What is Gamophobia?

Gamophobia is the irrational and abnormal fear of romantic commitment, though the term can also mean speifically the irrational fear of marriage. (The term is derived from the Greek word Gamos which means marriage.) However, many experts acknowledge an important difference between the fear of marriage and a fear of commitment.

Phobias are gauged by extreme degrees of fear, so gamophobia is not just a case of “cold feet” at the thought of marriage; it is a morbid fear. Such a fear is described as being ‘equivalent to a fear of dying’. People who suffer from this phobia prefer being bachelors/spinsters for life, or staying in a committed relationship without ever tying the knot.

Gamophobia should not be confused with anuptaphobia, which is the fear of being or staying single.

The root word “gamo” is Greek meaning “marriage".

Symptoms of Gamophobia

As one might expect, the predominant feature of gamophobia will be avoidance of becoming involved deeply in a relationship, including any outward signs of deep affection.

  • extreme anxiety, dread
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid breathing
  • heart palpitation
  • excessive sweating
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • confusion / inability to articulate clearly
  • lack of focus
  • irritability
  • diarrhea
  • shaking
  • feelings of powerlessness
  • obsession with the subject of the phobia
  • fear or feelings of losing control
  • avoidance behavior
  • headaches

Learn more about phobia symptoms

Causes of Gamophobia

Fear of marriage can be directly motivated by a fear of the opposite sex, a poor body image, a fear of being naked, a fear of sex or an inability to attach emotionally, and is thus related closely to several other phobic conditions.

Gamophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well understood, are driven by social anxiety and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation or seeing something on the news or on TV and movies.

Gamophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

Learn more about the causes of phobias

Treatment for Gamophobia

Family therapy is an important component in the treatment of many phobias but may be of particular interest in this case.

  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Habit strategies to relax
  • Cognitive therapy (CT)
  • In vivo exposure
  • Response prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments


Book Shelf

The list of books below are hand picked by the staff at Massive Phobia. It's a mixture of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Habit Strategies, Trauma Healing, Mindfulness, Meditation, Buddhist Knowledge and Somatic Study. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.