“So tired, tired of all this drama You go your way, I go my way (no more, no more) I want to be free” Mary J. Blige.
We enter into relationships because of the connection we make with another person. These connections are either platonic or intimate. For example, people enter into marriages, and part of their vow to each other is to stay together for ‘better or worse.” Still, primarily for better. The “worse” enters the relationship when there are conflicts or disagreements. At this point, hopefully, there is enough goodwill to manage the “worse” of the relationship.
If you are familiar with the sitcom Big Bang Theory, you are likely familiar with Drs. Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler’s relationship agreement. The relationship agreement was a 30-page long document drafted by Sheldon after he and Amy became a couple. She had to sign the relationship agreement to remain boyfriend and girlfriend. The relationship agreement had specific acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, even on date nights.
The relationship agreement between Sheldon and Amy seems over the top. But let's think about the idea of a relationship agreement. It seems sensible to do given that it eliminates any grey areas, or it could likely be seen as challenging to maintain, making the relationship somewhat robotic. Most people are probably not like Sheldon and Amy, who has a relationship but rather operate with unwritten rules that come into sharp focus when the rules are broken, then the rules become a thing.
Sometimes two people get to the point of no return where the relationship/marriage is “irretrievably broken” at this point, one or both parties recognize there is no future for the union and think it best to go their separate ways. In other situations, there are “irreconcilable differences,” and neither the husband nor wife think they can resolve their differences, and the best course of action is to divorce.
When relationships work, they are excellent for the individuals involved. It is difficult to coexist amid a messy situation when relationships do not work. According to Steven Karpman’s Drama Triangle, there is an interplay between the roles people assume in the conflict. There is the victim, the rescuer, and the persecutor.
The role a person assumes impacts the relationship and the resolution of the conflict. I want to let you know that the positions are not fixed and depend on the circumstances of the disagreement. One person may play all the roles at different times. The rescuer rescues the perceived victim in the conflict. The rescuer assumes the perceived victim is helpless. The challenge here is that the rescuer does so without the perceived victim’s permission or knowing the person’s needs. The rescuer provides unsolicited advice or solution to the perceived victim’s problem.
Since the rescuer’s intervention was unrequested, the perceived victim’s reaction may leave the rescuer feeling disrespected and victimized for wanting to help. For example, the intervention offered by the rescuer does not adequately solve the victim’s problem. In this situation, the victim becomes the persecutor and the rescuer the victim. In the conflict, the persecutor wields greater power and is often unaware of this power. Therefore uses the power in unhelpful ways that escalate the conflict. At other times, the persecutor is aware of this power and uses it to control the situation.
The roles could be more helpful in conflict resolution. If people are aware of their behavioral patterns in their relationships when dealing with stressful or highly emotionally charged situations. The persecutor tends to blame, is aggressive, and has a sharp tongue. In comparison, the rescuer takes responsibility for others and has trouble saying no to unreasonable demands of others. Victims feel targeted, take no responsibility for their actions, and struggle to solve their issues or make decisions.
The takeaway is that individuals are responsible for their actions, and at no point should you assume responsibility for another person’s behavior. Therefore learn to communicate assertively, set healthy boundaries, and make no assumptions about what you think someone else needs.
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