Curious & Curiouser Podcast, Episode 57:  Unhealthy Relationship Dynamics & How to Recognize When You’re Playing Victim, Rescuer, or Persecutor

Drama Triangle

How do you recognize your role in an unhealthy relationship dynamic? This is the question Tracey and I are asking on this week’s episode of Curious and Curiouser. Using the framework of the drama triangle — a social model originally conceived by Psychologist Stephen Karpman — Tracey and I talk about how to recognize when you’re falling into an unhealthy relationship dynamic, identify which role you are playing, and start moving towards a healthier version of that role.

Tracey and I also talk about which roles we tend towards and our personal experiences of how recognizing these patterns in ourselves and our relationships has shifted the way we interact with the people we love.

This conversation is good, y’all. And full of useful tools you can start using right away in your life. Tracey and I sincerely hope you find it helpful!

If you do, please consider leaving us a 5-star rating or review in iTunes. We are really trying to grow our audience right now and need your help! Leaving a review only takes a few minutes and goes a long way towards helping us reach more people with the show. Thank you!

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Highlights from this episode:

  • The drama triangle:  Persecutor, Rescuer, Victim
  • Therapist Uncensored
  • Tracey’s diagram about the drama triangle
  • How do these roles show up in relationships between two people?
  • What roles have Tracey and Cayly played in their lives most often?
  • Can we play different roles in different relationships?
  • The healthier version of each of these three roles:  Challenger, Coach, Creator
  • What does it take to move to towards the healthier versions?
  • Can a relationship survive if one person moves towards the healthier version and the other doesn’t?
  • How codependency and boundaries intersect with the drama triangle
  • How this can play out between parents and their children, especially victim (child) and rescuer (parent)
  • What happens when adult children grow in emotional maturity beyond where their parents are
  • Adult Children of Emotional Immature Parents
  • Which of these roles is least likely to move towards health?
  • What do the more healthy roles look like? What’s the difference between the coach and the challenger?
  • How this drama triangle can show up in therapeutic relationships
  • Why we’re both skeptical of anyone who claims to have the answer
  • Tracey’s experience with Landmark Forum
  • How growing up in the Mormon church has shaped Cayly’s skepticism
  • Episode 24 about leaving the Mormon church
  • And more!

Piquing Our Curiosity:

Dating Radar:  Why Your Brain Says Yes to “The One” Who Will Make Your Life Hell by Bill Eddy and Megan Hunter. Tracey love this book and recommends it often. It offers tips for recognizing red flags and warning signs in relationships, helping you avoid toxic relationships with high conflict people. Find it here on Amazon.


Remember, if you have any topics or questions you’d like us to address in a future episode, comment here or email us at our joint email account: We’d love to hear from you!

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