Are you afraid to fall in love? Do you suffer from loving others? Philophobia is a psychological pathology suffered by those who are afraid of love. Find out why this condition exists.
Philophobia or fear of love is the irrational fear of establishing an effective relationship with another person. This fear of falling in love not only refers to starting a relationship but can also refer to ties of another kind but involving emotions with family, friends, co-workers and other people in the everyday environment.
While for many people starting a new relationship or bonding with others represents positive feelings of well-being, people who suffer from philophobia or this fear of wanting often shy away from emotional closeness and tend to isolate themselves, refuse to meet people, and do not want to deepen the personal relationships they already have.
Where does the word philophobia come from? what does it mean? what are the causes of love phobia? How to overcome the fear of falling in love? We analyze all these questions and look for the origin of this problem that can cause discomfort.
What is philophobia?
As is the case with many other names for phobias, the term philophobia comes from the combination of two Greek words, phobia and filos. The first means “fear” and the second “love. Thus, this term is the fear that some people feel to love others like them.
But before we go deeper into discovering what philophobia is, let’s look at a simple definition of what we know as a phobia. According to Robert J. Campbell’s Psychiatric Dictionary, a phobia is an anxiety disorder that reflects an excessive, unjustifiable, and irrational fear due to the presence or anticipation of an object or situation. The author adds that exposure to the stimuli of the object of the phobia causes an immediate anxiety response that can turn into a panic attack.
Thus, those who suffer from a fear of love or fear of love suffer a type of social phobia that prevents them from connecting emotionally with another person. In this situation, when they begin to bond with someone, instead of feeling hopeful, they begin to identify him or her as a threat and leads to stress and even major anxiety episodes. In fact, love is not usually the object of fear, but the consequences it can bring to their lives.
For people who suffer this fear of feeling something for someone, the simple fact of being able to establish a strong emotional bond with another person (or more often, the anticipation of it) causes an irrational fear that causes internal conflicts and a deep discomfort that can have physical consequences. In more extreme cases it leads to avoidance and isolation.
Although it is not clear that there is a specific psychological label for this fear of suffering through love, this behavior is usually related to anxiety disorders and there are usually specific causes for it.
On the other hand, this type of fear of a relationship can also exist even when one is in one. Philophobia in couples is a problem for both members since it does not allow the relationship to go any further. When you experience the fear of falling in love, there are other reasons behind this threat that is masked and these are usually related to the fear of suffering for love, the fear of commitment, or the fear of opening up and feeling vulnerable. The loss of individuality, of control of one’s own life, the fear of emotional dependence, the change in one’s way of living, or having to share emotions with another person are also some of the threats experienced in a couple’s philopathy.
How to live the fear of love: symptoms
Beyond the fact that some people may experience a little relative vertigo and a slight fear of falling in love or the fear of a relationship, being carried away by feelings of trusting someone too much emotionally, philophobia involves going beyond that. It becomes a problem when this fear of love and its consequences blocks and disables any relationship, be it romantic or friendship. In the most severe cases, it is produced in the person who suffers it states of incommunication and avoids contact with people in an anticipated and preventive way and very deep feelings of loneliness that greatly affect the quality of life.
In most people who suffer from this emotional phobia expressed in their fear of love, even if this fear is suffered consciously, it is an uncontrollable defense mechanism.
These are some of the symptoms of philopathy:
Stress in situations where one begins to experience feelings of love or high esteem.
Anxiety at the idea of falling in love or starting an intimate relationship with another person.
Avoidance of personal relationships in which certain emotional ties are established and can grow.
Sweating, accelerated heart rate, and shortness of breath.
Gastrointestinal problems such as nervousness in the stomach, nausea, or lack of appetite.
How do people who are afraid of falling in love act?
People who are afraid of falling in love avoid at all costs committing themselves or showing their feelings clearly. Among the most common patterns of people with philopathy regarding their partner are also the following:
- They find excuses not to love
They look for the defects of the person they are getting to know to justify that the relationship cannot go forward as such. In this sense, people with a fear of falling in love or fear of a relationship are also interested in relating to people very different from them and with completely opposite life goals, hobbies, or values in order to give an easy answer to why they should not go ahead with the relationship.
- They fall in love platonically
This fear of suffering for love makes people constantly bet on platonic infatuations or impossible relationships since they do not have to get involved due to the difficulty of making them happen.
- They look for superficial relationships
Obviously, most people who are afraid to love also need their dose of love. For this reason, they hide behind fleeting relationships, many, varied and of different intensities, with little commitment in which they show emotional isolation behind a shield of coldness.
Causes of philophobia or fear of falling in love
It seems to be a generalized criterion that the causes of philopathy lies in past trauma. The fear of love is shown as a defense mechanism against the anticipation of a pain that was suffered at some point in life and that one does not want to repeat.
Although there are no studies that ratify this fact, experts in psychology affirm that a love, family, or friendship relationship that was painfully cut short in the past can make a person develop philopathy in the future. Likewise, in this case, the fear of suffering for love is mixed with the fear of failure, or starting a relationship, becoming deluded again and going wrong. When it comes to love, we have all at one time or another put into practice strategies of self-protection through fear. Even if it is unconsciously, being hurt is not a good thing for anyone. According to the psychologist, Lisa Firestone when we talk about fear of falling in love we mean:
Feeling of vulnerability
Letting ourselves be carried away by our heart and our feelings means exposing ourselves to a new reality that we do not know from the hand of another person for whom we feel something true. In this way, we let our vulnerabilities be seen, placing our trust in that person. Deep down, we are letting ourselves be known so much that we are afraid of what that person might do with the very personal and intimate information they now have about us. Therefore, on many occasions, the fear of having relationships or the fear of feeling something for someone is preceded by experiences with false or manipulative people.
