Fear of dating phobia
What It Is and How to Treat It
Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors
Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 25, 2021
In this Article
- Causes of Philophobia
- Symptoms of Philophobia
- Risks of Philophobia
- Treatments for Philophobia
- How to Find the Right Therapist to Work With
- How to Work on Philophobia On Your Own
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.
Causes of Philophobia
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.
Symptoms of Philophobia
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
Risks of Philophobia
People who have lingering or more extreme cases of philophobia may have an increased risk of:
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal ideation
Treatments for Philophobia
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.
How to Find the Right Therapist to Work With
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.
How to Work on Philophobia On Your Own
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
How Your Fear of Dating Is Holding You Back — Innovative Match
There are many reasons why people claim they have little to no interest in dating. The excuses range anywhere from the effort it takes to the expense (time and money) and includes everything in between. You name it, I've heard it before. But once you scratch the surface, the reason usually comes down to one — fear.
Fear of dating and relationships, or sarmassophobia, is defined literally as a fear of love play. It "presents" as a fear of social situations, objects, and people who engage in behavior typical of romantic interactions. That includes flirting, kissing, and, yes, dating. It's often the reason people say they're happier being single or their life is so full there's no room for anyone else, particularly a partner, in it.
Fortunately, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his inaugural address, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Once I open my clients' eyes to what's at the root of their hesitation, we get to work on facing what's scaring them most.
It's OK to feel afraid.
After working with hundreds of eligible singles, I understand dating can be daunting at first and why people fear it. It can be hard to put yourself out there, be scrutinized and judged by others, and risk getting hurt, especially if someone's hurt you before. It's not easy. And I get why some people would want to avoid it. But what I remind my clients is that the reward can far exceed the risk.
The difference between rational and irrational fears is that the latter prevents us from living our lives to the fullest. A life without love, whether you're talking about your soulmate or a partner to go to the movies with or out to dinner, is a life you can make more enjoyable simply by adding the right person into it. But it does require a small leap of faith. And sometimes some work before making it.
How can one overcome a fear of dating?
The best way to overcome your fear of dating is to get to the root of why you're afraid. I like to get to know my clients. We have heart-to-heart talks. We discuss whatever they're comfortable with that will give me added insight into not only who they're looking for but, even more importantly, who they are.
These discussions can include their past relationships, childhood, whatever makes them tick. Often, my clients learn something new about themselves in the process. And if they need to supplement with a mental help professional, such as a therapist, I support them doing so. We never stop growing, even later in life, when we think we have all the answers.
Why does one develop a fear of dating?
The biggest reason I've found why my clients fear dating is the likelihood of being rejected. Because of online dating, there is a much stronger emphasis on what a person looks like when choosing matches.
Also, there appear to be so many more options, spurring the idea that you can swipe and get another match if you don't like the one before it. But the amount of choice is an illusion. I've had so many clients still say to me there's no one out there to date. Of course, I know better.
I help my clients limit the pool by assisting them in making informed choices. I help them pick people who would likely also select them and who they may not choose themselves. Sure, everyone has to deal with rejection, but together we come at the process from a position of confidence — and, as a result, strength.
How a matchmaker can help.
The answer in a word is priorities. When you use a skilled, experienced matchmaker, that person will make you their number one, regardless of how many people they're helping. My clients are my priority. I recognize how emotional looking for love can be, and because of that, I make sure I'm here for my clients whenever they need me to be, day or night, seven days a week.
I support my clients, and, in return, my clients support me by being an integral part of the process. When they're in it to win, to find the love they want, that's when the magic happens. It may sound corny, but after 30 years in the business, I know one thing for sure: love wins. But first, you have to get into the game.
Love without fear: 10 ways to stop being afraid of dates 💞
Many people go crazy with nerves waiting for a date, but for some of us, anxiety and worries go to a completely different level. In this case, you can experience real fear, feel depressed and irritated. It seems that you want to meet the person you like, but fear can be stronger.
