Are you avoiding me or avoiding everyone?

Psychology Today March/April 2021 pp16-18 |Relationships|Avoidance|”Avoided And Evaded” “Is someone giving you the brush-off? While it’s always wise to check your own behavior, their seemingly selective lack of interest may have little to do with you.” By Wendy L. Patrick, J.D., Ph.D.

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Summary of the article

If avoidance is repeated “you may be correct in your assessment that such behavior indicates not inadvertence but deliberate avoidance.” When snubbed “it’s in our nature to demand to know what we’ve done to deserve it.” Maybe a direct response to our past bad behavior or maybe the “apparent shunning has little, if anything, to do with us.” Some people avoid others as a “form of self-protection.” Some are just not interested in “mixing and mingling.” Seven percent of adults have social anxiety as they have “heightened tendency to see danger where it does not exists” and may judge “ambiguous social situations as threatening.” To them a “neutral facial expression is just as likely as an angry scowl to be seen as something or someone to avoid.” Some know their feelings are irrational but others with “avoidance personality disorder” have “excessive social inhibition.” Sometimes we all need some downtime or what is known as aloneliness-time by ourselves..

Some people “just aren’t interested in being sociable.” Children and adults that disengage socially or withdrawal are characterized by two common types.

1) Those that are motivated by “shyness or dislike of others” finding interacting challenging and therefore may not find pleasure in social interactions.

2) Those that are unsocial and who “experience few negative consequences of their behavior” and essentially have a take it or leave it attitude towards social interaction.

Some avoid others because they are otherwise socially or romantically involved with another or others. “Men, especially, have shown a friendly behavior from women as flirtatious…”. If already involved with someone else it may just be easier “to simply avoid socializing with a seemingly interested woman.” All of us may be suspicious when hit with “a barrage of compliments, persistent questions or focused attention…”. Sometimes romantic suitors don’t realize that the focus of their attention may feel awkward or uncomfortable and generally not willing to strongly reject advances by just saying no. “Avoidance is often their weapon of choice” as “outright rejection…can be socially or professionally costly.” In some cases, avoidance “may…have deep evolutionary roots.” Women, as an example, may use a “myriad [of]…avoidance behaviors” to protect from dangerous encounters-including rape, especially from “men perceived as aggressive” or by choosing habitats “that minimize contact with men in general” especially if they “are already in a romantic relationship.”

In the end, “it’s hard not to take avoidance personally” but know that “it’s entirely possible the reasons have nothing to do with you and may lie wholly out of your control.”