Let’s say the most severe case of cold feet ever known to mankind belongs to you. In fact, the mere mention of marriage may even cause you to panic, or become nauseated or aggressive. These symptoms are commonly associated with gamophobia, or the fear of marriage. No matter how hard you try, you’re afraid to make a serious commitment, and nothing can convince you that saying “I do” won’t completely ruin your relationship/your life.
For many people who have major concerns about marriage, the idea of getting hitched feels like signing away their freedom and being trapped in an arrangement that is stifling and way too permanent.
Like many irrational fears, the reasons certain people are afraid to get married are numerous: Some commitment phobes have personal insecurities that aren’t related to the relationship, while others suffer from depression or have negative associations to marriage that they simply cannot shake.
And for a lot of people, this is fine. Their vision of a full, awesome life doesn’t necessarily include marriage, so whatever. But for others, their fear of marriage is in direct conflict with their desire to eventually be part of one. Yes, the two things can totally coexist within the same person.
If the thought of marriage strikes fear in your heart, but you don’t want it to, here are five ways to get over your gamophobia (assuming you even want to).
1Realize that nothing really changes after marriage.
Aside a last name (or not) and getting used to being referred to as someone’s wife or husband, the reality is that most aspects of your relationship actually don’t change after you get married. Whatever existed prior to the moment you and your S.O. exchange vows will surely be there waiting for you after novelty of being a newlywed wears off (which happens rather quickly, btw).
2Surround yourself with happily married couples.
If you’re a gamophobe who can manage to tolerate conversations about marriage, participate in a little bit of exposure therapy by engaging with married folk who are still smitten with one another after getting hitched. When you locate them (and we’re more than confident you will), you’ll probably find that at least one party had some reservations beforehand. If possible, talk to them about how they overcame their fear of marriage, and think about how you can apply some of those approaches to your own relationship.
3Get to the root of your fear.
Maybe you need to take a look around you and determine if it’s possible that your fear of marriage is a result of you internalizing all the failed relationships you’ve observed. Perhaps your parents’ marriage troubles left an imprint on you, causing you to instantly reject the notion of committing to someone forever. Maybe you had a bad marriage. Whatever it is, figuring out the underlying source of your fear is a huge part of dissolving it.
4Examine your expectations of marriage.
Are they realistic? Are you afraid that getting married IRL won’t live up to the glee-filled fantasy you’ve created in your head? If that’s the case, then take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.
According to HuffPost, a major reason people fear engagement is because they’re afraid their marriages won’t succeed. In essence, the fear causes them to deny their marriages a chance to succeed before they even get to the point of proposal.
If you can’t get to the bottom of your aversion to saying “I do,” consider seeking the help of a professional to help you sort things out. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it involves taking preventative measures to stop fear from destroying your relationship.
In the end, some people genuinely feel like marriage isn’t necessary, and that’s totally cool. If you’ve tried everything you can think of to work through your gamophobia but still can’t envision yourself taking that dreaded trip down the aisle, then feel free to go with whatever type of relationship works best for you and your partner.
As long as there is mutual love and respect between you and your S.O., you can totally enjoy a long-term fulfilling union that doesn’t make you feel like you’re living out your worst nightmare.