Have you ever felt stuck in an unhealthy or negative cycle in relationships where things don’t seem to be changing? It is likely that you may be stuck in the Karpman’s drama triangle; a place nobody wants to be but an easy place to become trapped.
There are three roles in the drama triangle that people play in unhealthy relationships. As humans we can move between the roles depending on the situation. The drama triangle highlights how we can directly impact others to also remain in this constant negative cycle.
The Persecutor - ‘It’s all your fault! You should listen to me’
Can be aggressive, controlling or unpleasant
Blames and criticizes others
Need a scapegoat
What’s the benefit to the Persecutor?
No feelings of shame or guilt. They feel powerful when they may otherwise feel weak. The responsibility lies elsewhere and with other people.
The Victim - ‘Poor me. My life is so unfair’
Helpless and hopeless
Difficulty accepting responsibility
Look for someone to help solve their problems for them (can still resent them for this)
What’s the benefit to the Victim?
The victim no longer has to solve their own problems and as a result their responsibility decreases. They can become dependent on who they perceive are ‘stronger’ people. Lack of empowerment to change or make decisions for themselves.
The Rescuer - ‘Let me help you’
Wants to fix everyone’s problems for them
Overworked and tired
Help other people feel good about themselves
Neglect their own needs
They need other people to need them (even if this leads to resentment)By solving people’s problems for them, they prevent others from empowering themselves to change or make decisions
What’s the benefit to the Rescuer?
They feel needed, liked and have a purpose. Their fear of being disliked disappears.
What should we do?
We don’t want to be in the drama triangle – as comfortable as it may be sometimes! Here are some steps that may help you avoid being sucked back into it.
Self-reflection. Identify situations you have been in the Triangle and reflect on how this happened.
Observe the pattern you are in and take action to behave differently
Remain neutral rather than defensive or critical
Empower others to positively make their own decisions. Put the responsibility back on them
Remember you are not powerless
Lastly, people may have an expectation of how you normally behave in a situation and might perhaps struggle initially with your change in behaviour. Prepare for this and remember that it will get easier the more you follow these steps