managed if he addresses them, but all of this is very recent and must be a lot for him to take in. Also, I don’t know how much it shakes up his emotions to see me, but am guessing quite a bit. I think he thinks his feelings will go away if he doesn’t see me for a while, and that we can just go back to being friends. But if anything he’s much worse for doing that.
    How long should I wait before contacting him? Bearing in mind he has a strong fear of rejection and may not contact me even if he wants to. And when I do, how can I be friendly without scaring him? We don’t really have mutual friends, and he is high functioning and appears OK. I am unlikely to bump into him unless we arrange to meet.

    • Hi Julia,
      Very tough situation indeed. Firstly, I would put yourself first in a situation like this. He is asking you to do all of the “bending” in this “relationship” and that is not healthy for anyone. I applaud you for trying to respect his wishes, but what do you ultimately want yourself? From what you have told me, I see the borderline personality disorder and part of the BPD is controlling of you and asking you to do all of the “bending.” BPD is a very challenging diagnosis and can be emotionally draining for everyone involved with the person, even healthcare providers. The #1 thing you may consider doing is stepping back completely and if he comes toward you for some reason, explaining why you have put distance between the two of you. Then, you may want to set firm boundaries by explaining what you need and what you will not put up with.

      Secondly, the fact that you are considering how long you should wait to contact him shows me that he is in control now. Perhaps that’s all he wants…control. Although not all individuals with BPD are controlling and manipulative, some are. Why? There are multiple reasons such as fear of abandonment, switchable emotions and thoughts, confusion about their own identity, needs, and wants, etc. You shouldn’t allow him to take you on his ride.

      I would consider what works for you, what you ultimately want, and what truly is healthy for you. Until he can figure things out, you may have to give him a lot of space.
      Take care

      • Thanks.
        I think, if I’m honest, I was more than a bit obsessed with him starting when it looked like we were getting together, and before I realised anything was wrong. Then, when his problems became evident, he became even more the centre of my attention, and a distraction from other things going on. So I’m finding it very difficult to step back. I’ve been getting very depressed, despite trying to get involved with friends and activities, and – this is going to sound mad – sometimes I feel like I’m picking up on his moods long distance, not just depression, but high, angry, or emotionally numb. They don’t feel like me. And they can feel very convincing, then change quite suddenly.

  53. all my childhood life i knew i had fear of social interaction sometimes strangers say hi and immediate think there either suspecious or in other cases i think what if someone comes and hurts me for any reason when people look direct at me i get nervous and shaky its hard to explain or i always extremely shy i have a loud voice when in public i diferent low voice embarrest is like living in hell all the time i have years still now trying to figure all this out i wish i was a happy outgoing but im not it would come out fake is very painful to live this way is like my life is sorrounded by this illness

  54. Thanks for the article. I seem to meet most criteria of an avoidant, but also a love addict. I can’t seem to figure out if I’m just with the wrong person or if I’m avoiding. Our attraction is extremely intense, we get a long great, have a descent and intimate sex life. But that attraction is there and then days later completely gone. She seems to be the same way. She has found reasons to end the relationship 3 times. Im confused as to how I can be so attracted to her physicky and mentally one day then the next day I’m finding any possible excuse to end it . Things as stupid as thinking her chin isn’t cute enough! There are definitely other elements but is it being avoidant when you just for some reason can’t committ even though you feel like you should be? It’s a very tormenting experience to always be bouncing back and forth. Thanks again for the great article.

    • Hi Ernie,
      Thanks for your kind comments and for sharing your story.
      Because I don’t have all of the details or information about you or the woman in your life I won’t be able to comment specifically on Avoidant Personality Disorder as being the culprit. But I can say that it sounds like a bit more than just Avoidance. By what you have shared above, I see two individuals who may be sexually attracted to each other but not attracted to each other in other ways (i.e., emotionally, psychologically, intellectually). It is possible, as you know, to be attracted to someone and have great chemistry but never truly build the emotional and psychological intimacy all relationships need to develop further and prosper. If you don’t feel she is a friend to you (or vice versa) that may be a sign.
      Sexual chemistry can be so powerful that it is often mistaken for love and “love at first sight.” The type of questions I would be asking myself (for the both of you) may be: “Do I miss her (or does he miss me) when we are apart?” “Do I only think of sexual intimacy and nothing else?” “Could I see myself marrying her (or him) and spending my life together?” “Would my parents accept her (him) and would grandchildren be in the future? “Could I live without her (or him)?”

      If you are finding it difficult to commit, I would question if this is based on your own internal fear of commitment or the reality that there is nothing other than sexual energy to the relationship. She should be asking the same questions. Falling in love happens with or without sexual intimacy. Are you in love? If not, that makes commitment difficult. Do you enjoy the fun that comes with the relationship? Is it co-dependence? If so, that might be the issue. Sexual energy is nothing more than just that and co-dependency can occur with sexual energy.

      You are right it is tormenting. I do wish you the best.
      Take care

  55. Hello, Tamara.First of all ,thank you for taking time to answear all these years to everyone.After reading your article and all comments I have a huge feeling that I’m in relationship with someone who has this disorder.At the beginning,I felt loved we use to had deep discussions telling me that I’m the woman of his life.We started to live together ,both of us far away from our families.I know that living together help people to understand one each other better.His work requires to move from one country to another every 2-3 years and he said he never was more stressed as he is now with his job.He had an opportunity to move but he didn’t accepted because he wanted to stay close to me and our little puppy.What makes me feel frustrated is as much I try to be supportive when he’s coming back from work he prefer to stay on his laptop or play video games.I try to communicate but he’s not open to this.I tried to find common activities (gym ,dance courses)but he is not into telling me that he’s always tired.We barely make eyes contact because he always keep himself busy on his laptop.We don’t have friends here because he prefers to stay inside the house and whenever we go out I feel that he’s doing this just to please me.Every day,he’s telling me at least 5 times that he loves me but after I moved with him I don’t feel we are connected.What melts my soul is that when he’s sleeping if I’m a little away he hug me or he hold me .I just feel that in those moments he’s not in control and he acts exactly the way he is.I feel embarrassed to say but whenever I try to be intimate with him I’m rejected.He hold me strong telling that he loves me but he’s tired.So I just have to wait him to come to me.Last week I find out that he watched porn(which I totally understand in normal situation)I told him that this thing is bothering me a lot and I feel frustrated but he says that he is tired and there is no other reason.He said he feels attracted to me and porn is just fantasy .Whenever I become more emotional he keeps the distance and he says maybe I find someone better than him or maybe I go back to my country next to my family .He says maybe he quit his job and I Take care of family .He doesnt believe that I understand his struggle with work But i need also emotionaly support.He told me that he was planinng to propoose me and that he searched for ring but because of my mood(complaining)he’s not happy and don’t know what to do .Next day he said he care a lot about me and of course he wants to be with me.I feel like whatever I try to do for our relation(being tolerant)he makes me feel is like my fault .I love him a lot,he has the more innocent soul I ever met but he s fears make him cold and distant.Im also awake about the fact that I have to take care about myself.I don’t know if it’s good to tell him that he may have this disorder or what you recommend me to do.Thanks again a lot and God bless you.

