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Gynophobia: Fear of Women Explained and How to Overcome It

Gynophobia fear of women

Do you find yourself breaking into a cold sweat the moment you see a woman? Here, we investigate Gynophobia—fear of women—and how to overcome it.

It’s exactly how Eminem eloquently put it: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy–there’s vomit on his sweater already—mom’s spaghetti,“ but the only difference is, the guy isn’t heading for a vicious rap battle, but instead has to pass through a corridor full of women.

When the act or the mere idea of having to talk or just stand in close proximity to a woman gives a guy the heebie jeebies, he might be suffering a form of Gynophobia, or the fear of women. To illustrate, think of Raj Koothrappalli from the sitcom “The Big bang Theory.” Raj has a problem getting romantically involved with women because he suddenly becomes awkward and mute when approached by the opposite sex.

Despite the comical representation, Gynophobia should not be taken lightly. It can be a serious issue for people suffering from it. It doesn’t only harm their chance of finding a romantic partner, but also their career, their social life, as well as their family life. Gynophobia is medically classified as an anxiety disorder and extreme cases definitely require counseling and therapy. [Read: Build your self esteem – 35 funny things to tell yourself]

What is Gynophobia?

#1 What is Gynophobia? Gynophobia is the fear or dislike of women. It is a condition observed way back into human history and also goes by other names, such as feminophobia and venustaphobia. A specific kind of gynophobia, called caligynephobia, also exists, which is the fear of beautiful women.

-Gynophobia is different from misogyny, which is the hatred of women. While both conditions share similar aspects, gynophobia focuses more on the physical symptoms generated by the fear of women.

#2 Clinical Gynophobia and its symptoms. Gynophobia is medically classified under social anxiety disorders, which are subtypes of anxiety disorders brought about by contact with people. As a type of anxiety disorder, gynophobia manifests both physical and psychological symptoms, such as:

-Feelings of anxiety: elevated heart rate, nausea, nervousness, and breaking into a cold sweat when posed with the task of interacting with women. [Check out: 10 simple ways to calmly deal with difficult people]

-Feelings of apprehension toward the thought of having to interact with women. Men suffering from gynophobia will avoid contact with women as much as possible and their initial reaction when confronted by a woman is to flee.

-Avoiding eye contact as well as verbal and physical contact with women. This also includes the abhorrence of sexual intercourse with the opposite sex. Men with gynophobia experience difficulty speaking with women face to face.

#3 Causes of Gynophobia. Like other social anxiety disorders, the fear of women is acquired from negative past experiences. This kind of fear is learned by being exposed to multiple related experiences, which conditioned the person to develop a unique kind of fear directed toward women. [Read: How you can overcome your fear of being rejected]

-Having unresolved conflicts or past abuse from a mother or a mother figure.

-History of abuse or any humiliating experience from older female family members, such as sisters, aunts, grandmothers, or cousins.

-The presence of an abusive female authority figure other than immediate family, like a nanny or a teacher.

-Rejection, humiliation, or being cheated on from an early romantic relationship.

These past experiences aggregate to form a learned kind of fear, which makes a person with gynophobia not only fear but also disdain, mistrust, or even hate having contact with women. [Check out: How to build trust in a relationship and make it last]

#4 Implications of Gynophobia. Women outnumber men by millions in the world’s population. This means that, no matter how zealously you avoid women, you will have to interact with them sooner or later. This fact makes it difficult for people with gynophobia to adjust to the demands of a normal life.

-The most obvious effect is the difficulty of forming deep relationships, such as intimate friendships and romantic relationships with women. People with gynophobia have too poor an opinion of women to form any kind of normal relationship with them.

-Social isolation: as lady friends are out of the question, and guys generally prefer female company, being friends with a gynophobic can be demanding, which leads the person into isolation. [Try: The 3 stages to embrace and overcome loneliness]

-Difficulty in the workplace: the person’s inability to work with female co-workers and superiors makes it difficult for a person to stay employed and perform well as a member of a team.

How to deal with the fear of women

Gynophobia can manifest itself in different degrees. There’s the mild type, where you’re just anxious and too shy to approach women, and there’s the extreme form that requires clinical intervention. Mild types can be overcome by adopting a different outlook on how women play a role in your life.

