In psychology, there is a term named “manipulative triangle”, which references mostly to a codependent relationship. It consists of Persecutor, Victim, and Rescuer. Its creator, oddly enough, is always the Victim.
This is a person who has thrown responsibility for her life onto others and sincerely believes that the Persecutor is the cause of all her failures, the root of all evil in her life. Usually, there is a so-called Rescuer in such a relationship.
This game is destructive, but there is a certain “benefit” to all participants in it. Otherwise, they would not have participated in it. Remember that you can always voluntarily exit a wrong relationship.
Who benefits from this?
Hiding behind a persecutor who “destroyed” her life, offends and oppresses her, the victim thus discards the responsibility for his own life, for all his failures. The presence of the rescuer confirms the correctness of the victim’s behavior. Thanks to the rescuer, she sees herself as a kind of “righteous martyr”, a sufferer. But he is not going to change anything.
The rescuer also feels right and valuable in trying to help the victim solve her problem. But in fact, he is not able to do it. It is possible to truly help the victim only by leaving the “manipulation triangle”.
How not to be in such a relationship? Above all, let those around you take responsibility for their lives. Each of us has his own vision of the world, and therefore everyone has the right to choose how to solve certain problems, and how to live. If you are trying to “save” someone, it will never end well.
When you do not trust a person with responsibility for themselves, codependency is formed. It always means control and management. If the family constantly quarrels, if there is assault, psychological pressure, if someone is constantly humiliated, if insults are heard, and family members are fighting for power among themselves, all this speaks of codependency.
If someone in the family drinks, takes drugs, or suffers from other addictions, and the rest of its members are trying to save such a person, then this is codependency.
It also happens that it is codependent, manipulative relationships that are the primary reason that someone in the family is addicted to bad habits.
Consider the types of codependent relationships.
Sacrificial love through self-denial.
This happens when one of the partners worships his half and completely devotes his life to her. Such a person selflessly forgets about himself, his personality and needs and lives only as a partner and for a partner, dissolving in him. He believes that he is superior to him in everything – he is smarter and more talented, and more beautiful, and so on. He sees himself as a dependent, incapable of anything, unworthy. “Without him, I am nothing,” says this codependent partner. The word of this “deity” for him is the law, any whim is fulfilled without question. He seems to be giving up his personality: he does not have his own goals, desires. He even looks at the world through the prism of the adored partner’s perception.
Such relationships are often found in marriages, where, for example, the husband is a businessman, and the wife completely devoted her life to him, dissolving in him and living only in his interests. Usually, she chooses the role of a housewife completely dependent on her husband.
At first glance, it may seem that this love is an ideal example of loyalty, devotion, kindness. “How lucky he is, she loves him so much!” – people around usually say. And often it is they who become those rescuers who attribute to the loving sufferer the role of an angel in the flesh. The sufferer himself believes in this, reveling in his voluntary suffering and sacrifice. If you look deeper, is it love? Or the masochist’s narcissism of his suffering?
How does the stalker feel? Of course, deep guilt, first of all. Which keeps him in a codependent relationship for many years.
Love through control and suppression.
This option is most often found in couples where one of the partners suffers from some type of addiction – alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, etc. A typical example is a drinking husband and a sufferer spouse who controls him in everything, and the whole family rests on her. Usually, such a wife feels and demonstrates her superiority over her husband. After all, she is stronger and more responsible, and in everything she surpasses, and without her, he will simply disappear. She believes that only she knows how best to act and where to send a careless, drinking husband. She sincerely believes that without her husband would have disappeared long ago, died, drank himself to death.
Such an active and responsible partner voluntarily took responsibility for the lives of both on himself, justifying this by the fact that only he knows what is best. The goals and desires of the weaker partner are controlled or not taken into account. He is repressed and forced to do what he thinks is most right for him.
But such a strong spouse does not think about the fact that in this way she automatically removes responsibility from her husband. She herself does not allow him to show independence and responsibility for himself. She often complains to others about this. But in fact, she is afraid that the partner will suddenly become independent: after all, then her importance will be lost in her own eyes.
What is left for the partner to do? Justify the custody and care of the wife. He understands that there is no responsibility on him, and begins to do what he wants: he is addicted to alcohol, drugs, or other types of addictions.
