Philophobia is the term given to the fear of falling in love. A person with philophobia may experience something like an anxiety attack when in the presence of a person of the opposite gender. If this continues, his fear could cause him to start withdrawing from people with whom he has an emotional connection. It is not known what causes this fear, but some believe it has to do with a painful break up that the person has not dealt with. Whatever the cause, it is possible for a person with this phobia to overcome this fear and have normal relationships.
The phobia usually starts out with the fear of forming an attachment with potential romantic partner, but in its severe form, philophobia can cause a person to start avoiding his friends, family, and other people. At its outset, a person may be feel anxiety or nervousness about being in situations with a person he is attracted to. His heart may start to beat faster or irregularly, and he may experience an upset stomach. He may feel the urge to flee the situation, and in some cases, he may also simply avoid situations where there may be the chance of meeting someone of the opposite gender.
While it is not known what causes philophobia, there are theories as to why a person would fear falling in love or forming emotional attachments. One theory is that a person with the fear has been in a relationship that ended badly, and he has not been able to move on. To that person, all relationships represent pain or rejection. In order to prevent himself from feeling that pain again, the person may seek to avoid relationships. This theory has not been medically proven, though, and the real reason for this phobia remains a mystery.
It is possible for a person with philophobia to overcome this fear. Two treatments that can be used to help a person overcome it are desensitization therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. The two therapies are often most effective if used together. Systemic desensitization therapy introduces the philophobic to human interaction until he is desensitized to it. The therapist can even use computers to simulate this interaction and help a person prepare for a real-life situation.
With cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapist seeks to help a philophobic understand and recognize his train of thought. Then, when the negative thoughts start creeping into his mind, the patient can stop them. The idea behind CBT is that a person’s thoughts affect his behavior. By training his thoughts, a person can learn to change his behavior and his response to the object he fears.