How do Cognitive Distortions negatively impact relationships?

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In this article, the important question of how “Cognitive Distortions negatively impact relationships?”, is answered and various facets of relationships and our thought processes are explored. 

How do Cognitive Distortions negatively impact relationships?

Cognitive distortions are thoughts or a pattern of thoughts that are negative, unreasonable, and inaccurate. Cognitive distortion can lead to many relationship conflicts. It could be with one of the partners grappling with these distortions or both of them. Also, it could be the case that one of the partners is shielding themselves from their own distorted thinking.

As the relationships come up with their own set of complications it is imperative to navigate them with care. Distorted thinking can create additional challenges in otherwise complex relationships. Therefore to sustain and flourish it is necessary to learn about the various types of distorted and irrational thoughts that we humans possess and navigate through them by rational thinking and adopting psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility enables us to adapt to any difficult situation and is the secret to a healthy relationship. 

15  cognitive distortions that can ruin the relationships

Assumption of the worst

By exaggerating the negative outcomes or overestimating the occurrence of negative outcomes in life can create an unpleasant atmosphere in the relationship. The cynicism and negativity can cause a strain in the relationships. Constant fretting over such things or lack of trust in the partner by assuming they would only do wrong can offend the partner and cause the relationship to weaken.

Making Your Partner Responsible for Your Feelings

Holding the partner accountable for your feelings.

A person should be capable of being happy on their own. Only when both the partners are emotionally secure and also independent can the relationship flourish. If one of the partners holds the other responsible to take care of them then it can cause an imbalance in the relationship. The partner is not obliged to take care of all your emotional needs. 

Exaggerating the Negative Consequences

By blowing up a small issue and exaggerating the negative consequences you can make the partner feel irritated and disappoint them. This affects the harmony in the relationship because there can be several conflicts arising due to this distorted thinking. Missing a call once can be a normal occurrence. But if the other partner makes a big deal out of it without taking into consideration the reasons behind this behavior then it can cause the afflicted partner to resent the other. 

Being Obnoxious and hypocritical 

Being unfair in their reasoning and hypocritical can be a major issue in relationships. Such behavior can exasperate the other person and make them feel as if they are being treated unfairly without any reason. Applying different rules when it comes to others is not going to make the other person feel positive about you. Therefore it is necessary to be fair and reasonable in your treatment of others.

Being Uncompromising

By expecting to receive the best treatment and not agreeing to compromise in certain aspects can be detrimental in the long run. For a healthy and happy equation, it is necessary to take a step back at times and reach a mutual understanding. Putting yourself on a pedestal and expecting the best treatment at all times can be straining for the other person. Sometimes taking a step back can actually be beneficial in the long run as it displays your sincerity in making the relationship work. 

Being stiff and inflexible

When a person refuses to empathize with their partner and look at things from the other’s perspective it is bound to create tensions and negative consequences. It might also make the person appear insensitive to the partner. Psychological flexibility is key to a healthy and happy equation and if a person shows inflexibility then it shows their unwillingness to make the relationship work. 

Unreasonable  Expectations

Having high expectations from the partner or even from oneself can lead to unnecessary stress. Holding them on a pedestal can put pressure on the other person to live up to those expectations. Expecting the best from someone else or even is highly unjust and unrealistic. For example, “You should always listen to me” or “ I can’t fail” are just some of the examples of these unreasonable expectations. Expectations only lead to disappointment so it is better to be happy with what you have instead of forcing your thoughts and will on someone else. 

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Biased First impressions

When we assume the worst about someone based on first impression it can be misleading and unfair. It is better to give everyone a second chance before forming an opinion or impression of someone. So making unfair judgments is not the way a healthy relationship can be formed. 

Blaming others

When we don’t take responsibility for our actions and push it on others it can lead to disastrous consequences. It can make us appear untrustworthy and irresponsible. In a relationship, it is necessary to have mutual trust and respect for a healthy relationship.

Preventing self from being carefree 

When we overthink about everything or are grappling with everything negative around us we tend to lose focus of all the good things around us and truly enjoy our life. Our pessimism can be unpleasant in the long run and also a waste of time that could be spent being happy. So by being carefree and nonchalant about petty things one can freely take part in their life and enjoy the wonderful joys of life. 

