When we start a love affair, fears and doubts usually arise. Many times we come from past relationships that have left us a little touched. Maybe we were cheated or we just stopped loving the other person and the relationship is over.
All of this is common and should not be of great concern to us. But what happens when we have a partner and we are constantly anxious, to the point that our perception of things is altered? Why is this happening? In this article we will talk about cognitive distortions in relationships.
Beck’s cognitive distortions
Aaron Beck was a researcher who focused on the way we think about and process information, Especially in depression. He told us about cognitive distortions, that is, systematic biases in the processing of information after loss or deprivation events. Thus, these events are overestimated as something global, frequent and irreversible.
Cognitive distortions they produce emotional disturbancesAnd that’s why Beck gave them a key role in causing and sustaining depression. In addition, he championed the idea that information processing is guided by cognitive patterns. These patterns guide the perception, coding, storage and retrieval of information, that is, they act as cognitive filters.
Cognitive distortions appear in many other clinical pictures, such as anxiety disorders, other mood disorders, and personality disorders. However, they also appear – and very frequently – in the non-clinical population (without diagnosable disorders), as we will see below.
Cognitive distortions in relationships
When we start a relationship or have had it for a long time, cognitive distortions can occur. These change the way we experience the relationship, Relationship with the other person, and can end up damaging the relationship.
So, cognitive distortions in relationships are often unconscious and we don’t know they guide our interpretation of things. They affect us in how we see ourselves as part of the couple, and they damage our self-esteem and our self-image.
Cognitive distortions contain misinformation and we need to be careful with them. Cultural heritage and education have an important weight in their genesis within romantic relationships, because these two elements have largely guided our perception of life.
Some of the most common cognitive distortions in couple relationships are as follows.
“Without you I am nothing”
consists of think that if the couple leaves us we are going to sink, Because it is an essential part of our life. It is categorical and deterministic thinking, which causes us to experience the relationship with anxiety and great fear of losing the partner.
In Beck’s terminology, it is an extension, and involves assessing a situation by increasing its scale or importance.
It is a thought that increases torque dependency and it is totally wrong. If before we met this person we could live perfectly and be happy, why is it any different now?
“My partner must do everything for me”
Believe that the other person is a magical being who came to save us from something, Or to remedy our neurasthenia, is an absurd and very common thought. Having it increases frustration and makes us demanding and dependent on the person we love.
The couple don’t need to be a servant or a maid for us. A healthy relationship is a balanced relationship where both parties contribute. The other will not always satisfy our desires, and we should not expect it to be so.
We have to be careful with the “I must” because they often contain unmet needs that we are trying to cover anyway.
“If he’s jealous it’s because he wants me”
Jealousy is a very dangerous weapon in relationships. This assertion is based on a cognitive distortion that causes us to feel the jealousy of the other as something good and logical in the relationship, even as something necessary, as a sign of love.
precisely jealousy denotes the opposite, that is to say insecurities, Fear of losing the other person and low self-esteem. A functional relationship will always be based on trust, respect and freedom.
It is an arbitrary inference, that is, reaching a conclusion without supporting evidence or with evidence to the contrary. In this case, jealousy is attributed to something good, when it is precisely the opposite.
Treatment: cognitive restructuring techniques
Cognitive restructuring is a form of psychotherapeutic intervention used by Aaron Beck, Among other things, which aims to make dysfunctional beliefs functional and to modify cognitive distortions. Some of its techniques are as follows.
- Daily recording of automatic thoughts: They allow the patient to realize his dysfunctional thoughts. Used in the first sessions.
- Three-column technique: it identifies distortions and modifies cognitions.
- Proof of reality: Experiences allowing the patient to describe and analyze reality more adequately.
- Reassignment: Allows you to analyze the causes that may have contributed to a particular event to reduce guilt.
- Horse (2002). Manual for the cognitive-behavioral treatment of psychological disorders. Flight. 1. Madrid. 21st century.
- Belloch, A .; Sandín, B. and Ramos, F. (2010). Manual of psychopathology. Volume II. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.