Why People Have A Fear Of Marriage And How To Overcome It

Updated March 29, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

It is undoubtable that some people have a true fear of marriage or a committed relationship. Several things can cause fear of marriage or commitment phobia, but most of them can be overcome with hard work and dedication to the cause. Marriage, and long-term relationships, are a big commitment, so it’s certainly understandable to feel a certain degree of uncertainty and fear. If you are in a long-term relationship that has turned toward marriage and you want to run, it can help to understand why you are afraid of marriage and how to overcome those fears so that you can have a productive and healthy relationship with your partner.

 What is gamophobia?

Seeking help to overcome your fear of marriage?

Gamophobia is the fear of marriage or commitment in relationships. It is a legitimate and specific phobia that affects the lives of many people every year. However, men are often more likely to have gamophobia than women. Men not marrying because of gamophobia can be a problem between couples. Gamophobia is about more than just a mild fear of commitment. If she wants to get married and you have gamophobia, a relationship problem can occur. With this phobia, the very idea of marriage could lead to a full-blown panic attack and intense fear. Just being around married couples can be difficult for such a person, and result in experiencing physical symptoms.

Symptoms of gamophobia

You can know if you have a true irrational fear of marriage or legitimate concerns by looking at these common symptoms of gamophobia. If you have these symptoms of irrational fears, you are likely going to need to seek outside help to overcome your fear of marriage.

The symptoms to watch for include:

  • Anxiety when thinking about marriage
  • Avoidance of married couples and weddings
  • Unable to cope with the anxiety from commitment
  • A tendency to push people away
  • Muscle tension, weakness, or sweating
  • Panic attacks or anxiety attacks (can feel like a heart attack)

It is possible that even thinking about these symptoms panic you.

If you have these or other symptoms of gamophobia, such as frequent breakups and no long-term or meaningful relationships, you might need to work to discover the root cause of your fear of marriage so that you can address it. Marriage, or lack thereof, if one of the most common deal breakers that people have in their relationships. It will be worth it to yourself and your partner to uncover the causes of your gamophobia and work on treating it for the sake of your long-term commitment.

Causes of fear of marriage

The exact causes of fear of marriage and fear of commitment are sometimes not known. Several things can contribute to gamophobia, including environment, upbringing, and past traumatic experiences, such as in your childhood, or a previous relationship that wasn’t healthy. Sometimes, the fear is one of divorce more so than of commitment or marriage itself. There are, however, some things that have been known to at least be a contributing cause to a fear of marriage and a commitment phobia. These include:

  • Having divorced parents
  • Family history of mental illness, especially an anxiety disorder
  • An emotional event that happened within the context of a marriage
  • Underlying mental health condition, either diagnosed or undiagnosed

Most of the time, a fear of marriage or fear of commitment stems from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. If someone has the genetic markers for and family history of anxiety or mental illness, all it might take is one emotional event to cause them to distrust marriage and develop a fear of it for a long time afterwards.

How to overcome a fear of marriage

If you have a mild to moderate fear of marriage and not a full-blown phobia, there are some things that you can do to overcome a fear of marriage. These things might also work for people who have a moderate to severe specific phobias of marriage or commitment and bring you a step closer to tying the knot. Not everyone benefits from the same approach, so try several (or all!) of the below suggestions to find what might help you overcome your fear of commitment.

Think about changes

Stop and think about what will change if you marry your partner. If you have no intention of leaving your partner, very little will likely change about your daily life if you get married. After all, at some point, getting married is just a piece of paper. If you and your partner have been living together for some time, you already live like a married couple, and you are defining the meaning of marriage in some sense. Seeing things from this perspective can help you overcome the fear of marriage or a committed relationship.

Ilona Titova/EyeEm

Think logically about all of the positive things that would come out of being married. You'll get to have some great parties, an amazing honeymoon holiday, and you might even be looking forward to some aspects of the wedding itself. There are some other perks to being married as well, such as cheaper health insurance and healthcare provider, lower income taxes, and easier management of financial and legal matters. Not to mention, with some work you can form an incredible bond with your spouse over the years.

Pinpoint what is scaring you

Is it the marriage that is scary? Or do you have a fear of the wedding itself? Or is it a fear of commitment? Is it just pre-wedding jitters? If you are afraid of the wedding but not the marriage, there are ways around that. Weddings can be very flexible. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of friends, family, and other personal relationships surrounding you on that day, you can even get married just you and your partner with a justice of the peace. Don't let fears of minor things get in the way of a lifelong relationship and a good marriage.

