Philophobia is a term that is frequently used to describe people who are afraid of falling in love or developing a deep emotional connection with another person. Although it is not officially recognized by the medical community, philophobia is gaining acceptance among mental health support groups.
Signs and symptoms of philophobia include:
- Excessive or persistent fear regarding the thoughts of love
- Afraid of becoming emotionally close to another person or considering long-term relationship commitments
- Avoidance toward people—a person with philophobia may learn to fear all people and not just potential lovers
- Avoiding contact with family, coworkers, neighbors, and friends (severe cases)
- Extremely possessive or may ward off their loved ones with their detachment
- Suppressing inner feelings
- Avoidance of places where couples are found (parks and movie theatres)
- Avoiding marriage and other wedding ceremonies
- Isolation from the external world due to an irrational fear of falling in love
For some individuals, their phobia may be so strong that they have other physical symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Gastrointestinal distress, resulting in symptoms such as indigestion or abdominal cramps
- Panic attacks (extreme cases)
- Anticipatory anxiety (individuals develop high levels of fear or anxiety when thinking about future events)
- An overwhelming desire to leave the situation when involved with the opposite sex
People with philophobia are prone to pursuing multiple romantic partners and engaging in a succession of superficial relationships without committing to their partners or opening up.
Emotional symptoms of philophobia are diverse and can affect a person's entire social and emotional life if they have this type of anxiety disorder. An irrational fear of love makes a person more skeptical of love, and it pushes that person away from entering into a committed relationship. People with philophobia are constantly afraid that their love will be betrayed or that it will not work out for whatever reason.
What causes philophobia?
Philophobia is triggered by several factors. Some of the causes are solely related to the person suffering from the illness, whereas others are linked to social life.
The following are the most important risk factors for philophobia:
Previous traumatic experience
- If you have had a bad experience in the past, you will likely develop philophobia in the future. You will try to avoid any type of commitment to avoid being hurt again.
- The fear is that the pain will reoccur, and the risk is not worth it. If a person was deeply hurt or abandoned as a child, they may be wary of becoming close to someone who may do the same to them. The fear response is to avoid relationships, thereby avoiding the pain. The more one avoids the source of their fear, the more fearful they become.
- A child raised in a scandalous home where physical abuse and infidelity were common will grow up fearful of starting a family.
- Early abandonment by parents.
- Toxic past relationships involving physical or emotional abuse.
Fear of rejection or divorce
- When it comes to rejection, you may believe that being in a romantic relationship will only bring you embarrassment. This embarrassment prevents you from getting involved with anyone. As a result, you are avoiding any type of relationship. However, if you are afraid of divorce, you may dislike falling in love and eventually marrying. Even if a relationship does not always lead to marriage, the threat of divorce is even more frightening.
- This cause is about a prearranged marriage and feelings that come with it—being forced to spend your life with someone you barely know, let alone love. Things become difficult when you are unable to define your own life. Women are more likely to suffer from this type of philophobia than men. Philophobia may develop as a result of religious beliefs that forbid love.
- Loss of a loved one.
- Constant negative thoughts and previous mental issues may be a precursor for philophobia.
What are treatment options available for philophobia?
Treatments to overcome or cure philophobia may include:
Systematic desensitization therapy
- This method involves exposing people to objects or situations that they are afraid of. In the case of philophobia, a person could practice their relationship skills with a computerized entity before going on a date with a real person.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- This type of therapy teaches the person about the cycle of negative thought patterns and how to change these thought patterns. Depending on the type of phobia, CBT can be done in a group setting. The combination of CBT and gradual desensitization therapy is frequently the most effective treatment.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or beta-blockers may be prescribed.
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