Today’s topic of Triangulation became a little more bogged down the more I researched it, but hang tight because there’s a lot of great stuff in this blog that will move you toward healing from emotionally unavailable relationships.
The first thing that you need to understand is what triangulation is. It is a concept from the field of psychology, but I wanted to find an article that would just explain each position on the triangle to reference for you and finding a “clean” article on just that seemed to turn into a full scale mission. The reason: most of the literature reflects toxic relationships and narcissists which became a little convoluted. So the closest pure example of triangulation I found is from a site that is dealing with workplace situations at The Drama Triangle in the Workplace and in the Community.
To break it down, you have three positions on the triangle. Your emotionally unavailable person played the Victim role which can also be called “the good guy”…sound familiar because it does to me! The person they told you hurt them and broke their heart is the Persecutor or “the bad guy”. Now some victims will not want to discuss their relationship between the bad guy and him/her; others capitalize on it. The ones who don’t tell you make themselves look more normal. You played the role of the Rescuer. See, the emotionally unavailable person has no clue why relationships aren’t working for them. They really do believe it is the other person’s fault. They are looking for someone to more or less rescue them and make a relationship work with them while they do everything possible to sabotage it.
Since majority of the literature is on narcissists and other toxic relationships, let’s discuss how the emotionally unavailable relationship, which is toxic, differs from the narcissist triangulation that you can find a lot of literature on. While I couldn’t find any literature on emotionally unavailable people being in the triangulation game I have talked to people in psychology on this and this is my view based off our discussions. The narcissist will use another person and make you the persecutor in this triangle. You will be in competition with the rescuer to win the narcissist. When that fails and they discard you, you become the persecutor and they will spread a lot of rumors about you being a horrible person. For the emotionally unavailable person, you will be the rescuer at first. They want you to save them and somehow give them a relationship with all their walls up. We all know that relationships don’t work without communication and trust so when you fail (and you will fail), you become the persecutor. You’re just another person who failed them. And you will likely feel you failed too.
Here’s the ways you end up feeling like you failed and how you put yourself in the triangle. First off, the victim is the “good guy”, remember? He will make himself look very appealing and he will do the first part of the relationship well. Likely, he will be at least appearing to thrive in other relationships and areas of his life. In other words, he does look like a good guy and appears to be your knight in shining armor. Next, you will be vulnerable just by trying to communicate and trust and investing in this guy. Love makes you vulnerable. Lastly, even though they may not bring another love interest into the equation (although they might) they will find other ways of spending their time while ignoring you. You may feel like a persecutor just asking for his time and you ‘ll need to prove your rescuer status to possibly attain some ( Torture By Triangulation ). This ignoring makes you chase the person more which will create the unfixed ratio of responding we first talked about here The Psychology Of Learning To Love Emotionally Unavailable People. Eventually, especially if you get close, you will find yourself labeled the persecutor and dropped. Your efforts of trying to get them to respond will create stress and tension for them and so they see you as another “bad guy”. You won’t see it coming. But, to the emotionally unavailable person, you really did become another person who let them down because you couldn’t save them.
Thought Catalog had an article ( 3 Powerful Ways to Heal From the Toxic Triangulation of Narcissists ) that discussed how to heal from this triangulation by a narcissist that I really liked. I think it can apply here as well. The first was to sit down and figure out your worth as a person. Now, a lot of us rescuers who fell into this trap are people pleasers…myself included but I’m starting to recover…and we tend to have low self-esteem. BUT, you are priceless and I want you to sit down and figure out all the things that boy or girl who passed you up is going to miss out on because you aren’t in their life. If you are going to date, you are going to have to know your worth so whoever you are dating will also know it and treat you with the respect you deserve. Use this person making you feel this way as fuel for creating your confidence so no one will treat you this way again. Figure out your strengths and hidden talents and play to them. One of the best things you can probably do right now is to come up with affirmations about your worth as a person and every time the negative self talk comes on interrupt it with your affirmations. Once you can teach yourself to be strong and confident, emotionally unavailable people and other toxic people won’t want you in their life because you will scare them off since they themselves have low self-esteem. You’ll start to attract more of the right people in your life and in the dating scene too. If you believe those affirmations, all the hurt created from being thrown into the bad guy position will start to decrease too. You will know you didn’t deserve that title.
The idea that we are priceless has been near and dear to my heart for a long time. I’m a huge For King and Country fan and if you need a reminder about how priceless you are please check out their YouTube video of their song “Priceless” and think about watching their movie too. The movie revolves around human trafficking, but these guys have committed to letting women, and you guys too, know that you are priceless.