Q&A: Get Rid of Your Avoidant Personality Disorder

I’ve stumbled upon your fearful-avoidant attachment blog/post/thread.  That’s the answer I’ve been looking for: how can one approach someone with fearful-avoidant style such that the odds are that they will be somewhat receptive to what is said to them about their “issue”?  I’m 2/3 secure and 1/3 preoccupied (only the good parts – i.e. only involving my own mind, it doesn’t spill over to my partner).  Hence, the dynamic between myself and this woman is predictable now that I know what I’m dealing with.

Thanks again for the thread/post/info.


Dear J,

Thank you for your kind words. We are glad our advice has been helpful to you, and we wish you the best of luck in trying to make your relationship work.

We want to take this opportunity to talk about a condition that is even more severe than insecure attachment styles. The condition is known as “avoidant personality disorder”. This condition is more severe than insecure attachment styles because it is a defect in a person’s personality (who that person is) and not just in his or her pattern of attachment.

Here are the main characteristics of avoidant personality disorder:

1. Extreme fear of humiliation

2. Extreme fear of being judged by others

3. Extreme fear of being criticized by others

4. Extreme fear of being rejected in social situations

3. A strong feeling of social awkwardness

4. Sincerely believe that they are unattractive

5. Sincerely believe that they are not worthy of love

Not everyone with an avoidant personality disorder has all of these traits. Three or four of them suffices for a diagnosis.

People with an avoidant personality disorder also have an insecure attachment style. Most have an avoidant attachment style but some have an anxious attachment style (co-dependent behavior).

Can you cure someone with an avoidant personality disorder? The answer is yes, it can be done, but it is going to be a difficult process.

As with other kinds of avoidant behavior, the first crucial step in curing the condition is to learn to accept rejections. The occasional rejection is unavoidable for people who have a healthy lifestyle.

The greatest problem that people with an avoidant personality disorder are facing is learning to deal with rejection, criticism and humiliation. They fear these forms of judgment so much that they would rather avoid affection, intimacy and relationships than the risk being rejected, criticized or humiliated.

The best cure in these circumstances is to put oneself in lots of situations in which one might get rejected. This desensitizes the brain and helps to avoid extreme fear in in these situations in the future.

It is, of course, natural to feel a little down after a rejection, no one enjoys being rejected, but being rejected is not the main problem for people with an avoidant personality disorder.

The main problem is worrying about being rejected. The thought of being rejected causes them to avoid social encounters and to accept only friendships with people who are never going to criticize them. They prefer insincerity to real honesty and trust. This is the pattern they need to break.

Best wishes,

Dr. Brit and Catherine

If you had one chance to ask Dr. Brit or Catherine any question about love or relationships, what would your single most important question be? You can submit your question here.

Read our answers to previously chosen questions.

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