Philophobia: The Fear of Falling in Love

May 13, 2020
Feeling insecure when you're falling in love is normal. However, philophobia is a phobia, and therefore something much more serious. A philophobic person might even avoid any kind of interaction, so they don't fall in love or form an emotional connection.

While many people are excited to look for love and live it to its fullest, some people experience philophobia. That is, they feel fear, stress, and anxiety about the idea of falling in love. Did you know about this condition?

Philophobia

What is it?

As the name implies, philophobia is a fear that shows itself in people who are extremely afraid of starting a relationship. In fact, just the idea of creating a bond causes fear, stress, anxiety, and worry.

However, we should clarify that we’re talking about a type of phobia that’s different from the normal fears and insecurities when you first fall in love or start a relationship. Actually, a philophobic person doesn’t just experience insecurity, but rather extreme fear.

It’s considered an anxiety disorder that can have serious consequences. In severe cases, due to fear, philophobic people can start to avoid any kind of interaction with other people. That is, they’d rather stop being around people in order to avoid any situation that could cause a relationship or emotional connection.

In extreme cases, fear of relationships can extend to other types of relationships, like with family members.

It makes sense then, that all of this causes high levels of stress and anxiety in the philophobic person, harming their well-being and personal relationships. Additionally, as we mentioned, it can even end in total social isolation.

In general, philophobia is more common in people who have previously suffered some kind of traumaWe’re talking about cases of mistreatment, traumatic breakups, abuse, etc. On the other hand, this phobia can also be caused by the fear of being rejected.

In any case, fear of relationships is a defense mechanism, with the goal of avoiding suffering or rejection, or to keep some bad experience from repeating itself.

We recommend you read: 6 Things Your Fear Doesn’t Want You to Know

Patterns of behavior of a philophobic person

Woman with philophobia.
A philophobic person feels real anxiety whenever they have to start social relationships.
  • Anxiety and nervousness about the idea of falling in love or starting any kind of relationship. Physically, the person can even suffer from some disorders like panic attacks, heart palpitations, or gastrointestinal issues, etc. On the other hand, psychologically, they show high levels of stress.
  • Repressing feelings.
  • Escape behavior or isolation, avoiding social contact.
  • In many cases, impossible loves. An impossible love is the perfect excuse for a philophobic person, who try to convince themselves that they’re able to fall in love, but can’t, because that relationship would be impossible.

How to overcome philophobia?

The first step, like with everything, is to recognize that there’s a problem. From there, it’s important to seek help.

Philophobia is a defense mechanism that people start mistakenly in order to avoid, or react to, certain situations that cause fear. However, maintaining healthy relationships isn’t something you should avoid.

For this reason, what you should do is start some type of therapy that helps you to identify and change those defensive habits that you’ve acquired and, of course, analyze the reasons that they first came about.

In this sense, cognitive behavioral therapy is normally very effective. Additionally, desensitization therapy can also have very good results. This therapy consists of confronting, and exposing yourself to whatever causes your phobia, so that, little by little, you’ll become desensitized and lose your fear.

You might be interested in: Four Ways to Determine if You Need a Therapist

Some advice

A man in therapy.
Psychological help, along with other strategies, are the most effective ways to confront the problem.

Therapy won’t show results if the philophobic person doesn’t do their part. Because of this, we recommend that you:

  • Expose yourself to fear – in fact, this is one of the best ways to defeat it.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Practices like mindfulness can also help you to overcome the problem.
  • Express yourself. Talking to people around you, friends or family members, is always a big help.
  • Give yourself time. Changing a defense mechanism learned from a traumatic experience isn’t easy. It requires a lot of effort and help to be able to change everything in your mind. For this reason, you’ll need time.

Love and relationships can be painful, that’s true. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. A relationship, whether it’s love or friendship, can be full, satisfying, and make you feel truly happy.

For this reason, you should get rid of the notion that avoiding life and feelings is better than living them. In fact, if you act like that, you’ll never have a full life, you’ll never live.

 

  • Cavallo, V. (1998). International Handbook of Cognitive and Behavioural Treatments for Psychological Disorders. pp. 5-6.
  • Dalgleish, T., Dunn, B., Mobbs, D. (2009). “Affective neuroscience: Past, present and future”,  Emotion Review, 1(4), pp. 355 – 368.
  • Tavormina, Romina. (2014). “Why are we afraid to love?”, Psychiatria Danubina. 26 Suppl 1. 178-83.