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Author Topic: BEHAVIORS: Triangulation  (Read 6628 times)
GreenMango
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« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2013, 04:05:26 PM »

Triangulation is an excellent first screening tool for a borderline in its never ending quest for the perfect host.  I had known mine for years and she played victim so many times against her exH that everyone hated him.  HNM included.  Recent events have proven to HNM that everything she said about him for all of those years were total lies.  In retrospect, I now know that what she did was triangulation.  At the time, I just saw a poor little thing who was not being taken care off properly by a sorry slacker.  Little did I know the truth.

I will freely admit that her triangulations with me on her exH drew me into her web of deceit.

I don't think that bad mouthing your ex or playing "damsel in distress" after a divorce is triangulation. 
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MaybeSo
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« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2013, 06:08:52 PM »

What I find helpful about the concept of triangulation, was understanding that humans tend to gravitate toward triangles to alleviate stress/anxiety...   not just pwBPD

and also, the importance to me personally of recognizing if I'm an active player in a drama triangle; after learning about Karpman Drama's triangles it helped raise my awareness about staying OFF of a triangle by not participating, neither being a rescuer, persecutor or victim.  



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motherof1yearold
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« Reply #27 on: May 09, 2013, 08:22:07 PM »

There seems to be a great bit of confusion on triangulation!   I greatly agree with Skips comments in and also cannot stress enough the point that it is a misconception in referring to all affairs /cheating as triangulation.
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MaybeSo
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« Reply #28 on: May 13, 2013, 12:06:19 PM »

The concept of triangulation in relationships originated from Family Systems Theory (Bowen). Bowen proposed that triangulation in human relationships are ubiquitous, natural,  and can be either functional or dysfunctional.  All people do both sometimes.

Example of functional triangulation; where a third is introduced and the diad becomes more stable eg ., man, woman, child, / wife, husband, therapist , etc. , or if the triangle results in problem solving, stabilization, and promotes individuation (strong sense of self).

Example of Dysfunctional triangulation;  where the anxiety/tension of two is diluted by the introduction of a third entity and prevents problem solving, creates additional problems, is destabalizing,  and often involves, scapgoating, secrets, or negative advocacy.

All people triangulate all the time; it is not exclusive to pwBPD. The natural purpose of a triangle is to alleviate tension and anxiety between two people and when functional can enhance problem solving and actually enhance relating...   everyone does it.  (Bowen)

A person struggling with a personalty disorder will often rely on problematic triangulation; The reason this would be has to do with an inability to focus on a solution (problem solve) and a strong need to instead defend an existential "identity" point on the drama triangle,  most often "victim" in the case of BPD.  Problem solving requires a strong sense of self, ownership and responsibility,  an ability to deal with uncomfortable emotions (what's my part in the problem? / shame), and the ability to maintain agreements, etc.  :)ue to BPD symtomology, these skills/traits are difficult if not at times impossible for pwBPD to perform, thus the more primitive fall-back of maintaining the role of victim at all cost,  not as a strategy in an arsenal of sophisticated tools,  but as a result of a LACK of tools and a lack of flexibile coping skills.   (Greg Lester, Personality Disorders in Social Work & Health Care, 3rd edition, Cross Country Education.

A problematic triangle or triangulation is not something that is DONE TO US, it' something that we participate in or not; usually because of our own over-identification with a point on a drama triangle from family of origin,  on this board, most often 'resucer'...   but even if you start out as a rescuer you will usually eventually play all roles and leave a drama triangle identifying strongly with the role of "victim".

Bowen v. Karpman

In Bowen Family System terms, we understand that triangles are natural, we all do it. It's problematic if it inhibits individuation, creates more problems, or involves scapegoating/secrecy.  It was the study of family dynamics where the importance of triangles was first observed. A family with an alchoholic parent and an enabeling codependent parent, may scapegoat the angry child and identify that child as the problem in the family (the identified patient)...   when really, the child is acting out the pain of the family system, but he is scapegoated as THE problem, while the underlying systemic sickenss of alcoholism goes unaddressed by the parents.  

