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AvPD and Breakups

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This is a support forum for the family, partners and friends of those with mental health issues. This forum is intended to be a safe place to discuss information, give and receive support and learn about all the issues related to being involved with a person with a disorder. Whilst it can be healthy to express various emotions, please remember to be respectful about the disorder itself. This is a place for constructive discussions, not a venting forum.

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AvPD and Breakups

Postby LotusChakra » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:22 am

Hi there,
My Ex and I broke up about a month ago, after a 2 year relationship. He has AvPD. I really wish I could wash away all his pain and suffering from this disorder......Side note: It really hurts to hear all the pain and suffering people with this disorder face. I truly hope anyone with this disorder will reach the point in their life where fear and anxiety are eliminated from their mind and hearts. You all really deserve it and I believe you all can reach this point......So I was wondering what it is people with AvPD, more specifically men, experience emotionally or what thoughts arise after a break up?

To give a background about why things ended was because he was only kind and paid attention to me when things were good but wanted nothing to do with me if we were fighting. He avoided any fighting at all costs; even when he was trying to face it he would just be defensive and be checked out mentally (he said the fighting was too much and he couldn't handle it). He wanted everything to be done on his terms, he would skip my family events ( barley had a relationship with them) but would expect me at his, he gaslighted me constantly when we fought, he rarely apologized, he didn't forgave me for anything and looked at me like I was the most inconsiderate person on earth if I did the slightest thing that inconvenienced him, and he would hold a grudge for a few days. He never wanted to do what I asked because he was afraid I was trying to control him or he was afraid saying yes would leave him with less or cause him to suffer (ironically when things were good he said he loved how chill and not controlling I was). He admitted all of this to me a few days before we broke up. In the past he would always get these moments of clarity only to fall back into the same old habits and this was exactly what he did after he admitted these things to me and what forced me to end of our relationship.

I just really want to understand what it is that someone with this disorder is going through when they act this way? Ironically when it ended he said he thought I was amazing person and that he was sorry and that I deserved better and he had nothing he bad he could say about me. He always said that I taught him what love really is and that before we got together he just said it to be liked. He said he could be 100% himself with me, come to me with anything and he had never felt that way before. He also said I always knew how to make him feel better and calm him down when he was getting worried about things. I just don't understand why he would treat me the way he does if he really meant those nice things he said and if he even ever loved me? (this would get him really upset when I asked him this but I was never left with an explanation just a cold shoulder)

Have any of you experienced anything similar in a relationship? What is it that is going through your mind and what are you feeling in moments that you are arguing with your significant other? What is going through your mind when you are avoiding things? Do you actually forget the things you do and say in an argument (my ex always said he doesn't remember saying or doing things I call him out on) or is that just a defense mechanism? Have you ever has those moments of clarity where you can see how you aren't doing right by someone but continue to do it and why? Have you ever felt this way with another person (you can truly be yourself with a significant other) and if so why did you let it go if it ended?

Please feel free to share your personal experience/opinion with anything you read on this post do not feel limited to just answering the specific questions. I truly just want to understand more about these things to be more compassionate towards him and take away the resent I have in my heart.

Thanks! <3
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Re: AvPD and Breakups

Postby xdude » Mon Apr 29, 2019 1:32 pm

Hey LotusChakra,

From what I read, AvPD is sort of like introversion+. Being an introvert, I can relate to becoming burned out when I am around large groups of people, even small groups at times, though one on one I feel less stressed out. Some say the main difference is introverts will still seek out social interaction at times, while people with AvPD avoid to a greater degree (for some, almost completely).

Still, it does seem like he enjoyed your company.

One thing that is easier for introverts is the proliferation of books and articles that say there is nothing wrong with you. Some of life's most successful people are introverts, and some books suggest that actually about 1/2 of us are. In cultures like my own where extroversion is highly valued, that leaves about 25% who try very hard to be extroverts, but are never entirely comfortable with it. I think for introverts their #1 stress is the expectation they be extroverts.

I don't have AvPD as far as I know, but have come to the conclusion that introverts really cannot explain what it's like to extroverts (and vice versa). It does remind me though that there was one book I read that said one modern theory, confirmed to some degree, is that introverts tend to be highly sensitive to external stimuli. It's sort of like if you were listening to music, one person needs volume 10 to get that sense of that's loud enough, while another person gets the same experience at volume 1. The introvert's brain gets overloaded more easily. Personally I can relate. In a group I hear everyone else speaking, and it overloads my mind with chatter. Extroverts may find the same stimulating, a feel good experience.