#1 Determine the reasons why you’re anxious to interact with women. As mentioned, it most likely comes from a negative past experience. But sometimes, there are far simpler reasons that are falsely attributed to women that you managed to hold on to during your formative years. [Read: How to get over your first love with a happy memory]

-Low self-esteem. You think you fear women, but the fact is, you’re afraid that you’re not good enough for women to like you.

-Fear of rejection. This can be brought on by low self-esteem. You don’t actually fear women, but you fear the pains of rejection, which you might have experienced from a woman before.

#2 Know the exact thing that triggers your fear. Oftentimes, people avoid all women because it is easier than dealing with the exact thing triggering their fear. However, the fear could actually be tied to a specific kind of woman or one of her attributes. [Suffering from minor gynophobia? Check out: Get over the fear of approaching women in 3 moves]

-People with maternal issues often develop a fear of older women, but are generally amiable to women who are younger or just about their age.

-People who have negative past experiences with a female authority figure such as a teacher might develop apprehension toward a female boss.

-Some cannot interact with a large group of girls, but can manage one.

#3 Change your mindset about the opposite sex. While your opinion about women may not change overnight, sometimes a different perspective helps widen your comfort zone, and allows you to view interacting with women in a positive way. Once you’ve known what really triggers your fear, you can adjust by choosing or avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable. [Try: What’s sexy and what’s cute? A woman’s view on men]

-Women are just like everyone else; they have different personalities, quirks, and preferences. You don’t need to like them all.

-Interacting with women doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to ask her out, marry, or sleep with her.

-You cannot force anyone to like you. People get rejected most of the time, and they’re still here. One bad experience with a woman is not worth avoiding all women your whole life. [Try: Top 9 reasons men get rejected by the women they want]

-You don’t need to prepare a speech when talking to women; saying a simple “Hi” or “Hello” or even just smiling will suffice.

#4 Seek professional help. If your fear of women is overwhelming and requires formal intervention, you can approach a therapist who can give you a full analysis of your fear and give the appropriate counseling. If you’re up to it, you may also join a local support group who specializes in this area. Joining a support group is helpful, because you get to learn about the experiences of others who share the same fear as you.

[Still struggling with self-esteem and fear? Next, read: 11 tips to fall in love with yourself and be a better you]

There are many types of fears and the fear of women certainly isn’t the worst kind on the list. Fear is something learned, but it can also be unlearned by facing it directly, or by simply adopting a fresh perspective that makes you realize that women are often gentle beings, not worthy of being shunned or feared at all. Gynophobia does not have to rule you; instead, you can learn how to rule it.

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Paul Mangay
Paul Mangay
Paul Timothy or “Morty” (as he likes to call himself) is a writer-photographer based in Manila. After finishing a degree in Psychology he found himself swep...
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One thought on “Gynophobia: Fear of Women Explained and How to Overcome It”

  1. astra says:

    This is not a serious issue, but it’s still affecting my life somewhat. I can’t find a girlfriend This does tie in to my narcissistic mother. I wouldn’t call it gynophobia, but more like extreme uneasiness around women. Akin to when one who is afraid of dogs (not phobia) has to be near dogs. From 12 to 17 (actually 2 months before I turned 18) I was put in a center with mentally disabled children and adolescents (2 weeks per month). This was because she has munchausen by proxy. At 17 went to court, got emancipated.

  2. danger says:

    I feel like this term sums me up pretty well. For as long as I can remember, beautiful women have always been greatly intimidating to me. I can’t stand near them or if they are in line behind me I’ll move forward a couple inches to make sure I’m not in their space. I don’t think I can get over a hurtle like this because I seem to find many and I mean MANY women attractive. Slim or curvy, it doesn’t matter I’ll keep my distance from them because I simply don’t want trouble. Be labeled a creep or a rapist because I’m not as attractive as most of the guys in their mid twenties. I currently do CBT therapy but even my therapist is attractive so I can’t even make eye contact with her because I don’t any her to potentially call the police for being uncomfortable around me. I’m starting to think my only option is to stay away from most public places, which sucks because I’ve been doing pretty well lately but unfortunately I can’t go out anymore on the weekends due to their being too many attractive women. I sometimes notice them staring at me so I remove myself from the area due them being uncomfortable. I feel that I have been so sucked into my fear that I really can’t decide whether to go ask women out on the thought that I would be desensitized or on the thought that I will just increase the fear, You know what I mean? It’s like a never ending thing for me. Because of my fear, I am even afraid to look at my own mom.

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