Karpman stems from Transactional Analysis, and it helps conceptualize the roles we take in relating and how they switch among victim, persecutor, and rescuer.  A drama triangle diagram ala Karpman helps us to understand better our own role identifications.   Karpman diagrams many types of triangles, they aren't all 'bad' ...   the one we focus on here is a diagram relating to a Drama Triangle.

An affair could be analyzed through a lens of either theory, using Bowen or a Karpman Drama Triangle.  Not ALL trianglation is BAD, but much of what we see on this board leans toward problematic triangles due to the nature of BPD and frankly, to the nature of codependency.

Bowen: tension in couple diminished through introduction of 3rd party vis a vie affair. Couple avoids relationship problem solving and instead argue about the affair partner. Affair partner is scapegoated as the problem, and couple nevers deals with their own problems effectively between the two of them, as their tension is outsourced through the affair.  Some might argue this triangle is actually working.  

Karpman: man meets woman in distress, she is upset because her husband mistreats her. Man overly identifies with role of rescuer and attempts to rescue woman (victim) from her husband (persecutor). Suddenly there is a role switch; upon developing closeness with woman she suddenly pulls away from the man (her rescuer). Man reacts with alarm (attachment protest)and is now in role of (persecutor/split black due to trigger of intimacy) while woman remains in victim role and finds another new rescuer or goes back to husband. Man entered the triangle as a rescuer , became the persecutor when he was devalued, and leaves the triangle feeling like a victim.  He has expereinced all roles on the triangle, but to the degree he finds himself in this kind pattern a lot...   he may be a starting gate rescuer and his own behavior and beliefs need to be examined if he wants to break HIS pattern.  

By the way...   this same dynamic could happen in a family between wife, husband, child...   or at work between boss, manager, and coworker, or in  a therapy office between client, therapist, and spouse, or between three friends, ...   etc.

How to avoid participation in problematic triangles

1) strengthen your own individuation (know yourself) through therapy, study, practice of self-care, break free of old family dynamics, etc.

2) identify if you are a starting gate rescuer, victim, or persecutor and work to lessen your participation (become more flexible/resilient) in these rigid roles to the degree it is problematic for you.

3) become aware of codependent traits in yourself or your family of origin; starting gate rescuers generally fall into codependent belief system and behaviors.

4) Be cautious of individuals who present with a long history as a victim or who engage in extreme black/white thinking about relationship dynamics (I'm blameless);  and become aware  of your own tendency to do this too, and/or your own tendancy to want to rescue a victim.

5) Focus on developing your own coping and problem solving skills and encourage others to do likewise.

The concept of triangulation and the roles we play on a drama triangle or through triangulation with others can be very useful in our own recovery process; it's not meant to be be seen as a mysterious 'thing' that only pwBPD do TO US.  It's not. It's a human thing.  Finding yourself invovled in problematic triangle dyanamis is a wake-up call to start examing your own choices, beliefs and behaviors.  It is useful to raise your level of awareness about problem triangles and your participation in them.  

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Skip
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« Reply #29 on: May 13, 2013, 01:32:50 PM »

I agree, from a healing perspective, we should ask, what is the highest and best use of the concept of triangulation?

The answer, I believe, is in looking at ourselves.  Am I triangulating to avoid dealing with tensions in my relationship with another or others? Many of us are.  Am I a willing participant in solving others problems by participating in triangulation.  Those who do this are generally avoiding their our own stuff.  We have all seen this. We don't want to do these things.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

As for characterizing the actions of others, the use of triangulation is less actionable.  We can lament on others having bad values and bad boundaries -- in the same way, we can lament on others triangulating.  Understanding that someone triangulates routinely rather than facing their issues tells us that we will have difficulty resolving matters with them...   it may also give us some leads on how to resolve conflict with them.