I don't know with AvPD though. Hard to know if their key stress is due to social interactions, fear of rejection, fear of being perceived as socially clumsy, etc., or is it also some mix of being stressed out that others will expect them to be gregarious and they just cannot be. Maybe some of both.

The main thing is that introverts can come to accept 'there is nothing wrong with me'. That might be harder to do for AvPD types, and I wonder if they could be more self-accepting if that would help to lower their stress levels. Put another way, while introverts may have to put on a show of being extroverted at times, there really is nothing wrong with them for being introverts. For people with AvPD, if it's getting in the way of their own happiness, the goal should be to help them feel happier, not to turn them into gregarious social butterflies ;)
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Re: AvPD and Breakups

Postby LotusChakra » Mon May 06, 2019 10:21 pm

Hi xdude,
Thanks for the reply! I really appreciate getting your perspective on this. And you actually brought to my attention that maybe he wasn't really able to communicate this to me because essentially I was asking him to communicate in the way an extrovert would.

Also I apologize if my post sounded like I wanted him to be more outgoing, because I really didn't want that for him. I find introversion to be attractive, it's actually one of the many things I liked about him. I liked that he was not talking up a storm and trying to be the center of attention.

I just had a hard time with the fact that he refused to do anything he didn't want to do regardless of how it made me feel.

Thanks again!
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Re: AvPD and Breakups

Postby xdude » Wed May 08, 2019 12:59 pm

Introversion versus extroversion is complicated by most people are not pure introverts or extroverts.

Introverts might say you are driving me mad with all of the talking. Extroverts might say you are driving me mad not listening/responding.

Ironically, differences in our personalities like this can also end up being the attraction, at least initially. Some say we humans are inclined to seek out others who complement us. The good old opposites attract saying. Could be true, but unfortunately it also happens that the very thing that attracted us can end up becoming what drives people apart too. I don't have any answer on how to solve that.
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Re: AvPD and Breakups

Postby d3xx » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:06 pm

LotusChakra wrote:he was only kind and paid attention to me when things were good but wanted nothing to do with me if we were fighting. He avoided any fighting at all costs; even when he was trying to face it he would just be defensive and be checked out mentally (he said the fighting was too much and he couldn't handle it).

I cant speak as to his other poor behaviour. But for many avoidants, fighting takes away the security of the relationship completely. He sees your being angry or hurt as saying "i hate you, its over". This is very hard on the partner because they find themselves always being the one to try and mend the relationship - to coax him out of his shell. It really is like that, subconsciously he is thinking "so you dont hate me any more? How can i be sure?"

The partner of an avoidant has to be very strong emotionally. They need to be able to broach difficult subjects in a non threatening manner and express their needs in a way that wont make their partner feel like they are a failure. Few people can, or are willing, to live like that.

I just don't understand why he would treat me the way he does if he really meant those nice things he said and if he even ever loved me? (this would get him really upset when I asked him this but I was never left with an explanation just a cold shoulder)

Asking an avoidant "did you ever really love me?" is like saying "our whole relationship is a lie, you never loved me, you are a terrible person". So the silence may be because he is shattered. Again i cant know what he is really like. I am guessing.
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Re: AvPD and Breakups

Postby xdude » Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:01 pm

d3xx wrote:...But for many avoidants, fighting takes away the security of the relationship completely. He sees your being angry or hurt as saying "i hate you, its over". ...


This is a somewhat old thread, but agree with the points you made including this one, and the difficult challenge that means for the partner.

Sometimes, maybe often?, what is being avoided is the strong counter emotions. Anger in particular is a difficult emotion, because it can evoke such strong reactions in others, from reverse anger, to withdrawal. Of course that's why most of us avoid being angry, we know it's one of those final cards to be brought up after all else has failed, and there is risk of an unwanted counter response. It's not common for people to respond with the desired response of 'oh, now I understand your point of view, sorry!'. Happens, but if it does it's often later after emotions have cooled off.

Expressing hurt can also trigger strong emotions in some. Feelings of shame, remorse, utter rejection, etc. Even if that is not the intent, some do react in that way, and may avoid those painful feelings and associated thoughts.
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