“Bullying, Gossiping and the Devil’s Triangle”
By: Javan
June 24, 2012

gossiping  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.