Avoidant Personality Disorder

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For more in depth understanding of Avoidant Personality Disorder and the problems that may overlap with it, scroll below.



The Avoidant Personality OBSERVATIONS




Hyper Vigilance and Monitoring: Monitors environment to see if others are watching....
Trust and Safety Issues: Builds a mental database about who can be trusted....
Control Issues, (Environmental): An Avoidant has a the need for a high degree of control....
Assertiveness: Ordinarily, an Avoidant is not assertive or outspoken, though....
Relationships; dependent vs. self-reliant

They may or may not have attachments to family, significant others and/or may be very dependent...

Intimacy Intolerance:

The Avoidant with intimacy intolerance may
withdraw both psychologically and...

Fear of the Familiar: Being required to fit in or socialize with co-workers and keep up with ....
S*xual Ambivalence w/past abuse

With therapy and support the person who has love or sex addiction or intimacy intolerance problems...

Being Found Out & Shame It is common for an Avoidant to feel intensely afraid of....
General Observation: Feels shame at not having met personal or....
Time and Space: AvPD's with limited functioning can begin to lose concept....
Loneliness and Isolation:

Their need for safety and solitary leanings can leave a wide gaping void....

Co-Morbid Factors: Avoidant individuals may have co-morbid factors due....

ORIGINS; Nature or Nurture

It hasn't been proven (yet) whether or not AVPD is genetic or in someway predisposed...

Schizoid Personality Disorder: Schizoidal tendencies may be seen in some people with AVPD....
Narcissistic -
Avoidant Mixture:.
The need to manipulate others in certain situations helps....





Monitors environment to see if others are watching, judging or
mentally scrutinizing them.

Checks to see if and where exits are located so if they need to
leave they will make efforts to cause the least amount of attention
to themselves and slip out announced.

May continually scan their environment for people who look unsavory
especially if they've experienced trauma in their past.

Might believe others don't like them or are talking about them.


May believe they aren't physically attractive enough to warrant interest from others.

May be sensitive to smells, loud sounds, lights or fabrics.


Builds a mental database about who can be trusted.
Picks up on the slightest idiosyncrasy other individuals display.

Is often judgmental of others and can't overlook incidental
personality quirks. Alternatively, Avoidants who are in
lonely phases may endure and "subject" themselves to people
so that some connections are made.

Screens people out when the person or the situation (could be
in a professional environment) appears to be unsafe, insensitive,
self-centered or unaccommodating.


May take a lot of energy and effort to maintain trust in their


Some Avoidants have problems setting boundaries with
narcissistic or other types and are vulnerable to
manipulation. * See below the description for "manipulation".

CONTROL ISSUES, (Environmental):

An Avoidant has a need for a high degree of control
within their environment.

Movie theaters, restaurants, classrooms, workplace, churches,
bathrooms and gyms may pose issues and feel threatening when
the desired "placement" of their environment has shifted.
They are territorial and preferential; if something causes
their routine to change it can set them back mentally.
This can break an Avoidants routine or make it hard to
leave home for activities or extended stays elsewhere.

This can challenge a person who relies on having an exact
booth at an eatery, exact bathroom stall, exact chair or desk
near a quiet corner or a wall etc.

Avoidants do not like the sense that others are encroaching
in on their privacy and even though they may be in a public
place - such control issues can make it hard for them to feel
relaxed and comfortable enough to stay if something
interrupts their flow.

When other people enter into their space their inner hackles
can come up although others may not perceive this. More often
this is interpreted as an aloofness.

May not accept rides with co-workers or friends for fear they
will be stuck in a situation where they can't leave when they

Will give up doing something they like if the activity
invites the participation of too many other people or the
threat of "over familiarity" exists.

Alternatively, an Avoidant may prefer some crowded situations
such as social groupings of common interest - if it helps
them FADE into the background while still giving them a sense
of belonging. Some may enjoy big cities due to the aliveness

it invokes in them in contrast to others who feel overwhelmed

and nervous with too many people around.

