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

By: Nicole Beasley

Updated July 03, 2020

It is undoubtable that some people have a true fear of marriage. Several things can cause fear of marriage, but most of them can be overcome with hard work and dedication to the cause. 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?

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Gamophobia is the fear of marriage or commitment. It is a legitimate phobia that affects the lives of many people every year. However, men are often more likely to have gamophobia than women. Gamophobia is about more than just a mild fear of commitment. With this phobia, the very thought of marriage could lead to a full-blown panic attack. Just being around married couples can be difficult for such a person.

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, 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
  • 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 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

Causes Of Fear Of Marriage

The exact causes of fear of marriage are sometimes not known. Several things can contribute to gamophobia, including environment, upbringing, and childhood trauma. There are, however, some things that have been known to at least be a contributing cause to a fear of marriage. These include:

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

Most of the time, a fear of marriage 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

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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 phobia of marriage or commitment and bring you a step closer to tying the knot.

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 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. Seeing things from this perspective can help you overcome the fear of marriage.

Look At The Positives

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, lower income taxes, and easier management of financial and legal matters.

Pinpoint What Is Scaring You

Is it the marriage that is scary? Or do you have a fear of the wedding itself? 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 and family 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 nd a good marriage.

Go To Weddings

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One of the best ways to get over 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.

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.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is the most common way for professionals to help people overcome phobias. Exposing yourself to that which makes you anxious 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.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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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 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 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 phobias such as a fear of marriage. This is because you learn a wide range of coping skills during these group sessions. DBT also uses mindfulness meditation to help you think logically about your 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

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. With the available treatments outlined above, you can overcome your fear of marriage and commit to your partner more fully. A therapist can also help you identify the root causes of your fear of marriage so that you can deal with that past trauma and move on from it. A social worker, medication, mindfulness, or any combination of the three 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. It is also more convenient, and it is accessible by anyone at any time. They also have helpful articles 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. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or laptop and an internet or data connection.

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, it is up to you to resolve those problems. 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. However, the more you work on yourself, the more comfortable you will be around married people, and the more you will be able to see yourself as one.

There is no shame in seeingg a therapist or counselor for help. However, ReGain and other therapists and counselors are completely confidential, and no one ever has to know that you got therapy. Don't put it off; get the help you need today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I overcome my fear of marriage?

There are several ways you can tackle gamophobia, or fear of marriage. One of the most effective ways is to engage in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with a therapist. The therapist can help you recognize why you have this fear of marriage, and teach you to become aware of how this fear manifests in your relationships. Exposure therapy is another common way to overcome your phobia. If you place yourself in situations that constantly expose you to marriages, such as weddings, anniversary parties, or simply being around married people, you fear will begin to feel less and less intense. Medication is another way to improve your marriage phobia. If you or your family members have a history of anxiety, OCD, depression, or other neurological disorders, you may have a predisposition to have a fear of marriage. Medication is an effective way to decrease the amount and the intensity of your symptoms. If you are struggling to find a therapist, ReGain offers online counseling that is both more affordable and convenient than traditional therapy.

Is it normal to be afraid to get married?

It is certainly normal to experience some degree of anxiety when it comes to marriage, whether that be the proposal, the wedding day, or the idea of commitment. After all, a first-time marriage is a completely new experience, and it is common for new experiences to induce anxiety. However, a fear of marriage is no longer normal when it interferes with your relationships or everyday life. If you are afraid of committing to your long-term partner, have trouble maintaining meaningful relationships, or have anxiety or panic attacks when attending weddings or thinking about marriage, you may want to seek help to address your fear.

Why am I nervous to get married?

Getting cold feet before marriage is an experience that many people have. However, if you are so nervous that you feel like leaving a happy relationship or struggle to attend weddings and anniversaries, you may have underlying trauma. Fear of marriage can be caused by having divorced parents, witnessing an unhappy marriage, pre-existing mental illnesses like anxiety or OCD, undiagnosed mental illnesses, or a traumatic emotional event that occurred within the context of marriage or commitment. Fortunately, there are treatments that can make you aware of why you feel afraid or marriage and reduce your symptoms.

Is anxiety before marriage normal?

Many people feel nervous before their wedding day or proposal. Sometimes, even the idea of committing to one person can be anxiety inducing. To understand if your anxiety is normal, you have to ask yourself how it affects your relationships and everyday life. If you are afraid of committing to your long-term partner, have trouble maintaining meaningful relationships, or have anxiety or panic attacks when attending weddings or thinking about marriage, seeking help may reduce your fear and lead you on a path to happier relationships.

How do I know I want to get married?

There are several questions you can ask yourself to help you realize if you want to get married. Do you see yourself leaving your partner? Are you happy around them, and do they appear happy around you? Do you feel like you can commit to them without backing out? Can you imagine living the rest of your life without them? It can be helpful to write out the answers to these questions to think more clearly about them. You can also discuss this with a therapist to uncover a sense of clarity.

How do you know you're marrying the right person?

Can you imagine your life without your partner? Does this life feel bleak and empty, or do you feel some sort of relief without them? Does your partner make you happy and treat you with respect? Do they validate your concerns, or do they put you down? Finally, do they challenge you to grow and become a better person? These questions can help you realize if you and your partner are ready for marriage. It can help to talk out the answers to these questions with a friend, family member, or therapist, or to write them down in a journal.
What it feels like to get married?

A healthy marriage should feel like happiness, comfort, and stability. It is knowing that your partner stands by your side, no matter what. However, you both should challenge each other to grow and learn every day. Some people fear that the stability of marriage will feel like monotony, but the right partner will provide a dynamic energy, as well as a sense of comfort that most people desire.

Should I marry if I have doubts?

It depends on how severe your doubts are. You should discover the source of your doubts, either through talking with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, or through some form of introspection like journaling. The person you marry should build you up, make you happy, and provide a sense of stability. That is not to say that there will not be rough patches, but you should be confident, or at least willing, to work through those rough patches together. You should also try to imagine your life with and without them. Would you feel sorrowful without them, or would you feel some sense of relief? Ultimately, having anxiety or uncertainty before marriage is common. However, if you are having severe doubts, you may be with the wrong partner or have inner work to do before you commit.

Why do you get cold feet before marriage?

Most likely, marriage is an entirely new experience for you. Like most new experiences, marriage can cause anxiety and fear of the unknown. You may experience cold feet before proposing, during the course of your engagement, and on your wedding day. This is normal, and you should not let your cold feet be another source of anxiety for you. If you love your partner and have enjoyed sharing your life with them thus far, think of your cold feet as just another challenge that the two of you will overcome together.


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