Is It Possible to Overcome a Kissing Phobia?

Philemaphobia or kissing phobia is the intense and unjustified fear of kissing. It derives from anxiety and psychological therapy is the best treatment.
Is It Possible to Overcome a Kissing Phobia?
Andrés Carrillo

Written and verified by the psychologist Andrés Carrillo.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Philemaphobia basically means “kissing phobia,” which is the irrational fear of kissing. What this means is people feel uncomfortable with a mere friendly kiss on the cheek. It’s a type of anxiety disorder.

People with this condition assume that all kisses have negative consequences For example, some people don’t feel comfortable exposing their emotions and feel vulnerable when kissing. In other words, this person interprets it as an attack on their integrity.

Their interpersonal relationships are greatly limited as a result. OK, but why does it happen? Are there any ways to deal with it? Today’s article will address the main causes of kissing phobia and some strategies to overcome it.

Symptoms of kissing phobia

In general, all phobias have similar symptomatology. In this case, the focus of fear is centered on kissing; anxiety about being kissed or kissing. In fact, it causes the kind of distress that leads to characteristic physical symptoms such as sweating, a choking sensation, and headaches.

In addition to this, there are also non-observable psychological symptoms. For instance, people with philemaphobia experience catastrophic thoughts such as the prevailing idea that a kiss can make them contract serious diseases.

Consequently, patients tend to stay away from any romantic situation in order to feel safe. In fact, those in the most extreme cases avoid meeting people altogether.

A woman trying to kiss a man.
People with a kissing phobia fear giving or receiving kisses because they think it’s dangerous.

The causes of kissing phobia

The causes of this specific phobia are linked to traumatic events related to kissing. It could happen after a first unsatisfactory kiss as people want to avoid reliving this past experience.

However, other situations can make people move away from romantic intimacy. Below we’ll list the phobias related to the fear of kissing in order to recognize all the scenarios related to it.

1. Fear of abandonment

Some people associate kissing with commitment. Thus, they avoid giving or receiving kisses for fear of abandonment. Low self-esteem is part of the problem in these cases, as people have a low opinion of themselves. They tend to think “why would anyone want to be with me?”

2. Haphephobia

This is another specific phobia and these people have an intense fear of being touched. Consequently, kissing generates panic as it’s a form of intimate and intense contact.

3. Misophobia

Misophobia or germaphobia is closely linked to the fear of kissing. The reason for this phobic connection is that the person is convinced that the germs in the saliva of other people are dangerous. Thus, the thought of being able to contract a deadly disease during a kiss leads to avoidance behavior.

4. Halitophobia

People with halitophobia have a dislike of mouth odors. Therefore, this kind of rejection isn’t a result of bad breath. in fact, any type of odor coming from the mouth is a source of disgust and even fear. Even the smell of their own mouth is unpleasant for people who experience this phobia. As you can imagine, it’s a huge obstacle when it comes to kissing.

A woman rejecting a man's attempt to kiss her.
There are many types of kissing phobias, be it the fear of touch, fear of abandonment, or just a dislike of mouth odors.

Is it possible to overcome a kissing phobia?

Overcoming phobias depends largely on the patients’ capacity for introspection. This means being able to make an objective personal evaluation so as to identify irrational beliefs. This is why the most effective therapy for the treatment of phobias is cognitive-behavioral therapy.

The objective of this kind of therapy is about helping a patient replace the mental ideas that sustain their phobias. For example, a person with philemaphobia could accept the fact that not all kisses represent a danger to their health by means of cognitive restructuring.

As the catastrophic ideas dismantle, the patient begins to give themselves the opportunity to experience those fears which previously paralyzed them. It’s natural for people to remain suspicious during the first experiences. They’ll eventually have to fully kiss though.

When is it really dangerous to kiss someone?

It’s true that kissing can be dangerous in some circumstances, especially the most passionate ones. However, a kiss is unlikely to lead to a fatal disease under normal conditions.

Finally, it can be detrimental to kiss someone when you notice warts or sores in the area of the mouth. This is because it could be a sign of herpes. In addition, people with poor oral hygiene are more likely to contract diseases from kissing. In conclusion, be selective of whom you kiss but don’t go to extremes.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Bonet, Juan I. Capafons. “Tratamientos Psicológicos Eficaces Para Las Fobias Específicas.” Psicothema 13.Número 3 (2001): 447–452. Print.
  • Miranda, Lola Riesco, and Jorge A Cervilla Ballesteros. Terapia Cognitivo-Conductual. N.p., 2021. Print.
  • Caballo, Vicente. “Manual Para El Tratamiento Cognitivo-Conductual de Los Trastornos Psicológicos.” ACADEMIA Acelerando la investigación mundial. Manual 1.2 (2007): 777. Print.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.