Social avoidance

Many Aspies and sensitive people have problems with social interaction. Tendencies to withdraw from social contact may have many causes.


Being a natural introvert and individualistic rather than gregarious. These are perfectly normal personality traits, common among gifted, creative and sensitive people. Someone born with a special talent, interest or ambition, may honestly regard socialising as a distracting waste of time instead of the reason for living. It is a matter of priority:- A social person may put up with working so as to be able to meet other people and afford having a family and social life.

– A non-social (creative/specialist) person may put up with the unavoidable socialising at work or home as an arduous necessity to get to have the fun of working, creating or researching.

What the social type often fails to understand is that it can be a real joy and pleasure to be left alone and do things on one’s own. Especially if one has something particularly interesting to study, create, perceive, think about, work on or play with. Being a non-social person is not a disorder. It is simply a personality type.

“I’m most comfortable by myself. Fun to hang out with others occasionally but nothing I’m able to do all the time. If I visit someone, or someone visits me and stays for a few days, it is nice but then I’m satisfied and enjoy being on my own again.”

– Mattias, Aspie from Sweden

“Over the years I have become more and more withdrawn. I no longer try to fake interest in family gatherings. /…/ I go to the zoo each weekend, but when I go, and wherever I go, I much prefer to go alone, and at times when people are least likely to be around.  I much prefer it this way and have been steadily taking steps to be even more of a recluse as the years go by.  I find that the more of a recluse I am, the happier I am, so I am aiming to be more of an isolationist than ever before. /…/ I am not scared to interact with people. I just don’t like to and find it very stressful.”

– Tom, Aspie from USA

I’ve often felt that I am as made mainly for observing, analysing my observations and sharing them with others, rather than participating in life myself. For as long as I can remember I have had this ‘internal observer’ that watches both myself, others and my surroundings and files away all data for later retrieval. This enables me to notice patterns which others often miss, and to make connections between cause and effect which has been incredibly useful in both my personal, social and professional life. The curious thing is that it is always present; even during the most intense experiences.

I may still occasionally enjoy contact with others, but prefer it if the alone-social ratio is something like 10:1. If I’m social too much, I often tend to get stressed out and ill, and keep thinking I should be doing something useful instead.

– Ing, site-author

“For the longest time I used to wonder why I was not more outgoing, why being in a crowd drained my energy, being around others too long left me feeling like I needed to go to the moon to get away. Friends did not understand, my lack of interest in going out after work or hanging out was taken as snobbery or antisocial behavior (and when you are an Objectivist, that just complicates matters more!) It seems like each year, I would tell myself, ‘THIS IS THE YEAR I COME OUT OF MY SHELL!’ And after a night out, the shell became more calcified.

“Then I found THE INTROVERT ADVANTAGE, which explained that introversion is not just shyness or antisocial behavior, but a matter of innate brain structure. The first half of the book focuses on the science of the brain chemistry of introverts, and describes the differences in the neural pathways, which affects not only introversion but other factors such as how they learning and sensation (i.e. sensitivity to loud and soft noises.) The second half of the book comes off as a bit of self-help cheese, but there are some good points.

“With the majority of people being extraverts, introverts are at a disadvantage in social situations like work and romance. Often the perception of being shy leads some introverts to force themselves into social situations that ultimately wear them out, while the perception of being antisocial may become self-fulfilling prophecy, leading the introvert to believe it must mean a separateness from the rest of humanity (it’s no coincidence that many villains in literature are depicted as loners.) Olsen Lane presents some ideas for introverts that may help foster a more informed relation between introverts and extraverts.”

– Joe, adult Aspie

The Introvert Advantage Website for introverts
Caring for Your Introvert brilliant blog about introversion

Social phobia

May vary in intensity from deadly panic to feeling shy, inhibited, uncomfortable and confused due to being overly self-conscious and unsure of how to behave in various social situations.

Common in introvert and emotionally supersensitive people. In a forum poll 16% of Aspies reported having grave social phobia, 52% mild social phobia and 6% having had one form or another earlier.

