Merriam-Webster defines a phobia as "an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation." Phobia symptoms can include shortness of breath or dry mouth but can also be more serious—like vomiting, chest pain, and a racing heart. Some people even lose the ability to speak when they are faced with their phobias. Phobias basically bring about some of the most intense panic attacks you'll ever experience.
There are some pretty strange phobias out there—you might wonder how someone could possibly be scared of certain things or ideas—like the phobia of wet dreams called oneirogmophobia. (Yes, you read that right.) There are actually people who have a paralyzing fear of wet dreams.
And while, to people without phobias, they can seem weird and a little funny, it's a major struggle for people dealing with them in everyday life. Phobias can get in the way of all kinds of things—not the least of which is a fulfilling romantic relationship. I know a woman who has a serious fear of kissing—called philemaphobia. Because of it, she hasn't been on a date in two years and has had more than one failed relationship—all because she just can't bring herself to kiss her significant other. She has an obsession with oral hygiene, so she will ask a potential beau when he brushed his teeth last. She also brushes her own teeth about five times a day.
A kissing phobia isn't the only irrational fear that can mess up your romantic life. There are actually a surprising amount of phobias that can take a toll on relationships. Beginning with philemaphobia, let's discuss some of the other love-related fears you might not know about.
1. Philemaphobia: fear of kissing
In the case above, the phobia of kissing seems to stem from a fear of mouth germs. But that's not always the case with people who suffer from philemaphobia. Some people with this fear don't want to be exposed to bad breath—and it's hard to blame them.
2. Genophobia: fear of sex
We don't really need to explain how a fear of physical intimacy can negatively affect a relationship or keep someone from getting into on in the first place.
3. Mysophobia: fear of germs
If you can relate to the way Howie Mandel can't bring himself to hug people or have close human contact with anyone, then you might have mysophobia, the fear of germs. It's pretty difficult to get close to someone else if you can't stand the thought of being touched. That said, Mandel takes medicine to control his condition and has been happily married—for 36 years!—with children. So, there's always a way.
4. Agoraphobia: fear of public places
People with agoraphobia used to have things a lot worse. It's still a huge struggle, but there's at least the internet to find connection remotely. Agoraphobia is often associated with being afraid to leave the house, but it's actually a specific fear of crowds and inescapable situations (like a first date).
5. Metrophobia: fear of poetry
People with metrophobia don't enjoy having their lovers whisper sweet nothings in their ears. On the bright side, you'll be disappointed that your S.O. isn't scribbling sonnets for you late into the night.
6. Omphalophobia: fear of belly buttons
A phobia of belly buttons makes it tough to enjoy getting naked with someone. Unfortunately, there are very few people in the world without belly buttons. So, unless you think you may have a chance at Karolina Kurkova, try counseling to deal with this phobia in a healthy way.
7. Chiraptophobia: fear of being touched
If being hugged or sitting close to another human being makes someone cringe, they probably suffer from chiratophobia. Some people have an especially intense form of this phobia and can't even watch romantic movies because they can't stand to watch people touching each other. People who suffer from this fear may also feel like their skin is burning if they watch other people display affection.
8. Ithyphallophobia: fear of an erect penis
It's obvious that this could cause a pretty serious issue in a relationship. Of course, one could always try penis costumes to avoid the sight of the erect penis. (Yes, penis costumes are a real thing.)
9. Sarmassophobia: fear of foreplay
No, this isn't a made-up condition to explain why high school boys are so insensitive when it comes to sex. Sarmassophobia is actually a phobia that affects both genders. However, it's not that uncommon to find someone who likes to "get right to the point" when it comes to sex. There are actually lots of people who have this phobia.
10. Anuptaphobia: fear of marrying the wrong person
While this is a legitimate fear, most people don't have a full-on phobia when it comes to marrying the wrong person. Anuptaphobia can also mean the fear of being single. Confusing? Absolutely.
11. Gamophobia: fear of marriage
Some people actually have a real, medically diagnosed phobia of getting married—though some people who've heard about this might be quick to claim gamophobia as an excuse for not committing.
12. Cibophobia: fear of food
Going out to dinner is one of the best parts of dating. But if you've got cibophobia (the fear of food and/or being poisoned), dates might be a struggle, not to mention the fact that wedding receptions are basically huge dinner parties with dance floors.
13. Arrhenphobia: fear of men
Sure, some men deserve our suspicion. They might be immature or have character flaws that would make it difficult to build a relationship. But that's certainly not the same as having a phobia of men in general. Arrhenphobia makes it impossible to go on a first date with a man, share a first kiss, or start a relationship. On the flip side, there's venustraphobia—the fear of beautiful women—also a serious fear.
14. Philophobia: fear of falling in love
This is perhaps one of the saddest phobias of all. The fear of falling in love would make it impossible to experience the joy of having a life companion or to raise a family with someone. But with the necessary counseling, anything is possible.