Philophobia is the fear of falling in love, being in a relationship or maintaining one. All the way to experiencing emotional attachment of some form. People most prone to be subject of such fears, are people undergoing emotional hardships or bad past experiences. Most people tend to take this phobia lightly as something that happens frequently and randomly and consider it transitory. But in fact, it greatly affects the quality of life and pushes a person away from commitment and more and more into solitude. An individual can develop philophobia not only from a past misfortune in love or general anxiety and fear of commitment. It can also be derived from religions and popular beliefs that prohibit love.
Risks associated with Philophobia
Philophobia is also more common in people with past trauma or hurt, said Scott Dehorty (LCSW-C and executive director at Maryland House Detox, Delphi Behavioural Health Group):
“The fear is that the pain will repeat and the risk is not worth that chance. If someone was deeply hurt or abandoned as a child, they may be averse to becoming close to someone who may do the same. The fear reaction is to avoid relations, thus avoiding the pain. The more one avoids the source of their fear, the more the fear increases.”
People prone to philophobia are people that have had some sort of emotional confusion or trouble in the past. A bad relationship, divorce, rejection, unfaithfulness from a partner etc. But not only people that have had personal bad experience are prone to being identified with such phobia. Also people that have seen situations turn bad to others close to them tend to develop a sense of anxiety and avoidance when it comes to forming and maintaining a meaningful relationship with someone.
The most common risk factors of philophobia are:
Previous traumatic experience
After any bitter experience of the past, it is quite common to be prone to developing philophobia. After a bad experience it is in our human nature to try and avoid everything that might endanger us so we try to avoid any kind of commitment, romantic, or not, in order not to be hurt all over again. Also there is the feeling of being played or looking like fools that makes us reconsider going into a relationship and just walking away early on, without even trying.
Fear of Rejection or of Divorce
As mentioned above in the previous traumatic experience, rejection is a brutal factor that fuels philophobia. An individual might feel like every try or approach in a relationship will only end up in embarrassment and regret. These “paranoias” and anxieties develop insecurities which will prevent anyone experiencing them from getting involved or even trying a relationship.
There are a lot of social norms in different cultures developed through out the years that enforce the way an individual approaches an individual. In many cultures finding a partner is something you have to deal with very early on. Marriage and family are a social norm and not having a family or partner makes you an outcast. It might seem far fetched but it is very true for many communities. Pre-arranged marriage and the way the individual reacts and processes this situation might impose anxieties and insecurities. So this type of philophobia is imposed from third party societal ideas and constructs.
Diagnosing philophobia ?
The DSM or (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) does not define philophobia in it. What this means is that when you go to a doctor, he can not officially diagnose you with the term philophobia.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), offers a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders. – Source: Wikipedia.org
Given everything, the best course of action if you are thinking that you might have fear of fear of falling in love, being in a relationship or maintaining one (philophobia), it is best to seek professional help. For example you could visit a psychologist. If the fears becomes darker and paranoid. A doctor or therapist is able to evaluate your symptoms as well as your past/current medical, psychiatric, and social history and come up with a well informed diagnosis and plan to help you find solution to these kinds of issues.
If philophobia is left untreated, it may increase your risk for complications, including but not limited to:
- depression and anxiety disorders
- social isolation
- abuse of drugs and alcohol
You should keep in mind that is a rare thing for your therapist to diagnose you with philophobia specifically given that it is very ambiguous in its symptoms and hard to explain in the first place. It can be miss-interpreted and confused with other disorders. Most commonly, it might get confused with a anxiety disorder. If you think you’re suffering from the fear of falling in love, its is best to talk to your therapist about it.
Although this might vary from individual to individual, the most common symptoms that make people consider the possibility of having philophobia are as follows:
- Not being able to open up ate a intimate level.
- A sense of well-being that is purely dependent on the validation of the people they are in love with. This can often lead to someone feeling emotionally unstable, anxious, and uneasy.
- Rapid heart rates, chest pains, and shallow breathing.
- Panic and anxiety attacks. It’s important that you are able to recognize these symptoms if they start to present themselves in your life. The more knowledge you have about being afflicted with philophobia, the easier it will be for you to overcome it. After all, life is supposed to be all about us conquering our fears. Fears usually are just product of our brain trying to trick us not to endanger ourselves even though that danger might not be at all severe or grave.
Systematic Desensitization Therapy.
Systematic desensitization a behavioral therapy based on classical conditioning. This approach involves exposing patients to the object or situation they fear through simulation or actually gradually exposing them to what triggers them in order to combat their fear.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
This type of therapy educates the patient about the cycle of negative thought patterns and teaches techniques to change these thought patterns. CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviours, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems.
Hypnotherapy is a type of complementary medicine in which hypnosis is used to create a state of focused attention and increased suggestibility during which positive suggestions and guided imagery are used to help individuals deal with a variety of concerns and issues.
Some facts and statistics
These facts and statistics are compiled from different sources from the web.
- Statistics suggest that about 250,000 people may suffer from this phobia in the United States.
- It is more common in women than in men.
- Often, people who suffer from this type of fear refrain from long conversations with others for fear of falling in love.
- Philophobia is classified within the group of mental illnesses known as anxiety disorders.
In a nutshell
Philophobia (from Greek “φιλέω-φιλώ” (love) and “φοβία” (phobia)), is the fear of falling in love or emotional attachment. The risk is usually when a person has confronted any emotional turmoil relating to love but also can be chronic phobia. This affects the quality of life and pushes a person away from commitment.