How to Escape the Drama Triangle?

June 4, 2018

How did you manage to deal with our little exercise from last week? Did you recognize any games around you?

Still not sure? Let me remind you of the basics.

Conflicts are part of our life if we like it or not. In an ideal word we would handle our problems with a lot of respect, listening and understanding. In our everyday reality, since we didn’t experience much of this nice behaviour in our childhood, instead of going straight to the point with love and desire to sort out the problem, we often start to play games.

During those games people use many different kinds of weapons, for example: critical comparisons (“look, Tony has more money than you on the same position!”), exaggerations (“you never keep your word, never!”), stickers (“you did it again, Mr. Forgetful!”), intimidation (“try, and you will see what is going to happen to you!”, or denial (“you have no right to say that!”).  Few sentences as a bait and the game can start. Players pick their usual position of prosecutors, victims or rescuers and act with intensity and length corresponding to their actual state of mind. At the end they all stay appalled at the battle field with mixed feelings of win and loss, pervert satisfaction and disappointment.

But what to do to step out of the destructive drama triangle?

First step is to start being honest with ourselves. After we notify that we are also gamblers, we have to commence recognizing games in our own relationship and naming the benefits of game-free relationships. After years and years in a drama triangle, it is extremely difficult to step out of it. To make it possible we need to identify the pay off – reasons that would justify why to refrain from being a player. Habit is a second nature, but we can gradually replace it with a better habit.

You probably think that it is very easy, who would like to be a victim or a prosecutor? Then mind your neighbour from the 2nd floor that had beaten his young wife again, and she stayed with him. You would “definitely” stop that relationship ages ago, right? As just an observer obviously you don’t know that she was raised by her mother to be a victim and her self-confidence is so low that she doesn’t believe she can survive without her prosecutor. On the other hand, for him beating her is the only way he knows to confirm that he is a real man. Of course this is just an example, men can be victims and women prosecutors. Sex doesn’t matter, what counts is to understand the benefits people get from the unhealthy relationship to be able to step out of it.

To escape from the drama triangle – even if our triangle is much lighter than the one described above – we have to work on our self-assurance, to grow and find back the winner hidden deep inside of us.

And we have to face the fact that change will not come tomorrow. At the beginning we should try to avoid one game out of ten, then one out of five or three. Step by step we will start to savour days without games.

To make the first period easier, let me suggest you some techniques that can make your effort more effective.

–> Try to communicate without intermediaries – prepare for the difficult conversation, make a list of goals you want to achieve

–> Make sure you are in a mood for a win-win conversation

–> Sort out one problem after another – Rome was not build in one day, so if you have several issues with a particular person, try to focus on each of them separately

–> Be polite, fair and respectful, regardless of your partner’s behaviour – so easy yet so difficult, isn’t it?

–> Stick to the facts – no exaggerations, compare just facts

Experienced players would say that games are sometimes more effective than real conversation. My answer would be: yes, from a short-term perspective. It is always better to be yourself without any filter when you build healthy, long term relationship.

Drama triangle is quite a frequent topic of my conversations with clients. If you feel you need to dedicate more time to this subject, give me a call.

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