What is philophobia?
Although it is true that there are people who are allergic to commitment and who do not want a partner so that it restricts their freedom; There are other people who really suffer and who would like to maintain a romantic bond that they end up breaking as a result of their fears because, in their loneliness, the person has created their bubble of well-being that they see in danger with the arrival of a relationship.
The term philosophobia comes from the Greek philosophies , which means love, and phobia , which means fear. It is not a psychological disorder in itself , as it is not included in any diagnostic manual for mental disorders. This is because it is closely related to anxiety disorders , specifically phobias, since:
“The person experiences high stress and anxiety at the possibility of maintaining an emotional relationship due to a series of intense and irrational fears.”
These fears may be related to the more pragmatic side of the relationship (loss of freedom and individuality) or to deeper and more ingrained fears (fear of being abandoned or suffering in the relationship because the partner does not meet expectations).
How to differentiate philophobia from a lack of real commitment?
Unlike the emotional immaturity that many relationships break down, these people do want to maintain a stable relationship. Thus, in the case of philophobia, it is the fear that the relationship will fail that leads these people to reject it . On the other hand, the person who is afraid to commit is because they have a disproportionate vision of the changes that commitment in the relationship will entail (for example, they often think about what they lose when being in a relationship or consider the negotiation as a loss of their relationship. freedom and independence).
In short, the person with philophobia wants to love and feel loved, but their own internal defense mechanisms prevent the relationship from happening or coming to fruition.
“Philosophobics fear the process of falling in love itself, not so much the commitment involved in maintaining a long-term relationship.”
Phases that a person with philophobia goes through during a relationship.
The philosophobic person tends to be withdrawn, avoiding showing himself as he is , trying not to talk about himself to get involved as little as possible in the relationship. This emotional barrier can end up affecting even non-verbal communication , making it abnormal or absent, since the person:
“She tries to avoid or considerably reduce the possibility of becoming vulnerable in order not to be harmed and, consequently, to have to connect with that feeling that she is not capable of managing.”
Regarding the beginning of falling in love , when one suffers from philophobia, one lacks the illusion and well-being of this stage . In fact, on a chemical level, these people secrete cortisol instead of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. This means that, instead of releasing the love hormone -oxytocin-, feeling motivated and at ease -dopamine-, calm and relaxed -serotonin-; the person feels stressed -cortisol-. This is due to this intense fear that they suffer, which can also end up being reflected on a physical level in a situation of emotional closeness through the following bodily symptoms:
- Restlessness .
- Dry mouth
- Tachycardia .
- Difficulty breathing.
- Nausea .
- Intestinal disorders
- Mental confusion .
- Panic attacks .
Although the appearance of said symptoms leads the person to avoid maintaining this type of relationship, those who suffer from philophobia cannot always avoid meeting other people and, therefore, end up falling in love. It is at that moment when the philosophobes begin to boycott the relationship in an unconscious way, in order to protect themselves by building an emotional wall between themselves and the person to whom they fear to give their affection.
Singularities in the choice and development of the relationship of a person with fear of falling in love.
The person with philophobia is characterized by extreme fear of emotional attachment, which activates a series of behaviors that help them deal with their fear:
- He falls in love with unattainable people , reaffirming himself that he has no problem with love.
- You look for flaws in your partner in order to justify leaving the relationship.
- Has relationships with incompatible partners , which prevents the person from becoming aware that they are leaving the relationship because of their fears rather than because the relationship does not really work.
- Blame the other for everything that happens in the relationship so as not to take responsibility, thus leading the relationship to failure.
- She avoids committing herself to the relationship (eg introducing her to the family), which may end up making her unable to imagine leading a life as a couple, as she feels that she would feel trapped.
- Argue in order to break up the relationship.
- You withdraw from your partner when you feel that you are starting to bond too much.
- They tend to have superficial relationships without emotional involvement and only based on sex. You can also go on to combine several relationships.
Is it normal to be afraid of falling in love ?: The consequences of philophobia.
Although it is normal to have certain reservations when you are beginning to have a romantic relationship, philophobia is an emotional and relational problem that can be disabling . In fact, this intense and irrational fear of falling in love can lead the philosophobic to withdraw from all those people with whom he connects emotionally, rejecting the opportunity to meet new people.
