I decided to continue the topic about Love and why for so many people it is not easy to experience love… Couple months ago on one of the forums that i sometimes visit, me and couple other girls decided to talk as to why it is so difficult for us to fall in love and to say that we love. Usually we a driven by other part to respond, “Honey, i love you”, he says – what is there for the girl to answer? “me too Honey…”, she says – but does she really mean it? So in our research of this topic we found out that 96% of the time after the “love confession” – we run, we break up the relationship, we just push that person away. Why does that happen? Is it soviet, “under iron curtain” education that we were susceptible to, so did it influenced us, made us “bitchy” or is there more to it? Most of us turn our hearts “off” and try as hard as we can to not fall in love and stay clear minded, and if we do fall in love it scares us because it makes us “weak” so we run from love, we push it away.
And as my curiosity never stops, i decided to research all the psychology books and other forums to see what others say about this, since i was sure we are not the only ones feeling that way… so here is what i found. I found out that there is a term called “philophobia” – it is a fear of emotional attachment; fear of being in, or falling in love. Medical science defines philophobia as an abnormal, unwarranted and persistent fear of falling in love. Its name comes from Greek roots, “philo” meaning love and “phobia” meaning fear of. This fear of love isn’t merely a distressing emotional condition; it can result in actual physical symptoms, and may even heighten a person’s alienation from family, friends, coworkers and neighbors.
The fear of love is truly an enigma in contemporary psychology. Human beings are the most social of animals, and yet the prospect of being loved – of expressing love to another, and thereby being emotionally vulnerable – evokes enough fear in some people that they run screaming for the nearest exit.
When i started thinking about this, i recalled an element of philophobia showed up during the first season of the hit TV show, “Glee”. i do not know if anyone watched it, so i will try to describe: a high school club teacher, Will Schuester, has a date with Emma Pillsbury, the high school counselor who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and few other phobias, nonetheless she insists that she loves Will and wants to make love to him. However after seeing the two in romantic contact to the tune of Madonna’s hit song “like a virgin”, viewers later learn that Emma ran screaming from Wills apartment before they could consummate their love. A distraught departure from potential partner is certainly one of the signs of philophobia. Emma;s character exhibited some of the classic signs of the conflicted emotions endured by many people who suffer from fear of love and/or intimacy. As i read, they can experience a momentary exhilaration when they think of the prospects of giving or receiving love, than, at the crucial moment, philophobics become overwhelmed by their fears of what the previous emotions imply, such as the loss of emotional control and the vulnerability of physical contact.
I have read that some people have such severe philophobia that they cannot even get as close to the potential lover as Emma came to Will. They suffer the classic reactions of many people with persistent, unreasonable fears including dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, dry mouth, sweating, trembling, weeping, panic attacks and roller-coaster emotions. These physical symptoms signal that something has gone wrong emotionally, that the body is responding to a mildly cautionary situation with an extreme expression of the “fight or fight” reaction.
In other words, in these severe cases, the mind is thinking that falling in love poses a life-or-death threat to such degree that it automatically prepares the body to fight for survival. this excessive emotional response forms one of the clearest signs that a person is in grip of a phobia, in this case, the fear of love.
It’s important to understand that the fear is a normal human emotion. On fact, although it generally causes an unpleasant experience, fear is helpful emotion. It heightens people’s alertness to potential dangers and releases adrenaline useful for “fight or fight”. However, when fear becomes debilitating in the way we’re discussing here, it becomes an obstacle to life and not an ally. I have seen couples where i know for sure, that the woman pushed away a person she really loved, because she was scared of love, and married the person she chose based on pure calculation. Yes, no doubt, sometimes marriages based on calculation survive longer than the ones based on love, but this is topic for discussion for another time and another post 🙂
“Despite what some people may think, there is no way to “just get over” severe phobias such as the fear of being in love, or falling in love. Even though the quest for love is an essential part of human life, people who develop a persistent, unwarranted fear of relationship often need professional help to be able to engage in normal relationship.”
Yes, as any phobias it can be treated with therapy, but what if you do not want to go to therapy, or you case of anxiety as not as severe as it will require therapy… so here is what i found interesting suggestions on wikihow site…
- Understand that the feeling of love is permissible. Let yourself be overcome by feelings of affection, care, intensity, and warmth. These feelings won’t destroy you––they are good, positive feelings. And if you let your own feelings of love show, it is so much easier for the other person to feel safe about reciprocating their mutual affection. Sometimes it is as much about you making it obvious that love has a place in your life as it is about expecting others to take care of your fragile heart––you’re not alone in feeling worried about love!
- Rid yourself of past shadows. When you start feeling great affection for someone but the ghost of love gone wrong in the past starts fluttering by, tell yourself that this is a different situation and a different person. Remind yourself that you’re a wiser, more emotionally healthy self too. Emotionally healthy people learn from the lessons in the past, then move forward leaving the past behind. Make good now and trust this new beginning, as it is going to be worth it for both of you.
- If you find that the past colors everything you’re doing in the present, then it might be time to get some talk therapy with someone you trust. Sometimes it takes talking it through to form a clearer picture of your fear and sense of loss.
- Some people are not inhibited by the past so much as by the future. Such people constantly worry about how their future instead of living in the now––this can put the brakes on love too because unnecessary energy is spent on “what ifs”, such as “what if this doesn’t work out and I’ve wasted all my energy on building this relationship?”. If this is you, remind yourself that time spent building a relationship is never wasted, even if the person passes through your life, it still matters at the time and teaches you things about yourself and others.
- Face your fears. If you feel a sense of suffocation, loss of self, or disillusionment about love, then you probably have a tougher road ahead than a person who fears a repeat of the past. For you, the fear is about losing yourself, your individuality. Think about the past and anyone who may have made you feel this way, suffocated, watched over, criticized too much. Put that memory into its place and recognize that that person or situation is very different from a love in which two people at an equal level care about one another and make mature decisions together.
- When fear of love grips you, it helps to set very clear but friendly ground rules about yourself from the start of a loving relationship. Let the other person know that you will always feel a need for space, time alone, and opportunities to do things separate from your relationship but that this does not impact your love and care for this person. Rather, make it clear that this is a healthy way for a couple to be together, always growing and being individuals as much as being part of a couple.In relationships you can have alone time and you both need to have the understanding that nothing is wrong with having time to yourself.
- Take the plunge slowly. You’re never going to be the type who sees fireworks and feels love at first sight––you’re too cautious and need to reflect. However, this is a positive, not a negative––only fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Take your time developing your loving relationship, and be mature, honest, straightforward and open with your partner. The love that flourishes from this slowly-does-it approach is often an enduring and respectful one. Moreover, slowly developed love tends to be more forgiving of the other person’s ways than a lightning bolt love that unravels when all the habits and foibles of the other person begin to show
- Don’t give up your other passions. Being in a loving relationship means being in a supportive one. It is not about being changed by another person, or trying to change someone. If you fear that the person you love might end up wanting to change something about you, deal with this early on. Always make it clear that you come with the fox terriers, the summer vacation hunting trips, the night-out-with-the-girls once a week, the desire to never have children, the weekends locked away reading a book. If you have passions that define you, a partner who seeks to take them away from you will leave both of you unhappy and if this is what is stopping you from falling in love, return to the mantra of being open, clear, and up front from the start. Now that all this is out of the way, you can start open up and to fall in love and finally enjoy the journey to self-discovery that includes discovering someone else who cares for you. Good luck leaving fear behind!