Being informed of common social rules; practice under safe circumstances; work on self-esteem; and initially being accompanied by a trusted companion in frightening situations can be of huge help to get on the right track.

“With most children who learn life skills instinctively and intellect is taught, it’s generally the other way round with Aspies so the lessons need to be reversed to limit bullying and failure.”

Debbie, Aspie from UK, mother of Aspie teens (before she passed away)

I was painfully shy and socially confused as a child and teen. Getting a best friend who was more outgoing and with whom I felt comfortable (I now suspect her of being a bit Aspie too), plus having an understanding mother who bought and let me consume a little wine at home before going out to clubs, helped me get over the threshold. Not that I’d recommend anyone giving alcohol to minors, but in my case it really made all the difference! (And no, I didn’t develop an alcohol problem; I turned into one of those ‘bores’ who don’t drink at all.)

Ing, site-author

Some only feel comfortable in small groups with like minded people that one knows well. It’s not real social phobia but perhaps a milder form of it.

“Unlike many (most?) Aspergians, I really like to be around people, and get uncomfortable if I’m alone too long, and I think I communicate better in person than online.  I prefer, however, to be with people I know well in small groups – me and about 1 to 4 other people.  In groups larger than that I tend to get ‘lost’, and also bored because people don’t seem to talk about anything with content – they just chat, it seems.”

Estel, Aspie (from America ?)

I find meeting new people somewhat stressful, especially if they’re non-Aspie. Having seen a picture of someone before meeting them for the first time is of help. Or having exchanged mails or phone calls so as to have somewhat of a clue as to that person’s background, values, expectations, likes and dislikes and be able to avoid inadvertently insulting anyone by the unfortunate combination of nervousness and ignorance. The more I know about a person, and the more similar he/she is to myself, the more relaxed and comfortable I feel and the better I am able to understand and interact harmoniously with the other party.

Ing, site-author


Many Aspies and odd people really want to have contact with others, but are excluded, misunderstood, teased, bullied or treated so badly that they can’t. Another poll among aspies showed only 14% of 95 poll-takers had never been bullied.

Some may develop social phobia as a result of this, or become even more wary, confused and unsure in social situations.

“In school I was bullied for being different, but in what way I was different I’m not sure, probably it was my body language that was different somehow. I also didn’t like fighting and sucked at gymnastics.”

Anders, Aspie from Sweden

“Very badly. All years, from before pre-school through high school primarily, and still a bit. Mostly pshychologically so now I’m very fragile, even if I have good self esteem on the surface. Everything from daily fat, ugly, bad, disgusting, wrong whatever you do or don’t do, lesbian… daily and alot.

“Ostracised, school books etc ruined, between-the-line things that teachers don’t catch on to as bullying, fake hugs so that the bullies look good in other people’s eyes, being banged into walls, locked-in, clothes torn, always chosen last in team sports, either a swot (if full score on tests) or stupid (if not), either ugly clothes or copycat if modern, coward if looking normal or attention whore if daring attire or attitude, never being able to trust anyone due to behaving unpredictably best friend/arch enemy, wetting clothes or towel in gym class then bullying for “stinking” (when I couldn’t shower) etc………..”

MsTibbs, Aspie from Sweden

BullyOnline Great resource site for bullying targets

Sensory sensitivity

Some find it so overwhelming or exhausting to meet people in person that they prefers online communication only.

“I am physically exhausted from interaction. I often need to go somewhere quiet and dark for about 30 minutes so that I can do anything else.  It is interesting how, of the topic is on my area of interest, it is a lot easier to force myself into the interaction.”

– Rachele, Aspie from USA

”People have about the same effect on me as kryptonite has on Superman.”

Tobias, Aspie from Sweden

In some cases, it may be the physical environment that is deterring.

Places that are too crowded, noisy, cluttered or brightly lit with flourescent lights have an overwhelmingly negative effect on me. I also feel physically uncomfortable in big, flat open spaces without trees, and get positively ill at the sight of gloomy post-war concrete building complexes. If I have friends or relatives who live in a not-so-attractive area, I’m a lot less likely to want to visit them than if they live in a nice house with a pretty garden. (If I do so anyway, that is a very strong sign of how much I value them!)