“In the most serious cases, this fear can affect the entire sphere of their social life, even avoiding relationships with their friends, family and co-workers.”
This is because, although the person wishes to be able to experience falling in love without fear, this fear predisposes him to isolate himself socially. On the other hand, this self-imposed isolation and the feeling of not being able to achieve the romantic relationship they want can lead to depression or even substance abuse , which results in a worse quality of life.
What is the origin of the fear of falling in love?
The fear of falling in love can be conditioned by different factors. Among them we can distinguish the following:
In general, the origin of philophobia is found in the attachment problems established during childhood, in which the person developed an avoidant attachment style. Thus, these people deny the importance of social relationships and are excessively independent and self-sufficient to avoid being rejected, as happened to them during their childhood.
Low self-esteem is related to the feeling of self-worth and, therefore, how the world and relationships are perceived. As mentioned in a previous post , an education that is too rigid, protective or permissive makes it difficult for the minor to develop autonomy and independence, facilitating the development of low self-esteem in the long term. Believing that one is unlovable is also related to other disorders such as depression or anxiety, which can facilitate the development of this phobia due to low self-esteem and the negativity that both imply.
Having had a dysfunctional family or having experienced a traumatic divorce between the parents can facilitate the appearance of this phobia. Also, having been a victim of physical or emotional abuse can trigger the development of this phobia.
Previous traumatic emotional breakdown.
Unhealed wounds from past relationships can cause significant damage when it comes to establishing new relationships, especially in those people who consider that they would not be able to endure another breakup again. Having been a victim of violence within the couple has been shown to increase the probability of developing philophobia.
“All of this makes these people extremely cautious in their relationships because they believe that they will hurt them again if they allow it.”
Thus, by considering that they should not depend on anyone else, they become self-sufficient, believing that they will not be able to develop a satisfactory relationship.
What can be done to overcome philophobia?
Unlike other phobias, philophobia is an intangible fear that cannot be isolated. This makes it especially complex, so it is advisable to have the help of a psychologist who can help heal the emotional wounds of the past .
During the psychotherapeutic process, the professional will work on different personal areas to achieve an affective desensitization that allows maintaining a healthy couple relationship. In this way, the psychologist will find that the person:
Accept the problem.
Wanting to feel loved and giving love can make you dizzy at first, as exposing your own feelings involves a certain risk. It may seem that recognizing your weaknesses increases your vulnerability, but taking on the problem is essential to begin the solution process.
Identify your negative beliefs about love.
Knowing the origin of emotional conflicts is necessary to begin to heal the wounds and change those dysfunctional ideas that have only served to further embed the problem. In this sense, the special efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy has been demonstrated.
Express your feelings.
Verbalizing what one feels is not only liberating, but also helps to be understood and to find solutions by putting in perspective one’s own ideas and ineffective ways of solutions together with others.
Learn to live in the present.
Focusing on the present and dealing with worries about an uncertain future is certainly a complicated matter. Focusing on the present rather than what you think might happen is necessary to dare to experience these feelings.
Incorporate relaxation techniques.
Relaxation not only increases the capacity for emotional management, but techniques such as mindfulness can help you live in the present and manage those thoughts that trigger anxiety.
Recognize your defense mechanisms.
Identifying one’s own defense mechanisms and how they interfere with the closeness and intimacy of a couple’s relationships is necessary to modify the thoughts and behaviors that prevent progress in relationships.
So far, fleeing has only served to make matters worse. For this reason, it is important to learn to relate in a more serene and mature way, allowing others to know you and allowing yourself to know others by facing their fear.
Be less harsh on yourself.
Like any other phobia, it takes time and work to learn to live with that fear without it being disabling.
Ultimately, the person with philophobia has a series of erroneous beliefs related to love due to their emotional baggage and the way they cope with it. Difficulty in emotional management and his fear of being abandoned or rejected prevent him from opening up and maintaining a healthy and normal relationship. Learning to live together and manage your fear with the help of a specialist is necessary to stop avoiding and putting obstacles in your relationships.
Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.