Hit A Rough Patch? These Biases May Be Harming Your Relationship

We all have biases.

Every day, we use these biases to make judgments about the people and things around us. When you’re in a relationship, you likely love your partner very much, but you are still always making judgments about them, even subconsciously.

Even though we all have biases, and that’s not something to punish ourselves for, we need to be able to acknowledge the biases we have that hurt our relationships.

Negativity Bias

Everyone has a negativity bias. We are more likely to express negative feelings than positive ones, unless we are somehow prompted or encouraged to speak positively. Anger and disappointment are often stronger, more visceral emotions. Visit Yelp sometimes and you’ll see what I mean.

Just like with the Mexican dive down the street, we can leave pretty bad mental Yelp reviews for our partners. The amazing things they do can be easily forgotten, while the not so great things they do can be absolutely blown out of proportion.

It is important for couples to keep their negativity bias in check. How do you do that?

1. Communicate openly.

The best way to stop your mind from running wild with your negativity bias is to bring your thoughts out into the light of day. Talk to your partner. There’s a chance you’re blowing it all way out of proportion.

2. Be mindful.

You can outsmart any bias you have by simply being aware of it. Know that pretty much everyone has a negativity bias and that there’s a distinct possibility you’re making a mountain of a molehill.

3. Be civil.

If you find yourself angered by the negative things you’re perceiving, there’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself, but always be civil to your partner. Don’t lash out, call them names, or be abusive in any way. Always keep the focus on civil discussion, not simply venting.

Confirmation Bias

Especially in conjunction with a negativity, a confirmation bias can be incredibly dangerous to your relationship. Simply put, a confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new evidence as a confirmation of your existing beliefs.

If your confirmation bias tells you that your partner is lazy and doesn’t clean enough, then even just one situation where they’ve made a mess or forgotten to clean something up can lead your negativity bias to run wild. So how do we keep our confirmation bias in check?

1. Recognize that you have a confirmation bias.

Just like with the negativity bias, the key to managing a confirmation bias is by acknowledging that you have it. Try to work around it. Recognize that that bias might not be an accurate reflection of reality.

2. Communicate with your partner.

Again, like with your negativity bias, the best way to deal with the feelings associated with a confirmation bias is to simply express those feelings. Bring them out into the light of day. Let your partner know how you’re feeling.

It’s unrealistic to expect to have no bias, no preconceived notions, and having negative thoughts about others, even those we love, is a natural part of life. You shouldn’t shame yourself for it.

But you should stop to recognize that the images we sometimes internalize of our partners often aren’t fully based in reality, and the best thing you can do is remember that you and your partner are a team. It’s not you vs. them, but the two of you vs. the problem. So communicate openly.

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