Triangle Drama Roles:

  • The Rescuer – This person tends to look for people or situations to save and are quick to jump-in and save the day for others. By fixing and saving others, a Rescuer believes they will be appreciated and valued for their good deeds. They tend to enable others, say YES when they really want to say NO in the name of "sacrifice". They usually feel powerful during crisis situations so to feel needed and valued for their heroic gesture. They often do not take ​responsibility for their own needs.

    Rescuers may have had alcoholic or sick parent(s) whom they had to take care for while growing up. Parent were either neglectful, emotionally unavailable and/or displayed some level of abuse.​​

  • The Persecutor - This person tends to feel powerful being critical towards others, and discounts others as weak or stupid. Does not take responsibility for their own feelings nor their own participation in the problem(s). There is a tendency to feel superior, and knows-it-all, often using statements like you should or shouldn't have done, it's all you're fault... Is often controlling, blaming, oppressive, angry, and rigid in their thinking. Persecutors believe they must win and convince others that they are right at all cost. They have little compassion for other’s perspective or way of doing things.

    Their childhood may have been chaotic, or unsafe. Sometimes were harshly disciplined with corporal punishment, or parents completely lacked boundaries. As adults, they developed a controlling role to minimize any type of chaos.

  • The Poor Me - This person tends to feel and act easily hurt and powerless during disagreements and in life in general.  Does not take responsibility for their own feelings nor their own participation in the problem(s). Tend to blame/accuse others for their "poor me stories"say things like "They did this TO me" to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, finding it easier to blame others or their circumstances. Suffering is a perpetual state for Victimy people because at the heart of their mentality is a belief that they can never have what they want. As a result they are filled with hopelessness and self-pity. Interestingly enough these feelings create an odd state of entitlement and specialness for what they don’t have.

    As young children, they may have had abusive parents, or seen domestic violence and/or experience sexual violence growing up.  Parents may not have been protective or unresponsive. Children learn to develop a sense of helplessness early on.

The reality is most of us, whether we’re are aware or not, respond to relationship challenges via this triangle, and it sucks. And what’s even more interesting is that most of us have a role we typically default to when tension and issues arise. 
Some people act out these different roles at a much more extreme level:

The Persecutor becomes the bully/ abuser; the Rescuer is the GOOD guy, the best student, the go to guy; the helpless victim becomes victimized in adulthood too. AND we become really good at manipulating others into the drama roles so we get our needs met...

Getting out of the triangle

1.     First and foremost, we must become aware and ACCEPT the fact that we have fallen into a ROLE in the drama triangle. That’s right! If we’re playing the role of the Victim (or Rescuer, or Persecutor), admit it to yourself. We can’t stop the behavior and the thought patterns and move out of the power struggle (the drama), if we aren’t willing to admit there’s a co-created dynamic at play.

2.     Second, once we’ve done that, we need to stop participating in the drama and resist AT ALL COSTS the roles we engage ourselves in. We take responsibility for our part of the drama and we stop playing the part of the Victim, Rescuer or the Persecutor.

***Giving up our role in the triangle is an action, not a discussion. It isn’t something we announce to the other person. It isn’t something we negotiate with the other person. It isn’t something we use to threaten the other person with. It is all personal accountability only.

We stop participating in the merry-go-round; we stop arguing, we stop worrying about what the other person will do next, we stop expecting the other person to fulfill our needs. This does not mean that we have to stop caring about or loving the other person. But it does mean we change from being a Persecutor, Victim or Rescuer in our interactions, and instead make choices and take actions that work better for us and may even work better for our relationship with others.

3.    Next, we stop struggling RIGHT NOW against the other participants in the triangle. We don’t yield to them, either. Instead we make a countermove. As an example, we do so by acknowledging their opinion, their thoughts, their behavior – their whatevers – in a neutral manor, and then we ask something that puts the focus back on them.

