So, you’ve finally managed to get a date with the girl of your dreams! It is normal to feel both, nervous and excited about it, but you aren’t really looking forward to it anymore.
In fact, the thought of going on the date is giving you nightmares. You have already ruined the week stressing over the date and are now finding absurd ways to get out of it like blocking her number!
You are not crazy. Nor are you commitment phobic. Then what on earth is scaring you from going on this date? Or any date for that matter? The answer is: Sarmassophobia.
Sarmassophobia is the fear of dates and relationships that stem from a fear of love play. A man suffering from sarmassophobia is scared of situations, objects, activities, or people that involve kissing, dating, flirting, sex, and so on.
Signs of Sarmassophobia
I learnt about sarmassophobia after I canceled four dates in a row with this girl. I wouldn’t respond to her calls and messages before I finally blocked her number. She gave up on me after this but that didn’t affect my search for a date. I was still active on dating apps and spent weekends in pubs hoping to meet a new person.
However, when this became a persistent behavior I knew something was wrong. I met a therapist and after a detailed session, she told me that I was suffering from sarmassophobia.
If you think you are being a jerk, there are possibilities that you are wrong and that you are actually suffering from sarmassophobia:
You Feel Anxious before Dates
Everyone feels nervous before dates and it is pretty normal to feel that way. However, you don’t only feel nervous, but also stressed and very anxious before going to a date. You may find it hard to eat and sleep because you are always worrying about how your date is going to be. You may also start feeling physically sick ahead of D-day.
Your Friends Think You Are Extremely Fussy about Picking Dates
You are constantly nitpicking your date in your mind so that you have enough reasons to dislike them and cancel the date altogether. Remember how you once swiped left on Tinder because she looked too friendly! Your friends may laugh off your habit and call you choosy, but the truth is you reject people because you are afraid to know them in real life.
You Either Don’t Show Up on Dates or Leave without Informing
Sometimes, you are so terrified of the idea of dating that you don’t show up on a date. At other times, you make a quick escape without caring to inform her you are leaving. What’s funny is that you do this even though the date is going well. You decide to leave because you simply cannot handle the pressure!
You Flinch Every Time Your Date Tries to Get Close
Has a woman ever called you a tease? Well, that’s because you first make her want you and then walk away when the situation starts to get steamier. You are guilty of ghosting people because you are scared of kissing, cuddling, flirting, and caressing.
You Are Relived When a Relationship Ends
When she decides to call it quits, you feel relaxed subconsciously. This happens because deep down, your fear always makes you feel that the relationship won’t work out. When it is finally over, you feel relieved rather than sad.
A few sources suggest that sarmassophobia also has physical signs like excessive sweating, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, dry mouth, and headaches. You may experience these symptoms when you go on a date and your date tries to get close to you.
Causes of Sarmassophobia
According to a study around 17% of adults fear intimacy and avoid closeness in relationships. Like most phobias, sarmassophobia also develops due to unresolved emotional conflicts in the past. The history of these conflicts can be traced back to a person’s childhood or a previous relationship. Restricting yourself from getting into a romantic relationship is an overprotective mechanism that you build to avoid further conflicts.
Sarmassophobia is not gender-specific. Women can also be afraid of love play. 22-year-old Charlotte Underwood said in an interview to Unilad that “sarmassophobia has taken over her life” because she was assaulted when she was 14. According to her, sarmassophobia is different from the fear of commitment. Charlotte said she is married for one year but romantic intimacy is what makes her uncomfortable.
Another woman reveals that whenever she panics before a date, her friends encourage her saying “it’s just one date!” However, she finds relief every time she cancels a date with an excuse in her defence.
If you find yourself showing any (or all) of the above-mentioned signs, it is possible that you may have gone through one of the following situations in life:
Psychologists say that a violent or abusive relationship between parents can cause the fear of intimacy in children when they grow up. Men who have lived with distant and guarded parents in childhood often fear that their partners will neglect them too.
Victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse may also find it difficult to build intimate relationships with someone.
Chances are that a man suffering from the fear of love play may have been told as a child that intimacy is taboo and sex is bad. Over time, this belief turned into a fear that prohibits him from building healthy romantic relationships.
Sarmassophobia is also more likely to be found in people who had painful romantic relationships in the past and are scared of getting hurt or heartbroken again.
How to Overcome Sarmassophobia
Sarmassophobia is real. It is not a fancy term coined for narcissists who have commitment issues. It must be treated before it takes a toll on your relationships. It is important to first get to the root cause of the fear. When you understand what is causing the distress, only then can you work towards overcoming it.
A psycho-sexual therapist and relationship counselor can help you overcome sarmassophobia through therapies and counseling sessions. It may take time and a lot of patience, but strong willpower and determination can help you overcome this predicament.
Sarmassophobia is not a serious illness. However, it can affect the quality of your life and personal relationships if not identified and overcome in time. The good news is that it can be cured. Consult a therapist or a doctor who can help you get through this ordeal. It will be worth it when you finally find someone who you are not afraid to love.