There exists a certain Triangle of Dependency that can be used to explain the majority of unhealthy relationships among people. It also sheds some light on why many of us insist on staying in dysfunctional relationships. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see ourselves objectively, especially when the people we’ve come to care about and have invested the time in continue to disappoint and emotionally manipulate us, often without our knowledge.
Note that abuse here is an umbrella term used for any sort of physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological abuse, manipulation, people taking other people for granted; any sort of abusive or negative behaviour.
There are two main patterns created by this Triangle of Dependency. They are essentially energy traps that are hard to break free from but their release is so vital to forming and maintaining healthy, fulfilling relationships whether they are familial, platonic or romantic. Breaking free from these energy traps and having healthy relationships is also crucial for our own happiness. They are called energy traps because they are quite literally a trap and a waste of your time and energy.
The first is a prime example of an abusive relationship that often develops between couples. Person A abuses their partner, Person B. Person B then plays the victim because they have loving feelings towards their abuser. Person A plays the rescuer to the victim, showing Person B the “love” and affection that they so desire from their partner. And thus, the cycle continues again and again. Person B will tolerate the abuse for the love and contentment they feel they receive after they have been a victim to their partner’s abuse.
Another classic example is when you have someone, let’s say Person C, who longs for romance and fulfillment in their life. They are insecure and unhappy with who they are and continuously put themselves down (Abuser). They then feel sorry for themselves (Victim) and constantly look to other people to give them the love they feel they deserve. (Rescuer).
The bottom line is that if you don’t love yourself, your relationships will most likely suffer too. There’s a popular quote taken from Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower that should resonate in terms of the relationships we choose to invest in. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Work on bettering yourself and harbouring positive relationships. The most fulfilling relationships are the ones where you can feel safe, cared for and accepted exactly as you are. True love is unconditional. Love yourself and don’t tolerate negative and abusive behaviour. Above all, love yourself so that no one else has to.