Are you stuck in a codependency triangle? You might be in one and not even know it. Codependency is a popular term in current psychology circles and many relationship experts help clients recognize it. The codependency triangle has several different names, but they all indicate a specific pattern.
What Is Codependency?
Before we get into the triangle, it can be helpful to understand codependency and codependent behavior, especially as it pertains to a relationship. Another term for this is a relationship addiction. A codependent person often gets into relationships that are largely one-sided and may be abusive. Their main interest is doing things for the other person and wanting that person to depend on them. Even if the other person does abusive or hurtful things, the codependent person will continue trying to please and satisfy that person. A codependent relationship can usually be described as a dysfunctional situation where one person acts as a caretaker and the other person takes advantage of them. Codependent relationships are very common with substance abusers.
What Is The Codependency Triangle?
Understanding victimhood is the key to understanding this triangle. In fact, some other terms for it include victim triangle and drama triangle. Many people react to life in a way that makes them a victim. Whenever you choose not to take responsibility for yourself or your actions, you’re playing as a victim. Reacting as a victim instills a sense of victimhood in your subconscious. This, in turn, will eventually create strong feelings of fear, guilt, anger and inadequacy. You are then likely to constantly feel betrayed by others or feel that others are trying to take advantage of you.
Another term for the triangle is a shame generator. A person stuck in this triangle will often repeat painful life themes in their head to reinforce the feeling of shame. These painful beliefs keep them stuck in a tunnel version of reality, which is part of the codependency triangle. In other words, if you’re on the drama triangle in any way, you’re stuck in some form of victimhood. Living as a victim is a painful way to go through life.
Three Points of the Codependency Triangle
Rescuers, persecutors and victims are the three points on the codependency triangle. Let’s take a look at the traits of each type.
• Rescuers believe themselves to be caretakers and helpers
• Rescuers need to rescue someone (the victim) in order to feel important
• Rescuers don’t see themselves as victims because they have all the answers
The second point is the persecutor. Both rescuers and persecutors are on the opposite end of the triangle vs. victims.
• Persecutors self-identify as victims
• Persecutors strongly deny that they use blaming tactics on others
• Persecutors believe their attacks are warranted as self-defense
It’s important to remember that no matter which point you start out on the drama triangle, everyone ends up as a victim.
• Victims believe that they are intrinsically incapable or damaged in some way
• Victims have an attitude of being weak and not clever enough to get by in life
• Victims fear that they can’t make it and need someone stronger to look after them
• Victims deny their ability to solve problems and see themselves as inept in every way
Even though victims believe they need someone to take care of them, they tend to resent that person. On one hand, they insist on being taken care of, but on the other, they don’t like having their faults pointed out.
How To Leave The Codependency Triangle
None of the labels in the codependency triangle are particularly flattering. No one wants to admit to being in the victim role. How do you know if you’re the victim in a drama triangle? Take a look at the following signals:
• You’re often triggered emotionally
• You give others a lot of advice
• You get your feelings hurt easily
• Life feels difficult to manage
• Other people appear incompetent to you
• You feel misunderstood
All of those signals are related to the roles of being a victim, persecutor or rescuer. How do you jump off the codependency triangle? The key is to stop and change your pattern.
• Stop blaming other people
• Stop giving others advice
• Stop trying to fix problems that aren’t your own
• Stop talking about others behind their backs
• Stop complaining
• Stop feeling sorry for yourself
• Stop saying that you can’t do things
• Stop doubting
• Stop acting like a know-it-all
As you work on stopping the above behaviors, the next step is to start working on different behaviors.
• Start taking responsibility
• Start working with a therapist who specializes in relationships and personal growth
• Start changing the negativity in your mind
• Start letting go of toxic beliefs
• Start making time for yourself
If you need help leaving the Karpman drama triangle (codependency triangle), then a Therapist in Los Angeles can help. Doctor Howard Samuels specializes in counseling for relationships as well as substance abuse.