Ing, site-author

“If things are very noisy, especially many conversations going on, then it is next to impossible for me to make anything out. It can bring me close to having a meltdown and I have to either leave or shut down external inputs by focussing on my thoughts or by doing something else. For this reason parties, bars and just about any kind of crowd has caused me a lot of anxiety and I would avoid them.”

William, Aspie from USA

Some are more attached to places than to people, just like cats.

“I am told by nonautistic friends that relationships which other people are what most people live for, whereas I get very attached to my projects and certain places.”

Temple Grandin, HFA author from USA

Aminal affinity

Some Aspies prefer the company of non-humans, and may be extra good att connecting with animals.

“Like many Aspies I to seem to feel a great affinity with animals, as preferring them to people. I always wanted to keep a dog but never did because I’m appalled by the lack of consideration people give to dogs and I wouldn’t know if I could trust myself to be absolutely committed to the dog’s welfare. I am sometimes really put off by the complacency in society of how so-called ‘owners’ of animals are allowed to mistreat them and nobody thinks is that big deal, just sickening really.”

Archit, male Aspie from India/UK

“The lions will come up to their bars whenever I arrive at the zoo, they know me so well. I have a way with cats, and…for some odd reason…beagles.”

– Tom, Aspie from USA

“Animals are my friends! i have always liked and communicated with animals, especially small dogs. They are so clever and loving.”

– Kajira, Aspie from USA

“I’ve always had connections to wolves without knowing why (…). As a child visiting a relative in Dalcarlia, I used to play by in a forest pen (fenced meadow with forest all around), one time I frightened mom so badly that I got the worst telling off ever. She came out and found me sitting in the snow playing with this lonely dog, I used to bring it food. I never understood that it wasn’t a dog until mom got angry. And even then I couldn’t understand why, it was FRIENDLY.”

‘aspiemelly’, female Aspie from Sweden



  1. Lynn Hawkins said,

    Social activities are totally exhausing to me. I have learned to force myself to attend when it is necessary, but would prefer not going if given the choice. I attend a monthly support group for teen and adult Aspies (it’s a very small group). A few months ago a new person came – a 13 year old young man and with him was his mother. “Mom” explained that he had been recently diagnosed and that she was very concerned about his refusal to attend social events. She told us that she hoped we could help her. She wanted to know what she could do to help him be more social and go to parties and dances and the like. Her son sat quietly, staring at the floor and not speaking. I asked if I could ask her a question and she said that I could. I asked her, “Do you want him going to social activities because you think he should even if it will make him misearably uncomfortable just so you will be happy?” She was shocked and didn’t speak for a minute, then stammered, “Well, no, I want him to be HAPPY.” I said, “But it would make him miserable. He is happy at home and groups totally stress him out and cause him anxiety. Is that what you want?” She was horrified and said, “No!” I turned to the young man who had not spoken a word, and said, “Am I right?” He looked up, smiled at me and shook his head “yes.” I asked him, “Are you lonesome or lonely?” He smiled bigger and shook his head “No!” The mom said, “But he NEEDS social interaction, doesn’t he?” I turned to the young man again and asked, “Do you have a regular group of friends that you communicate with regularly on the computer?” He shook, “yes.” I told the mom, “It looks like he has a social life without the anxiety of being in a group, to me.” He looked totally relieved. We then discussed with her how “we” feel about social activities and why, and possible alternatives like inviting only one or two friends to their house to socialize. During the conversation, her son frequently looked up, smiled, and nodded his head in agreement. I realize she cares about him and meant well, but, like many parents of Aspies, she just didn’t understand.

    • Tamatha said,

      Very nice.

