Philophobia or Fear of Falling in Love: What It Is and How to Overcome It
Many people in the world experience philophobia. As its name implies, it’s a phobia that can leave behind serious consequences in people who suffer from it if they aren’t treated in time. But what is this phobia?
Like many other phobias, this one can cause people to experience physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms. In addition, it can plunge them into cruel isolation including difficulties in socializing and states of severe depression.
According to the dictionary, a phobia is an “anguished and uncontrollable fear of certain acts, ideas, objects or situations, which is known to be absurd and approaches obsession”. Philophobia is the phobia or fear of falling in love.
Those who have experienced the feeling of falling in love might wonder how anyone can be afraid of this beautiful feeling.
The truth is that, for many, falling in love creates a huge and uncontrollable fear that can have serious consequences. It goes beyond nervousness or the fear of starting a new relationship.
Thus, those who suffer from the fear of falling in love may experience states of anxiety and the need to flee if they come face to face with a love situation. In more serious cases, people may isolate themselves from their own family and friends, fearing harm.
This phobia can be the result of a love breakup, separation, or rejection experience that isn’t always linked to love. It can also be triggered by events experienced in childhood or related to experiences suffered by parents such as an unpleasant separation.
In fact, the Mayo Clinic points out that phobias may be due to genetic causes or may arise from learned behaviors, perhaps from parents. In addition, it reveals that they can create changes in brain function that lead to the development of specific phobias.
How to know if I suffer from philophobia?
As we already mentioned, the fear of falling in love is a specific and long-lasting phobia that can affect the quality of life of those who suffer from it. Phobias are one of the most common anxiety disorders. As a result, the main symptom of philophobia is anxiety.
There are also other symptoms that can warn us that we’re suffering from this fear, such as the following:
Of course, when faced with a new relationship, you may start to feel nervous. However, if this is accompanied by panic attacks, palpitations, and even gastrointestinal disorders and stress, we must pay special attention.
Repression of feelings
The fear of falling in love can lead people with this phobia to repress their feelings, to escape, or to isolate themselves in order not to be exposed to the stress and anxiety that starting a relationship with another person can cause.
When a person prefers having spontaneous sex to having solid and trust-based relationships, he could be suffering from philophobia. In this way, people with this disorder satisfy their sexual instincts without having to engage in relationships.
In cases where these spontaneous encounters begin to awaken other types of feelings, it’s common for isolation to occur or for the person to disappear.
When the person doesn’t recognize or know that he’s suffering from a phobia of falling in love, he can attribute his situation to impossible or platonic loves, and not to his inability to establish the relationship. This is a form of denial of the situation.
As we already mentioned, philophobia can trigger other symptoms that coincide with an anxiety disorder, ad the following symptoms are common:
- Excessive sweating
- Lack of oxygen
How to overcome the fear of falling in love?
Seeking medical attention for a phobia can be complex, because the symptoms that occur tend to be related to a physical condition.
In fact, philophobia isn’t listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association, and so it won’t be possible for a doctor to diagnose a fear of falling in love as such.
However, there are some options that may work for patients who decide to seek professional help, some are as follows:
Studies have indicated that cognitive-behavioral exposure therapy (CBT) has been shown to be an effective treatment for the control of specific phobias. This technique is based on the hypothesis that avoiding the source of the phobia only improves symptoms by avoidance.
Thus, it’s suggested that exposing oneself to the stimulus in a controlled, progressive and gradual way can, in the long term, help the patient to overcome their fear. The goal is for the person to identify the source of their fear, identify how it makes them feel, and start working on changing those thoughts and reactions.
In the most extreme cases of managing the symptoms and effects of the phobia of falling in love, the health professional who is treating the case may recommend the use of medications. Treatment includes antidepressants or anxiolytics.
Due to isolation and fear of socializing, people may develop dependence on hallucinogenic substances such as alcohol or drugs.
A real and famous case of philophobia
In many films, the protagonists – especially men – how a kind of phobia of falling in love. There we can see symptoms such as denial, anxiety and constant sexual relations to avoid establishing a loving relationship. But this isn’t a condition that only men suffer and it isn’t something that’s far from reality.
One of the most famous documented cases of philophobia is Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Historians have reviewed her case and attributed it to the misfortune of having to witness the execution of her mother Anne Boleyn for having fallen in love with her cousin. Upon discovering that she had cheated on him, King Henry VIII sentenced her to death and caused the greatest trauma to his own daughter.
According to different reviews about the life of the woman known as the virgin queen, she never fell in love. She preferred to satisfy her loneliness with different lovers, without contemplating the idea of marriage.
The root of this was, in all probability, the idea that (supposedly) all love relationships, like that of her parents, were destined to have a tragic end and not come anywhere near to true love.
You can overcome philophobia
As you’ll have seen, philophobia is real, and many people suffer from it. It goes beyond the traditional situations in love movies where the protagonist expresses their fear, but, out of nowhere, they suddenly seem to be cured and end up marrying the love of theirs life.
In summary, we’re talking about a serious disorder that requires attention and treatment.
The most important thing is to know that this pathology is treatable, and that quality of life can be restored. Psychological care provides the tools to keep this fear at bay, as well as its symptoms of anxiety and stress.It might interest you...
- Andrés Camilo Delgado Reyes, Jessica Valeria Sánchez López. Miedo, fobias y sus tratamientos. Revista Electrónica de Psicología Iztacala. Vol. 22. Núm.. 2, 2019. Disponible en: https://www.medigraphic.com/pdfs/epsicologia/epi-2019/epi192c.pdf
- Viña C, Herrero M, Rivero F, Álvarez-Pérez Y, Fumero A, Bethencourt JM, Pitti C, Peñate W. Changes in brain activity associated with cognitive-behavioral exposure therapy for specific phobias: searching for underlying mechanisms. Rev Neurol. 2020 Dec 1;71(11):391-398. Spanish, English. doi: 10.33588/rn.7111.2019487. PMID: 33205385.
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