After reading about self-differentiation two posts ago, I have been thinking about the relationship triangulation that occurs during troubled relationships. To put it most positively, a wounded party can seek support from a third person. The negative thing that can happen is that a wounded person gets revenge on the wounder by making an alliance with someone else and leaving the perceived wounder on the outside. Both parties can compete for the favor, affirmation, and support of the newly brought in person. No one is upset about alliances in a just war, I must point out. This would be where there is pathological abuse, manipulation, or neglect going on. Of course people can be wrong about their perceptions of these just causes, and a third person can try to step in and correct those miss-perceptions on both sides.

But what are the goals of the third person? What are his or her preconceived notions? Is her foremost self-identity being a fixer who wants to further this reputation? Are they a friend who considers loyalty to be the highest virtue, even when someone is getting hurt beyond what should be allowed? Are they so insecure that they ally themselves with the strongest party, right or wrong? Strength can be assessed as being the best communicator, the strongest personality, the most popular, the one with control of the money, or other things. And is the third person really able to evaluate what is going on? Relationships are very complicated. Who to trust? How much trust should be put in people anyway? What are the lines that should be drawn?

I think the safest place is to be on the outside. Either the unpopular third person, or sometimes, completely out of the triangle. It’s too easy to become co-dependent on the other two people. Not only the co-dependence of compromising yourself to keep an ally, but also by being psychologically dependent on not being the third man out, thus becoming someone’s pawn.

Triangles are only healthy if all three members are equally unselfish and looking out for the other two. And that takes divine energy. Or even if one goes astray, the other two leave their flocks and search after him. At least in spirit so as not to succumb to the third’s manipulations. Lord have mercy.

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