Go to weddings

One of the best ways to overcome a fear or phobia is to expose yourself to it. Going to weddings can be a great way to help you get over your fear of marriage. Being around weddings and happy couples will help you change the way you look at marriage. It can also be helpful to go to anniversary parties, especially those over the 30-year mark. These parties can help you see that some are indeed forever and happy and a good marriage is possible. Seeing just one person on their wedding day looking as happy as ever can help to break your fear.

Gamophobia treatments

When fear of marriage is a phobia that leads to high anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes additional intervention is needed to overcome the fear. While there are no treatments specifically designed or approved for gamophobia, there are some treatments that psychologists and psychiatrists can conduct to make improvements to your real life. A licensed marriage or family therapist may also be able to offer insight, though you may need to obtain a formal diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist first.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is the most common way for professionals to help people overcome phobias. Exposing yourself to that which makes you anxious, in a controlled and safe environment, will eventually numb you to its effect. Your therapist may ask you to expose yourself to marriages and weddings in several ways to try to immerse you in it so that you can overcome your fears. In exposure therapy, the therapist will likely talk you through hypothetical scenarios and ask you to imagine yourself in them, and can help coach you on how to work through the scenarios in healthy ways that challenge your phobia.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, is one of the most commonly used forms of psychotherapy, and it has been very successful in treating several phobias. This type of therapy focuses on being more aware of your thoughts and feelings, how they positively and negatively affect your behavior, and how you can change your behavior to have a healthier relationship with your partner and yourself.

Dialectal behavior therapy

This type of behavioral therapy, also known as psychotherapy, is done in a group setting. Although it is not developed specifically for treating phobias (it is a treatment for borderline personality disorder), this type of therapy has proven to be very beneficial for people with anxiety and phobia, including those who fear marriage. This is because you learn a wide range of coping skills during these group sessions to healthily deal with difficult thoughts and feelings. DBT also uses mindfulness meditation and other relaxation techniques to help you think logically about your fears, be they focused on commitment and marriage or other fears.

Medication therapy

Although no medications are prescribed for gamophobia or other phobias and fears, some medications might help. Some anti-depressants have been found to help with OCD or phobias and anxiety. There are also anti-anxiety medications that can alleviate symptoms while you are working on the overall problems in therapy. Reach out to a psychiatrist to discuss your symptoms, and he or she may be able to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Getting help

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Seeking help to overcome your fear of marriage?

If you want to make sure that you are getting over your fear of marriage for your sake and your partner's wellbeing, you might need to seek outside help from a mental health professional. With the available treatments outlined above, you can overcome your fear of marriage and commit to your partner more fully. While a therapist cannot provide you with a diagnosis, they can absolutely help you identify the root causes of your fear of marriage and offer practical advice and tools so that you can deal with that past trauma and move on from it. A social worker, therapist, or other mental health professional, medication, mindfulness, or any combination thereof can lead you on your way to becoming happily married.

Finding a therapist or counselor in your area might prove to be difficult. You can try checking with your health insurance to see if they cover such therapy, but it may not be covered for the problem you have. You can also check with your primary care doctor for referrals to licensed therapists or counselors in your area.

If you are unable to afford a therapist or counselor in your area, you still have options. Regain is an online counseling platform that is much more affordable than traditional counseling sessions and talk therapy.They also have helpful articles and peer reviewed studies that can point you in the right direction.

If you have a busy schedule and find it difficult to keep appointments during the day, Regain can help with that too. The counselors and therapists with Regain are available 24/7/365 to fit in with your schedule. You can participate in therapy anytime and anywhere. 

Really, there is no excuse for not getting the help you need. Once you recognize that you have a problem with a fear of marriage and you avoid commitment, it is up to you to resolve those problems so that you can continue moving forward healthily. If you are unable to do so on your own, you have an obligation to your partner or future partner to go through the work of addressing your fear of marriage with a therapist or counselor.


Results won’t happen overnight; it may take a long time to truly work through potential relationship issues and the fear of marrying the wrong person. However, the more you work on yourself, the more comfortable you will be around married people, and the more you might be able to see yourself as one and lessen your fear of change in commitment.

There is no shame in seeing a therapist or counselor for help. Don't put it off; get the help you need and deserve to improve your mental health today.

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