    • Thank you Ela. 🙂 That’s so kind of you.
      God bless you too and hang in there!

  56. My question is whether people with avoidant personalities can ever face their problems with a spouse? I have been married for 24 years. The entire time I have been married my husband seems to have problems taking any responsibility for anything in our daily lives. Over the years it has gotten worse. Years ago I asked him to take out the trash only to be met with him yelling at me, “Why do I have to take out the trash all of the time?!” (An exaggeration of course.) My thought was, because you don’t do anything else around here. (Never spoken aloud.) For years, we didn’t buy our own house because he never would save up his half of the downpayment. (I had my money ready to go.) Eventually we buy a foreclosure, for which he had $10k saved for the downpayment in his IRA. My money was to be put toward the remodel. At the closing table, he reneged and said that he would just keep his money in his IRA after the agent told him that we could do a $100 downpayment if we wanted to. Now keep in mind, I still had to spend almost $20k to remodel this house and make it livable! Since his money was tied up in his IRA he couldn’t contribute at all.
    The list goes on. He never helps to parent the children. He says that they shouldn’t need any guidance, I have it covered (even when it’s obvious I don’t. ) He started prefering porn and masturbation to our sex life as soon as I was pregnant with our first child. (14 years ago.) I told him that we need an intimate life, I need an intimate life with him. His response was, I don’t know what I can do to help you. (After 10 years of a very satisfying sex life for both of us.) He has stopped cutting the grass at all. Got mad at me when he overslept for work as if it was my responsibility. Yelled at me at 8 pm at night when I came in from work, saying what was he going to eat. Screamed at me as soon as I got back to town from a 3 day trip to Vegas and admitted later that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and that I probably cheated on him. Admitted later that he thought I’d been cheating on him our entire marriage (an unfounded and unbelievable delusion). Shy in social situations. No friends outside of work. Jealous if I ever put on a dress and am out of sight (I quit wearing them a few years ago because of this.) And the list goes on.
    Most relationship conversations that I try to have with him have to be short or he complains. Even then he paces from room to room, or gets on the computer and I end up talking to the back of his head. It has just become ridiculous. Every man that sees this says that something seems “off” about him and the way he acts. I never saw it until the years have gone on. He says this is just the way he is. (He didn’t seem so bad before.) He doesn’t like to try new things and then acts mad/jealous if I take the kids and go do something new or different. I honestly think he is afraid of new things, places, or people. I don’t know what is wrong here but something certainly is. I have asked if he is angry at me. He says no. Did I do something? He says no. He just checks out more and more. He complains if I don’t cook often enough for the kids but he just comes in and eats a bowl of cereal usually. I have to do all the tax paperwork, and now he has started a small side business but has done none of the paperwork/taxes for 4 years. I don’t think he wants to deal with it. I’m at my wits end. We went to a festival and at the end, he leaves the kids and I, behind for an hour while he went to talk to someone.
    He is unmovable. Refuses to have much of a discussion about any of it and acts like it is all my problem, that he is content. A nice quiet shy guy to outsiders. But a lonely (and exhausting!) existence to live with. I have no idea what to do about this mess. We used to cook dinner together but he stopped cooking years ago now, says he doesn’t like to cook (and has subsequently developed diabetes). He really is in a fantasy world of his own. It’s exhausting.

    • Hi Anon wife,
      To briefly answer your question, no. It won’t be easy for them to see how their avoidance is affecting others. Why? Because Avoidant Personality Disorder includes avoidance of all things that are stressful and uncomfortable. Therapy may be able to help him build insight about how he is affecting you or others. But the chances of this are slim. I encourage you to do some online research and consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist who may be able to counsel you on how to cope and understand it (therapytribe.com or psychologytoday.com – find a therapist link).
      Take care

  57. Hi, my avoidant ex broke up with me 2 months ago and been trying to give her space and work on our relationship but she refuses for no good reason at all… she is severe avoidant that has no close relationships not even with paarebts every person knows only bits and peaces about her and she avoids group events and pretty much nails every nail with an avoidant… I was the closest person to her and new majority of her secerts and did not keep things from but got in a fight and she got scared And left… could an avoidant ever realize how much they love someone after activating the defenses… she always brings ex friends and ex bfs into her circle again on Facebook but they never realize it’s like a comfortbilitt thing and never turns into a personal friendship… with any of them… I doubt she will do that with me as I actually knew the real her and no one else ever got that close… can she ever open up? She is 36 now if not wat is the best way to move on from an avoidant that u know has deep feeling doe you but just can’t get past their own defenses once activated

    • Hi George,
      Complicated situation. I would suggest she pursue therapy to explore why her relationships are so broken. It’s difficult for me to understand the situation in its entirety because I don’t have the necessary details. But I can say that most individuals with Avoidance Personality Disorder truly need their own therapy so they can begin to heal themselves and explore why their relationships never go anywhere but down. I would encourage you to put up firm boundaries and stay out of as much of what sounds to be her relational chaos as possible.

      Take care

  58. If you fell in love with someone that you feel a deep connection with because you went through school years together. Had a relationship with this person for over a year, but I was in the divorce process. I have read everything from avoidance behavior and fears of intimacy that seem to fit our situation. I have had emotional trauma in my past and believe he has too, but he won’t share this. I have become a secure person in relationships with some avoidance at times. I want to be secure for him and consistent because I believe that is How trust is built on any relationship, but am I being too hopeful. Do I need to walk away since I love this person? I truly believe we all deserve love But it takes a patient and understanding person to build this trust with an avoidant person. Would this be fair to say?

    • Hi Mimi,
      This is a million dollar question because every situation is different. It is also complicated for me because I don’t have all of the facts. But I will say that many of my clients ask me similar questions and I have found that if I ask all of the right questions, they will arrive at the correct decision themselves. I would ask yourself the following questions: “Is this relationship healthy or unhealthy?” “Is this relationship built on a reciprocal (or equal) need to make it work?” “What are the consequences of continuing this relationship and what are the risks?” “Do the risks outweigh the pros?” “Even thouggh I love this person, does that mean we have to be together?”

      All the best

  59. Hi Tamara,thank you so much for such an informative article concerning Avoidance Personality. I now realise (at least in part as there is a lot of ingormation in your article) what I am interacting with in my relationship. I have been in the relationship for 17 months now and have been wondering why it seemed to be a little challenging. There is fortunately love present, otherwise it would not be worth pursuing. Thank you for providing me with insite into what is happening. I most certainly will be reading and rereading your words of wisdom

    • Thank you Heather for your kind words. I glad you found the article useful.
      When love is part of the equation, it can make things a bit more challenging because despite that bond, the personality disorder won’t go away and no amount of love is going to always “cure” it. However, when a couple loves each other, unconditional love and patience for that loved one’s challenges can help a great deal.

