What Is Philophobia?

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on February 25, 2024
4 min read

Philophobia is a fear of falling in love. It can also be a fear of getting into a relationship or fear that you will not be able to maintain a relationship. Many people experience a minor fear of falling in love at some point in their lives. But in extreme cases, philophobia can make people feel isolated and unloved. 

Philophobia is not a condition that a doctor can diagnose because it is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). That is the guide that mental health professionals use to determine if someone has the criteria for a specific mental illness or mental health disorder. Even so, mental health professionals can often help with philophobia if it is affecting your life negatively.

The fear of falling in love has many potential causes, including:

Past experiences. Traumatic past relationships may contribute to the development of the fear of falling in love. Infidelity, betrayal, or heartbreak can cause you to stay away from romantic relationships. Other types of relationships can also give someone this fear, like parental relationships and close friendships.

Cultural experiences. In some cultures, there’s more pressure to marry at a young age under specific circumstances. If someone does not want to have this traditional experience, it can lead to philophobia.

Fear of rejection. Putting yourself out there can be scary. Studies show that rejection can have similar results in the body to physical pain. Most people are able to get over rejection, but if you have experienced several painful rejections, the fear of another one can stay with you.

The symptoms of this fear are different for each person. However, many people with philophobia experience:

  • Lack of intimate relationships
  • Always feeling anxious in relationships

In relationship situations or when thinking about relationships, you may also have:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shallow breathing
  • Panic or anxiety attacks which may include chest pains

People who have lingering or more extreme cases of philophobia may have an increased risk of:

Most people experience some fear or resistance to intimacy or falling in love at some point in their lives. However, it can become a problem if your philophobia is causing you significant distress. If that’s the case for you, treatment is available.

The main treatment suggested for philophobia is to seek therapy or counseling. You can work with a mental health professional. They may go over your past relationships to identify what is causing your fear of falling in love. They may give you relaxation exercises or other types of therapeutic homework to help you feel more comfortable with dating and relationships.

Therapists may use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you notice the thought patterns and habits that contribute to your fear of being in a relationship.

They may also use systematic desensitization therapy, also called counterconditioning. This is when the therapist slowly exposes you to the idea of falling in love to desensitize you to your fear. They may give you real-world tasks as you get more comfortable with the idea of falling in love.

Hypnotherapy is not like the stage hypnosis shown in movies. It is more like a guided meditation that enables you to imagine yourself doing what you would like to do.

Finding the right therapist can be a process of trial and error. If you are ready to work with someone, start by researching different types of therapy so you’ll understand how a particular therapist will approach working with you. Then, ask potential candidates about their specialties. You want someone that has experience and expertise in philophobia. Finally, make sure they have the proper licenses for your area.

If you don't feel comfortable with a particular therapist, try another. It's a good idea to trust your gut feeling about therapists. Following these tips, you can find someone who can work on your philophobia with you.

You can also do things on your own to help with your fear of falling in love. You can work on these exercises alone or with a therapist:

  • Evaluate your relationship history to see if a past hurt is making you afraid of repeating the experience in a new relationship
  • Identify negative voices in your head that prevent you from feeling happy in relationships
  • Allow yourself to feel difficult emotions; that is how you can move through them
  • Question or evaluate the preconceived notions you have about relationships
  • Recognize where the defenses that prevent you from opening up to people come from