Gamophobia is the fear of commitment, though it can also be the excessive, persistent, uncontrollable and irrational fear of marriage. It is derived from the Greek word Gamos which means marriage and phobos meaning fear. However, many experts agree that there is a subtle difference between the fear of marriage and the fear of commitment phobia. A person might be afraid of getting married but s/he might still remain committed to a single partner for life.
Gamophobia is not just having “cold feet” at the thought of marriage; it is the morbid fear at the idea of committing for life. Such a fear is described as being ‘parallel to the fear of dying’. People who suffer from this phobia prefer being bachelors/spinsters for life, or staying in a committed relationship without ever tying the knot.
Causes of fear of commitment phobia
As with any other specific phobia, Gamophobia is also caused by an intense negative experience in the past. It traumatizes the suffering individual to an extent to which s/he ‘learns’ to dread commitments. One creates negative images or movie stills in mind about marriage.
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Often, factors like heredity, genetics, adrenal insufficiency, having a tendency towards anxiety attacks or being ‘high strung’ can also cause a fear of commitment phobia.
Symptoms of Gamophobia
A person with the fear of commitment phobia displays many psychological and emotional symptoms at the thought or subject of marriage/commitment:
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Psychological symptoms include:
- Feeling of dread or terror at the thought of marriage.
- The person goes to great lengths to avoid the topic. S/he may experience uncontrollable anxiety that makes it difficult for the person to function normally.
- The individual understands that such fear is irrational but is powerless to control it.
- Really bad thoughts, movie stills or negative images are likely.
- Feeling of losing control or going crazy are also experienced by Gamophobes.
Physical symptoms of the fear of commitment are:
- Rapid heart rate
- chest pain, dizziness, fainting
- Sweating, shortness of breath
Overcoming Gamophobia or the fear of commitment
As is the case with other specific phobias, Gamophobia can also be cured using a variety of effective techniques. The right treatment along with help and support of family and friends can go a long way in helping the individual overcome the fear of commitment.
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- Talk therapy is the first line of treatment recommended for this phobia. The sufferer is encouraged to talk about his fears, the intricacies of commitments and other aspects of marriage to a trusted person. This can be a mentor, a parent, a friend or a professional mental health expert. In fact; depending on the degree and extent of the phobia, it is best to seek help from an expert psychiatrist.
- Hypnotherapy is another highly effective therapy that can help trace the roots of the Gamophobia to help unlearn negative responses formed about marriage or commitment.
- Behavior therapy and systematic exposure therapy are two other effective methods for overcoming this phobia.
People who are in a committed relationship but are suffering from the fear of marriage phobia must find ways to treat it and also confide in their partners about it. Phobias can go out of control if left untreated. Needless to say, this can cause a great deal of heartache and misery to all those involved. However, there is hope and “happily ever after” is possible in majority of such cases.