Enah asks: Is it true that people who are introverts and also have avoidant personality disorder will die alone (because I have a hard time making friends)?
Hi Enah –
Before I answer your question, let me explain a couple of the terms you use.
First, all people, and dogs, lie somewhere on the scale between Introvert and Extrovert. The Introvert side is shyer, more focused on themselves, while the Extrovert side is outgoing, focused on and enjoying others. I am certainly mostly an Extrovert, while my human friend Handsome is mostly an Introvert. Yet I really value my time curled up alone during the days, and he does love going out with friends, and even enjoys speaking and performing in public. So whenever someone says they’re one or the other, I figure they mean they’re mostly one or the other. Lots of famous performers, for example, are wildly extroverted in their work, but deeply shy in their private lives.
And then Avoidant Personality Disorder. This is an actual diagnosis, a mental illness, where a person’s shyness and sense of inadequacy causes real problems in their ability to interact with others or maintain relationships. It’s way beyond Introversion, something that gets in the way of nearly every aspect of a person’s life.
So to summarize this, there is nothing wrong with being an Introvert, or leaning that way. It’s not a good or bad thing, just how a person is. And it doesn’t make you unlovable. Some people can’t stand how friendly and rambunctious I am, and prefer calmer dogs. Similarly, not everyone wants to hang out with loud partiers, as many prefer the company of quieter, more contemplative folks. So one can live very happily as an Introvert, at least as happily as any Extrovert. But Avoidant Personality Disorder is a painful, debilitating illness, that should be treated – through therapy at least, and perhaps even anti-anxiety mediations.
But now, to your actual question. Are Introverts, or people with APD, destined to die alone? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Introverts can work, hang out with friends, marry, raise families, and yes have dogs! And do so every day. After all, if only extroverts did these things, only half the population would ever procreate! Your job as an Introvert is to own your feelings, and not let others force you into hanging with Extroverts you don’t enjoy (You might have to work with them, or have them in your family, but you get to, in your personal time, choose otherwise!). If you want to meet someone, you don’t have to go to a loud nightclub. You could research to find a group of people who share an interest of yours – maybe books or movies – and meet new people there. You can meet people online (though always be sure to be very careful with that, and only agree to meet in a public place, in case they’re lying about who they are). And of course you can ask your family or friends to introduce you to other people they think you might like.
But if you truly have Avoidant Personality Disorder, again, that’s something that can and should be treated by a professional. And a qualified one WILL BE ABLE TO HELP YOU with it, a LOT!
But your question really touched my heart. You weren’t asking about the joys of making friends or falling in love, but about the very sad fear of dying alone. So I want to talk to you about someone I write about a lot, my friend Aria.
Aria was born a shy, timid puppy, She was then abandoned by her human family, got taken in by another family, kicked out by them too, and beaten mercilessly in her training. She lived out in the wild for a while, afraid of all people. But eventually she did agree to get taken in by some nice rescuers, who got her to a wonderful couple who took care of her for a few months, till they found an owner for her. That owner has worked for years to get her happier, more trusting, and more herself.
Enah, today Aria is not only my friend, but a friend to a good number of people. She’ll lie on their lap, get tummy rubs, and even play a little. People love her.
Nothing is guaranteed in this life, but you have a far better chance of finding love and companionship than Aria did. And look at her now.
Your job is to try. To try to find people who are like you, and who you like. To treat any actual disorders you have, but also to accept your shyness and introversion as a part of you, even a virtue.
And while I hope we don’t find out just what circumstances you’ll die in for a LONG LONG LONG time, if you can find those people you can enjoy, and who’ll enjoy you, the odds are that you’ll find you can live very happily, with just the sort of companionship you crave, until that day comes.
All my very very best,