Making baseless assumptions

By making baseless assumptions based on one’s thought process and perspective without considering the other person’s opinion can be insulting and unjust. By saying things like, “I know what they are thinking, I don’t need to ask them”, you are stealing their agency. A partner does not have the right to assume things on their own accord without taking their significant other’s opinion into account. Therefore to maintain trust and mutual respect in a relationship it is necessary to always respect the partner’s perspective and opinions


Trying to be the martyr

Taking the blame for things that you had played no role in, or trying to unnecessarily involve yourself in your partner’s conflict by taking responsibility for their actions can have the opposite effect of what you are intending. It is better to not involve yourself in things that don’t concern you or were not in your control. By attempting to make yourself look good in their eyes by sharing their responsibility can send the wrong signal and make things difficult for you in the future. But if you do have a role in the problem, then try to assess and resolve it collaboratively. This makes you appear reasonable and mature instead of flighty and thoughtless.

Inflexible Thinking

Often being inflexible in our thoughts and always viewing thing as either right or wrong can make things complicated. Many complex situations cannot be classified as just right or wrong. For this, it is necessary to understand that the world is just not limited to good or bad. Many grey areas cannot be put into a particular box. So instead of trying to put everything in a box, you can try to step out of it and think outside the box. This depicts your emotional, and mental maturity in understanding and handling complicated situations that can arise in a relationship.

Attaching inaccurate tags

Describing your partners with inaccurate and often humiliating tags such as lazy, rude, emotional, or insensitive can lead to misunderstandings and can cause the partner to feel hurt. Moreover, it is necessary to verify that the negative connotations you are attaching to them are valid. In some cases, people are quick to jump to conclusions based on a few instances and form an incorrect impression in their minds. By verifying the facts you can be sure whether your impression of you or your partner was truly based on reality or not. Evidence shows that in most cases individuals find contrasting results than their assumptions. Most of the time their opinions or tags about their partners are wrong as they do display behavior contrasting to those tags. Thus, people need to trust their significant others and give them chance before negatively categorizing them.


Focusing on negatives and ignoring positives:

By obsessing over the negatives in life by essentially ignoring the positives a person only creates unnecessary strain in their life. Also by devaluing someone’s thoughtful gesture you end up hurting their sentiments and feelings. If your partner does something kind for you instead of saying it’s their responsibility you should express your gratitude and make them feel valued and cared for. Even if the partner makes some harmless mistake instead of obsessing over it and constantly reminding them about it, you can learn to let go. By doing so you allow yourself and your partner a free space to thrive. By constantly nagging or focusing on the negative brings about negative energy in the relationship making it feel suffocating and unbearable. Hence both the partners must learn to negotiate and compromise. 


The question of, How does Cognitive Distortions negatively impact relationships was answered. Also, various facets of relationships and thought processes were explored as well as we learned 15 distortions in thinking that can adversely affect even a healthy relationship. 

What we recommend for Relationship issues

Professional relationship counselling

If you are suffering from relationship issues then ongoing professional relationship counselling could be what you need. Relationship Counselling can be done individually or with one or more partners.

Relationship counselling helps you regain the amazing elements of your relationship and provides you with the techniques needed to avoid conflicts, misunderstandings and the most common issues most relationships struggle with.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you help someone with cognitive distortion?

Following are some tips to help deal with cognitive distortion

What is an example of cognitive distortion?

“It’s late and raining outside. He is driving today. He must have got into an accident on the way here.” Such thoughts are a fitting example of cognitive distortions. People think in negative and inaccurate ways without any evidence.

Is cognitive distortion a mental illness?

Cognitive Distortions lead to mental illnesses but they are not mental illnesses by themselves. Cognitive distortions are a pattern of inaccurate, damaging thoughts. It is widely known that distortions are a common symptom of various mental health disorders and can also lead to some serious mental health issues. Hence it is very pertinent to treat cognitive distortions at the earliest. 

Is Cognitive distortion treatable?

Yes, cognitive distortion is treatable through therapy. It helps people become aware of the cognitive distortions affecting their thoughts and behavior. Cognitive restructuring and reframing is one of the few ways that help with treating distorted thinking

Does trauma cause cognitive distortions?

Recent research conducted on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) proves that there is a considerable impact of cognitive distortions such as hopelessness in adversely affecting and maintaining the severity of the disorder.


Author, P. C. G. (2016, August 20). 10 cognitive distortions that can ruin relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved November 11, 2021, from 

Bonfil, A. (2014, December 3). Improve relationships by identifying cognitive distortions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles. Retrieved November 11, 2021, from 

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