If you want to stop being afraid of dates and start enjoying them, then I will be happy to share with you 10 life hacks that helped me at one time 😋
- Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash
💖 Don't force yourself
No one is forcing you to sign up for every existing dating app and have dates 7 nights a week! Start small, give yourself the right to make mistakes and rest.
No one can control your private life except you. You have the right to correspond a week before the first date or, conversely, ask for a meeting right there if you feel ready for it. nine0003
- Natalia Sobolivska/Unsplash
All people are afraid of something, but everyone will overcome fear in a different way. Play within your comfort zone, and remember that you are entitled to your terms of play. If you like something, don't be shy about it. If something bothers you, turn around and leave.
💖 Take breaks
You can start dating someone and decide to take a break. You can chat with a bunch of people on the app and then pause to take a breath and be alone. You don't have to live up to the expectations of others. Act at your own pace. nine0003
- Photo of
- Lucas Ludwig/Unsplash
It's okay to be afraid of dating, and you don't need to rush to solve this problem. Do what you feel is right and don't be afraid to tell the person that you need to be alone with yourself. Enjoy the freedom of your choice.
- Photo of
- Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash
💖 Don't dwell on the bad things
You may often wind yourself up after experiencing a lot of stress from a previous relationship. This is normal, but a negative experience can have a bad effect on your personal life on its new round. Instead of worrying about how terrible everything was in the past, remind yourself of those moments when you were absolutely happy. nine0003
- Photo of
- Rachel McDermott/Unsplash
I'm sure you've had a couple of nice dates with people who were easy to talk to and made you feel really confident and sexy.
Need to focus on that when you start dating again. Good memories will help you stop being afraid of meeting new people, and will also cheer you up when loneliness hits the wall.
- Natalie Runnerstrom/Unsplash
💖 Connect with your loved ones more
If relationships and dating really bother you, talk to the people who know you best. Talk to friends and family who you trust and who you can be really honest with. Sometimes someone else's point of view helps a lot to understand how you should relate to a particular situation.
Share your feelings and voice your feelings - you'll feel much better just by speaking out! nine0003
- Photo of
- Philipp Meiners/Unsplash
💖 Live in the moment
It's easy to feel overwhelmed after a date. If your brain is overloaded, then this may be due to the fact that you are trying to calculate everything in advance. A date is just another date, don't bother. You have no obligations, you do not need to promise anything to anyone. You're not planning a wedding!
- Photo of
- Almos Bechtold/Unsplash
Do your best to just enjoy the moment, calm down and see what happens next.
You will have a much better time if you can just commit yourself to meeting, focus on the person in front of you and accept him for who he is at the moment. Do not calculate your future ten years ahead: live here and now!
- The Paris Photographer/Unsplash
💖 Appreciate yourself and your time
Take a moment to remember how amazing and amazing you are. Dating can bring up a lot of different emotions, and sometimes it can be too much. We start to wonder if we are attractive, if you have a cool enough profile in the application - what only comes to mind! nine0003
Give yourself time to cheer yourself up. You are amazing, beautiful and interesting. Anyone would be happy to spend time with you. You don't have to rely on luck to feel great. This way you will gain self-confidence and get rid of anxiety. Any date will automatically become funny and fun for you. A win-win. nine0003
- Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash
💖 Don't be afraid of your rationality
Worst deal on a date? You may be offended, you may be rejected Calmly! Everything is not so bad. Try to calmly approach everything without unnecessary anxiety. Remember, even if you get a little upset with someone, it's still not the end of the world.
You will definitely find someone who likes you as much as you like them. This is a matter of chance: you go on 100 dates that will lead nowhere until you go to meet your real soulmate! nine0003
- Alvin Mahmudov/Unsplash
By setting your mindset to positive and open, you will enjoy dating much more and you will spend time with a minimum of stress, worrying about the fact that something went wrong to a minimum so.
