What Is Gamophobia?

  • Heeral PatelBachelor of Science - BSc, Biomedical Sciences, Cardiff University / Prifysgol Caerdydd
  • Pauline RimuiBSc, Biomedical Science, University of Warwick, UK

Gamophobia, also known as commitment phobia, is the fear of marriage. Individuals with gamophobia have an intense fear of commitment in a relationship, and their behaviours lead to avoidance of marriage or long-term commitment.

This intense fear can be paralysing and, akin to other phobias and anxiety disorders, results in physical and emotional symptoms such as panic attacks, anxiety, stress, chest pains, and feelings of nausea. Sufferers of gamophobia typically respond to these symptoms by avoiding the cause of their fear, which in this case involves avoiding marriage and commitment. Therefore, this condition can be isolating and lead to feelings of loneliness, which is another reason why treatment is important to help patients overcome their intense fear. Treatment involves Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, exposure therapy, and in some cases, medication that alleviates the symptoms of anxiety. 

Read on to learn more about how gamophobia can be prevented, those who are most at risk of this intense fear, and when you should see a doctor. 


Gamophobia, also known as commitment phobia, is the intense fear of marriage. Individuals diagnosed with gamophobia have an extreme fear of commitment in a relationship, and their behaviours lead to avoidance of marriage or long-term commitment.

This intense fear can be paralysing and, akin to other phobias and anxiety disorders, results in physical and emotional symptoms such as panic attacks, anxiety, stress, chest pains, and feelings of nausea. The cause of gamophobia can be due to several factors, from poor past relationship experiences to genetics. This specific phobia is linked with other similar commitment phobias, such as philophobia and pistanthrophobia; both of these phobias involve the fear of love, trust, and being broken up with. 

Sufferers of gamophobia typically respond to these symptoms by behaviours such as avoidance. Therefore, this intense phobia can be isolating and lead to feelings of loneliness, which emphasises why treatment is important and has the potential to improve quality of life. Treatment includes but is not limited to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, exposure therapy, and in some cases, medication can be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.¹

Read on to learn more about the causes of gamophobia, how gamophobia can be prevented, those at risk of this intense fear, and when you should see a doctor.

Causes of gamophobia

Fear of marriage can be debilitating for people who want to experience love and companionship. The causes of this condition can be due to multiple factors spanning from genetics to previous relationship experiences. Encountering an unhealthy relationship in the past involving toxic behaviours such as abuse, manipulation, and gaslighting can result in a person developing an intense and irrational fear of experiencing this again and thus leads to having an aversion to marriage and commitment.¹ 

Additionally, if the sufferer of this specific phobia has witnessed unhealthy relationships growing up, such as their parents constantly arguing, undergoing divorce, or other difficult situations such as marital financial troubles, this could also lead to an irrational fear of marriage due to not wanting the same negative experience. Opinions of family and close friends can also influence a person’s own opinion on relationships and may consequently play a factor in the development of gamophobia.²

Other causes can be internal, such as low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem often feel unworthy of love and consequently self-sabotage to avoid the possibility of abandonment. This gives the individual a sense of control but in the long term, isolates the person.³

Signs and symptoms of gamophobia

Gamophobia is not recognised as a separate phobia in medical textbooks or by most healthcare professionals. However, it does fall under the category of a specific phobia and is a type of anxiety disorder. There are three key symptoms that are prerequisites for a fear to be classed as a phobia. This includes feelings of anxiety such as panic attacks, behavioural changes, i.e. avoidance, and a negative impact on quality of life.² 

In this instance, signs a person has gamophobia include breaking up early in the relationship, avoiding commitment and marriage, or avoiding relationships altogether. The consequences of this intense fear and avoidance are loneliness and the absence of meaningful connections and can lead to other complications, i.e. substance abuse. Symptoms may also manifest physically and impact quality of life as the sufferer may experience chest pains, difficulty having sex, and spells of dizziness. 

Other symptoms of gamophobia are listed below:

  • Nausea
  • Chest pains 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression 
  • Aggression²

Management and treatment for gamophobia

Despite the prevalence of specific phobias, individuals with gamophobia are unlikely to seek treatment. This could be due to a lack of mental health awareness, embarrassment, or the fact that avoidance temporarily addresses the feelings of intense fear.

Specific phobias can be treated with the help of a medical professional such as a psychologist or doctor. There are three main types of talking therapy available for those who would like to manage and treat their gamophobia.¹

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps individuals reframe the way they think and behave. CBT is used for many anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, and has favourable long-term results in young individuals. Patients with gamophobia are equipped with coping strategies to help them understand their unhelpful thinking patterns and reduce their anxiety surrounding marriage and long-term relationships.⁴

Exposure therapy 

Avoidance is one of the main signs of gamophobia. Thus, exposure therapy can help individuals confront their fears by being exposed to their potential triggers, for example, exploring the possibility of proposing or entering a bridal shop. Recently, virtual reality has been explored as a way of exposing patients to their fears taking the exposure component in a therapist's room to further heights. A 2004 study showed that the more vivid a person's fear was visualised, the greater they experienced fears related to the phobia’s triggers. Therefore, exposure therapy and virtual reality can help simulate these environments and get the patient accustomed to their fears. In this case, the continual exposure to their fears can help eventually weaken their anxiety surrounding marriage and commitment until, eventually, the intense feelings of fear subside.⁴⁻⁵ 

Other treatment 

Other treatments include mindfulness therapy, which includes deep breathing, body scans, and trying to stay focused on the moment. In recent years, new mobile applications have been released, such as Headspace™, that can be used to help patients manage their condition and watch online tutorials on how to cope with fear and stress.

