Marriage is a scared bond that binds two individuals together. While many people wait their whole life to be together forever with the person they love, the story may be different for some others. For some people however, the boundations of marriage are scary as hell. Any such irrational fear of getting married or committed is known as gamophobia.
It has been derived from Greek word “gamos” meaning marriage. Gamophobia is signified by intense, irrelevant and constant fear of marriage and commitment. The person is specifically scared to get into a marriage which implies spending the whole life with a single person. A gamophobic person’s fear of marriage is similar to the fear of dying. A gamophobic person may be in relationship with someone, but drift away and get nervous if the topic of marriage comes up. This phobia is totally different from Anuptaphobia (fear of being single) and Philophobia (fear of falling in love).
What Causes Gamophobia?
Gamophobia is a common phobia that occurs in people, especially men. Men tend to fear marriage due to the personal, financial and social risks that come along with marriage. Thus, gamophobia can be caused by:
Personal insecurity can be a major cause for gamophobia in people. Marriage doesn’t come easy. Hundreds of responsibilities are added. You don’t share just a relationship, but you share all your personal, social, legal and financial belongings. The fear of marriage may be developed out of the fear of these risks and vulnerability.
Related Distressful Incident
Gamophobia can also be associated with any unwanted and distressful event that implanted a negative image of marriage in a person’s mind. These incidents can be divorce of parents during childhood, abuse from parents, seeing one’s parents or other married couples fight and quarrel, a previous marriage failure, betrayal from partner or hearing about unsuccessful marriages extensively. Any such related distress can be responsible for gamophobia in people.
The fear of marriage and commitment can also be backed by other depressive conditions. A person may actually be willing to marry, but just scared and anxious to go through it. Lack of self-confidence, poor self- image, lack of sexual confidence and other different types of depression may also cause a person to stay away from marriage and commitments.
The Symptoms of Gamophobia
Major symptoms that can occur with someone having gamophobia (both in men and women) are:
- Irrational and extreme fear of marriage and commitment ( Even a thought of marriage or seeing someone else marry can trigger the fear)
- Complete avoidance of marriage or related events and discussions
- Aggression, panic attacks and ill-temper upon the thought or discussion of one’s marriage
- Realization that the fear is irrational but unable to control
- Low-self esteem
- Panicking follows physical signs such as trembling, crying, racing heart beat, trouble in breathing, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, sweating and abdominal discomfort
When to Visit a Doctor?
Gamophobia can be a serious issue as it can lead a person to stay isolated. A gamophobic person is simply scared of the idea of marriage, but not unwilling to do so. This fear can severely damage relationships and family life of a person. In such circumstances, consulting with a doctor is necessary. Moreover, if the above symptoms have occurred for a long time period, over six months time and disrupted the life of a person, one needs to start with the treatment.
How is Gamophobia Treated?
Gamophobia can be treated using different psychotherapies and medications. The effective psychotherapies for successful elimination of the fear are:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is one of the most effective treatment therapies for gamophobia. Gamophobia may be related with a previous distressful memory and experience. The behavioral therapist counsels the person and tries to dig out the negative thoughts one has towards marriage. A gamophobic person tends to have a rush of fear due to the negative and disturbing images associated with marriage, and not due to marriage directly. The therapist conducts healthy talking and sharing sessions and guides to replace these negative images with positive ones.
Exposure therapy is also another effective psychotherapy used for treatment of gamophobia. In exposure therapy, the therapist makes the person confront a setting similar to marriage or brings up discussion on marriage. Alongside, the therapist also guides the person to keep oneself calm and relaxed during the session. Through regular exposures, the person gets habituated with it and will be able to develop tolerance for the anxiety.
Family therapy is an important component during the whole treatment process. The therapist works with the family, and makes them aware of the phobic situation. In fact, the regular counseling sessions with family develops support and motivation for the person from family sources. This can be a major lift up for the entire treatment process.
In serious cases of isolation and anxiety, medicines may be used. Commonly used medicines are anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medicines. However, therapies are considered more effective for treatment of gamophobia.