  2. Brenda Nieves said,

    I’ve always been the type that likes to hang back and observe other people’s social interactions. In group situations such as parties I get great satisfaction from watching others do things like dance, chat, ect. But if I am approached and asked to join in on the fun, I shrink and panic. I’ve turned down many an invitation to dance or do other socially appropriate activities that everyone else is enjoying at parties simply because I am uncomfortable being involved. Much prefer to observe but this is often misconstrued as me being weird or antisocial. It has caused others to stop inviting me to social gatherings and reinforces the feelings of being weird or somehow wrong. I don’t have many friends as I am very selective. I only want friends who have some substance to them not people who prattle on endlessly about the day’s fashion or who is dating who. For that reason I have a hard time to make friends as I do not behave like other women of my same age. This has happened all my life but was much worse as a teen because I could not have cared less about the things that most teen girls are into but yet I was not smart enough to join the nerds, not athletic enough to be a female jock so I didn’t fit in anywhere else. I think that although I am well past my teen years, much of the rejection experienced then still lingers and has made me much more weary of people and much more self conscious when I am out in public or at gatherings.

    • You described me, which I’m a 26 year old female. I rather observe than participate, I get happy watching others in life having fun, laughing, dancing, with their friends in general, I find it interesting how people interact but once someone tries getting me to join them I get uncomfortable and get allot of anxiety. I too rather have substance then just Idol talk about dating or clothes, ect. And this has made it hard to be a women as many expect us to want to talk about these things or else We’re seen as stuck up or mean.

  3. Seema Umfleet said,

    Everyone is afraid of something. This most fundamental, critical rule of human existence may be among the oldest reasons for the human need to socially interact. To a certain extent, it is arguable that all society is based on the foundation that we are playing off each other’s fears. However, while it is normal for everyone to have fears, not everyone has a phobia. The phobia, which is essentially an unreasonable fear that is firmly rooted in a person’s psychology, can sometimes be difficult to spot. In general, they don’t so much affect a person’s social and professional standing as other disorders might. Yet, there are some people that must deal with the prospect of having to face a phobia at work on a daily basis..

    Up to date blog post on our blog page

  4. jenett said,

    I get exhausted around people. Isn’t being social suppose to feel good? I hate it. My husband has a job that requires up to GI to social events. I get stressed out even hearing we have to go. Then being 5’11” blonde picking clothes that are appropriate and not standing out sucks. People try to be nice to me and tell I need to socualize . It just stresses me out. I also flush bright red when people single me out by telling my husband he is the luckiest guy in the county. 😦 I don’t mean to take the compliments that way I just prefer to fade away and get it over with asap. It has got so bad over the years I left my job at an accounting firm to stay home with the kids. Even school functions stress me out so bad that I am exhausted when we get home. I have no desire to be social.

  5. i hate society, it is appalling….i keep happily to myself in my humble abode in the country and play guitar, smoke herb, and game on my pc….i hang out with really..only girls….i only have guys come over if i am trying to score some bud or hotbox n chill….but my main key for staying happy whilst alone all the time is martial arts…tai chi and karate as well as boxing have been something that all introverts should look into….its perfectly normal to withdraw oneself from such a corrupt society to have some peace and quite time to oneself…

  6. lissa said,

    I love being alone, Even though all my friends are concerned. For most of my younger years I was alway on,I was the one who had all friends and things to do. Most of my friend rode my wave, After turning 50 I just decided not to please anyone else but myself. I feel guilty for not being social, but i really do enjoy not having any guilt about just doing what I what I i want to do. Like sleeping in and not having any appoointmens. I lived my life always keeping everyone happy and entertanin. So why do i feel guilty for doing it may way?

  7. MC said,

    I enjoy socializing with people I know well in small groups or, preferably, one-on-one interactions.

    I find, though, that I make so many mistakes– trusting too much, not being careful enough to maintain our image as The All-American Happy Family, doing things that get me accused of flirting when that was the LAST thing on my mind– that I just don’t care to take the risk any more.

    It’s lonely, but so is life. It’s safer not to socialize when your social skills, no matter how high-functioning, will never be perfectly standard.

  8. Donald said,

    I am 15 years old and I was always very confused about being social. I thought I was doing something wrong because I was pretty much always alone or avoided by others. Whenever I came home from school I started replaying everything that happened, what I said, how others looked at me, etc. It was horrible. And I’m still not 100% fine with it but I’m sure I will figure it out and find a way to lead a great life with my natural introversion.

