Using a Love Triangle to Ease Tension

Learn how to recognize your Hero, Victim, and Villain.


Illustration Credit: The Party (detail) by Vivienne Strauss

Recently, my husband and I decided to purchase our first home together, and I set about educating myself about the market. I trolled the Internet for hours and shamelessly peeked into empty (and sometimes inhabited) properties, trying to imagine myself living there. I treated every new “house for sale” sign like a dog spotting a squirrel, so it didn’t take long to notice a pattern develop between us: Me looking through rose-colored possibility glasses, my husband seeing immediate flaws.Me: Wow, look at this view.He: We’re right across from the power station.Me: Check out the kitchen in this one.He: Your neighbors are only 10 feet away.It soon became touchy. No matter how often I asked him to remain open while I “tried on” different houses, he couldn’t bring himself to waste his energy on an obvious “No.” We were in what is called a “persona lock.”Personas are an extension of the Drama Triangle (see sidebar below), a system for understanding social and psychological interactions that was made popular by transactional analyst Stephen Karpman, MD. Hero, Victim, and Villain—my adaptation of Karpman’s three …

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Relationship AdviceCouplesStressLove Advice