Working through Philematophobia
Do you have a dreamy first date planned—but unlike your romcom-loving friends—are you dreading the possibility of a goodnight kiss? Welcome to the world of philematophobia.
Contrary to popular belief that we all find the first kiss exciting, many of us feel the opposite. It’s not stars in our eyes and butterflies in our tummies for everyone. For some, kissing induces panic attacks and excessive sweating. Some may even find this display of affection distressing and outlandish.
If you fall in the latter group, there’s a high probability that you have philematophobia.
If your fear of kissing is disrupting your life, there is help available. Cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and self-help are some of the techniques which can help you to lead a normal life.
Read on to learn more about this irrational aversion to kisses, what causes the fear, the treatment options available, and how to better cope with your fear.
Some Things You Need to Know about Philematophobia
Also known as philemaphobia, philematophobia is the fear of kissing. It’s generally found in those who have no experience or interest in this form of endearment. The phobia is more prevalent in younger generations compared to adults who have had experience with kissing and have learned to overcome the anxiety and nervousness that kissing may cause.
The biggest downside of this fear is its impact on one’s ability to form and retain relationships.
Some develop this phobia out of fear of catching a disease that may be transmitted from the mouth. Others are concerned about bad breath or simply cannot stand the idea of physical affection.
Keep reading to learn what causes this fear and some ways you can overcome it.
What Causes Philematophobia?
As mentioned above, philematophobia causes are varied. Sometimes, this fear can be an extension of other fears like bromidrophobia, which is the fear of bodily odors; mysophobia, which is the fear of germs; or fear of intimacy, affection, and attachment.
Like all other irrational phobias, philematophobia may result from a past traumatic event involving kissing. Past acts of sexual violence including rape or sexual assaults, or an act of kissing without the victim’s consent, can also lead to this phobia.
An underlying fear of not meeting a partner’s expectations when it comes to kissing may contribute to philematophobia. Likewise, fears that arise out of cultural beliefs—where a kiss is deemed a sinful act—may also be a cause of this phobia.
Philematophobia may also develop in people who have attachment issues. Failed relationships or the fear of getting emotionally attached to someone can also make the person withdraw from acts of kissing or displays of physical affection.
The Effects of Philematophobia
Being nervous about an upcoming kiss is different from developing irrational fear of indulging in a kiss. People who experience philematophobia are not just fearful themselves of kissing, but even the sight of seeing someone else kissing may cause symptoms.
Philematiphobia can have a profound effect on relationships. Some begin to distance themselves from their partners for fear of having to participate in the act of kissing. They avoid socializing and prefer to maintain distance from others. Some perceive kissing as an act of intimacy, and the act leaves them feeling vulnerable or unsafe.
Symptoms of Philematophobia
Most symptoms of philematophobia are similar to any other phobia that one might have. Some of the psychological and physical symptoms of the phobia are as follows:
- Severe anxiety
- Panic attacks that usually develop during social events
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Lack of confidence in being around others
- Loss of breath
- Increased heartbeat
- Dry mouth
How Can You Deal with Philematophobia?
When dealing with a fear such as philematophobia, first gather the courage and strength to accept and acknowledge your fears.
Try to openly discuss your fears with your partner. Work to create a comfortable relationship without the pressures of intimacy until you feel ready. If your partner is aware of your fear of kissing, it is less likely you’ll be placed in an uncomfortable position that goes against your wishes or consent.
Another important step is to educate yourself on aspects of kissing. Don’t run away from your fears. Don’t run away from the scene if you fear you might encounter someone indulging in a kiss. Get your mind accustomed to the concept of kissing. This will help lessen your aversion to it.
Early diagnosis and treatment for philematophobia is important. Untreated, philematophobia may develop into other forms of phobia including genophobia, which is the fear of sexual intercourse. Genophobia may have an even more detrimental impact on a relationship.
If you feel that your irrational fears are getting in the way of relationships, here are a few treatment options to consider:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy involves talking with a therapist about the source and root cause of your fears. The therapist helps identify what may have led to the development of your phobia. They then offer advice and methods that can help you overcome them.
Through exposure therapy, the patient is gradually exposed to their fears, keeping comfort and safety in mind. The therapist may talk with you about your fears or expose you to visuals of kissing. They also offer techniques to help you better manage your reactions.
Tips for Coping with Philematophobia
Wondering how to overcome a fear of kissing? In order to cope with philematophobia and overcome its symptoms, you can employ the following tips and techniques in your daily routine. Make sure to be consistent and diligent with each step.
- Practice breathing exercises that you can rely on when you get anxious and fearful of being exposed to your source or object of fear.
- If you have a partner who is understanding of your concerns and fears, you can practice kissing with them in a quiet and comfortable environment.
- Determine the root cause of your phobia. If it’s hygiene, risk of diseases, or another factor, try to work on ways to overcome it.
- Join group counseling sessions which offer you a platform to discuss your fears without judgment.
Some Final Words
As difficult as it is to have an irrational fear, there are ways to overcome them. Self-love and seeking help early on, before your fear escalates, is the best possible route to a phobia-free life.
Seek out a competent therapist who is understanding of your comfort and creates a safe space for you to share your fears.
And once you successfully overcome your aversions, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back.