Philophobia: The Fear Of Love
There are many kinds of phobias, like emetophobia or the fear of vomiting, phagophobia or the fear of eating or swallowing, gynophobia, the fear of women, or nyctophobia, the fear of the dark. But one of the most curious and least known fears is philophobia. Most recognize the act of loving as a hopeful experience that fills you with life and optimism, but for who suffer from this disorder, that is not at all the case.
Philophobia is an anxiety disorder (from the Greek philo, meaning love and phobia, meaning fear), which means “fear of love,” and although the exact causes of it are unknown, it seems that it may be related to past romantic relationships that have left an extremely painful mark on an individual. This could be a divorce or a painful breakup that was experienced in a traumatic way or simply because they have been used to living alone for such a long time and the new situation scares them, or maybe the person has even suffered a lack of affection during childhood. They themselves claim that “the situation overwhelms them.” This makes the person feel an unrestrained fear that stops them from starting a new relationship. The situation blocks them from moving forward. When the person feels like they are falling in love, they drown in panic and reject the situation, which often confuses the other person with whom they were starting this relationship.
The problem is that a person with philophobia cannot avoid these nervous feelings when they are faced with the person that they are attracted to: dizziness, vomiting, nausea, shaking, panic attacks, and a desire to flee are some of the most common manifestations, depending, of course, on the person. The thought of these manifestations makes the person want nothing more than to get rid of the situation as soon as possible, which is why the philophobe refuses to live one of the most gratifying experiences that a person can have: falling in love and experiencing love.
How does a philophobe act in the area of love? The person who is suffering from philophobia tends to look for flaws in the person they are attracted to. They tend to look for impossible loves or to choose people that they already know in advance will abandon them…and all of this to justify to themselves and to others that if they are not with anyone, it is because they cannot find the right person.
But is there a treatment for philophobia? Specialists recommend that the first thing to do is to recognize that they are suffering from philophobia and to face the situation without running away, to live in the present without thinking about the future. Learning that taking risks is part of life, that each romantic relationship is unique and irreplaceable and that maybe we are missing out on unique experiences. That normally the consequences are much less serious than what we had imagined or that there are stages in life and now love has knocked on the door and we have to answer it. Being aware that love may or may not last for the rest of our life, but they can’t take away the fun I’ve had away from me because that person is worth the pain. These are the keys for facing philophobia. It is important to inform our relatives or our partner about our problem without feeling shame or fear and to visit a psychologist if we are not able to resolve the situation by ourselves.
Life can only be and enjoyed by living it and if we just sit in the waiting room, we will never experience a single thing, be it good or bad. If we manage to overcome our philophobia, we will feel a lot better about ourselves, our self-esteem will grow, and we will probably be happier. Overcoming barriers and obstacles makes us stronger and braver.
Photo courtesy of denatalia_maroz