It's understandable however that Avoidants who can venture out

into a pulsing mass are just the opposite when in their own home
environment - to which is the boundary to all that is SANCTUARY

to them.


Ordinarily, an Avoidant is not assertive or outspoken, though
they may be at times when feeling unduly intruded upon or
when they are passionate about a subject or cause. This
momentary assertiveness is easily misconstrued as hostility
by others. An Avoidant will often experience a mixture of
emotions related to such events: Annoyance, frustration,
courage, pride, self respect, indignation, relief.

Quickly, thereafter, an Avoidant will question and second
guess themselves, dissecting the event for hours on end. They
may feel guilty or bad for having expressed themselves in
such an "abrupt" manner and even more inadequate
than before. A paradox lies at the heart of this; they'd
rather be able to assert their rights, express their opinions
and generally feel at ease with themselves on a regular basis
than have but a taste only to retreat back into their shell
of non confrontation.


A high functioning Avoidant may exude confidence that

matches competence and clear capabilities related to their

craft or job. However, these same individuals may have

an unending fear and aversion to becoming personally

involved with people for fear of not measuring up as

social beings. Anything outside the realm of their profession

may expose a fragile ego strength.

RELATIONSHIPS: Dependent Personality, Trust & Self Reliance:

Some Avoidants have the ability to maintain long term
friendships and relationships. This is especially true if
they've known the other person for a long time. i.e.. from
childhood or the person has a proven track record so that

the Avoidant comes to trust and rely upon them.

Relationships with family, spouses and friends when proven
supportive/caring offer a safety record therefore they can
be trusted. This kind of familiarity helps the Avoidant feel
connected and somewhat grounded. However, intense dependency
is very much a big problem for Avoidants that rely on one or
two people, i.e., a family member, spouse or partner for their

their only connection for personal (or financial) support.

An Avoidant who is self-reliant usually has had the opposite
experience. They are financially self sufficient though while they

may have people they associate with it is usually at some distance.

They may or may not have attachments to family or to a significant



The dependent Avoidant can still have a very independent side. 

They may yearn to know what it feels like to be independent and

capable of caring for themselves but fear holds them back. Often,

this type of Avoidant has been out of social and professional loops

for years and feels ashamed at their inability to contribute to

themselves, their families or society at large.  They may trust one

person only and come to depend on that individual for emotional,

physical or financial sustenance while not being able to connect with
anyone else or maintain relationships outside of the primary


It should be noted Abuse, rejection, neglect and even bullying by

peers can harm the identity and self concept of a young child and if
predisposition (organic Avoidance traits) is assumed, it takes very

little to do major damage. Therefore, this type of severely avoidant

individual will likely have a difficult time developing or maintaining

relationships. Familiarity can frighten them off and they may feel

exposed and vulnerable even if they desire connection with other

people. In the dependent Avoidant, the vulnerability factor has been

lessoned by consistent support shown for them and it is especially

true for AVPD's with past trauma as children to identify one person

as a safe haven but have little trust for anyone else. It should also

be mentioned however that a dependent Avoidant may be more

suceptable to abuse and ridicule by spouses, parents and others

who attribute their reliance to weakness and laziness thereby

increasing their fear that they may at any point in time be abandoned.



It has been noted that some features of Avoidance extend

into areas where the individual will fear intimate and sexual

contact even when attracted to the other person. They may

allow themselves to admire and have feelings from a distance

as long as the other person doesn't know. This is sometimes

termed as "unrequited love."


