Our brains are designed to judge others. It’s a beneficial skill because it helps us take shortcuts to navigate this world. But it is not always accurate and can go too far. It is why some have to deal with the devastating psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship.
Most people believe their thoughts and conclusions, although their biases often distort them. So, how does all this work when you’re the victim of distortions? How does one deal with false accusations and allegations?
Defining false accusations in a relationship
An article published after the 1999 American Psychological Association Convention defines false allegations as “when it is impossible to establish a direct and clear causal link between actions (or inactions) of the accused and damage sustained by the accuser’.
The same concept applies to the effects of false accusations. Essentially, is there a direct link between the accusations and the accused’s behaviors or words? If not, then the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship can be huge, depending on the size of the accusation.
Sadly, constant accusations in a relationship usually come from the accuser’s way of seeing the world if the accusations aren’t true.
For example, do they come from a place of anxiety or a general mistrust of the world? Of course, this doesn’t excuse accusations in a relationship, nevertheless, it does help put them in context to gain some sanity when you’re the accused.
What do false accusations look like?
When we are accused of lying in a relationship, this usually says more about the other person than ourselves. It can be a defense mechanism to mask deep insecurity in some cases. Although, sometimes it’s simply jumping to the wrong conclusions because the mind tends to make everything about us.
So, perhaps you’ve been unusually busy at work so your routine has changed. A securely attached person would be supportive. On the other hand, an anxiously attached person would start thinking you don’t like them anymore. This tendency to be all about ‘me’ can push them to conclude that you’re cheating.
The reason the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship are so huge is that the one person who’s supposed to trust you the most in the world suddenly goes against you.
There is a range of ways a person can go against you. These include accusing you of not prioritizing the kids or fabricating lies about what you do or don’t do around the house.
Another one of the psychological effects of untrue accusations is when you’re accused of not doing enough for your partner. So, for example, do they expect you to drop everything when they say so? What about demanding that you ignore your friends and family to be with them 24/7?
Then, there’s the other side of the psychological effects of false accusations which is how you feel. The emotions you’re going to get will most likely start with anger, followed by hurt and sadness.
Accused people often also feel guilt even if they haven’t done anything. This is because we love that person and we feel terrible for them being in pain.
What to do when being falsely accused
When you receive accusations in a relationship, the first thing to do is to get some space. That way you can reduce the chances of lashing out in anger which only makes things worse. Regardless, you still have to find ways to cope with being blamed for something you haven’t done.
Interestingly, a study shows that anger or silence after being accused of cheating when innocent, actually makes others believe you’re guilty. Moreover, fabricating accusations can give someone a sense of power or control over you. In response, it’s natural to feel hurt and even helpless.
In the extreme cases where you’re falsely accused of domestic violence or other harassment, you’ll probably have to get a good lawyer. They will then ask you to gather evidence to prove your innocence. As you can imagine, this isn’t easy and can become a game of he said/she said.
Court cases are another aspect of the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship. Now, everything is public and everyone will start judging you. That’s why it’s usually better to try to mediate the issue yourself with some of the following suggestions.
10 ways to manage false accusations in a relationship
False accusations destroy relationships because it’s tough to rebuild trust afterward. Moreover, the psychological effects of false accusations in relationships can take a long time to heal from.
Nevertheless, sometimes you can recover from being accused of lying in a relationship using the tips mentioned here:
1. Take a step back
One of the hardest things to do when faced with constant accusations in a relationship is not to react. First, listen and take it in but then, find time to self-reflect without being overly pessimistic.
An excellent way to reflect on the false accusations is to journal about the dynamics of the relationship and the part you think you might be playing.
Journaling is a powerful tool to help you process your emotions while giving you some perspective. This isn’t about excusing the accuser but about reducing the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship. If you don’t offload them somehow, the negative thoughts swirling around your mind will drive you crazy.
2. Don’t take it personally
Any kind of feedback, whether positive or something as extreme as being accused of cheating, should be treated with a pinch of salt when you are innocent. No one can provide utterly unbiased feedback. That’s because the mind always shows the world through specific filters and biases.
Naturally, it’s hard not to take accusations personally but if you do, you’ll only amplify the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship. Instead, try to view the world from your partner’s view.
What exactly are they insecure about? Have you recently changed anything in your behavior that could cause them to jump to the wrong conclusions?
Again, this isn’t about excusing the act, but it is to help you respond to false accusations in a relationship more wisely. If you can understand where the accusation comes from, you can perhaps reassure your partner if you care about the relationship.
How we interact with our caregivers as children predicts how we relate to people in romantic relationships. For instance, someone anxiously attached will find it difficult to trust the world, including those they love. This makes it easier for them to jump to the wrong conclusions about situations.
