Most of us think that two is the most stable number in relationships.
But every dyad needs a third to stabilize it.
The process of including a third in a dyad is called triangulation.
Triangulation is a natural and unavoidable dynamic that occurs in every relationship.
The problems begin with the triangulation is fixed and rigid. It creates a 'lose-lose' dynamic that prevents all three members from raising differentiation and deepening their relationships.
In this talk, we discuss the phenomenon of triangulation in intimate relationships through examples of our own marriage and from the clinic.
Practical tips will help you lower triangulation in your intimate relationships today.
For registration and more details on our upcoming webinar exploring the relational power dynamic in relationships - click here!
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You want to tango because it takes two, takes two , actually takes three to stabilize a relationship today , we're going to be talking about triangles and triangulation as a basic human relationship process.Speaker 2:
You are listening to the potential state podcast with your hosts, Dr. Sal and gully Romanelli.Speaker 1:
Hi, my name is Dr. Romanelli Romanelli, and this is the essential safe . And today we're gonna talk about this staple . Stablest number is three, try the triangulation as the cement of relationships. So basically it's , this comes from the work of Marie Bowen , who was a family therapist in the fifties. And he basically noticed that in relationships and human relationships partners, there's , there's always going to be this, this, this procedure, this process that when anxiety rises too much and we can't deal with it, we reach out of the relationship. And we triangulate a third party. That reminds me of also what a stale I talks about, about having a third kind of whether literally, or just conceptually having third in the relationship. And usually that third can be a one of our kids. It can be our , our parents that can be a one of our best friends. It can even be a therapist. And what's the idea for the side. There's two, and there's one, that's a bit removed. The second that he gets too hot here and we're not, and we're not able to hold that heat. We're not differentiated enough. Differentiation is my ability to be myself and also to be an intimacy. This is another Murray Bowen concept. You can refer to that episode as well. So we need to kind of regulate ourselves. So the person that's least, that's least comfortable, let's say it's me. I'm going to reach out and reach out to my son, right? Create a coalition with my son. Wait one second . So basically when he rises between the dyad, we pull in a third party to lower that heat and intensity, and also raise the intimacy with a third party to divert our attention, energy, hostility, whatever, all the emotions that are kind of building up here can get dispersed amongst a third party. And then the more she feels comfortable. And now I become the third, right? I become at least less comfortable. And now , now there's tension between me and that third. So basically differentiation is a lose, lose endeavor because it's the side taking . So whatever the third person that person's going to be in tension with my partner, but it's essentially functional. In other words, it happens because it it's functional to the relationship because if we don't know what we're doing with this tension and build up in hostility, if we can disperse, disperse it a little bit, then we can reduce kind of on all fronts, right ? It's , it's unavoidable , it's natural. And when there's less anxiety, it works more fluid. The problem starts when, when relationships have a lot of anxiety and when people are poorly differentiated and there's a rigid triangulation, which doesn't help the diag grow and it creates a losing situation. I see this a lot in the clinic, especially with children, children get to triangulate all the time, especially with divorced families, right? The mom and the dad can't get along. So they start communicate through the kid and they're basically forcing the kid to kind of, to choose, to pick sides and also in couples therapy, right? I am the third. So they triangulate me to try to help, to help me convince and change their partner to be the judge. But the problem with that is it prevents growth. It stabilizes the system, but it , it , it locks people in a small and reactive stabilizes the system by allowing you to divert your attention and kind of hide rather than meat in the crucible. And for a lot of people, they're happy to be triangulated because when you're on the outside, it's cold. So you want to be part of the action, right? But that , that's why it's a, it's a kind of a , it's a vicious cycle. And oftentimes kids that are used to being triangulated will actually create heat tents . I know that my son is going to hit his sister. And then we're both, instead of being angry here, we're both looking at him, both giving him attention and then we're, we're, we're more okay. And usually there are roles, there's the generator. The person that's feels the most anxiety that's trying to provoke the triangulation. Yeah. Sometimes I feel like I'm the generator