Cognitive distortions: 7 thinking traps that ruin our relationships
Cognitive distortions are harmful patterns of irrational thought that can significantly negatively impact. They are an involuntary reaction to a circumstance and contain some level of prejudice based on previous experiences or a perspective of the world in general.
Cognitive distortions impact many aspects of one’s life, including human relationships. For instance, they are capable of causing arguments and the end of relationships. The following cognitive fallacies can harm your relationship with your partner.
1. Distortion caused by self-reference
Self-reference increases a person’s capacity to remember experiences that are directly relevant to them on a personal level. But if this characteristic of his memory is distorted, he will start to think that any mistake he makes is the center of everyone’s attention.
This cognitive distortion manifests itself in the context of romantic relationships as anxiety or obsessive thoughts that your private life will inevitably be judged by others who are aware of it. Because of this, people frequently find themselves feeling pressured to consider the viewpoints of others and work toward improving their relationships to the greatest extent possible.
Regrettably, neither they nor their partners have an easy time preserving this picture-perfect appearance. This frequently results in arguments, and in some instances, it even ends relationships. It’s not something everyone enjoys doing—trying to look flawless and upholding the reputation their partner has built for them to conform to another person’s viewpoint.
2. The anticipation of achieving perfection
Some people have the mentality that their partner should always be flawless. They can predict their thoughts, understand what they want, and shape their desires to match their perceptions.
Sadly, this is impossible, and doing so sets the stage for the relationship to fail. People who expect their partners to be perfect are more likely to experience feelings of disappointment or to conclude that they are not a good fit for them. However, it is doubtful that anyone will fit them in principle because there is not possible to be perfect people in the world.
3. Jumping to Conclusions
Imagine the following scenario: a man’s cell phone suddenly stopped working, and he could not call his wife to let her know he would be late for work. He arrives home an hour after he was supposed to, but he doesn’t even have time to open his mouth to explain himself, and by the time he does, his partner has already come to her own conclusions and doesn’t want to speak to him. The disagreement continues for several days, which brings everyone’s mood down.
This is an example that is obviously blown out of proportion. On the other hand, this clearly demonstrates that jumping to hasty conclusions rarely results in anything positive. And in most cases, they can be quite removed from the truth.
When people in a relationship engage in idle conjecture rather than communicating with their partner to learn his perspective, the relationship quality gradually deteriorates.
4. A bias toward attributing negative motives
People are led to believe that their partners’ actions toward them were malicious by this cognitive distortion. In reality, however, their partners were not acting maliciously toward them.
For instance, a wife may wrongly believe that her husband intentionally broke her plate, even though he did not intend to, and is extremely upset that it occurred.
Because of the hostile attribution bias, it is challenging to believe the partner because one is constantly searching for a loophole in the other person’s words and actions. Sadly, some people cannot easily tolerate this kind of pressure and mistrust, so they end the relationship.
5. A bias toward negativity
The human tendency to remember negative information more easily than this cognitive distortion demonstrates positive information. People tend to remember unpleasant experiences more vividly, in greater detail, and often without confusion regarding the dates and times at which they took place.
However, there is a thin line between having unfavorable memories and being biased. The latter is out of control, manifests as emotional baggage, and turns into literally everything it touches.
When it comes to relationships, a person has a greater propensity to fixate on the possibility of being rejected than on the possibility of finding someone who is more suitable. Or, the person focuses on the flaws and errors that the other person has made and brings them up whenever the opportunity arises. Additionally, he tends to nurse grudges and to replay in his head the events that gave rise to those grudges. Such a pattern of behavior is unlikely to help build a strong, trusting relationship.
6. Putting the blame for your emotions on your spouse or partner
In a relationship, you can self-soothe and take care of yourself. It is lovely when your partner can calm you down, but it is perfectly acceptable for you to calm yourself down on your own, too. Consider doing something relaxing like taking a bath, reading a book, or writing in a journal.
7. The illusion that change can happen
People fall victim to this type of cognitive distortion when they convince themselves that they could achieve happiness if only the actions of others could be changed.
The problem with this distortion is that the partner who is expected to change might not be prepared or willing to change. It’s rare to find someone willing to abandon their interests and friendships, as well as their wardrobe and personal grooming routine, simply because it’s expected of them.