HomePsychiatristA Guide to Philophobia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A Guide to Philophobia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Overview

Falling in love or the ability to maintain a relationship comes naturally to most individuals. However, there are a few people or instances that make a person experience a fear of falling in love. This in turn, adversely affects the ability to maintain relationships. There can be various reasons why Philophobia develops. The reasons for this phobia could be many, such as a divorce, abandonment or rejection during childhood, a traumatic breakup, the experience of cheating in relationships, and others.

It is important to understand that any kind of phobia is an anxiety disorder, where people develop extreme fears of things that normally don’t harm them. Doctors may recommend psychotherapy or talk therapy to help reduce the severity of this condition.

This blog is a comprehensive guide to understanding philophobia, its causes, symptoms, and various treatment options.

What is philophobia?

As mentioned earlier, people suffering from philophobia have a fear of falling in love. In extreme cases, people experience an intense fear that hinders their ability to love, feel loved, and maintain a relationship. The term ‘philophobia’ is a Greek term – ‘Philo’ means beloved and ‘Phobos’ means fear.

What are the causes of philophobia?

There can be various reasons behind the development of philophobia. Traumatic experiences or lack of love and acceptance during childhood are some of the commonly detected causes of philophobia. The other causes can be as follows:

  • Previous traumatic relationship:If a person has experienced a traumatic breakup, lengthy divorce proceedings, infidelity, and abuse, they can find it difficult to feel loved or maintain a relationship. Children also experience the same when they witness parents arguing, death, or abandonment.
  • Increase in cultural and religious pressure: In certain cultures, the consent of an individual is not taken into consideration before arranging a marriage. This leads to a fear of falling in love as the individual does not have any say in selecting their partners. Also, belonging to a non-conforming gender can create fear of rejection by religion, family, and society that can gradually change into a fear of falling in love.
  • Rejection or abandonment: Lack of validation, attention, and love during both childhood and adulthood can lead to philophobia. Adults experiencing repeated rejection from their partners or friends can also cause this disorder.
  • Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED): As mentioned earlier, children who experience a lack of attention, love, and validation from parents or loved ones may fear falling in love or maintaining a loving relationship. Such children may search for external validation from strangers than their loved ones. This DSED is a type of reactive attachment disorder.

What are the symptoms of philophobia?

People with philophobia show various physical and emotional symptoms like:

  • Inability to initiate and maintain intimate relationships
  • A constant fear of losing the current partner or ending relationships abruptly
  • Never-ending feelings of insecurity and inferiority in a relationship

There may also sometimes be physical symptoms such as :

When should you seek medical help?

Medical care should be sought when one experiences persistent anxiety that affects the quality of life. Signs of depression leading to sleep disorder and substance use need to be immediately taken care of.

How is philophobia diagnosed?

There are no specific medical tests to diagnose philophobia. It is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms and the extent the patient is affected by the symptoms. The mental health professionals check whether the feeling of fear of love has persisted for more than six months, the duration of the person’s relationships, and the precipitating circumstances  when the symptoms arise. In addition, they also check whether the patient experiences anxiety or intense fear when exposed to love.

How is philophobia treated?

The following are some of the treatment options:

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: This is also known as talk therapy. Here, a trained therapist talks and makes the person with philophobia understand the thoughts and behaviours involving their fear. This helps the patient slowly realize that the fear they experience is an outcome of their thoughts and essentially there is nothing wrong with love.
  2. Exposure Therapy: This process is also known as systemic desensitization therapy. Studies show that this therapy is successful in more than 90% of patients. In this therapy, patients are taught to use relaxation techniques such as breathing, and meditation to calm down while symptoms occur. Gradually, the patient can also be slowly exposed to the idea of falling in love. Doctors assign tasks to the patient to help them get comfortable with giving and receiving love.

What are the complications associated with philophobia?

Human beings thrive on love and affection. A love-less life can cause mental and physical complications to the affected patient. Some of the complications associated with this disorder are:

  • This can cause anxiety and depression in a person. Love is the basic emotion that lets human beings move forward even in adversities. Philophobia can make the person feel there is no reason for their existence.
  • This condition can cause erectile dysfunction in men.
  • The need to forget stress and fear might lead people to depend on drugs, which then affects health severely .
  • Philophobia can also lead to panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders.

What are the different ways to manage the symptoms of philophobia?

 Some practices can help manage the symptoms and effects of philophobia.

  • One can evaluate their past relationships and try to identify if any particular incident is causing fear of repeating the experience in a new relationship.
  • A person should train their thoughts towards positivity which enables a person to experience love and happiness.
  • They can evaluate and question their  expectations and preconceived notions about relationships to help in maintaining a healthy relationship.
  • A person should face their emotions instead of running away from them or finding a refuge in drugs and alcohol. Repeatedly releasing negative emotional feelings allows a person to understand that this too shall pass.

 Conclusion       

Philophobia is not an uncommon condition among people. There are chances of this being misdiagnosed. It is normal to feel some hesitation and nervousness while  falling in love. If untreated, it makes people feel isolated and unloved.

As mentioned earlier, the realization of the condition as something which needs to be treated is the primary step toward its cure. The family, friends, and partners can provide them with the support and care which helps them to rebuild trust in love.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is common to have trust issues or fear of relationships after a traumatic breakup. How can one differentiate between this and philophobia?

Philophobia is not a temporary trust issue. If a person feels extremely anxious and experiences severe fear while feeling love and if it lasts longer than 6 months, then the condition could indicate philophobia.

Is Philophobia fatal?

Philophobia is not a fatal condition. But in extreme cases, people may fall into depression and thus the chances of self-harm may be unavoidable.

Are people with philophobia introverts?

People affected with philophobia needn’t be introverts. They may be anxious about intimate relationships but they can lead a normal social life. 

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