Triangulation in relationships is usually considered symptomatic of family dysfunction in systems-oriented therapy where two people are unable to communicate directly with each other. Instead they enlist a third person to express their concerns about the other person and potentially continue a process of “Striangulation”. The third person in the triad may find themselves in a predicament if they do not have the skills. Alternatively the third person can be a child caught between the parents wrath and their family court battles.
Many of the friendships that I have observed over the years have at one stage or another become strained and stuck. It would make sense that two people who have known each other for a time would be able to communicate openly with each other. Unfortunately the blocks to intimacy and the impasse between two friends can result with some serial role playing techniques. The victim-saviour and persecutor positions can be enlisted to gain support and validation of the third person in the Triangualtion.
Perhaps there is competition between two people and the third person is supposed to vindicate one or the other? In any case there are some good assumptions about the relocation of the roles in early family dynamics. In other words the same sibling – parent patterns are transferred to ones adult relationships. The same kind of sibling politics are reinforced so that direct communication or intimacy is avoided. These kind of relationships can go on for twenty years. When things get tough someone else may step in to sort it out.
“C” Needs to be an Adult Mediator and has an opportunity to help A and B
Unfortunately I have often seen the child in the family who falls into the “C” position. The child attempts to take on the Parents issues by being the perfect daughter for each of them. At least in that way she gets to maintain her attachment and safety with her parents. Sometimes the child will be convinced with the plight of one parent or the other by siding with A or B. Perhaps the child needs the attachment with the mother more so than with her father and it serves her to be coerced by the Mother’s victim role in the campaign.
Being “C” in the triangulation means that you get a lot of attention and power in the relationships. A B or C have the potential to make the others feel miserable if playing politics is allowed. Children who find themselves in middle of the striangulation often become highly adapted and somehow must follow one set of parent commands and then with the other parent to maintain dual relationship balance. The child invariably begins to act out the parents issues and becomes stuck between a rock and a hard place. The daughter will be damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t follow each parents wishes.
How can the negative Triangulation process be stopped?
There are some good books on the subject
These kinds of relationships go on for years. If for example B is not directly involved in the process with with C; then it would make sense for C to break through the triangulation by inviting B into the discussions. “A” may not like this and become angry in the process. However in one way; “A” will be limited in their blaming and bitching because of the exposure that C has with B now.
Its the A B C in the Striangulation.