      All the best

  60. Hi Tamara, this article gave me some insight as to what I may be currently dealing with. I’ve been with my gf for 10 months and we constantly argue and she is constantly pushing my buttons as to test me or look for validation and when we land up arguing, I am always the one reaching out and she just detaches and won’t speak to me. We are at the moment going through an argument – going on 5 days she hasn’t spoken to me – and it’s difficult because we are already in a long distant relationship. I am re-evaluating the relationship and wondering if it’s worth fighting for and saving because I feel like I’m constantly fighting to fulfill her needs and make her feel loved and cared for while I’m left feeling empty and alone with no support from my partner when times are hard. It’s like i’m stuck in limbo and don’t know what to do. I don’t want her to feel like I’m giving up on her because I do love her but I can’t be unhappy and feel unloved in return. Any words of wisdom?

    • Hi Mered,
      I’m not sure if I responded to you or not but I meant to, so here we go. 🙂
      Have you thought of not responding to her or reaching out to see how long she would react this way to you? It sounds as if there may be more going on, from what you told me, than an avoidant personality. It could be possible that she uses distance and anger to control or manipulate you into reaching for her because it does something emotionally or psychologically for her. For example, does it make her feel “powerful” to control you when she is angry? Do you end up apologizing or “begging” her forgiveness even if you weren’t to blame 100%? Do you feel immature or “reduced” in the relationship during these periods?” If so, you may want to evaluate what you’ll need to do to get out of it. Although both of you may be to blame in some ways, if she is draining you and isn’t giving back to you in some way, saying goodbye (temporarily or forever) may be the best thing you could do for yourself.

      On the other hand, are you missing something and hurting her in some way that you are unaware of? Is she reacting this way because you are “oblivious” to her feelings? If so, I would ask her to talk to you about it and then commit to making it right. Sometimes women back off when they are hurt because they don’t know how else to deal with their feelings and their spouse’s behavior.

      You’re in a difficult position that will require you and her to make a decision. So sorry.
      Take care

  61. i think I’m dating someone of dismissive avoidant attachement. It is a tough relationship. While I feel and see his better side, he really seems to love me, he seemed happy but there is always these sudden withdrawal, mood swings, and blaming. Is like suddenly he is a different person. When there is a lot of stress, he just close up and start saying things like “I don’t care”, “love holds you back”, “I don’t need anyone”,”go away” and becomes really mean. Suddenly, he hates being tough, refuse intimacy if any sort. It frustrate him to even sleep on the same bed. Sometimes this side of him takes months to go away. It hurts me emotionally and psychologically. I ended up feeling really exhausted. However he opens up when he had alcohol or tipsy. Then he started pouring all the feelings he have for me. But when he sobers up, he is less angry and pretends he never said anything. Deep down I feel that all this front, is to protect what he really feels. I don’t think it’s manipulation, I just think he really hates being vulnerable, and I’m aware it’s not healthy. I understand, and do what I can to be patient but he doesn’t make it easy. And honestly I don’t know what to do from here. It doesn’t help when no one support my relationship with him. I can’t ask for advise, nor I can abandon him. Worse thing about all this is the constant questions of where I stand, or am I being stupid because I believe in him.

    • Hi Jen,
      I’m sorry you are going through this. I would encourage him to seek out a therapist, someone that he can talk to (if he is receptive). If he struggles with the concept of therapy, as many males do, you could suggest seeing a couples therapist (depending on how invested you are in the relationship). You may not see that as worth your time if the relationship is failing. You can find a therapist by typing in your zip code at psychologytoday.com or therapytribe.com.

      What is challenging about your situation is that he may not have an avoidant personality, but rather be displaying “symptoms” of another personality disorder or mental health challenge. He could also be in denial or have a traumatic past that causes him to behave this way. If everyone around you, especially those who love and care about you, are saying leave the relationship, I would strongly consider their voices. I have yet to see a loving family or group of friends mislead someone they care about. Sometimes they can see things more clearer than we can.
      Take care

  62. I just want to add that sometimes if I was careful the interactions with him whereby if he throw blames and angry, I can ignore them, and not argue back too much, he seems to come back to the relationship. This is because I feel that, the anger is not directed at me and I try not to take it personally. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
    I agree with you on the grace and tact, but it is challenging because I don’t know how.
    Once when he was tipsy, he told me that I need to be able to tell him off. (I don’t see how if I were to say anything to wound his ego and gets backfire). Sometimes I’m afraid of that.

  63. Dear Tamara,
    You say, in one of your replies, “What man would not want a woman who only wants “benefits” and nothing more?” I found that statement shocking, and I would like to challenge the assumption that all men are that dysfunctional. While some men might be threatened by the idea of having an emotional connection with a woman, there are plenty of well-adjusted men out there who would not be interested in having sex with a woman they feel nothing for. Thank goodness!

  64. Hi,

    I’ve been married to my my husband for a year and a half. We dated for almost 2 years before getting married. He’s told me he has social anxiety, but after doing some research I think it’s avoidant personality disorder. All of the symptoms apply to his character. When I first met him he was this great guy who swept me off my feet. He took me out all the time, we went shopping, we had a great physical relationship, he was everything I ever wanted. We both had 2 kids and are kids were the same age. Everything seemed to be pretty good, we moved in after 8 months and never had any major problems until after we got married. There were fights, but nothing that made me feel like it couldn’t be fixed. 2 months into our marriage he had an emotional affair with a girl in our apt. building. He obsessed about her every night for 2 to 3 hours, trying to figure out if she really liked him, or if she was just like that with everyone. He couldn’t seem to understand why this angered and frustrated me. Then he went to lunch with her while I was at work and she told her bf that he poured his heart out to her. When I found out I was devasted and threatened to leave. He just sat there ignoring me while I was crying and yelling. I even left for a few hours which didn’t seem to phase him either. I stayed despite my gut feeling and he never seemed apologetic for it. It took me 6 months to get an apology and I had to beg for it. Then there was the financial arguments that went on for months. He was convinced that I lied to him about the amount of debt I had before we were married even though we never discussed it. When trump was elected he was estactic, but then started acting in a schizophrenic way. He started locking all the doors all the time, closing the blinds, breathing wierd and claiming he was trying to get oxygen to his lungs. He kept saying weird things like “Ha! They don’t know, or “we need to be careful it’s not safe” It scared me and my children and I left for a couple of days until he was acting more normal. When I came back he said I was the one who was acting crazy. His crazy behavior has since stopped but he still has some weird “God” complex. He thinks that because Trump is in office, he will have more power. The other day, he was talking about how “Trump was a genious, even smarter than him” He said it in a weird tone that had me concerned. I’ve reached the point now where I don’t think our relationship is going to work. It’s only been a year and a half and this has all happened already. He didn’t even celebrate our 1 year anniversary until I made a big deal out of it. Would you say these things sound like the avoidant personality disorder? Is there any hope of the fun, sweet loving guy I met ever coming back?