Believing that happiness is not forever
The moment you accept this you will understand that our life is made up of very happy moments and that everyone has sad moments. In the same way, that when a person matters to us and we want to, it can hurt us, sometimes even without wanting to. But that doesn’t mean you have to put barriers to your feelings. It is important for people who cling to the past and have a philophobic state to try to enjoy the present.
Trauma or bad memories from the past
We all carry a backpack of past experiences, whether in relationships, family, or personal. Wounds that if we have not known how to manage and work them can be opened at any time.
Low self-esteem and insecurity
It’s very complicated to feel exactly the same as your partner. Surely, one of us feels more before the other or is more advanced, and that is because we are different and have lived different experiences. For this reason, many people end up experiencing the fear of feeling something for someone, as they feel that the other person will not fall in love with them so much because of their low self-esteem.
Solving each of these aspects that are an emotional block to love is possible through self-knowledge and good mental health. For this reason, you should see a professional psychologist if you think you have a problem with these aspects.
How to overcome the fear of falling in love?
The first step in overcoming philophobia is to decide to change that situation to live relationships in a different way. From that point on, it is necessary to begin to see what is behind it. The fear of love, as we have already mentioned, hides other fears and worries that end up becoming an anxiety disorder. Finding out what is the origin that causes this defense mechanism to be activated is an interesting starting point, to later focus on getting rid of these fears by avoiding comparisons, irrational thoughts, and the creation of expectations with the most appropriate techniques.
If you have detected that you are afraid of falling in love and you want to make it go away so that you can live your relationships with full freedom and without irrational fears, there are some strategies you can start thinking about. In any case, if you see that this is not enough, it is always better to have the help of a psychologist to guide the process and to give you resources to overcome the philopathy in a successful way.
- Assuming that you suffer from philophobia
Everyone has fears and trying to run away from them only makes them more present. The only way to start making them go away is to face them. In this specific case, that means letting yourself go in relationships to find out what they have in store for you by analyzing the other concrete fears that arise. Only by assuming your phobia of love will you be able to overcome it.
- Putting fears into words
This is always a good option. Writing about how you live them, in what situations they appear and with what symptoms your fear of feeling something for someone manifests will help you sort out that part of you so you can start fighting it.
- Thinking about the present
Stop imagining what the future of the relationship will be like by creating certain subjective and erroneous expectations that will only increase anxiety. In the case of relationships, we often get carried away by the cognitive bias of self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby we anticipate what is going to happen with absolute certainty and based on past experiences. Well, going from day to day will help you control the situation and avoid irrational thoughts about the coming months and, therefore, mitigate that fear of falling in love or fear of relationships.
- Do not make judgments
It is necessary to keep in mind that every relationship, moment and person is different from the others, and you are probably different from a few years ago. Not making judgments based on other people helps mitigate your fear of commitment or love in the present moment.
- Communicating concerns
Talk to your partner or the person you are meeting about what is really happening to you and what is keeping you from progressing. In all areas of life, communication is essential to solving problems and in relationships is the best way to avoid conflicts before they occur or to remedy them once they are on the table. If you share that you are afraid of falling in love with the other person you will see how your tension about the problem is lowered and at the same time you will allow the other person to better understand your certain behaviors.
- Seek professional help
A mental health professional will be able to understand this irrational fear and remedy it with the most suitable therapeutic method for the person. The professional will assess whether to apply cognitive-behavioral therapy which, according to the APA (American Psychological Association), is a form of psychotherapy whose effectiveness has been empirically demonstrated. This method is applied with the objective of helping to identify and learn to manage the factors that contribute to anxiety and has been shown to give good results in the case of both specific and social phobias.
On the other hand, neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is also applied in the case of phobias and irrational fears such as philopathy, fear of marriage, etc. In this case, what NLP does is to get the patient to reinterpret the information he or she has about the situations that have marked him or her related to the fear of love, attributing them a different meaning. Nevertheless, each professional will decide on the basis of the diagnosis if these or other techniques are adequate for the patient he or she is treating.
How do I act in the face of a philophobe? What if my partner has philophobia?
On the opposite side are people who are starting a relationship but have the difficulty that their partner or future partner has philophobia. In that case, and as long as the person who is afraid of love has decided that he or she wants to overcome it, patience, communication and empathy are adequate tools to face it. Asking what you feel and how you feel it and trying to reach short-term agreements to reduce fears, insecurities and tensions and maintain fluid and direct communication helps both people to adapt to the situation.
On the other hand, it is also necessary to give yourself time for things to happen, without rushing or pressure.
Finally, sharing your experiences with other people who are suffering from philophobia can be very useful and we encourage you to read the comments in the mundopsicologos.com office regarding philophobia and fear of love.
So, if you consider that you have philophobia or if your partner, a friend or a close person may be showing symptoms of the so-called fear of love, it is time to start taking action or changing certain habits and recurring thoughts in order to live the present and future relationships in complete freedom.
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