For instance, the other day a woman I know who tends to start fights, attempted to do so when I expressed an opinion about a movie. I didn’t respond to her tone or invitation for a fight. Instead I acknowledged her strong feelings about the movie. I said, “you have a lot of strong feelings about this movie. Would you like to share something more about that?” She continued trying to bait me into a fight and I simply continued being neutral and not go to a persecutor to Rescuer mode. Eventually she just gave up the fight. If we successfully stay in a neutral position, usually the opponent will back off rather than risking unmasking themselves and their exaggerated role.

4.    We also begin to break away from needing to be right and superior or inferior in our relationships. Almost all of these conflicts are grounded and constructed in the tension of who is better than or worse than; who is right and who is wrong; who deserves blame and who is defenseless, etc.

IT's ALL ABOUT EGO... If we want to stop the drama, we need to stop putting ourselves and others in the one-up or one-down position. Meaning stop being so competitive with your spouse, friends or children! This is not a competition! 

So what does it look like when you are done and OUT of the Drama Triangle? It looks like this:

Healthier roles: These roles are CONSCIOUS and need to be practiced:

  • Accept the situation you’re in and take responsibility for the part you played in
    the presenting "problems". You have agency.

  • Assert and express ourself clearly and calmly rather than punish / blame / accuse / complain or whine. 
    Instead, we give up the need to intimidate or manipulate others to do what we want. 

  • We set firmer boundaries by saying NO once in a while, so we take care of ourselves first.

  • We give constructive feedback or simply need to listen a little more to others. 

  • We boost up the people we love instead of down.

  • We take appropriate Time-Outs when frustration is escalating because we respect our relationships.

  • Choose to be kinder with yourself and others instead of needing to be "right". Just let go of the Ego.

  • Allow others to have their feelings and their emotions.

  • Allow space without needing to fix or insert yourself in other people's emotional process or business!. 

  • Allow people to solve their own problems and deal with their feelings as they choose.

  • ​​We become pro-active in taking care of ourselves better so we can be more balanced in our mind and body when we are with others.

  • Show genuine vulnerability, instead of being a victim, instead of believing you’re ​helpless.

  • Try asking directly for help if you can't figure things out yourself.

  • Remember that you are responsible for your own feelings, your own works and own part of the problem(s).

  • Focus on being part of the solution, not the problem.

  • To put real thought into express yourself clearly and respectfully.

  • Its ok to ask for what you want/need but we also accept the fact that we don't always get what we want or ask for. And it's ok.

  • Be more supportive by listening or showing compassion instead of rescuing. Fear and guilt allow us to be manipulated into taking care of another person.

  • Provide help or support ONLY if the person asks for it and is taking the lead themselves. We give others the respect of letting them take care of themselves.

  • Recognize others as equal (not someone who is weak, or stupid). If we want respect, we act in respectful ways first. Model what you want.

REMEMBER, You have the right to:

  1. express your opinion
  2. say “no”
  3. make mistakes
  4. change your mind
  5. disagree with others
  6. ask for what you want
  7. be treated with respect
  8. not take responsibility for other people’s problems




​Says "Poor me, this is always happening to me, You are doing this to me"


The Drama Triangle describes dysfunctional relationships where the people in  relationships shift between three roles, Persecutor, Rescuer, and Victim, all held in place by guilt and blame....All, to avoid personal responsibility. 

When you find yourself stuck in a self-defeating or self-serving role, it’s horribly easy to end up in an extreme state that doesn’t help anyone, neither you nor the people you’re interacting with. The idea is to move away from the extreme edges of the triangle towards the centre, where there’s a much healthier and more positive balance.

By doing this we move from being an oppressive persecutor to an assertive person with good boundaries. We shift from playing the role of helpless victim to a less vulnerable state of self-awareness. We stop being self-sacrificing rescuers and move towards attunement and compassion.

  • You assert rather than persecute
  • You are vulnerable but you’re not a victim
  • You are caring but you don’t overstep the mark



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Self-Sabotaging roles



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