The flipside to this kind of ambivalence might also be expressed

only after a relationship has formed and the Avoidant with intimacy

intolerance may withdraw both psychologically and sexually

from the relationship though at times the physical contact may

remain. Sabotaging a relationship by accusing their partner of not

being sensitive enough to their need for isolation is a common



With a failed sense of purpose to such a relationship the

partner of the Avoidant (who pulls away from contact) leaves

an unbearable void in the other's heart. It might be truer to

say that an Avoidant who once loved but cannot fulfill that

role any longer is an individual who has the least reason

for doing so. If an Avoidant deeply desires acceptance and

love but pushes those away who have shown nothing but

patience ~ what is left? Numbness and justification for having

ended a relationship will follow as a quiet shadow but the

Avoidant will nullify any painful loss to themselves or of

having caused at least that much pain to the other.  It isn't

because they have no feelings, though on the surface, it

may appear this way. It's because in order for the habit (the

associated feelings of avoidance) to "survive" - they must

forfeit knowing healthy desire and love in exchange for

keeping control and lessening what they feel will drain the

energy of their psychic resources.


It has been said that Avoidant Personality Disorder is a chronic

condition of self-loathing through self deprivation and in

essence much of this behavior has become a comfortable

but lethal habit where relationships are concerned.


Some with intimacy intolerance are addicted to the "thought

of love and romance" but once faced with the prospect will

pull away. Others may be addicted to porn and or fantasy

which on every inhabitable level will most certainly add an

even heavier layer of distancing to any viable relationship

the Avoidant encounters.




Fortunately, with therapy and support the person who has

love or sex addiction or intimacy intolerance problems there

is much help. Many have found that help using the 12 Steps

programs where they can talk in relative anonymity about

their conditions in the company of others who suffer from

the same. 


Of all the conditions that overlap with AVPD this is an area

that may be most treatable. First, the Avoidant must see the

contrast between their fantasy world and reality. They must

understand the conflict and how the tension between the

two plays out in actuality. They might be able to see a pattern

in all their relationships or maybe in just in the area of

"love" relationships. Could there be an environmental

component? What did they see growing up? Were they

treated with respect or were they domineered by one or

both of their caregivers? Were they at any point in their lives

sexualized or abused by a family member or other? Did their

their sexual identities evolve appropriate in time scale

to their developmental age?  



Workplace familiarity provides a serious issue for some with
Avoidant Personality Disorder. Even highly skilled or
educated Avoidants may have trouble keeping jobs if the
workplace doesn't provide a relative degree of autonomy.
(Higher Functioning Avoidants almost never have work related
issues: Look for upcoming articles on HFA's soon).

Being required to fit in or socialize with co-workers and
keep up with the office grapeline-politic can feel so
stressful that the individual quits. It's fairly common
amongst severely afflicted avoidants to never have gotten a
career off the ground due to the intense fear of looking
incapable or incompetent in performing their jobs. Scrutiny
of performance aside, many Avoidants will not withstand long
term exposure in any work environment EVEN when they have the
ability to perform their job duties. This is because the act
of showing up at a job every single day poses a threat
towards "non familiarity" or a need to NOT be known.


There can be also problems with authority issues as certain

Avoidants will not do well working close with a boss or

supervisor. This plays into the area of 'over' sensitivity and

being judged or criticized by another. It is more severe in

Avoidants who suffered from unhealthy relationships with

parents especially where they felt lorded over and discredited

in their expressions by the adults in their life.


Other types of relationships an Avoidant can have is ONLINE
connections where the person has found some common ground

and a mutual sense of support with other strangers. The internet,
for e.g., provides a buffer against intense vulnerabilities the
Avoidant might otherwise feel in real time - although it's been
reported that many feel so closely connected with their
online ID's that being in that world can also feel threatening.

Online support groups can have dynamics that make it a challenge

for an Avoidant and so they may secretly change their Identities so

that other users aren't over familiarized with them.

Other "over or too familiar" situations can be when a person
must do a routine activity. Walking their dog, taking out the
trash, walking past a neighbors yard, going to classes, the
bank, store and one of the worst...getting a haircut can
create a challenge. It isn't unusual to hear an Avoidant
say they have changed hairdressers 4 times in a year. The
problem being that each subsequent act of "being seen" means
they have exposed themselves and are becoming more and more
*known* to others.


