What Is Gamophobia?

A fear of marriage and committment.

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What Is Gamophobia?

Gamophobia

Gamophobia is a fear of marriage and commitment. It is characterized by feelings of excessive and persistent fear of being in a relationship, making a commitment, or getting married. It can make it difficult to form relationships with other people and interfere with a person's ability to function normally in their daily life.

Like other types of phobias, gamophobia is marked by fear that is out of proportion to the actual danger or threat. Such symptoms are persistent and last for six months or longer.

This article discusses the symptoms of gamophobia and some of the factors that contribute to causing this type of fear. It also discusses how the condition is diagnosed, how it is treated, and how you can cope if you have this fear of commitment and relationships.

Signs and Symptoms of Gamophobia

Gamophobia is more than just being cautious or somewhat hesitant about making a big commitment. People who have this condition experience intense fear when faced with the reality or even sometimes just the thought of being in a committed relationship or marriage.

Some symptoms that a person might experience include immediate feelings of anxiety, fear, or panic. It is also common for people to take steps to avoid committing such as distancing themselves from others, breaking up with the person they are dating, or avoiding dating.

People also often experience physical symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Choking sensations
  • Dizziness
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Hyperventilating
  • Rapid heart rates of breath
  • Sweating
  • Trembling

People who have this condition are often capable of getting into relationships, but when things start to become serious, they often begin to exhibit signs of fear and anxiety. In other cases, some people are so afraid of commitment that they will avoid relationships altogether. 

Recap

Gamophobia can lead to both physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. People may experience physical feelings of fear, experience distress and negative thoughts, and engage in behaviors to avoid commitment and marriage.

Diagnosis of Gamophobia

Gamophobia is not recognized as a distinct condition in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5), the handbook that is used by doctors and therapists to diagnose mental health conditions. Instead, a person might be diagnosed with a specific phobia or another type of anxiety disorder depending on the nature of their symptoms.

In order to be diagnosed with a specific phobia, a person must:

  • Experience an immediate anxiety reaction
  • Engage in avoidance or endure the fear with extreme distress
  • Experience limitations in different areas of their life including work, school, or their personal life

These symptoms must be present for at least six months and must not be due to another mental health condition such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or social anxiety disorder (SAD).

While some people may recognize that their fear is excessive and out of proportion to the actual threat, recognizing that the fear is irrational is not necessary to be diagnosed with a specific phobia.

Recap

Gamophobia is not listed as a distinct, separate condition in the DSM-5. Instead, your healthcare provider may diagnose your symptoms as a specific phobia or some other type of anxiety disorder.

Causes of Gamophobia

Like other types of phobias, gamophobia is often the result of a number of different factors. Some research suggests that anxiety about the financial obligations and other social demands associated with relationships can contribute to the fear of commitment and marriage.

Negative Experiences 

For some people, negative or traumatic experiences in the past can contribute to an intense fear of commitment. Children who grew up in households with parents who were unhappy, always fighting, or who experienced domestic violence may fear getting into the same situation when they are an adult.

Past relationships can also contribute to the onset of gamophobia. Toxic relationships, previous divorce, and infidelity can contribute to a fear of getting too deep into a new relationship.

Insecure Attachment Styles

Patterns of attachment in early childhood may also contribute to the development of a fear of commitment in adulthood. Attachment styles are the patterns of behavior and emotional bonds that form between people. Early attachments between children and their caregivers are thought to have a lasting impact on later attachments.

Children raised by responsive caregivers are more likely to form secure attachment styles, while children who don't have their needs met are more likely to develop an insecure style. People with insecure attachment styles often have a difficult time forming relationships, feel less secure in relationships, struggle with fears of being abandoned, or may fear or reject the idea of commitment.

Genetics and Family Influences

Research also suggests that genetics plays a part in the onset of phobias and other anxiety conditions. Inherited traits may make a person more prone to this fear, but attitudes learned through family influences might also play a part.

Recap

A variety of factors can play a part in the development of gamophobia. As with other types of specific phobias, gamophobia is likely caused by a mixture of genetic and environmental influences.

Treatment for Gamophobia

If you have symptoms of gamophobia, it is important to understand that there are treatments available that can help. As with other phobias and anxiety conditions, gamophobia can be treated with therapy managed by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional.

These professionals will help you to challenge your fears and work through them until they no longer cause severe distress. Over time, gamophobia will become easier to manage, and you will be able to live a more fulfilling life free of fear.

Some of the most commonly used treatments for gamophobia are listed below.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy in which a person with gamophobia learns to replace their negative thoughts with more positive cognitions. It also teaches new coping skills that will help people develop healthy, supportive relationships with less fear of commitment. CBT has been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety and is often the first-line treatment for anxiety disorders.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a treatment that helps people gradually become more comfortable with relationships and commitment by gradually exposing them to the source of their fear. This gradual, progressive exposure to the feared situation is also paired with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Over time, the fear response lessens until it is gradually extinguished. Research has shown that exposure therapy helps reduce phobic symptoms immediately after treatment and that these effects often endure for years.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that involves focusing on trauma while engaging in bilateral eye movements. It has been shown to be effective in reducing the intensity of traumatic memories and can be helpful in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as symptoms of panic and phobias.

EMDR may be effective in cases where symptoms of gamophobia are connected to past traumatic experiences.

Medications

In some cases, medications may also be prescribed to help with some of the symptoms of anxiety. Medications may also be useful if other mental conditions such as co-occurring anxiety or depression are also present. In most cases, these medications will be used alongside some form of psychotherapy.

Recap

Gamophobia can disrupt your ability to have healthy, lasting relationships, but treatment can help. Psychotherapy is often the first approach and may involve the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.

Coping With Gamophobia

Once you recognize that you have this intense fear of commitment, you can begin to take steps to address it. In addition to talking to a therapist, some strategies that may help include the following:

  • Consider your history: Spend some time thinking about your relationship history. How has your fear of commitment affected your relationships in the past? Have you repeatedly walked away from relationships? Do you push people away? Or do you engage in self-sabotage when a relationship is going well?
  • Think about your needs: Consider whether your fear is keeping you from what you really want. You might not necessarily want or be ready for a serious, long-term, committed relationship. But if you feel like you are missing out on what you really want, it is important to take steps to address your fear so that you can form a healthy, loving, and lasting relationship with another person.
  • Keep a journal: Expressing your thoughts and fears in writing can often be a helpful way to explore what you are feeling. It can be a great way to explore patterns in your thoughts and behaviors that might be contributing to your feelings of fear.
  • Try relaxation techniques: Begin practicing relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness. When you begin to experience feelings of fear, you can then draw on these techniques to calm your mind and body.

Gamophobia can have a serious impact on a person's ability to form and maintain relationships. It can harm a person's existing relationships with other people, but it can also impair their ability to reach out to others and form new relationships. Ultimately, this can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can take a serious toll on a person's mental and physical well-being.

By addressing your fears and finding ways to get past your extreme fear of commitment, you’ll be better able to form attachments without feeling a need to avoid a long-term commitment.

A Word From Verywell

Gamophobia is a fear of being in a committed relationship. It can be caused by a mixture of genetic influences, family background, and past experiences. The condition can negatively affect a person's life and may lead to loneliness or isolation, so treatment is important. Effective treatments that can help include cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.

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