Avoidance - The practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.


Avoidance is a symptom of extreme feelings of inadequacy and fear of rejection. A certain amount of avoidance behavior is common in almost everyone, and is dependent on the situation. For example, it is normal to be shy around a group of strangers. Avoidance behavior becomes dysfunctional when it significantly deteriorates a person’s quality of life, or the quality of life of those close to them.

Examples of Avoidance:

A woman leaves the home for a week when her in-laws come for a visit.
A man goes to his bedroom when his wife's friend comes over.
An employee habitually keeps their office door closed.
A woman refuses to attend social gatherings with her husband.
A man begins to shun an acquaintance after they express an interest in developing a closer friendship.
A woman hides her true emotions from others and pushes them away socially, out of a fear of rejection.

Related Personality Disorders:

Avoidant Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder.

What it feels like:

If you are in a relationship with a person who practices avoidance, you may feel frustrated at their irrational behavior. You may feel the pressure to choose between caring for the person who is behaving in an avoidant way and your desire for healthy social interaction. You may feel pressured to become a hermit with them, and begin to resent that pressure.

What NOT To Do:

Don’t blame yourself for the avoidant behavior and attitudes of a loved one.
Don’t give in to pressure to isolate yourself from healthy relationships.
Don't try to thought police the person with the personality disorder.
Don't try to control their behavior - focus on being healthy yourself.

What TO Do:

Learn about Personality Disorders and how that affects the person you care about.
Detach yourself emotionally from any dysfunctional attitudes. You don't have to agree with them and you don't have to fight with them. You can agree to disagree.
Maintain healthy outside interests, recreational pursuits and supportive relationships.
Get support from people who understand personality disorders.