Five Cognitive Distortions That Are Hurting Your Relationship and How to Change Them

Jennifer Thompson
3 min readDec 20, 2022

Perceptions are not always a reliable interpretation of reality. Therefore, relying on our thoughts to direct our relationships may sometimes harm our relationships.

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Since we all experience periods of cognitive distortions, rarely is anything as it seems. This does not mean encouraging delusions but recognizing that your mind can be your greatest friend or worst enemy in all aspects of your life, including your relationships.

Our feelings are a product of our thoughts, and because our significant relationships dominate our lives, the thoughts that run through our minds regarding our partners can affect our feelings toward them.

Here are five common thought patterns hurting your relationship.

1. Catastrophizing

Catastrophizing is the process of thinking that a situation is worse than it is. A good example is the thoughts that enter your mind if your partner is late for dinner or if they forget your anniversary.

There could be many reasons to explain the behavior, but for many of us, our thoughts go to the worse can scenario that they don't care about us.

2. Taking on Added Responsibility

Many couples buy into this idea that it's their responsibility to make their partner happy. However, no one is responsible for another person's happiness. And no one should expect their partner to make them happy. Happiness is fleeting. And only you are responsible for your happiness.

3. Overgeneralization

This is a common practice; using words such as "never" and "always," we overgeneralize a behavior.

For example, our partner occasionally leaves a dish in the sink, and we distort the reality by saying, "you always leave dishes in the sink."

But do they? Overgeneralizing leaves the other feeling person stuck. It's like wearing a debilitating label.

"You never turn off the lights." "You're always late."

It's healthier to say what we need instead of casting our partners in stone with how we think about them.