Do you know someone who uses humor, gossiping, or backstabbing to address their inner anger towards someone else? Gossiping, judging, getting someone else to be angry with you towards a third party is part of what is called “Triangulating” in the recovery world.
Triangling is when a conflict is being avoided between person A and B, but person A feels upset and does not address the conflict with person B. Person A doesn’t feel motivated or comfortable to talk it over with person B, so person A discusses it with person C. Now person C is carrying anger or irritation for person B, but person B has no idea why person C or person A is upset with them. Now the circle of conflict and discomfort has grown among more than two people. The relationship between person B and C is now negatively impacted without B’s understanding or knowledge.
Person A may feel some relief for the short term, but will continue to struggle with person B until the issue is addressed. This behavior is indicative of intimaccy issues. By avoiding conflict, person A does not have to be intimate and honest with themselves about their feelings about themselves or the other person. Person A can avoid the uncomfortableness of an honest conversation, which is part of intimacy.
So why does a person choose this behavior? It stems from being insecure or not trusting your inner self. Attempting to make someone else feel your anger can stem from shame, abandonment, co-dependency and a childhood family systems model that says that conflict is not safe.
This is unhealthy for person A and B, not to mention person C. Person A
is self-abandoning by not learning to resolve the conflict directly with the source of their anger or frustration. This is how we learn about ourselves, so when person A does not use this opportunity to address the issue directly, person A does not understand themselves and their reactions. Person B also does not have an opportunity to learn from the issue or become aware of the issue. Person C becomes the “middle man” and is incorrectly inserted into the relationship between person A and B. The relationship between friends and family in this type of triangle can become strained over time and self-implode.
Triangling is also unhealthy as it allows for person A to not be responsible for their reactions to a given situation. The focus on the outside world for comfort can be self-abandoning and continues the cycle for person A of being unable to trust their judgements. This can lead to relationships ending, affairs, and other intimact issues of avoidance and cut-off. This is not a skill to be used in any relationship. Address your issues!
Come into Marriage Counseling at Family Tree Counseling, serving the Indianapolis area, to learn how to stop sabotaging your relationship.