If the impression of every Avoidant is shy and aloof there are

also plenty of 'friendly Avoidants' ...that is to say, that these

types crave and manage topical conversation well. They may

even talk so much (usually out of anxiety) that the other

person finds it a little off-putting. The pattern they then find

themselves in is: Saying too much too soon and having put

aside the inner guard of distrust, may reveal personal things that

they later regret having said. The end result is that they're

mortified at their own deep need to connect with other people

and then retreat back into their shells of isolation with just

enough shame to remind them that they never should have

ventured out to begin with.


It is common for an Avoidant to feel intensely afraid of
being "found out."

Some may fabricate stories not for the sake of bragging but
to shield themselves against others finding out that their
internal lives don't match what society expects of them,
therefore it's not unusual to hear that some avoidants will
either avoid conversations where questions may be asked of
them or inflate the truth with an answer that seems

Avoidance of people, places or any situation where the
Avoidant fears embarrassment or being "found out"
becomes habited and entrenched. They don't like lying about
themselves and seldom do it but when they do, feel a sense
of shame and failure as though they studied for a lifetime to
get things right but then got a big F stamped on their paper.
This cycle of falsehoods is crushing to the Avoidant and with
time can actually create a barrier where they themselves no
longer recognize their own abilities, talents and skills.
Shame, then, is carried in the deepest parts of their being
and can bring about a great deal of pain for them.


It is also common for Avoidants with a degree of physical

attractiveness to use this as compensation for what they

otherwise are attempting to hide. On the surface, they have

momentary surges of confidence but beneath are trembling

and in fear of being found out.

General Observation:

Feels shame at not having met personal or professional goals
Avoids lengthy interactions with others and may lie in order
to cover over the reality of their situation.

May yearn for deeper relationships with people but fear of
being "found out" and an ongoing sense of shame keeps
potential relationships from forming.


AvPD's with limited *functioning can begin to lose concept of
time and space. This is more intensified if the person also
has an overlapping OCD problem. For example, a non-working
Avoidant who spends all their time at home or in a room where
clutter and hoarding is a problem. Disorganization or
"organized chaos" can mentally break down the edges of time
and space. Additionally, Avoidants who spend exorbitant amount

of time online or playing videogames will habit themselves into a

blur of lost days when routines don't demand interruption from others.


Fantasy realms are often the landscape in which some Avoidants

will create. Daydreaming can happen for minutes or hours where

the world is an alternate universe of sorts. In it they can be who

they want, do what they want and behave with more confidence

and self-assuredness. Often, they will be someone others look up

to, have a beautiful or loving relationship with a significant other and

their realities, in those moments are suspended. Once they return

to the real world the pain is intense and in their own view, life is

dull and limiting.



Nature or Nurture


Often the question asked is what came first:  the AVPD or

other conditions that turned a person into an Avoidant.


It hasn't been proven (yet) whether or not AVPD is genetic

or in someway predisposed. On observation alone a neutral

approach to the topic is acceptable so that one doesn't become

entangled in partial data that may only represent the few over

the masses. What has been implied is that many with AVPD

are people whose self-concepts were mutilated at tender ages.

It isn't unusual in the least to hear that toxic and Dysfunctional

home environments existed or that either one or both parents

were extremely detached from their child and as a result the

child developed this coping mechanism, that is, Avoidance.


Having said that, many with Avoidant features will have had

fairly normal childhoods but external factors such as events with

peers (bullying for example) in school seemed to undermine and

throw off track the individuals mental and emotional gait. Even

still there are others who grew up unscathed but later as time

wore on found they did not have vital emotive and communicative

skills. Lacking in this subjected them to embarrassing situations in

which they found as intolerable rejections from others.


