Philophobia is a fear of love. The word comes from the Greek word “philos,” which means loving, and “phobos,” which means fear. Doctors are unclear how many people live with philophobia as the term is not in medical dictionaries.
Since doctors have rarely described philophobia in literature, people living with a fear of love may find it challenging getting help.
Read on to learn more about philophobia, including the possible symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
A phobia is an extreme, often irrational fear of an object, place, situation, feeling, or animal that may cause someone to panic. Common phobias include:
- fear of spiders, or arachnophobia
- fear of flying in an airplane, or aviophobia
- fear of elevators, or elevatophobia
- fear of heights, or acrophobia
- fear of enclosed rooms, or claustrophobia
- fear of crowded public places, or agoraphobia
- fear of embarrassment, or katagelophobia
As phobias are a type of anxiety disorder, people may not show any symptoms until their fear confronts them.
People with an exaggerated or irrational feeling of danger towards love may be experiencing philophobia and may feel anxiety and panic when simply thinking about love. Doctors call this phenomenon anticipatory anxiety.
Unlike other types of phobia, for example, agoraphobia, people living with philophobia may not experience their anxiety every day. For some individuals, however, they may have these feelings daily, which can make leading a normal life challenging.
People with philophobia may experience the following symptoms, which are also common for most phobias:
- increased heart rate or palpitations
- shortness of breath
- trembling or shaking
- upset stomach
Experts have not yet described the exact symptoms of philophobia in medical literature. Consequently, doctors need more information on the condition to understand it more and to be able to offer better treatment options.
Several factors can influence the development of a phobia, such as:
- an incident or trauma
- a learned experience from childhood
Experts think that some people may be born with a tendency to be more anxious and develop specific phobias. Currently, it is unclear what causes philophobia.
Experts have not included philophobia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), the handbook of psychiatric diseases that doctors all over the world use. Similarly, there is no other standard guideline for diagnosing philophobia.
Another reason for the limited information on philophobia is that those with phobias often choose to live with them rather than treat them. Likewise, while most people living with a phobia are aware of their extreme fears, they may be reluctant to speak with doctors about the issue.
A person with philophobia may avoid any situations where they might feel love. However, ignoring a phobia can make it worse.
People with philophobia may need to consult a mental health professional for help.
For some phobias, doctors may treat people with gradual exposure to the object, place, situation, animal, or feeling that is causing their fear. They call this type of therapy desensitization or self-exposure therapy.
More complex phobias may require other therapies and can take longer to heal. Different types of therapies that mental health professionals can use include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
On rare occasions, people may require medication alongside psychotherapy or self-exposure therapy to treat their phobia. In these instances, doctors may prescribe the following:
Phobias can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, and social background.
Psychoanalysts agree that one possible risk factor for developing a fear of love comes from a person’s childhood and their relationship with their parents.
The very first bond a child makes is with its mother. A child who experiences a troubled relationship with their mother may have fragile bonds in adulthood.
In one research study on philophobia, experts describe the basis of philophobia from male and female perspectives. The paper notes the recurrence of a mother who is present in the individual’s life but who is continuously worried and a father who is physically and emotionally distant.
Some experts believe that genetics may also be a risk factor for developing a phobia, but research has yet to confirm this possibility.
A consequence of living with a fear of love is that a person may have difficulty maintaining stable and long lasting relationships with other people.
People with philophobia may feel distant from potential romantic partners and may even feel afraid of them. In some situations, philophobia has the potential to lead to impotence in males.
Some people may feel guilty about needing love because they may have learned from a parent that they need to be independent.
Other complications are possible, but research is lacking.
Doctors have limited information on philophobia, or a fear of love, and people living with the condition may not always choose to talk about their anxiety.
Similarly, researchers may find it challenging to study philophobia when those experiencing the condition are not always willing to consult or participate in studies. And, since experts have yet to include philophobia in the DSM-5, doctors may look to treatment guidelines for other phobias.
To gain a better understanding of philophobia, doctors need to conduct further studies to learn how to support people living with this phobia.