  65. Hi,
    I have recently split with my partner after experiencing him completely shut down. In the beginning we were closer that I’ve ever experienced and we both felt we had finally found true love in each other. I had planned a period of solo travel for a year before we got together so left a few moths later and we continued our relationship, with him coming out to visit me a few times. Along the way though he started to withdraw and when i came home he became very distant with me. He kept trying to connect one minute but would then be indifferent and almost scared with me the next. I chose to leave for a few days because I was terrified about what was happening as I would not talk to me, I came back and we tried again and then he just completely shut down. I had to leave our home and have been away for a few months. I’ve tried everything to talk to him but he will only really say he cannot forgive himself because he saw himself pull away from me and he doesn’t know why and when he looks at me he feels guilt and shame for fucking it all up. This has sent him into massive depression. When I tell him it’s ok and I’m there for him and we can sort it, he says he’s scared because I left before and he doesn’t know what to do, that he doesn’t know himself anymore. I just don’t know what to do, i’ve lost the love of my life and it feels outwith the control of both of us. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    • Hi El See,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Because I don’t have all of the details of this case it would be difficult for me to truly provide a well-balanced perspective and sound suggestions. However, it sounds as if he has a lot of unresolved issues that have interfered with your relationship. Do you think he would be open to going to couples therapy or to his own therapist? If not, if you are willing to pursue a therapist you can invite him to one of your sessions. Some therapists will be open to providing individual therapy to you (1 time per week sessions just with you) and then seeing both you and your boyfriend together.
      You can search for a therapist by putting your zipcode into the “Find a therapist” box through http://www.psychologytoday.com.
      All the best

  66. I have been diagnosed with mixed personality disorder with avoidant traits and would like to report that treatment is helping me. I now look forward to some social events and will take the initiative to set one up. IMO your ways to deal with a person with avoidant personality disorder are not what has been helpful for me. The things that have been helpful for me are 1) NO ultimatums. It’s not like I can just start attending AA like I did for my alcoholism. I am doing the best I can. 2) Be safe. Be a safe place for whatever your loved one wants to share. 3) Be supportive. If your loved one is trying to do better, they need all the encouragement you can offer. 4) Be consistent. For me, safety and consistency are definitely aligned. Consistency is very helpful. 5) Take care of yourself. Do fun stuff, go to counseling, enjoy friendships, take spa days or road trip or whatever helps you to stay sane. 6) Be patient. It takes a long time in therapy to address personality disorders.

    • Thank you Kathy for sharing this.

  67. I have been with a man with this avoidant issue for 7 years, and married to him for a little over four years. I love him very much, but am getting very tired of being shut out or suspected of doing things that I am not. For instance, just the other day he thought I was looking at him critically when I was in fact lost in thought. He often perceives me as being angry and judgemental when I am trying very hard to be tactful. “I” statements don’t work with him; you might as well be screaming at him, the way he reacts. He won’t sleep next to me, but prefers a pallet on the floor, saying he has back issues. He has no friends, and is content to waste hours on the internet. I have to plan social outings or we would never go anywhere at all. I feel like I am dying inside. Any attempts to talk things out are taken as personal attacks no matter how gently I talk. I never feel like I am deeply accepted or trusted, nor do I feel we have achieved the level of intimacy that I expected after seven years. We tried marriage counseling but I soon saw that he was just playing along to keep the peace and this is what he does all the time. He would make an ideal roommate but as a husband, I sometimes feel that I am not really married to him, and that we are just good friends with privileges.

  68. I am very grateful to find this article. I recently discovered that my housemate of several years has this disorder. It explains a lot and I am not saying that in a judgemental way, as I have struggled myself with depression and anxiety. I was wondering if people with this disorder also have a tendency to avoid self – responsibility and self -care. For example, my housemate has several chronic health problems, which she constantly complains about, but refuses to do the work to change. This includes, following the advice of her doctors. changing her diet, attending physical therapy, and decreasing her pain medication for a back injury. She starts something, feigning compliance and then its back to making excuses again and complaining. She keeps self – sabotaging. She has been avoiding me now as I have been refusing her attempts to depend on me and always put the responsibility back on her. This is exhausting.

    • Hi Christine,
      Thank you so much for your kind comment. I’m glad you found the article helpful.
      Avoidant personality disorder can be very similar to borderline personality disorder in many ways. I encourage you to read up on this as well. You are correct, it is exhausting. The best way to protect yourself is to put distance between you and the destructive behaviors of the person. It’s hard but it’s sometimes the only way to stay afloat.
      All the best

  69. Hello,

    I really liked your article. I think I have an avoidant personality (95% sure) and have been seeing an analyst for a few years.

    You gave good tactics for people who have avoidants in their life, but what about tactics for me? I would really appreciate the help. What to notice, how to calm myself or change my thought pattern, that kind of thing.

    Thank you
    B

    • I hope you do not mind me popping in and suggesting DBT or Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I am 58 and had struggled with depression, anxiety and some borderline traits for most of my life. I took a 6 month, once a week class at the local hospital. The book and workbook, by Marsha Linehan, plus the class were the best tools I have learned to cope. The material teaches you to “hold the tension of opposites.” For example…”I feel angry and that does not mean I am a bad person or the other person is.” To find a class or a therapist who specializes in DBT you might try the Find A Therapist section on the Psychology Today website. You can also check your local library for the Linehan book and workbook to see what it involves. There are other DBT focused books that have been published, but Linehan developed it.

    • Hi B,
      Thank you for your comment and for giving me a good idea for a new topic or article.
      I really wish I could offer you some tips on how to cope with avoidant personality traits but I am not trained in this area. I am only knowledgeable about this topic at a “shallow” level so to speak and would encourage you to seek out a professional with experience treating avoidant personality disorder. I can say, however, that if you were to reach out to a therapist, for example, you and the therapist would most likely discuss your specific traits, actions, thoughts, and feelings as well as your past to see how these things influence you.