Characterizing affairs and second lovers in terms of triangulation seems to me to a secondary issue.  The primary issue of an added lover is our values and boundaries. Right?  This has huge moral and character implications. Can we learn from the "why", sure, but we probably want to find the resolve to examine our own values and commitment to them first.  

Granted, if we are in "infidelity recovery", it is helpful to understand what triangulation was in play with our partner and to also look at ourselves to see if we are contributing to the intensity that made our partner choose avoidance.

The tools are here to promote understanding and healing and its important to always keep this foremost in mind when we use them.
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Stjarna
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« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2014, 11:07:50 AM »

Thank you so much, Skip, for taking the time to post this useful information.  I was a little confused as to what the term actually meant, and you have clarified it so nicely.
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« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2014, 12:10:15 PM »

My exBPDgf had some very unhealthy triangulation patterns happening with her family while we were dating. It seemed like every time we were around her parents, one of them would get her alone and complain about how bad the other parents was. Both parents did this all the time and it drove me crazy! So inappropriate to bring the child in the middle of marital problems, because it makes the child feel at fault for problems out of their control.

Who would she have been without a f-ed up childhood?
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Turkish
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« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2014, 12:55:51 PM »

Ok, so I am still kind of confused. In Year 1, my uBPDx contacted her Ex bf as an emotional fallback when we started having problems (the hurtful thing is that she shared with me these conversations...  even him saying he was better looking than me by looking at my MS profile picture). I considered that her first act of cheating "lite". Regardless of my lack of boundaries standing up for myself then, was that my Ex triangulating with her exbf?

Skip's "fallback" lover is an exact summary of what happened now at the end in Year 6.

Did I triangulate in a passive way with our children, telling her it wasn't ok to go out clubbing and dating so much with a baby and a toddler at home? Using the kids as an excuse (though they didn't know it, and hopefully never will) to not face our r/s issues: which by her definition boiled down to: "I'm unhappy, you need to do something about it!"
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« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2014, 01:18:22 PM »

If you got drunk, ran a red light, hit a school bus and the burned out carcass of your car landed in a no parking zone would you describe this event as a parking violation?

Technically, parking violation might be part of it, but to describe the above in those terms doesn't provide clarity to the reader - it miscommunicates.

I would describe your first incident as inappropriate contact with the ex boyfriend.  Was triangulation part of that - maybe, maybe not.  She may have just been flirting and reconnecting and signaling her possible availability.
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Turkish
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« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2014, 01:45:10 PM »

If you got drunk, ran a red light, hit a school bus and the burned out carcass of your car landed in a no parking zone would you describe this event as a parking violation?

Technically, parking violation might be part of it, but to describe the above in those terms doesn't provide clarity to the reader - it miscommunicates.

I would describe your first incident as inappropriate contact with the ex boyfriend.  Was triangulation part of that - maybe, maybe not.  She may have just been flirting and reconnecting and signaling her possible availability.

I get it. Call a spade a spade.

She was still madly in love with the first bf who cheated on, briefly recycled, and then left her, devastated. She was very honest with me about it in the beginning, which is why I took some responsibility for getting involved (though it was hard for me to deflect the BPD-like love attachment and desperation to have me around, even as a friend at first). Not until 2011 (Year 3), and the first kid, did I feel her completely detach from the Love of Her Life. I even found something she wrote to herself about it on our computer (with super idealization of me, joy at our family...  the replacements for her emptiness). Up to that point, she may have tried to get back with him if he had tried. I helped her move beyond him, in a way (and no, that wasn't my purpose, it drove me nuts from the beginning).
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« Reply #35 on: June 27, 2014, 12:17:40 AM »

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. This example isn't specific for this board, but bear with me:

S4 told me tonight he didn't want to go back to Mommy's, that he wanted to stay with me. I asked him why and he said, "Mommy hit me." I asked why, and he replied, "because I was hitting D2." I see it as:

uBPDx=Persectutor ("Punitive" Parent in Transactional Analysis terminology)

S4=Victim (Child)

Me=Rescuer (Adult?)
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