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drama triangle antidote

Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle (The Drama triangle ( helps us to recognize and understand what is going on when a relationship seems to have a repeating negative dance.


Acey Choy came up with an antidote to those negative patterns by creating the Winner’s Triangle.


Instead of rescuing, this role is replaced by caring… “I see that you are hurting, and I am sorry”. This validates the other person, and shows that you have heard what they are saying and indicates that you are willing to connect.


Instead of remaining helpless in the victim role we share (as far as is emotionally safe to do) our vulnerabilities and feeling …“I felt upset and misunderstood when… ”. This shows that we are taking responsibility for and owning our feelings, as well as communicating the reason for that.


Instead of the persecutor role, we can choose to be positively assertive (instead of passive or aggressive behaviour) by stating our needs… “I need you to be on time because I get really anxious when I think you will be late.”


So if we find we are stuck in the drama triangle, it can be very helpful for both parties to move to the Winner’s Triangle, using each position in turn to explain how things are for them without being interrupted, the other person listening carefully.

I see that you...

I felt...

I need...


It is not at all easy if one person refuses to engage in a newer and healthier way of relating but (again, as long as it is safe enough a relationship to do so*) we can still take responsibility for our needs, offer authentic concern, and allow ourselves to reveal a little vulnerability, which can often open up a gateway to greater understanding of one another.


*Please note that the Winner’s Triangle will almost certainly not be effective in dialogue with a narcissist or some personality disorders.

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