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Old 02-25-2010, 05:06 PM
JustAGirl JustAGirl is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 11
Default Triangulation??

I'm shocked and surprised.

Maybe there's a different word you guys are using for this concept, but I thought a Poly site would be rife with conversations about it.

What's Triangulation?

Simply put, bringing someone else into a disagreement that one should be handling themselves.

Here's a story to explain it:

Person A has a disagreement or some trouble with Person B. Person B does something Person A doesn't like.

Person A does not (or cannot) resolve this with Person B, but instead approaches Person C to talk about their problem with Person B.

Sometimes Person A is hoping Person C will do or say something on their behalf, sometimes Person A is just looking for righteous justification about how wronged they feel in order to help quell the niggling feeling that they should really deal with the problem directly.

In this scenario, Person A is triangulating Person C into a problem that exists between Person A and Person B.


I once lived with my husband and my best friend in a house, for about three years.

My best friend was not involved sexually with either of us but I love her like a sister, and my husband was physically attracted to her and at one point had hoped she'd agree to Poly with us.

My husband and best friend grated against each other regularly - she is sarcastic and edgy and he never did figure out how to deal with it.

Early on when he'd talk to me about his problems with her, I would listen sympathetically and then try to help him find some ways to deal with her without getting to the point of feeling upset like he obviously was feeling.

Unfortunately, me trying to guide him to find his own solutions resulted in him getting mad at me, and then we'd fight. He figured since she was MY best friend that I should have a talk with her and get her to treat him with more respect, but he was never confident enough to come out and SAY that - he just pouted and gave me the silent treatment and stomped around the house for a few days.

(Note, all members of the household are over 25 at this point).

My (now ex-)husband and I had a number of stand-offs about this topic. I didn't believe it was my responsibility to teach others how to treat him, and he resented me for many years - even after our divorce.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with triangulation and how you dealt with them successfully.

In a way, I think getting divorced was a successful experience with standing up to triangulation (and other boundary issues), but now I'd like to attract a healthy, happy, respectful and responsible relationship (or three) and I'd love to hear success stories that didn't involve setting oneself free
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Old 02-26-2010, 04:14 AM
Quath Quath is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 504

When I was in a triad, we had to learn that if person A and B were having an issue, do not bring person C into it. If it were a minor disagreement, person C may be useful to help bridge preception problems or by helping with suggestions. But if it got heated at all, person C should back out and A and B should not try to pull that person back in.

But like all good life lessons, it sometimes takes several tries before I relearn them. My wife's best friend stayed with us for several months. I tried to help out in an argument between them and realized why the rule was made way back in my former triad.

I remember once getting into a fight with my wife and she said, "let's get another opinion." He friend suddenly gave us a paniced look. It was actually pretty funny.
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Old 02-26-2010, 06:47 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Location: Canada
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Originally Posted by JustAGirl View Post
I didn't believe it was my responsibility to teach others how to treat him, and he resented me for many years - even after our divorce.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with triangulation and how you dealt with them successfully.
I'm racking my brain trying to think of examples of triangulation in my own life, and coming up quite astonished that I can't remember ever having been put in this position!

But for the first part of what I quoted, I think we teach people how to treat us, by how we allow them to treat us. Your ex wasn't a child and you weren't his mom, so it's not your job to tell people, even if they're your friend, how to treat him. Especially if that friend is also his roommate, then he needed to learn to communicate with her, by himself. But by the sounds of it, he also didn't communicate with you very well, so that's all wrapped up together.

Hmm, upon thinking a little harder, I wonder if I don't sometimes do this myself though, when it comes to my step-daughter. She's 16 now, she was 13 when I met her dad, and I've never felt it was my place to "tell her what to do" because she was already fairly well established "as a person" and I didn't think she was going to take some new chick (who was already taking over a lot of her dad's time) also trying to act like her parent. But I can think of a few examples early on where I would ask him to tell her something rather than telling her myself. I think that was also wrapped up in "I don't want her to hate me" which I don't normally care about with random people, but seemed to matter a lot with the daughter of my partner. I'm a lot more comfortable with her now, and more comfortable in my role (whatever it is) and definitely a lot more comfortable saying "this is my home, and when you come stay here, I have certain expectations."

I know that's not really what you asked, but maybe it helps to have a little insight "from the other side." And from the other side, having grown a lot in the past three years, my opinion is that it's the responsibility of persons A and B to learn to communicate without needing person C as a messenger.
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:02 PM
Ilove2men Ilove2men is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2009
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Being a person who likes to handle my own problems I've never asked someone to tell so and so to stop doing this or that. Its silly to me.

My fiance did this when I first came out as poly. He didn't want to speak to my now boyfriend at all, but he tried to communicate with him through me. I went with it for a little while, relaying messages back and forth and then enough was enough and I said I wasn't going to be a middle man anymore. They both knew what the issues were so they were stuck with eachother to figure it out.

I think in our relationship its important that we all feel we can talk about issues in confidence with one another. But the way we do it is, lets say I am having an issue with my fiance, I talk to my boyfriend about the issue and my boyfriend doesn't involve his own feelings into the mix and tries to be unbiased in his 2 cents about the situation. If theres an issue between my 2 boys, I listen to both and give my honest opinion as an outsider. When doing this I (early on) would cut out any passive aggressive comments or disresect one had for the other so I wouldn't try to come to the other's rescue so to speak.

It works for us because we are all the kind that becomes affected when things happen and its hard to hide even the smallest issues. So one mishap affects the whole group and thus I see that everyone KNOW what's going on. But theres a big difference in that and tucking your tail in between your legs and making others deal with things you should be handling.

Oh and SchrodingersCat, that's always a common thing with children that are not our own. Whether its a new step child or a naughty kid at a birthday party, its best to take it up with the parent. 1) kids are impressionable and 2) no one wants to get bit by a momma wolf! lol

Last edited by Ilove2men; 02-26-2010 at 05:39 PM. Reason: Major Typos!
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Old 02-26-2010, 09:16 PM
JustAGirl JustAGirl is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 11

Wow, this is great stuff!

It's kind of like these are things I already know and understand, but somehow I got a little lost along the way - confused. My picture of things got muddled.

It'll be nice to read this forum and see the suggestions and stories people offer regarding their successful poly relationships

Thank you for sharing!

PS: I agree that when it comes to someone else's teen, it's delicate. If the teen was an adult or you never showed interest in learning a way to work with this teen to get past the point of needing to relay through your husband it would be different. I think you've done good
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boundaries, control, triangulation

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