We don't know whether someone is born sensitive or if

sensitivity is learned and or develops as a response to

painful slices at their core identities. Since not all people

who've been abused end up "Avoidant" it would be just as

equal to say that parents who neglected to imbue their child

with strength and faith in themselves could have had as much

impact on increasing sensitivity levels as those who had

accomplished the same by verbally and physically harming

their children.


Quiet detached parents do their children no favors. It is pure

neglect at its' core and serves to only disenfranchise the potential

of every child who looks to their parents as a source of love

and competence.


What did the child learn? The one who developed Avoidant behavior

may have learned to be angry and sensitive and fragile and moody.

Or they may have learned to push aside their needs, wants and dismiss

all of their conclusions as pathetic, silly and unappealing. Negative

projection is rapid throughout most Avoidant behavior.


He or she may magnify their own imperfections because this is

what was done to them by the people who gave them their cues.

They may feel the need to 'defeat the defeater' before something

wholesome has a chance to play out and over react to what they

think are the judgments of others.


Unfortunately this is a form of self-sabotage. If nobody else is making

the sensitive soul feel bad, they'll do it themselves.

With this behavior some cross the line or merge from Self sabotage

into manipulation. Often, this isn't thought out but rather is a default

setting where the Avoidants patterns set into motion one end of a

a social movement that quickly (and sufficiently) proves the "wrong"

others are doing to them and ends in a negative projection.


This kind of behavior isn't exclusive to Avoidants at all and more likely

may be as a result of co-morbids that accompany the Avoidant condition

but nonetheless, it is worthy of noting. Perplexment and disgust is often

the end result as people will eventually find they can't win with this kind

of sensitive individual.




Isolation and loneliness is mostly a constant with the Avoidant.

Their need for safety and solitary leanings can leave a wide

gaping void in their hearts. In society, we are expected to be

social animals and anything less is often seen as curious and

odd. Yet, many if not most Avoidants truly yearn for close

connections to other people.


What should be noted; in reality the severity the Avoidant person

feels might be amplified by the fact that in today's society neighbors

rarely speak to each other. As households become islands of their

own, society as a whole is becoming more isolative and withdrawn.

Common everyday interactions with non and family members seem

to be less occurring except through technology; internet, chat, texting,

FB, twitter which allows humans to stay a further distance. Physical

communication is not required and participation is not mandatory.


It would seem that "avoidance" is encouraged in our culture.

How then does it bode for the future of Avoidant Personalities?

We are not to blame for what society does as our avoidant

natures were either predetermined or developed out of the

need to protect ourselves when the margins of safety proved

very thin. But it is frightening to think, as society shrinks from

itself, Avoidants are like that of the lone polar bear; one of

survival seeking its' habitat; a place of safety, of refuge but

the ice-sheet it sits upon is melting from beneath it.


Co-Morbid Factors:

Avoidant individuals may have co-morbid factors due directly
to the underlying anxieties that many with AVPD will experience.
Poor self-esteem, self doubt and self-concept lends itself to
an Avoidant needing to fill a deep void with compensatory
soothing and the need to cope.

With others it may be directly related to having experienced
trauma in the form of: pain, abuse, abandonment and rejection
as a youth. Some behaviors, particularly those that fall into the

"compulsive" category developed over time but usually begins

in the teenage years.

Compulsive Behaviors:

Anorexia and the AVPD

Overeating and Avoidant Behavior

Alcohol or Substance Abuse

Gaming and non stop online activities;

fantasy and daydreaming


Sexual Ambivalence

Sex and or Porn addiction

Cutting, Skin Picking



Hoarding or clutter

Trichotillmania (hair pulling)

Compulsive Eating

Clock watching or telling time

Ingesting of non food materials


Other obsessive and or addictive


Other Behaviors w/ anxious compulsive elements:

Obsessive Thinking and thoughts
Paranoid Behavior
Excessive cleanliness
Reading and cataloguing mass quantities of information,
data or literature. (Data mining).