like when he rises or when I'm trying to think, like too many steps ahead, or I'm noticing that things will kind of spiraling out of my control, then I kind of feel this sense of anxiety or flooding or , uh , and then I, then I noticed that staff for instance, will like, and that he's in the role of the amplifier. So he gets kind of induced into the triangle and he does, he can't hold onto himself enough. So he gets triggered and then the dampener, which is me, which I'm usually more removed I swoop in, but here's the lose lose, right? Who do I slip into if I swoop in with Gilead and he feels alone. And if I swoop in with , and I feel alone and as you can see, it's a loose , loose . So in fact, some Golin kind of lowered her levels of anxiety, but all three of us are gonna lose those situations . Why don't we do, how can we , um, a be more mindful, be not enter kind of such a , I feel like it's turning up the volume on the triangulation because there's always some form of triangle somewhere, but it's a matter of kind of cranking it up or down. And also once we're in it, how can we lower the volume on that? So Marie burn talks about two things, observation and control. So firstly, just knowing this idea of knowing this cop's concept, being with eyes open and seeing when you're triangulating somebody or when you're being triangulated and how does that feel? Usually the induction doesn't happen verbally and overtly , it's usually a more nonverbal and emotional you'll suddenly feel very well . You'll feel angry towards somebody or you'll be charmed. I was like, wow, I love her so much. What is he doing with her? Like, you'll feel like you're naturally gravitating to take sides . You weren't being, trying to live . So first of all, it was observation. Yeah. So I'll give an example that the other day I was kind of feeling , um, a little , um , activated by a conversation that I had with my mom. And I noticed that a lot of times I'll turn to my siblings to kind of reduce levy mom. Um, I'll reduce kind of anxiety or hostility through sharing with them because you know, the triangle, there were so clear, like they know her, they know the dance, they know what it's like. And so that I can just kind of offload onto them. And this time I did something different because I was kind of mindful and aware of it. I wrote to my brother and I was like, I know that I'm trying to relating you, but which I know kind of negates the whole point, but at least I was kind of mindful. And it also allowed him to be mindful that I was kind of pulling him in. So I think that kind of being able to name it, to tame it right, is, is crucial as a first step, at least to cranking down the volume . And the second step is control, right? Be connected to yourself, being grounded, responding, don't get in , don't get triggered so much. You can have your opinion, but the second you try to judge convince, fix , educate. You are basically being triangulated. So the best way to do is observe that maintain the sense of humor in play. And this is really important. Stay in touch with both sides. The second you don't talk to somebody for years on Anna for months, you're basically being triangulate . But I think that's, that's kind of , um, that's really important advice for the person who is being triangulated. I think for the person who, whose default is to go to a third party to triangulate, right? If this kind of heats up to go to the third is to be aware and like, realize, Oh, what's what's happening. Like, how am I feeling this? Am I getting flooded? Why am I getting flooded? And it might even be to take a few minutes and kind of remove yourself rather than kind of go to a third, but like maybe find an external kind of outlet running, talking to yourself , listening to like, to remove and reduce hostility that one so that you can come back to the crucible and the diet and like work . I'll give you an example. I'm working with a couple a few years ago and they were living at her with her mom. So what haven't had a built-in triangle. So every time I got it got two tenths between her and her husband she'd go in and cry her mom and her mom that would obviously take her aside and the animosity between her and the husband. And there was just a being locked in this triangle. And the solution for them was to actually move out, to take out the third to de triangulate the mother. But I'm reminding you that if you're in this dance, the third is more willing and able and almost ready. And you can see this with tasks . The second I'd like, as I said before, the second get tense here , he hits his sister. He's already pulling attention. He's triangulating himself, even though we didn't ask, right? So you will never be able to completely be triangulate, but every little step you do helps the whole system raise differentiation, basically learning how to control the dial of the volume on the triangle, because it's going to be there, right? There's always the volume dial. It's just how much to crank it up. And if you realize that you can, you are the one that controls it. That's you're ahead of the game and you'll grow. So that was the Lee Romanelli potential state .Speaker 2:
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