The idea of marriage is usually accompanied by an ecstatic feeling. The idea of being dear to someone, a sense of belonging, affection, the creation of children etc. All these ideas make marriage a dream to be desired and craved for. Unfortunately, not everyone harbours this desire as the thought of marriage can be so provocative leading to irrational fear and disgust. Such people are said to be suffering from Gamophobia.
Gamophobia is the fear of marriage or being committed. This fear gets so severe that it is often likened to the fear of death. It originated from the Greek word “Gamo” meaning marriage and “Phobia” meaning fear. Gamophobia can also be the fear of being in a relationship.
Gamophobia is totally different from Philophobia – the fear of falling in love. Gamophobics can actually fall in love. They welcome an “open relationship”, “friends with benefits”, “no strings attached” but get worrisome and terrified when their partner demands commitment especially marital commitment and responsibility. With Gamophobia, the victims might actually want to get married but the fear prevents them from wishing to do so.
Gamophobia is caused mainly by related dreaded incidences such as divorce (half of all first marriages in the U.S end up in divorce), assaults in marriage, consistent quarrels among their partners etc.
Individuals start developing this phobia while watching parents, foster parents/guardians, neighbours or family friends go through domestic violence. Also, social risk, lack of self-discipline and self-confidence, irresponsibility, brain chemistry/disorder, generics can also be a cause. Other fears like fear of sex, fear of being naked, fear of dependency may also lead to this phobia.
People suffering from Gamophobia show symptoms such as complete avoidance of marriage related discussions, as they can lead to panics attacks. The physical symptoms can be a rapid heart rate, trembling, profuse sweating, abdominal discomfort (butterflies in the belly), dizziness, fainting, and breathlessness.
Like other phobias, Gamophobia can be treated by consultations with a psychologist or psychotherapist, undergoing therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy and medications like anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs. Counselling with a fear specialist can also help.