The love of the tyrant and the victim.
In such a union, one partner completely suppresses the other, subjugates, and psychologically destroys him. The tyrant feels his complete superiority over the victim and believes that this gives him the right to completely suppress her interests. He expects complete submission, believes that he can do whatever he wants with his victim. The tyrant is sincerely convinced that his victim is nobody and nothing without him.
Often in such unions, there is not only psychological but also physical violence. The root of this attitude of the tyrant towards the victim can be deep trauma in the past, where he himself was suppressed and tortured. On his victim, he takes out his pain from the past.
Such a relationship is also beneficial for the victim. Showing external obedience, submitting to the tyrant, and feeding his pride, she skillfully manipulates him and achieves her goals from him. And these are not always true blessings. This kind of relationship gives her a sense of meaning. Indeed, for those around her, she is a humble righteous sufferer.
Partner as confirmation of their own worth.
This is a type of codependent relationship when one of the partners requires the other to constantly confirm their own significance. The codependent looks into a partner as if in a mirror and waits for constant admiration, adoration, praise, every minute confirmation of his value and ideality from another. “He should take care of me and give me flowers”, “He should compliment me”, “He should confess his love to me every day, say how beautiful, smart and ideal I am”. The codependent partner sincerely expects from the other that he will guess all his needs and fulfill whims, admire and adore him, sincerely love and constant care. This is the only way he feels needed and loved.
But the problem is that not a single person is able to permanently confirm his significance. Yes, this can happen in the early stages of a relationship, when both are experiencing the euphoria of falling in love. But no one can keep this on a permanent basis. When the partner doesn’t get what they want, they feel anger and frustration.
It all ends very badly. Or the union breaks up, and the codependent partner begins to look for other “mirrors” in which he, again and again, seeks confirmation of his value. Sometimes he starts dating several partners at once because one “admiring” is not enough for him. The second possible outcome (which is much worse) is when the codependent begins to achieve the desired by manipulation and blackmail. Example: “since you don’t do this, then you don’t love/appreciate/respect me anymore”.
These are, perhaps, the main types of codependent relationships. Is there love in them? Definitely not. This relationship is an attempt by partners to compensate for their feelings of inadequacy, take out their traumas, fill the inner emptiness, and drown out the pain with the help of a loved one. They expect him to solve their psychological problems, instead of working on them on their own. But no partner can give them what they want, and problems and injuries do not go anywhere.
Codependent people always experience and suffer. Having no inner love for themselves, they try to fill this void with other people’s love for them. But this does not satisfy them, because no one person can give them what they want. Not loving themselves, they cannot love others. Even in a relationship, they are doomed to experience eternal feelings of loneliness. They rarely feel the joy of life, all their thoughts and feelings revolve around other people.
How to get out of this vicious circle? Until a codependent person finds inner harmony and love for himself, does not work out his problems and traumas, he will not be able to build full-fledged harmonious relationships with other people. This is best done with the help of a psychologist or psychotherapist.
Stages of exit from codependent relationships:
- Describe the relationship as a whole.
Identify what you are not comfortable with, what disagreements you have with your partner.
- Define your role.
Be clear about your role in your union. Are you a victim or a tyrant? The role is not always unambiguous. Therefore, make a list of what emotions you experience most often when communicating with your partner – this will make it easier for you to identify them.
- Get out of the triangle of codependency.
Mentally draw a triangle on the floor and stand in this area. Remember your experiences, the emotions that you experience in these difficult relationships, realize what exactly you are unhappy with, what makes you suffer. After that, exit the delineated area. Free yourself mentally from everything that tormented you when you were in the triangle. Walk around the room looking for an area that is more comfortable for you and stop there.
Analyze and compare the emotions that you experienced when you stood in the triangle and that you experience now that you mentally stepped outside of it. What changed?
- Tune in to the future.
Imagine how you see the ideal relationship with this person. Think about what needs to be changed in your relationship to make it harmonious? It is best to write a list on paper, where it will be clearly described, point by point, what you want to change.
Then think about how it will change your life and will it harm the changes? I am waiting for you for consultations.