Telephonophobia – Fear of the Phone


Original artwork by me.

I have touched on my fear of using telephones in previous posts but would like to go into it in more detail. According to Wikipedia, “Telephone phobia (telephonophobia, telephobia, phone phobia) is reluctance or fear of making or taking phone calls, literally, “fear of telephones”. It is considered to be a type of social phobia or social anxiety.

I hate using the phone. I can count the number of people I can confidently talk to on the phone using just one hand. I much prefer text, email or Facebook messenger. Any of these are fine, when I have time to think about what to say, am not expected to reply right away and can delete anything stupid before I send it.

I cannot answer the phone when I don’t know whose calling. Many times our home phone has rung out unanswered while I stood over it, willing it to stop because I’m too scared to pick up. My mobile phone is a little easier because I have caller ID. If it’s a private number or an unknown number I won’t answer. But if it comes up with the name of the person calling I will more than likely pick up (though not always).

I will never leave a message on an answering machine. I feel like an idiot talking to myself and usually mess up the message anyway. Either that or the machine cuts me off before I’m finished. As hypocritical as this may sound, I’d love for everyone who called me to leave a message when they rang. Then I’d know who they were and if a return phone call is warranted.

Making phone calls is just as bad. If it’s someone I know there is no issue but if I have to make a call to a company or a place where I don’t know who is going to answer I can’t do it.

As an example, a while back my husband asked me to find a gardener and ring up to make a time for our jungle of a backyard to be mowed. I found a gardener and contact number, no problem, then I spent the whole day getting worked up about actually picking up the phone and organising the work to be done. This is what went through my head:

What if I have the wrong number? What if he doesn’t answer? Will I have to leave a message? What if I leave a message on a wrong number? What if I screw up the message and sound like an idiot? What if I forget some important detail in the message and have to call again? What if he does answer and I freeze up and don’t know what to say? What if I pronounce his name wrong? What if I sound stupid? What if he can’t come for a week? What if I double book something? What if he can’t do the job we need done? What if I have to call someone else? etc. etc.

You get the idea. Lots of ‘what if’s’. I got so worked up about making what should have been a simple phone call that my brain went into shut down mode and I started to panic. Eventually a friend made the call for me.

If I have to make an appointment to see the doctor or for some other thing, I would rather go to their office and make the appointment in person than pick up the phone. Which is only slightly less difficult because I don’t like crowds and I never know how busy a doctor’s office is going to be.

This is another issue that is getting worse with time rather than better. I was always nervous to use the phone but I could still do it. Now it’s becoming incredibly difficult. I am aware of how illogical this all sounds but no amount of logic is helping when it comes to this issue. Phobia is defined as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. I have an extreme fear when it comes to using the telephone.



11 thoughts on “Telephonophobia – Fear of the Phone

  1. I had NEVER before heard of anyone else who had my fear of answering the phone! My husband makes excuses for me, I lie to people, on and on. I HATE the phone! And I have 3 of them, 2 landlines and a cell. I also wish that callers would not just HANG UP because then I don’t know who it was! I just tell myself that if it is important enough, they will get ahold of me! 🙂
    I cannot tell you how it makes me feel to know that I am not alone in this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m still amazed to discover how many people have this fear. I usually give the excuse I was probably out in the backyard and didn’t hear the phone 🙂


    • That can be explained. The time on my blog is set to my time zone. When you posted this it was 6.29 Friday morning where I am. I’m in your future 😉


  2. Before I was Medically retired I was a very successful retail manager…… working for a leading UK mobile phone company. With my name badge on and my work head was straight I could make phone calls. Usually though I would do everything possible to solve any issues before calling. I.T. issues=I would make sure the basics were checked. Customer issues? Every avenue explored before calling customer support! Not scared just efficient! Customer focused! Now that I’m unable to work I have to face up to the fact I hate telephones. I can’t gauge reactions, body language……. I could make excuse after excuse but the truth is I will do anything possible to avoid making or taking a call. My landline is in a cupboard, my mum will text to tell me she’s going to call on it. I won’t even listen to the answer machine because if I’ve missed a call from a friend I know I’ll procrastinate do much that I’ll reason it’s been too long! Drs appointments, medical supply orders and the whole of my social life is digital! I’ve recently lost a friend I think because I couldn’t pick up the phone. Texts, hand written letters and Facebook msgs have all been ignored. It has devastated me and still I couldn’t pick up the phone.
    I don’t have what if dialogues I just ‘forget’ or get ‘busy’ and then realise at 2am that I yet again haven’t made that call! Just another thing to make me feel like I have no purpose!!
    Thank you for sharing, it’s good to know I’m not completely alone! X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. its so incredibely relieving to know im not the only one that has this issue, my family thinks im weird and crazy for this but i literally telephones bother me so much, even with people i know theres like all of 3 people i dont mind talking to on a phone

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t necessarily have a fear of answering the phone, but I just don’t like it. I usually wait for a voicemail, figure out what the person wants, and then have a basic plan of what I’m going to say. I don’t like being put on the spot!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m fine with answering, but not particularly keen on making calls. And I know where mine started – I had to ring my grandmother when I was a kid but must have dialed a wrong number and got a drunk guy instead. Don’t know why that still has an effect on me though!

    Liked by 1 person

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