Anger issues

Compulsive Eating

Commonly (or sometimes) Overlapping with Avoidant Personality

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Highly Sensitive Personality
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Bipolar Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Panic disorder
Reactive Attachment Disorder


Dependent Personality Disorder

Highly Sensitive Person

Mood Disorders

Schizoid Personality Disorder:

Schizoid tendencies may be seen in some people with AVPD.
However, it's more likely that the intense Avoidant has
learned early compensation skills that have a learned affect
on detachment...and attachment styles.

Because Schizoids do "avoid" it can be confusing. A schizoid
personality can appear aloof and friendly and or charming at
the same time and is most perplexing to the onlooker. What
Schizoids are well versed at are appearances. They know if
they are to do well enough in life they must appear to be
open enough to substantive activities that involve other
people. This will normally take place at their jobs where
it's more acceptable to be less social - but can meet the
requirement of 'friendly enough' to pull it off.

What is understood is that Schizoids really don't feel the
need for close intimate relationships, rather, they do feel
at times the need to fill the lonely spaces in their quiet
worlds. They may invite relationships to connect with others
but will always keep a deep layer of emotional distance
between themselves and the other person. Because of their
ability to wholly disconnect, a person takes a big risk in
getting involved with the SPD. Often if a Schizoid feels

questioned about their emotional worlds they will feel

threatened and may act in a passive-aggressive way or

in a way that lets the other person know they have no

interest in engaging or exposing themselves to questions.

However, a common misconception is that Schizoids don't
"feel" pain. Pain is felt but their ability to empathize with
others is severely lacking. This is because the SPD
essentially is a self centered person where "pain" is
controlled and experienced more as annoyance, frustration and
sometimes anger rather than actual painful emotional
thoughts. If the SPD is at risk for feeling anything outside
his controlled world it is more energy than is worth it.
Others may not be worth the energy it takes to figure out
what the Schizoid should do to help make a situation better
for themselves or the other people in their lives.

If facing the loss of a relationship is evident the Schizoid
for example, will either place blame on the other person and
disown any personal responsibility or will relinquish his or
her *need* for said relationship any longer.


In other scenarios, A different kind with negative
compensatory abilities may vacillate and temporarily obtain
status which fills a hole of intense self-loathing.

The need to manipulate others in certain situations helps to
maintain their assertions and protects their projections. For
clarification purposes here, this person may only see
themselves 'characteristically Avoidant' when it is useful to
appear relational and empathetic of those they need to

These individuals have a deep desire to be known as
inspirational, expert, knowledgeable, persuasive,
compassionate and transparent. It can be said this type of
person is only as Avoidant as the time they spend in the hole
of their own *self-loathing since the extremes on either side
of this chasm have at their root, an agenda.

The element of their projective status may be used in the
workplace, in intimate relationships, with family members and
with other Avoidants. In most cases when applied it is with
those they can sufficiently influence for a length of time
until the period of risk becomes obvious either to themselves
or to others who have picked up on their self-doubt or very
possibly the darker side of their personality.
It is usually very short-lived; the projection of having a
healthier mental status begins to dissolve from lack of
positive attention outside of themselves or a sense that they
can no longer filter what needs filtering, i.e. the mask
they've provided is no longer sufficient.

Negative Compensation; The Active Responses:

Wants to be noticed but is subtle about it.
Needs to impress or gain approval.
Experiences bouts of superiority.
Exhibits passive-aggressive behavior.

(It's not my fault, you are the problem).
Might be physically attractive and uses

attractiveness to their benefit..
May be an Academic, well-read.
May have desirable career skills.
Intensely self serving.
Vacillates between self hatred (low energy) and self
contained projection (high energy).
Does not appear to have classic AVPD but Avoidance is a by
product when status is at a lull or when depression is present..

(In a sense the SPD can be viewed either as being closest to
having more in common with the Narcissist OR the Avoidant. As
with many conditions there are often overlaps in traits).


By Avoidant Personality Disorder, Contributor - (Copyright)



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