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Triangulation. What is it and how to avoid it


Triangulation is when someone brings you into conflict or drama with another person. 

It’s draining and exhausting.

How To Get Out Of The Cycle: 

Triangulation happens when someone tries to pull a third (outside) person into a conflict between two people.

Examples of triangulation:
-beinged asked or forced to take sides
-causing conflict in relationships “x said this about you”
-venting about an issue without directly talking to the person
-sharing private parts of a person’s life that they don’t want shared 

Triangulation is extremely common and most people aren’t aware that they’re doing it. People do this because they feel a sense of connection, a feeling of superiority, and they have a need for control. 

Real Life Examples of Triangulation:
1. You mom calls and says “Your brother says that he’s upset with you, you need to apologize.”

2. A co-worker is complaining to you about an issue they had in a meeting with another co-worker. 

3. A friend is pressuring you to take sides around a fight they had with their partner.

4. A friend tells you a secret about another friend without letting them know. 

5. A partner says “my sister thinks you’re just being difficult” when you come to them about an issue. 

Reminders If You Experience Triangulation:

1. When emotionally healthy people have an issue with someone, they go to them directly.

2. You are not required to take a side in someone else’s issue, ever. 

3. It can feel uncomfortable because it is a subtle form of manipulation. 

4. You teach people how to engage with you, and limits are the way of doing this. 

How To Get Out Of The Cycle:

1. Use “Have You Talked To Them About This?” When someone is venting and complaining about someone, ask them if they’ve spoken to them. If they say no, tell them you think they’d be the best person to talk to. 

2. Don’t react, there are two sides to every experience: remember you’re getting one side of a story. If you don’t know both sides, you aren’t in a place to give feedback. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about this” is enough. 

3. Put a boundary around over-sharing: when someone shares intimate details of someone else’s life, it’s ok to let someone know you’re not comfortable.

“This is something I would rather not know about.” 

4. You don’t need help: if someone is involving themselves in an issue you have with someone else, let them know you don’t need any help. 

5. Stay regulated: it can feel infuriating or activating when people triangulate. Stay regulated, and communicate clearly. You can always control how you respond to other people. 

With practice and consistency, people will learn that you don’t allow yourself to be triangulated. They will respect your boundaries. And, if they don’t you can remove yourself from the situation for your own wellbeing. 

Have you experienced this?

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