      I will be doing an article on thinking errors or “cognitive distortions” next week. Stay tuned. You may find this helpful in some ways.
      All the best to you

  70. Hi Tamara. I only just found your page and find your comments encouraging. I want to ask you about how to help a 30 year old female friend Sarah, (false name) who I’m pretty sure has dismissive avoidant personality disorder. I have been a close friend of her family for about 25 years and have watched her grow up over the years into a very beautiful woman. Her parents and siblings are very secure people with stable marriages and great relationships with their children. The family overall is one of the happiest I have ever seen. However, Sarah finds it impossible to stay in one place long enough to have a continuous relationship with anybody, family included. She has a huge number of girl-friends who she travels the world with, she is very very popular, is involved in humanitarian work and everyone loves her. She is like a breath of fresh air and she brings so much joy to everyone she meets. However, it seems that whenever she feels a bond of attachment developing with someone, she runs for the hills! Although she doesn’t live in the same country as her family, she visits with her parents and siblings regularly, but she can only stay for a few days or weeks before she becomes uncomfortable and needs to leave, like she needs to escape the closeness of her family and get out on her own again. I think probably the source of her problem is an experience she had when she was 13, a boy she was becoming attached to suddenly died. This was hard enough for her but on top of that his family was kind of mental and insisted on treating her as if her life was over too. It really screwed her up. She always puts on a happy face, but a few days ago out of the blue she admitted to me that she is extremely lonely and was struggling to cope, like at the end of her rope. It was obvious to me that it took a lot of courage for her to come out and say this, she has never spoken to her parents or anyone else about she feels. She said that all her girlfriends were getting married one by one and having babies and she feels left behind and doesn’t know what to do or where to go in order to move on with her life. She seemed to know that there is something wrong with her and that it is her fault that she hasn’t found the right man. (She’s actually incredibly attractive and many good men have tried to get her attention) She is obviously in a lot of pain and I guess it has come to the point where she is desperate for a change. So I tried to open up the conversation and tell her that it’s ok to take the risk of staying in one place long enough for an attachment to form and don’t be scared of it, but she shut down almost immediately and has frozen me out, and now she’s leaving again. If she ever opens up to me again, what should I say? Or what can her parents do to help her? Please give me your advice.

    • Hi Wally,
      Thank you for your comment and for sharing this common scenario.
      It seems to me as if this young lady my not have only been traumatized by the death of a boy she was getting close to, but may be covering up a lot of her emotions. The way you describe her almost comes across as borderline personality disorder. The only thing that is missing from the description above is suicide attempts, self-injurious behaviors, or chronic suicidal thoughts.

      Individuals with borderline personality disorder often struggle with attachment because they have an underlying fear of being abandoned, mistreated, or hurt. The problem is that they experience relationships and emotions at a very intense level. In fact, some individuals with borderline personality disorder find themselves in multiple romantic relationships because although they fear abandonment and pain, they crave the affection and love often inherent in good and healthy relationships. It doesn’t surprise me that she is feeling lonely. If she has borderline personality disorder traits (or even the disorder itself), this would be a very common “symptom.” Although humans get lonely and we all have probably expressed a desire to have someone in our lives to complete it, individuals with borderline personality disorder have a pervasive (chronic) internal feeling of emptiness and loneliness. No relationship is ever enough. Individuals with this personality disorder also find it difficult to stay attach to others for fear of being hurt. My experience with clients like this is that they are sometimes very uninformed about their own behaviors and may not see their pattern of avoidance. Because avoidant personality disorder is so rare, I would venture to say that a psychiatrist or other mental health professional may delve into the “trauma” of her past, and if they cannot find anything there, may diagnose her with borderline personality disorder.

      I must say, while there are some extremely beautiful families who come across to others as being almost perfect, no family is ever without challenges. There may be more going on here than others are aware of. I would encourage you to apologize to her and explain that you were only trying to help. You can bring up casually. For example, “hey, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t offend you or make you uncomfortable. Just trying to help!” Therapy may also be helpful for her, even if it is to talk and vent. Sometimes therapy can open a can of worms that need to be opened.

      All the best

    • I might want to check to see if your friend’s distress comes from the fact that she doesn’t have long term committed relationships, or from the fact that she thinks she *should* have them. Our culture’s dominant discourse says that we should all want long term, committed, monogamous relationships. While this is true for many of us, there could be many factors as to why your friend is not ready for or interested in this. Absolutely her trauma and family systems issues should be addressed, but it’s not necessarily a pathology to be a “free spirit,” and if the only reason she’s doubting herself is because friends her age are settling down, it might be helpful to assure her that there are many paths one can take in life, and as long as we’re not harming ourselves/others, then this is more than ok.

      • I agree with Mary. A healthy person can be one who is not attached in a romantic relationship. Unfortunately our society and culture does not have a history of supporting this idea, especially for a woman. Just because someone prefers that she be attached does not mean that it is best for her or what she needs.

  71. I’ve recently become aware that I am a codependent in a marriage with a woman who has a highlly avoidant personality. Great combination. She finally voiced her feelings that our relationship is in trouble about 6 months ago after 15 years together and having 3 kids. I agreed to go to marriage counseling but she has not put much effort into participating and feels drained for days after trying to open up even a little bit with the therapist. She has recently found it conveniently difficutl to find a babysitter to make it to sessions so I’ve gone alone. She sees her own therapist every other week for depression and anxiety, that is as often as she can manage to open up and talk with someone about her issues. She has become highly passive aggressive doing many childish, spiteful things to show her anger instead of talking about it or saying she is angry and why. It is exhausting and infuriating. I am working on my codependency and attending CoDA 12 step meetings. If we didn’t have 3 children I would be ready to give an ultimatum to leave but I love her and the kids and want to do all I can to resolve things for our benefit and theirs. I wish I could have seen this coming long before we started our family. At this point I am searching for any good advice on how to help an avoidant personality see that it is safe to talk openly and resolve problems instead of run away from them. It is heartbreaking.

    • Hi Mac,
      Thank you for sharing your story.
      Because I am not a therapist who is trained to treat individuals with personality disorders, I would not be able to correctly advise you. However, I would check into this website (Pdan: http://www.pdan.org/), which is an organization that promotes education and specific treatment approaches on personality disorders. Treatment for personality disorders is limited because it can be very difficult to treat a personality disorder. While a mental illness is based on more biological, neurological, and environmental influences, personality disorders are pervasive (chronic) patterns of behavior that become personality traits as opposed to an illness. Medication and sometimes even therapy can fail. Medication is mainly used to decrease impulsive behaviors, anxiety, or depression. But that doesn’t mean your wife cannot change. She may be able to change with appropriate therapy. Therapy will most likely focus on changing her thoughts and ways she perceives things.

      If you find that she is not changing and you are struggling within the marriage, you may have to give an ultimatum and explain that she needs to put effort into the marriage in order for you to want to stay. I would speak with your therapist about this. I think we all can agree that there are some unhealthy marriages and even though you may love her (and your children), you cannot remain in a marriage that is emotionally or psychologically abusive. Love is a wonderful thing between a husband and wife, but if that is gone (or being submerged by) her behaviors and you feeling unheard, the marriage is not truly a marriage (i.e., a “partnership” between two equal people).
      I wish you all the best

  72. Have been dealing with a sibling who has major depressive disorder and avoidance syndrome for over 30 years. He has health issues as well which prevent him from working. He is incapable of living alone; have been on an endless cycle of hospitalization for health issues to rehab to home and back again every 4 to 5 months for the last two years. I am his only immediate relative but all we do is argue about his complete lack of concern for himself, the house and family. I offer as much support as possible but once he his cycling down he avoids us all together until he is on the dirty floor, in filthy clothes and an ambulance needs to be called. He is currently in the hospital and I tried to visit but was so angered by his complete avoidance of the issues that I walked out. I don’t want to lose my brother completely, but I just cannot continue on this cycle.

