The dictionary definition:
Philophobia (n.) - a fear of falling in love or being in love.
People today, as I see or believe, are becoming increasingly susceptible to philophobia in their romantic/emotional lives. Every little step feels like a plunge to take and you give your heart in graduating proportions. You wonder (if you generally wonder a lot like me i.e.) when did the emotional baggage become excess or/and how "I love you" became the scariest words to say or hear?
I don't purport that love has become tainted now in comparison to the Victorian ages of romance histories we swooned over in Mills & Boons. Women of that age were either caged when privileged with beauty or restrained when not. And the men of then were much brawnier in their quest to kill the dragon (or themselves) for the hand of a fair maiden. Yes, courting was quite a barbaric ordeal!
Surely, dating was a revolutionary shift from the traditional practise of courting as women stepped out in the market and exerted more choice and variability, with men having to work harder to impress them. But like any other grand shift, this one too went awry somewhere down the line.
American individualism and industrial revolution, in my opinion, may have germinated the system of dating with ideas of a self indulgent and a hedonistic 'here and now' attitude. So, since the future is uncertain you don't make promises nor get attached. The best thing to do is to move on. If the sex isn't good, then surely there is no chemistry. No one has been in love without a regret or bearing a grudge. Marriage is not security any longer and divorce is turning whimsical. For fuck sakes, there's speed dating!
For all the research in psychology and neuroscience, love still remains elusive enough to be experimentally determined and largely generalized. But then again, these very approaches reduce love to mere infantile feelings, social/practical convention, hormones etc. all of which are true (in significant proportions) but is certainly not the entire truth. The problem is not in explanation but reduction of the essence of a powerful experience like love to a weakness of trait i.e. the one who loves or loves more. It is such ideas that condition our minds (and restrict our hearts) to keeping the L word as far away from us. In this competitive age, no one wants to fall...even if in love or especially in love as science has "proven" how it clouts one's better judgement of options and risks. But then again, science does not respect emotions the way they should be or for that matter, anything that cannot put be put in an equation.
Case in point:
Meredith Grey, the titular character in Grey's Anatomy. A traumatic parental past with her mother and some serious daddy abandonment issues. Pretty and smart in equal proportions. Has the most gorgeous guy in her workplace at her feet that she knows she can't help but love. However, even after four seasons (i'm on the 5th now and kinda know what's happening on the 6th on this front) is not swooned by the idea of him envisioning a house for them and their kids (even!) or his simple proposal for them to move in together. The best that she could do is ask him to move into her big ol' house with too many roomies. Seriously?
Of course, she's only the most exemplary of them but she personally gives me a good insight to a lot of us sifting and pausing through our love lives.
The concluding question:
Yes, it is much scarier and not easy to let in someone up there than down there. It is why we reduce our own emotions and actions to the purpose they serve and the sense that it makes to our best friend, which dangerously also becomes a self justification.
You may pick yourself up after a fall but is it REALLY possible to fall just as freely again? Maybe it isn't because we're all "wiser" and more cautious. Maybe we do fall but only more cautiously. This is where philophobia sets in as a defense mechanism. It is not our hearts that are fearful, or emotions tainted(for those who find the mention of hearts in character to be unscientific) but our bruised egos that we protect. The fear and anticipation of rejection is purely a mental one. 'Emotional baggage' is thus prejudicially quoted by social scientists to again reduce relationship issues fatally to emotions.
How about we try the free falling, again? (Think Meg Ryan in that scene in City Of Angels, where she feels free of all her inhibitions and glides with both her hands) and how about we give some leeway to our emotions? If the worst has happened with you already, what more do you have to lose?
After all, it is only a wise man who loved and lost once that said, "It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all". Not a man with a bruised ego, or with "emotional" baggage and not certainly, a philophobic.