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Are You The Rescuer In Your Relationship?
Whenever a drama occurs in a relationship, people can step into specific roles. This was defined by Dr Stephen Karpman and is known as the ‘drama triangle’.
The drama triangle consists of three roles:
All of these roles have good qualities as well as bringing challenges. It is also important to note that these are just roles that you can play; they are not personality traits. What’s more, in some situations, you may revert to one of the roles. However, in other situations, you may take on a different role.
The Relationship Drama Triangle In Action
The victim will feel overwhelmed with problems. It seems like they can’t catch a break, or all of the problems are happening to them. They may feel personally attacked and helpless to change the situation.
The rescuer will then swoop in and be the rock in the relationship. They will show how strong, supportive and kind they are.
Both parties will agree on the roles. The victim will say they are unable to manage alone and enjoys someone taking care of them. The rescuer has their needs met by feeling important, needed and in charge.
This system works well until one party is not happy with the roles.
Two Drama Triangle Problems
The Fed-Up Rescuer
If one party continually takes the rescuer role, they may feel tired and fed up with always swooping into help. They may feel like they are doing all of the ‘heavy lifting’ in the relationship without receiving anything in return. They may feel resentful.
When this happens, the rescuer will revert into the persecutor role. They may do something controversial in the relationship or act out of anger. They may start an argument with their partner over something relatively small or generally insignificant.
When this happens, the victim then moves into the rescuer role. They will then apologise or confirm how much they appreciate their partner.
When this happens, the persecutor then moves into the victim role. They feel guilty about being the persecutor. Because their partner moves into the rescuer role, it means they must move into the victim role.
Eventually, the situation stabilises until the next event.
The Bored Victim
Another issue in the drama triangle is that the victim becomes tired of being helpless and relying on their partner. When the victim gets bored, they may lash out, moving into the persecutor role.
The rescuer then moves into the victim role. Often stating, ‘I was only trying to help’. The persecutor then feels guilty and moves into the rescuer role to apologise and fix the situation.
Do Any Roles Feel Familiar?
While you may take on different roles at different times, there may be a role that feels more comfortable to you. It may be that you play a specific role in family relationships but take on a different role in romantic relationships.
How To Fix The Drama Triangle
To get out of the drama triangle, the first step is awareness. What role do you normally revert to? As soon as you see this beginning to manifest, take a step out of the triangle and become the Adult.
In the drama triangle theory, the adult will be proactive and stop the triangle before it begins. They will take responsibility for the part they play. Furthermore, they will understand that if they feel upset or bothered by something their partner does, it is their own problem. They will ask for help when they need it but will work out how best to solve their own problems first.
The biggest reason the drama triangle takes place is that each person will assume what their partner wants and needs. To help, both need to be clear on what they want and how they want their partner to help. You cannot expect someone to fix problems for you without asking for help. Similarly, you cannot assume someone wants you to fix everything if they haven’t asked you to.
So, instead of leaping into your favoured role, start by asking questions and understanding exactly what the situation requires.
Need Relationship Support?
If the drama triangle feels familiar to you, or you need more support in creating a healthy relationship, then I can help. Using a bespoke blend of hypnotherapy, coaching and NLP, I can support you as you overcome a range of relationship challenges. To find out more, book your free initial consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org