    • Hi PattyP,
      I totally understand how you are feeling. It is difficult to leave a loved-one in the “dust” and move on with life without them. But if your brother is unhealthy and is causing you stress and pain, you need to put space between you. As hard as that may be, you can’t carry a heavy load on this tough journey of life. It’s just way too much. Some people, family or not, cannot live in harmony with others. We have to find a way to live far apart from these kinds of people if they are creating chaos in our own lives.
      Take care

  73. I tried several online tests for many personality traits/disorders, but I could not make “relationships tests” of any kind (like attachment style tests, close relationships tests, etc..) because almost all questions are related to a “partner”, and I never had one (I`m male 30). There are lots and lots of questions like “Am I nervous when partners get too close to me?” or “Do I find it difficult to allow myself to depend on romantic partners?” and I have no idea about how to answer them. So, one discovers these personality traits only after actually having a relationship?

  74. All of this starts with the assumption that being asocial is wrong. Some of us just don’t like being around other people. Family and friends are not part of our being. That doesn’t mean we need to be ‘fixed’.

    I find being around people tiresome. I don’t do small talk. I prefer quiet and books to the inaneness that passes for conversation.

    So, I cannot see this as a disorder. In the modern world, it is a lifestyle choice.

    • Hi MDK,
      Thanks for your input.
      It is complicated for a laymen (and even professionals) to separate introversion from avoidant personality disorder. So I don’t blame you for thinking it is one in the same. But the difference between people who are introverted or like to be alone (very much like I do) get their energy from being alone and often feel recharged by reading, staying at home, being among a small crowd of people, etc. Those with avoidant personality disorder may isolate and withdraw but not be energized as a result of being alone. In other words, the person isolates because they are incapable of making connections with others. This does not include the socially “awkward” person necessarily. If you can imagine it, avoidant personality disorder describes a person who is emotionally and psychologically detached and uninterested in other humans.
      Hope this helps
      Take care

  75. Where does the the dance of being loving and kind; focused on moving forward cautiously in a relationship that has shifted and you find yourself reacting to being devalued which in turn you express your sadness and feelings about such and in so your partner feels like “you are loving in one moment and hurtful in the next.” which adds to there on-guardness. They see the mix of responses as do I. I see a similar mix resulting in the same summary… One minute you are sweet or nice or neutral and in the next moment you are mean or uncaring or without consideration or devaluing or excluding or pushing me away or non responsive to my feelings or communications etc… And without remorse. Yet I’ll see you be those kind traits to another spuring on more feelings of being devalued. Feels like a vicious circle in some ways.

    What is this dance that causes more destruction than good?

    Thanks
    Bob Hannan

    • Hi Bob,
      Great question. I think this is a difficult thing to do because there are never clear “rules” to follow. I would suggest marital or couples counseling. It appears that perhaps communication is poor. I also see that there may be more here than an avoidant personality disorder. Being sweet one moment, and degradation another says more than avoidant personality. It could very well be borderline personality disorder or even a mood disorder like bipolar.
      When living with someone like this, it is important to make your boundaries known (explaining that you are not playing into their manipulative cycle or hurtful behavior), suggest therapy (maybe for both of you so that she does not feel singled out and so you can gain skills), and discuss your expectations as best you can.
      It’s tough.

      I wish you well

  76. I thought I’d leave a comment here as I’m affected by this disorder. I haven’t seen a therapist yet but the description describes me perfectly. I’m a 33 years old male and I’ve never been in a relationship regardless of the fact that I’m very attractive. In fact I’ve had no more than 3 dates in my entire life, I told a few people in the past and they usually have a hard time believing me. I was heavily bullied back in high school and I ended up developing a pretty bad case of introversion and low self esteem. At 22 I completely gave up on the idea of getting a girlfriend and I spent around 10 years of my life doing negative reinforcements in my head to convince myself that it’s what I really wanted in life.

    Last year I started making some efforts to fix myself but it has been a challenge. I worked on my appearance and self esteem and I try to be more socially outgoing, since I’m aware of what my problem is I’m more likely to notice when I’m going into avoidance mode and push myself to make an effort, but when It comes to women I just avoid them like the plague. There’s a girl I was into last year. I really wanted to sit down next to her at lunch at work but my brain and body just wouldn’t cooperate with each others, I ended up walking past her, sat down where I always sit and started asking myself what just happened. Again recently, there’s a girl at work who stared me down multiple times, I know she’s into me but I can’t bring myself to ask her out, in fact since she started showing interest I’m having trouble even making eye contact with her. Generally I can’t seem to do much more than stare down the women I’m into from afar, I can make small talk but if anything more is involved I just want to find a place to hide.

    I managed to tell a girl I was into that I was gonna go spend time with her at the bar she worked at last year during a time of the day when nobody ever shows up, I could tell she was into me. I didn’t tell her at what time I’d show up and I just set an alarm on my cell phone at 7pm, I put my coat on and ended up waiting 45 mins in the middle of my living room before convincing myself to get out of the house, then I drove past in front of the place 3 times before finally deciding to park and get in there. All I could think of is, “I really don’t want to do this” over and over again in my head. I hear this kind of behavior is really common with avoidant people and a lot of them just don’t show up to dates or something… In the end I spent 2 hours with her but ran off on her when she started showing interest, I met her again 2 weeks later but she basically told me she thought I was “Complicated” *sigh*

    To me asking a girl out is the equivalent of someone going up the stairs of a water slide just to turn away at the top, it looks exciting from the bottom but once at the top you’re too scared to make the move. You don’t need to rationalize it in your head, you just know you don’t wanna.

    I also have a very limited amount of friends… If you can call them friends… I haven’t done anything with anyone outside of work in at least 10 years so everyone is basically just a “Work acquaintance” to me. I’ve been asked to spend time with some people a couple times in the past but I would always find a reason to avoid going. I’m not that depressed about it though, for some reason I’ve never seen friendship as something I crave unlike women’s company. I’m generally most happy spending time with my brother or sister, I tend to avoid spending time with anyone else than my immediate family.

  77. Dear Tamara,

    Thank you so much for your article and thank you for your replies to the comments – I feel at home here. I relate to some of the symptoms of avoidance. I had a dysfunctional childhood, have been divorced, and for 20 years pretty much avoided intimate relationships – I’d choose unsuitable partners and/or sabotage. But I think my current partner is classic Avoidant/Dismissive and it’s made me into a raging demon. I pursue – he withdraws. And it’s causing real anger issues with me. He lost his mother when he was 10 – said he wasn’t allowed to visit her in hospital – and at 12 was told that she had died. Then he became the caregiver for his fqther who was extremely ill. When he was 17 his father died on Christmas Eve and his extended family abandoned him. We had a long-distance relationship for 4 and a half years, then he moved in with me. After he moved in, I found out that he had lied to me the whole time we were apart. He had pretended he was a single father, a non-smoker etc. etc. So my trust was shattered and that has caused a lot of this outrage. I hoped that I could forgive him and that he was redeemable, but his coldness and aloofness sets off all my triggers because I want connection, affection, and transparency. He is going for couples therapy with me, but the therapists don’t diagnose things like personality disorders. They are working on a “time out” plan for us so we can start to feel safe when discussing volatile topics, but he doesn’t even stick to the plan, he’d rather take off and leave for hours and hours which I feel is my “punishment” for speaking up and wanting to connect with him. It would be very hard to break up because we’re in our 60’s and share a caretaking job where we get free rent, and I’m on disability and can’t work. It’s a crazy situation and I feel desperate and trapped and so lonely.

