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Paranoid thoughts in relationships: why do they appear?

Paranoid thoughts in relationships: why do they appear?

July 14, 2024

In today's society, increasingly competitive and individualistic, it is easy to suspect others. It is not uncommon for some people to seek different types of advantage over us or that do not take us into account when assessing other types of needs. And this can generate fear and distrust.

However, while some people do this, it does not imply that everyone does it. Many people have come to generalize this type of thoughts, generating dynamics and behaviors that can have serious consequences for them and their relationships. These are paranoid thoughts with serious effects on personal relationships , something that will be discussed throughout this article.

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What do we mean by paranoid thoughts?

We understand paranoid thoughts to the set of thoughts that have characteristics of paranoia. The latter, if considered from the prism of psychopathology, is characterized by the presence of pathological delusions and interpretations of reality in the form of self-referential and persecutory delirium, suspecting that what happens around him revolves around him and that others have intention or to take advantage or to cause some type of damage. Usually the subject with paranoia He is extremely rigid in his thoughts, being difficult to make him change his beliefs , and present a high attitude of distrust towards others. It is not unusual for strange behaviors and behaviors to appear as an element of protection.

While it should be borne in mind that paranoid thinking does not necessarily equate to paranoia as a disorder, the fact is that paranoid thinking shares many of these characteristics. It generally implies the existence of a high level of insecurity and distrust of others and its interaction with the subject in question. It is common to tend to use a deductive type of thinking to analyze the interaction with others, based on a general premise to extend the conclusions drawn from it to each particular case.

Paranoid thinking usually generates a reaction of resentment and diminution and avoidance of intimacy with the person to whom it refers, although it may have done nothing to deserve them. It also tends to generate deep suffering in those who have it, as well as to lead to conduct behaviors that cause discomfort to the person who generates such behavior. In fact, sometimes there is a self-fulfilling prophecy effect : the person he suspects ends up doing what was attributed to him because of the treatment that he has paranoid thought has given him.

It is typical of insecure people, in many cases with previous traumatic experiences that have made them think of the world and others as hostile elements or competitors that try to take away our sustenance or our dreams or that have a great fear of being abandoned due to said experiences.

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Paranoid thoughts in relationships

Although paranoid thoughts can appear in any context, one of the vital areas where they tend to occur and the most affected are usually those of the couple, in which Unjustified fears and jealousy may appear and even set up a disorder like Othello syndrome.

In this sense, one of the most common and repeated is the fear or the conviction that our partner is being unfaithful. Although it is not something impossible and is a fear that appears sporadically in many people, the truth is that sustained maintenance and without well-founded causes of this suspicion can generate a deep schism in the relationship, to the point of even breaking it .

In some extreme cases, it is possible to establish some control or surveillance over the couple: what they do, who they talk to, who they chat with, when they are connected, how many times they go out and how much they manage to do, what they smell, hygiene habits ... even some people come to violate the privacy of their partner by looking at their mail or mobile. Reproaches, accusations, suspicions and hypercontrol they violate and erode the relationship, being able in fact to provoke these same reactions of distrust that the couple carries out an infidelity or leaves the relationship.

In addition to infidelity and abandonment, there may also be self-referential ideas, in which everything that the other says is considered an attack or even in which the relationship is considered to exist for mere interest or for comfort on the part of the couple and not for a true feeling of union. This can generate a series of dynamics that lead to a conflictive and destructive relationship.

Paranoia in social relationships: friends and family

Our social relationships are not limited to the couple, but we are continuously interacting with a large number of people and some of them become part of our circle of friends. But in such relationships paranoid thoughts can also sometimes be observed. For example, you can interpret different acts or words as a sign of dislike towards the person , or some comments such as accusations or reproaches without this being the intention of the person issuing them.

This type of thoughts can generate withdrawal or hostility, uncertainty and a cooling or even rupture of the relationship with others, both on the part of the subject who has the thought and on the part of others towards him.

Paranoid thinking in the workplace

Another area in which paranoid behaviors and thoughts may appear is at work. And the fact is that the labor market is an already competitive terrain (which in fact facilitates paranoid ideation), in which depending on the scope it is often not so rare to think badly about the intentions of others. It is relatively easy to ask if behind some behaviors there is no search to find information to lower the position of the other and / or be above or improve the chances of obtaining a promotion or a fixed position.

Thus, paranoid thoughts can make us continually suspect the motivations for which others interact in certain ways or that there is a cooling of interpersonal relationships, which can generate labor conflicts, productivity declines and a bad business climate.

How to avoid them?

It is possible that we ourselves or someone we love manifest some type of paranoid thought at some particular moment or context. Therefore, in view of the discomfort generated by these thoughts, it is worth asking what we can do in our day to day to avoid them or fight them . That is why we will review a series of tips below.

How are you?

It is common for paranoid thoughts to appear to a greater extent in situations of high tension or stress or in periods when we have an altered state of mind. It would be useful to assess what emotional state we have when that distrust of the other appears, as well as taking into account how this emotional state can affect us.

Practice Mindfulness

Many of the fears that originate paranoid thinking are due to the anticipation of negative consequences. The practice of meditation or Mindfulness can be helpful in the sense that it aims to center awareness in the present moment and assess how we feel. It also helps to observe our thoughts from outside, being witnesses of them and allowing us to feel them.

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Value the evidence

"I think my partner puts the horns on me." "My boss wants to fire me." "My friend does not care." All these are thoughts that depending on the context can be considered paranoid. It is not that they are not possible, but it is necessary to ask ourselves on what we base ourselves to think it. It is necessary to value what makes us think in this way, evaluate its significance and if it has possible alternative interpretations , before judging.


The basis of human relationships is communication. When we are talking about close people as a couple, family or friends, it would be appropriate to comment and communicate both the good and the bad, in order to avoid encysting elements that can later lead to misunderstandings. It is not about expressing distrust or constantly asking if they have been for example infidels, but to make the shared bond allows expressing the existence of fears, doubts and thoughts.


The use of relaxation techniques can be used to relieve stress and reduce worries. In this sense, relaxation techniques focused on breathing and muscle contraction can be of great help, such as diaphragmatic breathing or Jacobson's progressive muscle relaxation.

Common Challenges: Paranoid Thoughts | UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program (July 2024).

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