💖 Remember your virtues
We are constantly afraid of being rejected. Largely due to the fact that almost every person has complexes about our appearance. There are so many beautiful celebrities around, reality shows with attractive people, even Tinder profiles can be too beautiful and incredibly annoying. nine0003
You know what? Well, take them to the bath! You are wonderful just the way you are. There are so many people in the world, billions, and among them there will definitely be someone who will appreciate not only your appearance, but also your character, its pros and cons.
- Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash
💖 Reflect if you have to
otherwise. Maybe someone hurt or rejected you in the past? Oh wait, maybe some date went completely wrong, causing you to feel ashamed or even run away? nine0003
- Krists Luhaers/Unsplash
All causes matter, but they will keep you from good as well as bad, weighing you down with their presence until you want to deal with them.
I would advise you to peacefully accept the past and focus on the fact that not all people are the same - and not everyone will treat you the same way. It is possible to remember the one who offended you, but there are many people who will not allow themselves this. nine0003
- Sebastian Mark/Unsplash
💖 Stay positive
It's easier to get bogged down in sadness and melancholy than in a forest swamp. Instead of being wallowed in worries and fears about dates, try to expect something amazing and wonderful from them! Think about how great your next date will be and how happy you will be when you meet your man.
- Jonathan Pendleton/Unsplash
If you set yourself up for positive, then you will look different in the eyes of the other person. You will become a great company, an attractive personality and will do everything to make your interlocutor feel comfortable opening his heart to you. nine0003
- About love
- Relations with a guy
- First date
What is sociophobia - in the materials " b.
Photo: Igor Ivanko, Kommersant
Photo: Igor Ivanko, Kommersant
Social phobia is a widespread mental disorder that manifests itself in a strong irrational fear of various types of social interactions (fear of using catering places, public toilets, inability to do something when observed from the outside, etc. In general, social phobia is expressed in the fear of being in the center of attention, manifested in painful fears of a negative assessment of others and in the avoidance of such situations.0003
In this disorder, intense fear is persistent and interferes with daily tasks, such as studying, working, or using public transportation. This disease greatly reduces the quality of social life and prevents a person from realizing and developing.
Social phobia is often confused with introversion and sociopathy, but these three concepts mean fundamentally different states and personality traits. Introversion is a person's tendency to focus on their inner world and recuperate in solitude. It is believed that an extrovert is charged with energy when communicating with others, while an introvert, on the contrary, spends most of it. Sociopathy (dissocial personality disorder) is a type of psychopathy characterized, among other things, by antisocial behavior, impulsiveness, a limited ability to form attachments, and observance of social norms only as long as it is beneficial. nine0003
Social phobia often manifests itself as one of the symptoms of another disease, such as generalized anxiety disorder, and Russian doctors prefer to view it from this point of view. It can also be combined with depression, affective pathology, alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders.
Signs of social phobia
There are several main signs that may indicate the presence of social phobia in a person:
- unreasonable fear, hatred, rejection, disgust in relation to situations in which it is necessary to do something under the supervision of other people;
- the desire to avoid stressful situations by all means: dates, shopping trips, speeches at work meetings, visits to government agencies, and so on;
- low self-esteem and fear of the evaluation of others. Social phobes are always focused on themselves, have an inadequate idea of their capabilities, tend to see themselves only in a bad light; nine0003
With social phobia, physiological effects are common, similar to those observed in other disorders of the anxiety spectrum: tearfulness, excessive sweating, nausea, difficulty breathing, tremors in the limbs, heart rhythm disturbances, and others.