    • Hi Irina,
      Thank you for your kind comments. I am glad you found the article helpful. I love connecting with my audience because we both learn that way. 🙂
      I am sorry to hear you are feeling desperate, trapped, and lonely. I understand these feelings I have too have felt these emotions in various situations. When we feel this way, we often tend to fall into depression or high levels of anxiety. It is important to use coping skills (i.e., things that make you happy or make you feel in control of your world and peaceful), until we can figure out how to approach a situation. Have you thought of counseling? It might be helpful for the both of you to do together or separately. Even if you feel therapy may not help, you can go to learn skills on how to deal with a personality that is avoidant by nature.
      All the best to you

  78. Hello!
    Thanks for the article.
    Recently I’ve been working on myself. I’m trying to be a better person, trying to understand myself and feelings better. But what I’ve found out shows the opposite. I was trying to concentrate on the good, progress, “how I nicely behaved in some situations” but turns out that I was just avoiding my feelings and thoughts. I can’t confront myself. The thing I’m doing is not facing my emotions and feelings but avoiding them. I constantly avoid the negative emotions, try to forget about them and focus only on the little good things I did.
    I’m studying in another country and for summer vacation I came back to mine. It’s been almost 2 months but I only went out 3 times to see my friends. I want to see them but I can’t just initiate. I can’t tell someone that I wanna see them.
    I needed to make an appointment with the doctor 3 weeks ago but I just didn’t call and I still can’t. I’m afraid I’ll be judged by him.
    I also can’t trust people about their feelings or behavior towards me. It seems to me deep down they don’t like me they just tolerate.
    Negative thoughts never leave my head. I compare myself to others, disgust myself sometimes.
    Even some guy likes me I just compare myself to someone else and say “why would he want me as there’s a better option” and distance myself from the person. I’m afraid of being rejected. I’m afraid at the end the person won’t like me and will leave so I’ll be left alone.

  79. Hello,
    I’m so grateful, I found your article. It helped me to give my feelings a real meaning. Thank you. I have an issue on which I hope you could give me some advice. How to break up with an avoidant partner without causing him too much harm? The situation is: I have been with a mann (working colleague) 2 years in a on-off relationship. We are both 46 years old. I have been married 20 years and after separating I started an affair with my colleague. I developed very strong feelings for him. However, he did play on-off games with me. It took me a while to start feeling that he might have a problem. Later he told me he is since 6 years in therapy and also taking Psychopharma. The relationship has a bad effect on me. It wears me down. I ended, however it looks to me in a way that causes both of us distress. As we see each other daily, and I have to say I still have strong fellings and it bothers me that I’m causing him so much pain, is there something I can do, say or write to him, to explain that I still respect and appreciate him but that our relationship cannot work. For my part, I am a stable person however I have a tendency towards an anxious relationship type. Which, I think now, caused also a lot of problems in our relationship. Please apologize for the long text and many thanks in advance for your support.

    • Hi Anaconda,
      Thanks for your kind comment and shared experience.
      Any relationship that wears you down is a bad relationship for more reasons than the obvious. Sometimes a relationship wears you down because it isn’t all that it appears to be on the surface and may include mental health or personality disorders. It is difficult, as you can imagine, for me to confirm or say that he has avoidant personality disorder without seeing him and assessing him. But could there be a possibility that he isn’t avoidant but sociopathic? Is there a possibility that he could be emotionally detached in a fashion that screams “personality disorder that cannot be treated easily in therapy”? If so, you did the right thing. You cannot have an equal and healthy relationship with patterns of behavior that “wear you down.”
      I would remain firm about your decision and do not waver. The moment you waver, that’s the moment you “tell” him that you are not sure of yourself or your decision and that he has room to manipulate you. I often encourage women to stand on their decisions within their relationship if that decision is made in good faith.

      Take care

  80. I have a friend who I am convinced has APD. I won’t go into too much detail here but I am extremely worried about him. He has had a hernia for 2 years now and has not gone to the doctor. when I bring it up and tell him he needs to make an appointment he gets very angry and says he will get to it when he CAN. He is on disability and has no schedule that could possibly interfere with this. About 4 years ago he had cataract surgery and less than one later his eyesight began to fail. He began using a magnifying glass to read. Again I asked him to please go back to his doctor and tell him his symptoms. I get the same response from him…anger. He acts as if I am putting him down or insulting him in some way. A couple nights ago on the phone he told me his eyesight has taken a turn for the worse and I again asked him to please make an appointment He said to quit yelling at him. I was talking in a calm conversational voice. I am very worried about him. He seems he would rather die than be in any sort of unknown, awkward or potentially embarrassing situation. He has been my best fried for almost 20 years but I don’t know if I can keep caring about someone who won’t care for himself. To me these fears seem trivial and it’s hard to understand them but I know it affects him intensely and I do have respect for his “condition”. He has avoided all calls from since our last conversation but I know I will eventually see him again soon. I am at my wits end. Please give me some advice on how to get him in to see a doctor. 2 years of hernia pain is ridiculous and it hurts me to see him this way. Please respond soon.

  81. Hi there. I was doing some intense research as to why I feel and act how I do. I always get a panic attack of some sort when I’m about to meet new people or doing things involves being around new people. I don’t like meeting new people or speaking to new people. I start to feel and act all awkward and then I notice anxiety starts. I’ve been trying to pinpoint what is wrong for awhile now. Because I’m sick of feeling this way but I can’t seem to figure it out

    • Hi, I have that trait too and for me it is more anxiety based that avoidant. I am an INFJ, as far as the Myers Briggs Personality type goes. I am about half introvert and half extrovert. It is much easier for me to be an introvert. Extroversion for me requires energy and dealing with my feelings and sensitivity, and the need to process afterwards. Being in the extrovert mode I absorb a lot and back in the introvert mode I have to process to shake it off and get back to myself. You might look into the Myers Briggs test…there are free ones online. There are lots of other personality tools online too. My easiest tactic for being an extrovert is pretending I am a reporter interviewing people and passing on information. That was a trait I very much admired in my Dad, who was a reporter! Christine

      • Hi Christine,
        Interesting perspective. I never thought of extroverts as “reporters.” I might actually “steal” that from you to help my client’s understand extroverts. I think I admire extrovert traits, at times that is, myself. My mother and grandmother are like that and I could never wrap my mind around how they seem to feel energized by talking, connecting with strangers, or constantly interacting. Although I love connecting with people and caring about them, I need some down time!
        Take care

    • Hi Jerry,
      Thanks for your comment. Have you ever thought of social anxiety disorder? I would do a simple Google search and see if you meet any of the criteria. You may not have Avoidant Personality Disorder. It is very common for social anxiety to get confused with Avoidant Personality. You may also want to consider that you could also be an introvert, like me! Despite this, if you are “sick of feeling this way” and it is causing dysfunction in your life, I would suggest seeing a therapist. You can find one in your area by going to http://www.psychologytoday.com and typing your zipcode into “Find a therapist.”

