A relationship triangle is a very productive way of observing relationships among couples.
It’s the most practical way of understanding where a couple stands in their relationship and where they need to go as a couple to make their relationship more successful.
The triangle is pretty simple to work out, just draw an inverted triangle, and mark the left corner R, the right corner P, and the bottom corner V.
How does it work?
R, P, and V aren’t people – they are mere roles that are played by the people in a relationship like between couples. R represents the rescuer, V is the victim, and P is the persecutor.
These roles keep altering between people, and the circle keeps moving. It’s not necessary that the rescuer will always be the rescuer, he or she can flip and become a victim easily or even a prosecutor.
Here’s an example to understand it better.
Example regarding couples
R the rescuer is the Mr. nice and responsible who has this built-in consideration to be good and nice and take all the responsibility and help his or her partner out. In a couple, it can either be the wife or the husband, but they both can’t be R at the same time. If there is an R in any relationship, then there most definitely will be a V, the victim. If the V is in a state of helplessness, then R will always be there to rescue him or her.
This is how any relationship between a couple starts.
Roles are specified automatically – one becomes the overwhelmed and dependable part of the couple, and the other becomes the strong and friendly person who always comes to the rescue.
No relationship among couples can work like this – the rescuer will get frustrated at one point, and when that point comes, he or she will take on the role of the prosecutor and burst out at the victim.
These can be either minor arguments or something big, but for a rescuer, it’s the last straw.
As the rescuer has been taking care of a lot of things, when he or she acts out, they think that they deserve this, like excessive money spending or having an extramarital affair. There’s no sense of guilt or remorse.
In this situation, the victim becomes shell shocked and automatically takes the position of the rescuer.
When the prosecutor gets all this attention for a change, he then feels the weight of their acting out. This guilty and self-loathing takes them to the position of the victim. Soon after, things start to settle down, the victim starts feeling better and goes back to his or her real position of being the rescuer, and the rescuer comes back to the position of being the victim, restoring the natural order.
This isn’t the only scenario that can play out since there is another case present as well. That case is when it gets too tedious for the victim to be dependable and overwhelmed all the time, always being told what to do, and how to act because he gets the indirect message from the rescuer that he is weak and can’t cope on his own.
When this happens, the victim blows and becomes the prosecutor. His message is loud and clear, “stop nagging and stop always being on my case.” When this case occurs, the rescuer starts feeling bad for himself and becomes the victim by default.
His thinking at that moment will be, “I was just trying to help, and this is what I get.” This jolts the prosecutor and makes him go to the rescuer’s position saying, ”sorry, I was just being mean as I wasn’t feeling well, or I was just stressed out about work.” They make up, and everything reverts to normal.
For any relationship to be successful, each partner should know where they stand and what part they are playing.
By identifying their roles, they will understand what they are missing out on and can work to achieve the balance between the rescuer and the victim. The rescuer needs to control the need to be over responsible and take care of everything.
Similarly, the victim needs to understand his or her shortcomings and work on them.
Understanding the relationship triangle will give the couple a way of hypothesizing the dynamics of a relationship. Seeing and observing where you fit in the triangle is can help make relationships stronger, and encourage better understanding.
The best part of a relationship triangle is that both the partners get to perform either of the two roles interchangeably and develop an acceptance of the other person’s roles with an open mind. So, next time she messes up, he will have more tolerance towards her mistakes considering the fact, that she will respond back the same way once they exchange their roles in the triangle.
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