Avoidant Personality Disorder Relationships

Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) is one of the personality disorders that involves a pervasive fear of rejection, criticism, or disapproval that leads to social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. People with AVPD struggle with building and maintaining relationships due to their fear of being judged, ridiculed or rejected by others. This fear is so prevalent that they may withdraw from social situations and avoid any situation where they may be the center of attention. This can lead to significant impairments in personal and professional relationships, as well as in physical and mental health.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of AVPD:

The DSM-5 outlines the following symptoms that are necessary to diagnose Avoidant Personality Disorder:

  • Preoccupied with criticism or rejection in social situations
  • Avoids interpersonal relationships due to fear of embarrassment or feeling inadequate
  • Unwilling to get involved with people unless certain they will approve of them
  • Complains of feeling socially inept, unappealing or inferior
  • Reluctant to take risks or engage in new activities due to fear of embarrassment
  • Heavy reliance on social networking, email, or online communication instead of face-to-face interaction
  • Exaggerated interpretation of negative feedback and always assuming the worst in social situations
  • Avoidance of physical or intimate relationships due to fear of rejection or ridicule

These symptoms usually present themselves in early adulthood and can make it difficult for people with AVPD to maintain friendships or romantic relationships. People with AVPD may also have trouble succeeding in a professional setting as they may avoid working in teams or seek out jobs that do not require extensive interaction with others.

Treatment of AVPD and Relationships:

AVPD is usually treated with a combination of therapies and medication. Therapy, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can help individuals learn to manage their fear of rejection and criticism by reframing their negative thought patterns and developing coping strategies. Group therapy is also effective in helping individuals with AVPD build interpersonal and social skills, as well as work through their issues with others who struggle with similar issues. Support groups, such as Social Anxiety Anonymous, may also be an effective way for people with AVPD to connect with others who are struggling with similar issues.

Medication can also be used, often in conjunction with talk therapy, to manage the symptoms of AVPD. Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are often prescribed to help manage anxiety and depression that are common with AVPD. However, medication alone is not enough, and therapy is critical to help individuals with AVPD manage their symptoms and improve their relationships.

The Importance of Building and Maintaining Relationships with AVPD:

As individuals with AVPD may struggle with building and maintaining relationships, it is important for them to understand the significance of healthy relationships in their lives. Human beings are social creatures, and having healthy and supportive relationships is critical to overall well-being. Good relationships can lead to better physical and mental health, increased happiness and a sense of belonging. Without these essential relationships, individuals with AVPD may become isolated and socially anxious, leading to further depressive symptoms or social phobia.

In conclusion, AVPD can be a challenging disorder to live with, especially when it comes to forming and maintaining relationships. However, with the right attention and treatment, individuals with AVPD can learn to manage their symptoms and build healthy relationships that can help them lead happier and more fulfilling lives.


What is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Avoidant Personality Disorder is characterized by feelings of inadequacy and social inhibition, extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation, and a tendency to avoid socialization and interpersonal relationships. Individuals with this disorder are extremely sensitive to rejection and often feel uncomfortable or afraid in social situations. They may avoid work or school activities that involve significant social contact, and their desire for close relationships may be limited by their own fears and anxiety.

How does Avoidant Personality Disorder affect relationships?

People with Avoidant Personality Disorder can have difficulty establishing close relationships due to their tendency to avoid social situations, socializing with new people, and expressing their emotions. They may come across as shy, standoffish, and uninterested in building deeper connections. The fear of rejection or judgment can lead to isolation, loneliness, and feelings of inadequacy. This can put a strain on all types of relationships, including romantic relationships, friendships, and work relationships.

What treatment options are available for Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Psychotherapy, counseling, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can be effective in treating Avoidant Personality Disorder. These therapies focus on identifying and challenging negative thoughts and behaviors, developing problem-solving and coping skills, and improving social and interpersonal skills. Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may also be prescribed to manage symptoms of anxiety and depression, which often co-occur with Avoidant Personality Disorder. It’s important to work with a mental health professional to develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to the individual’s specific needs and goals.


1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596

2. Alden, L. E., & Capreol, M. J. (1993). Avoidant personality disorder: Interpersonal problems as predictors of treatment outcome. Journal of Personality Disorders, 7(4), 232-239. https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi.1993.7.4.232

3. Naragon-Gainey, K., Watson, D., & Markon, K. E. (2009). Differential relations between depression and social anxiety symptoms to facets of extraversion/positive emotionality. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118(2), 299-310. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015344