      Take good care

  82. Hey Tamara,

    I just want to thank you for for posting this advice. I am struggling with how to deal with my avoidant personality and its been negatively affecting my life for 8 years. I received a diagnosis about two years ago, since then I’ve struggled to find a therapist who understands me. Most of the time I just want to pretend everything in my life is fine. The rest of the time I just want to give up. I keep going back on forth on whether or not I have a mental illness or I just have to find motivation and try harder. When I first read the DSM-5 criteria for AvPD I was hurt to see everything put so bluntly, but at the same time I think 90% of it was true for me. I have never read such a complete description of myself and how I really feel. Anyway, its hard to find good information and resources and I really appreciate you opening the conversation. Thank you.

    • Hi Charles,
      Thank you for such a kind statement and heartfelt description of what you are going through. I understand that this can be difficult. I also understand that the DSM-5 is void of compassion and care. That’s why so many people have a negative view of psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals. The DSM is really, as you might already know, a compilation of opinions that have been “researched” (whatever that truly means) to help mental health professionals communicate and have some order to treating patients. It makes sense from this point of view. But when real people who are truly suffering read the DSM, they begin to feel like the field is talking down to them, judging them, or completely misunderstanding what really causes them to suffer. At least you feel that the DSM is correct and that’s great. But I certainly don’t blame you for being hurt also.

      It sounds, from a little bit of what you mentioned, that you may be depressed about this. I encourage you to consider talking to someone about it.
      I wish you all the best

  83. Hello!

    My husband has been diagnosed with AvPD and PTSD. He is in the military. We have been married/together for 5 years now. I am having a terrible time coping. He doesn’t seem to see how his disorders have negatively affected our relationship. It is becoming so painful that at times I feel depressed. He was not like this for the first few years. He has suffered trauma but refuses counseling for us (he has mandatory counseling for himself due to military). I feel like I am losing him.

    Please, any advice is welcomed

    • Hi Ozzy,
      I’m so sorry to hear this. This is tragic to say the least. I wish I knew how to advise you but I would need further details.
      I would suggest, however, that you pursue therapy on your own to brainstorm ways to cope with your husband’s obvious needs. I would also inform this therapist, if you choose to go on your own, that you need support figuring out how to “save” your marriage and explore if it is worth saving at this point. You certainly need someone to help you explore where your marriage is at, where you wish it were, and if it is salvageable.
      You can find a local therapist by putting your zipcode into “find a therapist” search bar at http://www.psychologytoday.com.
      I wish you all the best

  84. Hello Támara,

    I have had something wrong with me ever since early childhood and I feel like I finally have some closure to figuring out my struggle of dealing with emotions. I fear acceptance and embarrassment all the time. I thought it was just normal social anxiety that the average person has, but I’ve realized its a major problem for me that is affecting growth in my life. It’s like I’m stuck being a university new grad.

    I’ve been laid off from two really good jobs due to my avoidance of conflict. For my otherwise loving and healthy relationship with my significant other, my avoidance from fear of starting a conflict has caused me to be dishonest with her and is causing trust issues between us.

    I think one of the major factors to my emotion issues is I never really got to practice sharing emotions with my parents as they are immigrants that didn’t develop advanced English skills and I did not develop advanced skills in my mother tongue. We have a huge communication divide. There’s also the constant arguing that I grew up witnessing and my parents divorcing which I think added to my fear of conflict.

    I also have lost a deep connection with my brother who I used to be very close with. One less person for me to be completely open and share feelings with.

    My girlfriend and some close friends are people I consider to have the deepest connections with, and now I may lose my girlfriend if I don’t get this condition under control.

    Do you think I have this disorder and what are some common exercises to help with coping with it? I am also actively seeking a specialist who can hopefully help me stomp this horrible disorder. I feel like I have so much to offer the world and am being held back by this barrier to freely express myself and speak up when necessary. I tend to just watch blankly like a deer in headlights and reply with one word answers in situations with some sort of confrontation.

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to all these comments several years after your original posting date, you are helping many of us who are confused and suffering.

    Walter.

    • Hi Walter,
      Thanks for sharing your story and your very kind comment. 🙂
      It would be very difficult for me to assess this via the Internet without more background. But I can say that Avoidant Personality Disorder tends to be a rare diagnosis. You may have some elements of the disorder but not 100% of them. You may avoid things for a lot of other reasons you may not have considered. A good therapist may be able to help you uncover this. It appears that something really is holding you back but what that is, I don’t know (from a distance).
      It does sound as if you go into “fight or flight” mode (which is a normal reaction to threat). Your brain perceives threat in situations where you “freeze.”
      I wish I could be of more help.
      Take good care

  85. Hi. I recently ended things with my bf of 9 months and must tell you that in all the reading I have been doing, your article here makes the most sense of everything. He had been married 14 years, had three kids and the wife cheated on him and left him. That was three years ago. Since then, he only had two relationships that were 4 months each. We were long-distance (and so were they, which I’m starting to see might be a “thing” to keep some distance) From the beginning, it was very, very strong with lots of, “can’t wait for you to meet my kids” “could you move here” talks about vacations, marriage, etc. I absolutely adored this guy, but always felt like he wasn’t truly connecting, letting it all hang out (wife’s issue was “lack of connection”). Then one day his kids noticed my name on his phone, started to ask who I was and then I saw slowly that he was ceasing talking about the future, etc. It almost seemed like he was then scared of me. After breaking up with him he wrote to tell me that the thought of introducing the kids to me was petrifying. He was scared to lose them. He just became more and more disconnected in some ways (although wanting the relationship…it was odd). I finally said I couldn’t do it anymore and he quickly ran to therapy, starting reading books, etc. He actually looked like he was on the road to better understanding himself until he quit his therapist, “She’s not helping me and I am so busy, I’m not sure when I’ll have time to get another one…” Oh, no…I thought. So, holidays came around and I asked if we were spending them together and he’s got the kids for xmas (so bc they don’t know me, we’re not) and then Thanksgiving, which he was stalling on (my guess is that it would be a big move in his mind). Whatever the case, I just ended it. Very sad, but he obviously can’t do it (move ahead) and it’s hard for me to not think that it’s me…the insecurity and low self-esteem I felt in this relationship was off the charts even with the constant, “I love you” and “please don’t give up on me…” Thoughts? Thank you…I love this article, it makes me feel less crazy.

 

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