Living With Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is a mental condition that, when left untreated, can seriously hinder a person’s daily life. People with avoidant personality disorder suffer from chronic shyness and timidity. They often feel inadequate when compared to others and have a debilitating fear of humiliation and rejection. To cope with this fear, people with avoidant personality disorder often avoid social situations that may cause potential embarrassment.

In some cases, avoidant personality disorder progressively erodes social interaction until the sufferer lives in almost complete isolation. However, people with avoidant personalities usually do not actually want social isolation–in fact, they may crave connections with other people. However, their social anxiety and fear of rejection make forming relationships with others difficult, if not impossible. Fortunately, medication, therapy and support groups can help a person with avoidant personality cope with her condition.

Avoidant Personality Relationships

It can be difficult for someone with avoidant personality disorder to form relationships with others–a common symptom of several other personality disorders. Unlike some personality disorders, such as schizoid personality disorder, in which the affected person prefers to be isolated, people with avoidant personality disorder usually want acceptance. Despite this desire, a person with avoidant personality disorder will withdraw from others due to a real or imagined lack of social skills and an intense fear of rejection.

Avoidant personality disorder and dating isn’t an impossible combination, but it isn’t an easy one. People living with avoidant personality disorder tend to hold back in close relationships. They are hypersensitive to criticism, and small behavioral cues like a frown or a raised eyebrow may signal disapproval or rejection to them. In addition, because of the difficulty they have in forming relationships, people with avoidant personality disorder usually lack a strong social support network, which can make dealing with crises difficult.

Avoidant Personality Support

Living with avoidant personality disorder is difficult, but help is available. Unlike many personality disorders, where the affected person is unaware that they need help, a person with avoidant personality disorder may seek out treatment because her condition makes her so unhappy.

Various treatment options can ease the symptoms of the disorder. Some antidepressant medications may help, but psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can also be an effective treatment. During cognitive-behavioral therapy, the person with avoidant personality talks about behavior and thought patterns with a licensed therapist, and works on ways to change these patterns to more healthy ones. In some situations, family therapy may also be helpful.

Joining an avoidant personality support group may be another coping strategy, if the person is able to attend meetings. However, many people with this disorder shy away from in-person support groups because they fear social interaction. In these cases, avoidant personality online groups and avoidant personality forums may offer an opportunity to connect with others who are experiencing similar issues.


Croft, H. (2010). Avoidant personality disorder. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from

Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (2010). Avoidant personality disorder. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from

Grohol, J.M. (2010). Avoidant personality disorder treatment. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from