Choice of treatment methods
There are two main forms of social phobia:
- isolated, single monophobia, when fear arises only in a specific social situation, for example, fear of talking on the phone, eating in public, doing certain work in the presence of other people. Isolated phobias also include ereitophobia - the fear of appearing awkward, embarrassed or blushing in front of someone; nine0003
- generalized social phobia, when the list of situations that frighten a person includes almost all possible circumstances that require communication with people. The increased reaction of avoidance leads to the fact that the psychosocial orientation is violated, inadequate adaptation to fears is formed, social ties are broken and all spheres of human activity suffer. It is with such an extended social phobia that it is no longer possible to fight on our own - complex medical intervention is necessary, especially when comorbid (combining) mental disorders appear. nine0003
Causes of social phobia
For most people, social phobia is formed in childhood or adolescence, when the traumatic experience is fixed in the subconscious and becomes part of the life program. An important role in the formation of social phobia is played by hereditary predisposition.
Social phobia also arises as a result of excessively strict upbringing, excessive demands on the child's achievements, inadequate assessment of the child's capabilities, lack of moral support, emotional coldness of parents. Social phobia can also be the result of overprotection (excessive parental care for the child) or underprotection (lack of care for the child). nine0003
However, social phobia can arise not only in childhood, but also at any age after experiencing severe stress: emotional or sexual abuse, betrayal of a loved one, divorce of parents.
Separately, socio-cultural factors of social anxiety are noted, which are associated with the presence in society of extremely high standards and ideals, which many people seem unattainable and inaccessible in advance, which makes them capitulate at any, even the most insignificant mistake. The more a family or national culture is built on feelings of guilt and shame, the higher the likelihood of developing social phobia and fear of not living up to the expectations of others. nine0003
How to deal with social phobia
Social phobia, like many other phobias, is a borderline condition that, with the right approach, can be significantly corrected. Sometimes this is possible even without drug treatment, but more often in combination with it, especially in the initial stages of therapy.
Basically, the treatment of social phobia involves the use of various psychotherapeutic directions. These are mainly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), hypnosis and group therapy. With the help of CBT techniques, the psychotherapist tries to understand what thoughts the patient has in difficult situations when the mechanism of social phobia is triggered. He then questions these thought patterns step by step and asks the patient to put himself, over a long period of time, specifically in those circumstances that cause fear and panic, in order to finally fully realize that nothing bad is happening. nine0003
Group therapy usually provides the ideal environment for social skills training and exposure therapy, by giving people the opportunity to face feared social situations in a supportive and nurturing environment.
None of the above guarantees the absence of relapses in the future. So with a high probability you will have to finish treatment regularly for many years.
Olga Molchanova, Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, National Research University Higher School of Economics:
— We easily label ourselves and others, one of them is a social phobe. It's a good reason to let go of difficult situations that require social interaction. In the everyday sense, we are all a little “sociophobe”: we are afraid of public speaking, negative assessments, we are worried that our actions, ideas, feelings will be condemned or ridiculed. In fact, these are completely normal emotional experiences. The key point that distinguishes a true sociophobe from other people is that the sociophobe avoids such situations, he cannot cope with his fears - they are of an outrageous, excessive nature, which greatly complicates his life. nine0003
Social anxiety and the level of its severity can be determined using interviews or other methods: the questionnaire of social anxiety and social phobia (O. A. Sagalakova, D. V. Truevtsev), the Liebowitz social anxiety scale and the scale of fear of negative assessment (short version; adaptation S. N. Enikolopova, I. V. Grigorieva).
There is an opinion that social phobia is largely determined by genetics. Its rudiments are already visible from childhood: one child happily runs to unfamiliar children, the other prefers to stand on the sidelines, longingly watching the others. But social anxiety is most clearly manifested in adolescence, which is due, on the one hand, to the formation of reflection, the discovery of one's "I", and on the other hand, a high dependence on the opinions of others. Teenagers are so preoccupied with themselves that they automatically begin to believe that others are constantly thinking about them and, most importantly, "see through them." The so-called illusion of transparency works. As a result, this can lead to an increase in shyness, the development of anxiety before contacts and, as a result, a withdrawal from social interaction.