NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Overcoming Philophobia: A Fear of Falling in Love

This article focuses on philophobia (a fear of falling in love) and how you can overcome this debilitating fear (see my article: An Emotional Dilemma: Wanting and Dreading Love). 

What is Philophobia?
The word philophobia comes from Greek. Philos means loving and phobos is fear.

Philophobia: A Fear of Falling in Love

Philophobia, which is a type of phobia, is not in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), the manual used by psychotherapists to diagnose mental health disorders. However, the term philophobia describes a dynamic that therapists often see in clients who have experienced trauma or a history of difficult relationships.

People who suffer with philophobia often have a fear of being in a relationship or being able to maintain a relationship.

Fear of falling in love exists on a continuum.  Some people go through temporary periods in their lives when they feel too emotionally vulnerable to allow themselves to be open to love.

This temporary fear can occur after a traumatic breakup or another traumatic experience that creates fear of vulnerability. Over time, often with the help in therapy and a wish to overcome the loneliness, these people can overcome their fear so they can open up to the possibility of love

Other people, who have a more intense fear of falling in love, have difficulty even allowing themselves to meet potential romantic partners. They might even tell themselves they want to be "independent," which is often a pseudo independeance, so they live lonely and isolated lives (ee my article: Emotional Vulnerability as a Pathway to Greater Intimacy and Emotional Connection).

Note: Philophobia is different from people who aromantic, which means they experience little to no romantic feelings for others.

What Causes Philophobia?
Fear of falling in love can have many potential causes including (but not limited to):
  • Previous Difficult Romantic Relationships: People who have a history of difficult or traumatic romantic relationships can develop a fear of allowing themselves to trust and open up to love again. This is often related to having early experiences in childhood where they felt unloved so that they continue to unconsciously choose people who will disappoint or abandon them.
  • Cultural Pressure: People who are part of cultures that favor marriage at a young age with the focus on practicality and less of a focus on love can develop a fear of the emotional vulnerability involved with falling in love.  Also people who are different from their mainstream culture (e.g., LGBTQ+) often feel pressure to conform to cultural norms because they don't want to be shunned by their family, cultural or religious group.
What Are Common Signs of Philophobia?
The signs related to philophobia can be different for different people, however there are certain common telltale signs including (but not limited to):
  • Persistent fear of love that lasts approximately six months or longer
Philophobia: A Fear of Falling in Love
  • Intense anxiety or fear of emotional vulnerability in a relationship
  • Intense anxiety or fear which make someone fearful of giving or receiving love
  • Symptoms interfere with someone's ability to enter into and/or maintain a relationship
What Are Potential Complications to Philophobia?
Living a lonely and isolated life can have serious physical and mental health repercussions including (but not limited to):
  • Other Chronic Health Problems
How to Overcome Philophobia?
As mentioned above, philophobia develops from a difficult and often traumatic history.

Overcoming philophobia involves getting help from a licensed mental health professional who is a trauma therapist and who can help you to manage your current symptoms as well as get to the root of your problem.

There are various forms of trauma therapy including:
  • EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
  • AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy)
Getting Help in Trauma Therapy
There are many people who live their whole lives with philophobia and never get help. They often live lonely and isolated lives which they regret at the end of their lives.

Getting Help in Trauma Therapy

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help in trauma therapy.

A skilled trauma therapist can help you to overcome your fear so you can live a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I am a trauma therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.