The fear of love (or falling in love) phobia is known as Philophobia. The word originates from Greek “filos” which means ‘loving or beloved’. Individuals who suffer from this phobia fear romantic love or forming emotional attachments of any sort. As far as unusual phobias are concerned; Philophobia certainly ranks high in the list. Often this phobia is known to have cultural or religious roots, where the person may have been committed to an arranged marriage and hence fears falling in love.
This phobia is more common in women than in men. The condition can greatly affect one’s life to an extent that it becomes difficult to commit or form healthy relationships. Such people tend to live their lives in solitude.
It is believed that England’s Queen Elizabeth might have been a philophobic. She loved and allowed several suitors to court her, but things never came to marriage or commitment. Historians now believe that her condition might have arisen owing to the fact that she had seen her mother Anne Boleyn as well as her cousin executed for love. The fact that her own father was responsible for the execution might have made her believe that all romantic relationships have a tragic ending.
Causes of fear of love phobia
Philophobia is an unwarranted and an irrational fear of falling in love. Sometimes, the sufferer does fall in love but it causes an intense emotional turmoil in his/her mind. There are many theories why this could happen:
- Some therapists believe that an intensely negative experience in the sufferer’s past might have triggered the reaction. Parent’s divorce, watching them fight or separate or witnessing domestic violence in one’s childhood might be responsible for this phobia.
- As stated before, many cultures and religions prohibit romantic love or term relationships between man and women as illicit under certain circumstances. This can cause intense panic in the mind of the sufferer since s/he firmly believes incurring the wrath of elders/society or God if s/he has feeling or thoughts about love.
- Fear of commitment due to a few failed relationships, constant negative thoughts, anxiety and panic disorders are also linked to this phobia. People who are overly anxious or high strung might be more prone to it.
The nature, extent and causes of Philophobia all vary from case to case and sometimes it is a real mystery as to why it might have occurred in the first place.
Symptoms of Philophobia
Philophobia symptoms vary from individual to individual:
- Some people are so afraid of love that they cannot open up to anyone. They do have committed relationships, but cannot maintain any of them.
- Their well being often depends on the responses they receive from the person they love. This can keep them high strung and anxious all the time. They may be extremely possessive or, conversely, they may drive away their loved ones with their detachment.
- One also experiences severe anxiety owing to the pressures of commitment: restlessness, shallow breathing, rapid heart rate, nausea, chest pains etc are a few physical symptoms that can be attributed to Philophobia.
- Panic and anxiety attacks are also common. These can be terrible since the sufferer often feels dizzy, or feels like running away, crying, shaking or sweating profusely or even feels as if s/he is fainting.
Fear of love phobia can thus be quite debilitating to the sufferer.
There are many ways of overcoming the fear of falling in love phobia. Self help books, talk therapy, psychotherapy, hypno-analysis, etc are a few effective methods that have shown proven results.
There are also several online and offline forums or support-groups that can encourage an individual open about his fears about love and commitment.
It is important to manage the anxiety attacks experienced owing to the phobia. Drugs and medicines may be prescribed; however, these aren’t a permanent solution. One must rely on other therapies that offer long term cure. Behavior therapy, meditation, neuro linguistic modalities etc are a few tried and tested means of overcoming Philophobia for good.