    Thank you for this article. It made me feel a lot better!

  9. Chadine said,

    Thank you for this platform.
    it has made me realize that this is not a unique condition and something I need NOT be ashamed of.
    Not ever considering myself to be an extrovert, but still landed a career where I needed to teach adults, of all people, and careers where I didn’t have a choice but to interact with people and co-workers, I still managed to make a success of it.
    Progressively, I have come to realize that I just need to be myself and am content being by myself, although people around me seem to perceive me differently.
    I have analyzed my condition to its fullest – diagnosing myself as being depressed, introverted, anti-social, that it might have stemmed from a very sad childhood and also concluded that I’m not normal.
    But all of the above is a diagnosis of the fear I have of what other people may think of me and the constant comparison of myself to other people around me.

    I have delved into a more spiritual world trying to find answers as to where I fit into this puzzle called “Universe”.
    I have found most answers which brings me back to the acceptance of one’s self because you don’t have to be accepted by anyone else in this universe, except by the God or Higher Being that you worship. I believe we need to have this spiritual presence within us, as this is the only tool I have that helps me cope on a daily basis.
    I believe there shouldn’t be a “cure”. We need to be who we are meant to be and not fall prey to conform to society’s “rules and regulations” of how you are supposed to act and live your life.

    Blessings to all out there that feel that they are worthless and don’t have a place under the sun, because you were created in your own unique self and you are here for a reason.
    The secret is for you to do your own research and find this reason.

  10. Noel Hamper said,

    Beverly Hills Body

  11. Amber Gray said,

    As someone who does not have aspergers and is not an introvert I have to comment. I was a people person, big altruist hippie and sensitive. People and life broke me down throughout my life, until after a nervous breakdown I am loathed, disgusted and appauled by the majority of humans.
    Going out to do some grocery shopping is a much dreaded task. Cannot drive and cannot get what I need online alone so I have to get buses and go shopping. Im alone, no one to help me. Im nearly fifty and not in great health so its a lot of hard work as well, dragging it up two flights of stairs and a long walk from the bus stop.

    Every single time I go out I am horrified by people in some form or another. Today for example: teenagers sat on shopping trolleys outside tesco, lobbing huge dollops of spit into the trolleys… nice. No security, no one was bothered. Then on the first bus back, two neanderthal mums refused to tell their kids to shop yelling and screaming; they actually found it amusing. My ears were actually hurting and the stress was making me sick. Then on the next bus, a load of kids shoved past me onto the bus, I had to stand up with heavy shopping and a bad back… no one offered me a seat. And then, my ears were nearly burst as a siren whizzed past me (despite empty roads). I just wanted to cry.
    Finally, a couple of local neighbours walked past me, older people, I smiled warmly and they gave me a filthy look. Feel like slitting my throat just for getting some groceries. People….

  12. Ali Kaines said,

    check it out

  13. […] on reasons for social avoidance which is supposed be a bad state of existence. (I totally disagree) I know my own similar reasons:  1. As I age I have little to no patience for conservative, […]

  14. MS said,

    Wow! Thank you for this article and all your experiences. This is the 1st time I read this because I googled about myself being somewhat antisocial and really only like being around very few select people that I have known closely for a long time. It easier to trust because they know me already. I have always WANTED to feel comfortable in a large group because I thought that was normal and what is socially expected and dont want to feel like an outcast but truly no natural for me and those interactions literally make me feel overwhelmed! So thank u after reading this I feel a bit more of my own natural normal. Peace to u all.

  15. I have never cared much for people. I only ever associated with one person at a time and even when I went out, usually to karaoke bars as that is where I felt more comfortable (I love to sing), I always manage to find a space which was my own. Even though I had a large following of people who love to hear me sing.

    I lost my site about three years ago and since then, most people leave me alone anyway as they never know how to talk to me and they can’t use the usual topics of television et cetera due to me not being able to see the television. This suits me fine. I am very happy being on my own. I have called the social interaction I need with my wife and two children. I am now a full-time singer/songwriter and I am extremely happy in my own studio with no want to possibly doing what I love doing.

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