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George Hartwell M.Sc.

Articles > Marriage > Avoidant Personality Dialogue

by George Hartwell M.Sc. Counsellor

(Although George holds a Masters of Science degree in clinical psychology he is not a registered Psychologist He practices as a counselor or therapist. )

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Avoidant Personality

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Avoidant Personality

Avoidant Personality - a Dialogue

By © George Hartwell M.Sc., 2009, all rights reserved.

(Questioner)  I need some information.  I have a girlfriend who I have been going out with now for about 2 years, very is very shy 39 years of age only just left home no close friends etc.  We get along great, I thought when I met her that there were indicators that seemed quite strong and over time I have helped to build her up and get her away from the abusive mother that she was living with.

She is doing very well, showing improvement all the time.  Recently I noticed when she took her first fulltime job that she seemed to go distant on me.  I decided to look further into her so I could understand, when I come across an article you wrote.  She has a really gentle nature; I note the escape into imagination which is her all over.

During the first part of the relationship I was emotionally distant; I guess that's my style until I warm up.  Only over the past say 3 months I have let my self be vulnerable in the relationship.  I don't know if it's my imagination, or the fact that during this period of time that she started a new job, but I feel she is distancing her self from me.

Marriage seems like an important thing to her, but sometimes I think things are not quite right.  Your article portrays avoidant personality disorder as a real nightmare.  I have read lots of things on avoidant personalities, but this is my first real life experience with one.  Shannon is definitely an avoidant personality, very shy and has had a very abusive life.

I realize it is brave to diagnose someone considering I am not qualified, but Shannon has very strong obvious ways about her which are not of any normal person, she trusts me as I am gentle with her.  Any info would be appreciated.

(George)  Good for you for being on top of this.  Avoidant tendencies are often difficult to discern.

The problem is that she may always avoid intimacy and you may need and want it - once you have warmed up.  This will leave you alone and frustrated.

Are you thinking that she began to distance when you became vulnerable and opened up?

Hardened avoidant personalities will resist growth, therapy and so on.  They don't like change or confrontation.  They may prefer to avoid all 'problems' or 'negatives.'

The main factor in avoidant personality is the major motivation to avoid risk the results in avoiding change, new situations, facing self, intimacy and so on.  The life directions points backwards rather than forwards.  (This also results in needing to control and control and love do not mix.)

(Questioner)  I am thinking you may be right.  It seems to me that being with her may do my head in.  I am considering separation.

(George)  You may know to what extent she resists change, growth, therapy or looking at herself.  I cannot judge that.

If there is no change then over time you could well become quite frustrated in your need for real connection.  It may be difficult to see in advance.  However, the pain is real when you realize that attachment, couple bonding and emotional safety is out of the question.

(Questioner) I don't believe she has a dismissive avoidant style.  I would like to understand her in regards to attachment, as it is this that affects my relationship with her.

I have had some weird relationships over the years, with dismissive avoidant types (attachment styles).  There is definitely no emotional contact with this type, but I am a bit confused as my father is fearful avoidant attachment style and they do bond but keep you at a distance.  My past relationships with a true dismissive avoidant attachment style were very interesting, but shocking!  Yes, truly they do not bond with you; at very best you are seen as a play mate.

(George) Yes, bonding or attachment is the main goal of intimate relationships.

(George)  If she is able to be intimate, share, make requests in a way that respects the other as a person with freedom, then she is not the extreme avoidant that I have seen.

One can grow out of shy.  One can be shy and still be very intimate.

Like I say, I need to see definite signs of avoiding the kind of risks that are necessary to partake fully in life.  One needs to be shrinking back from life not expanding into life to be Avoidant Personality in my view.

(Questioner) Maybe she is not avoidant by the sounds of what you are saying as she is able to share and be intimate.  But she is terribly shy.

 © copywrite George Hartwell, 2009.  All rights reserved.

Keywords: avoidant personality, attachment style, intimacy

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