Additional interventions include medication. Medication, usually anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs, can be prescribed by a healthcare professional to help reduce the symptoms of the phobia, this may make the phobia more manageable, especially when coupled with one of the talking therapies detailed above. In more severe cases, surgery could be an option.⁶,⁸


As previously mentioned, gamophobia is not identified as a separate condition; therefore, there is no test for this phobia specifically. However, if you think you have symptoms of gamophobia, it would be best to visit your doctor's surgery to get evaluated. Healthcare professionals use a mental health test to evaluate your history with mental health and whether you have a specific phobia. Having a diagnosis of a specific phobia is the first step towards getting the right treatment and being able to manage the condition effectively.¹


Due to the complicated nature of gamophobia, this phobia may exist with other mental or physical illnesses. The following conditions have been linked with patients with gamophobia:

  • Severe Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Addiction 

Patients with gamophobia may feel depressed due to isolating themselves and avoiding relationships. Thus, they may turn to substance abuse, and in turn, this could lead to further problems. Therefore, treating the root cause of the phobia is vital. 


How can I prevent gamophobia?

Prevention of a phobia is not possible; there can be many reasons why a person develops a phobia: genetic, learned, or due to very high anxiety. Thus making it difficult to advise how a phobia can be prevented. However, they can be managed and reduced significantly with the help of psychotherapy, such as CBT or medication. Exposure to the fear also helps patients get used to the feelings of anxiety and become more comfortable around their fears.¹,² 

How common is gamophobia

Specific phobias are one of the most prevalent mental health disorders. In the UK alone, approximately 10 million individuals have a specific phobia. Regarding gamophobia specifically, it is difficult to know how many people have this specific phobia as many people may not know they have this phobia or find it difficult to talk about it and, therefore, never seek treatment.² 

Who is at risk of gamophobia

There are several risk factors that may result in a person developing this commitment phobia, this includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Individuals with low-self esteem
  • Having witnessed unhappy relationships
  • Experiencing previous unhappy relationships or a difficult breakup 
  • Having a parent with gamophobia⁸⁻⁹

To add to this further, a study conducted in Nigeria evaluated the social predictors for gamophobia. The trial involved 522 unmarried individuals who had completed postgraduate studies and using research questions and hypotheses, found that two variables were significant predictors for gamophobia; these were masturbation and the marital background of the parents.¹⁰

When should I see a doctor?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and believe you may have gamophobia, you should visit your doctor immediately. It is better to address the phobia as early as possible, as CBT and other methods of treatment are more likely to be effective. 


Gamophobia can be difficult and isolating to experience; with specific phobias affecting 10 million individuals in the UK, it is not unheard of. 

The cause of this commitment phobia is multifactorial and almost impossible to attribute to one cause alone. Genetics, parental marriage, divorce, break-ups, and low self-esteem can all play a part in the development of gamophobia. 

However, it is important to remember that if you are experiencing this phobia, you are not alone, and there is treatment available. Talking therapies such as CBT and exposure therapy have had long-term success in many patients with gamophobia, and if one method doesn’t work for you, there are more options to choose from, including medication. 

With the right help from your doctor, you can finally be able to let go of the fears that are holding you back from finding love and happiness. 


  1. Eaton WW, Bienvenu OJ, Miloyan B. Specific phobias. The Lancet Psychiatry 2018;5:678–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30169-X.
  2. Phobias n.d. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/phobias (accessed June 23, 2023).
  3. Ossai MO, Chujor CJ. Some Social Predictors of Gamophobia Among Unmarried Postgraduate Students in Tertiary Institutions in Rivers State. BJE 2023;11:13–24. https://doi.org/10.37745/bje.2023/vol11n11324.
  4. Castille KM, Prout MF. Phobia. In: Freeman A, Felgoise SH, Nezu CM, Nezu AM, Reinecke MA, editors. Encyclopedia of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Boston, MA: Springer US; 2005, p. 288–93. https://doi.org/10.1007/0-306-48581-8_81.
  5. Kodal A, Fjermestad K, Bjelland I, Gjestad R, Öst L-G, Bjaastad JF, et al. Long-term effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy for youth with anxiety disorders. J Anxiety Disord 2018;53:58–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2017.11.003.
  6. Apolinário-Hagen J, Drüge M, Fritsche L. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: Integrating Traditional with Digital Treatment Approaches. In: Kim Y-K, editor. Anxiety Disorders, vol. 1191, Singapore: Springer Singapore; 2020, p. 291–329. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-32-9705-0_17.
  7. Huang MP, Himle J, Alessi NE. Vivid Visualization in the Experience of Phobia in Virtual Environments: Preliminary Results. CyberPsychology & Behavior 2000;3:315–20. https://doi.org/10.1089/10949310050078742.
  8. Thng CEW, Lim-Ashworth NSJ, Poh BZQ, Lim CG. Recent developments in the intervention of specific phobia among adults: a rapid review. F1000Res 2020;9:F1000 Faculty Rev-195. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.20082.1.
  9. Whitton SW, Rhoades GK, Stanley SM, Markman HJ. Effects of Parental Divorce on Marital Commitment and Confidence. J Fam Psychol 2008;22:789–93. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012800.
  10. Obeid S, Fares K, Haddad C, Lahoud N, Akel M, Zakhour M, et al. Construction and validation of the Lebanese fear of relationship commitment scale among a representative sample of the Lebanese population. Perspect Psychiatr Care 2020;56:280–9. https://doi.org/10.1111/ppc.12424.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Heeral Patel

Bachelor of Science - BSc, Biomedical Sciences, Cardiff University / Prifysgol Caerdydd

Hi, my name is Heeral. I am passionate about health, science, and wellness. I have a biomedical science degree from Cardiff University, and have done several courses on medical writing. With few years experience working in academic publishing and editing medical manuscripts, I am knowledgeable on a variety of therapy areas from COPD to women's health.

my.klarity.health presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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