You may simply want to enjoy your alone time but your anxious partner assumes they’re losing you. As part of their twisted defense mechanism, you then find yourself responding to false accusations in a relationship.
How to deal with false accusations in a relationship takes self-awareness and self-regulation.
The key to developing self-awareness is to ask ourselves what causes us to feel certain emotions. The danger with asking why we feel a certain way is getting sucked into our negativity.
The psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship often include guilt when we’re innocent. A 2013 study shows that innocent guilt happens because one feels guilty despite being innocent. That’s often why false accusations destroy relationships because they are emotionally painful to deal with.
That’s why it’s essential to step back and acknowledge your emotions so that you can let them go rather than bottling them up. Mindfulness is often quoted as a powerful technique to do this.
If you want more details about mindfulness, have a look at this TED talk:
Dealing with the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship means communicating with your partner. Our ruminating minds only worsen the pain of being falsely accused. That’s why it’s best to talk calmly with your partner to understand their point of view before sharing yours.
The non-violent communication framework is a powerful technique for couples. It’s a simple tool that allows you to step back and remove blame from the conversations. The framework also makes it easier for you to stick to facts and your own needs.
Trying to cope with being blamed for something is made that much harder by our minds. We either go round and round in circles over the same situation or we beat ourselves up for something we haven’t done.
Instead, soften the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship by reframing things from your partner’s point of view. What pain or fear is driving those accusations? Can you do anything to reduce them?
7. Establish boundaries
It’s always worth remembering that the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship come from a lack of boundaries. Is it acceptable for someone to falsely accuse you of something rather than simply ask you questions about changes in routine or behavior?
Perhaps there’s something to learn from this situation about how you set boundaries? Without boundaries, there can’t be trust so where did things go wrong?
It’s easy to lose yourself in the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship. So, a good grounding exercise is to check in with friends and family. Sometimes we need them to give us a reality check that we’re not this awful person our partner thinks we are.
8. Establish what you want
You have a choice when dealing with the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship. One option is to save the relationship and the other approach is to walk away.
Walking away is obviously a tough decision but the best way to know what you want is to let your values guide you. If you don’t know your values, find out what they are by a little introspecting.
Then, does your partner have the same values despite their personal baggage? If so, you already have a common ground to work with. If not, perhaps this is your opportunity for new
The most important part of managing the psychological effects of false accusations is to remain calm. Learning to manage our emotions and respond calmly takes practice and usually involves a guide such as a therapist or a coach.
An expert will support you in getting to know your habitual thinking patterns and when you tend to react. With time, you’ll learn to pre-empt those moments so that you can pause and respond more wisely.
False accusations in a relationship can give rise to a loss of confidence. This can then lead to a loss of identity as you start doubting yourself more and more.
Furthermore, it’s almost as if you enter a whirlwind of distorted reality as others may start siding with your partner. Subsequently, your mental health may be at risk.
That’s why it’s so important to get to know your emotions and distance yourself from them, so they don’t overwhelm you.
Most of us believe our thoughts and emotions. Nevertheless, as Acceptance Commitment Therapy tells us, we are not our emotions and suffering often happens because we attach ourselves to our emotions and thoughts.
Instead, we need to practice distancing ourselves from our thoughts using various techniques, including mindfulness. That way, you’ll lessen the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship.
An approach commonly used is to tell yourself, “I am experiencing anger/sadness / etc.” It sounds simple, but with time, your mind starts paying less attention to the emotions than when it tells you, “I’m angry/sad/ etc.” So, gradually, the emotions lose some of their impact on you.
How to deal with false accusations in a relationship depends on your circumstances and how willing you are to fight for the relationship. Whatever you decide, make sure you take a pause, manage your emotions and respond calmly. This will allow you to limit the psychological effects of false accusations in a relationship.
Techniques such as mindfulness and reframing things from your partner’s viewpoint can help you do this. Another important aspect is engaging in mature communication as well as setting boundaries. Alternatively, you can see a therapist to guide you through those steps to determine the best course of action for you.
Either way, it’s a journey and you’ll learn a little bit more about yourself and about other people which will set you up for a more resilient future.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Annes passion and purpose in life are to guide people to find their own path and contentment by learning about themselves. Only then can we build and nurture the deep connections we all deserve to have. With a background in psychology and neuroscience coaching, she has helped countless couples transform their communication from aggression to assertiveness and appreciation.
She is both an ICF certified coach and mindfulness-certified, while being a counselor in training, meaning that she offers a holistic approach. You can expect to transform your view of yourself, your relationship, and the world by better understanding the habits of your mind and letting go of the unhelpful ones. You have power over your mind but you dont have to do it alone.