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The Winner’s Triangle – The antithesis to The Drama Triangle.

I had some feedback from a group I’m in that the post about the drama triangle seemed victim shaming. It’s easy to see why, but it isn’t. It’s about accountability. When we are sucked into these conflicts by toxic people, how we respond can either perpetuate or end the situation. By understanding our own behaviour, only then can we change it. So it was never my intention to shame anyone, but merely to explain how vital it is to step back and ask how and if we are contributing to any of these roles, and ‘what I can do differently?’.

With that in mind, I wanted to explain The Winner’s Triangle. It was developed by Acey Choy in 1990. It shows us how we can still have a normal human experience, where we can help people, feel sad for things that have happened for ourselves, or actively get our needs met. The difference is the boundaries. The three roles are:

1. Vulnerable

2. Responsible

3. Potent/Assertive


The vulnerable person allows their emotional process when they’re having a rough time, but knows that they have the resource and abilities to find their own path and get their needs met. They can ask for help but won’t take a ‘No’ as a personal slight. They will respect another’s autonomy to set a boundary.

The skill a vulnerable person has learnt which distinguishes them from a victim role is problem solving.


A responsible person is a caring individual but rather than enabling dependent behaviour, they will encourage empowerment. They will recognise that their help is most effective when showing someone in a vulnerable position that they’re able to stand on their own two feet. They will be able to set healthy and respectful boundaries, being honest about their own needs, and being able to meet them within the responsible role.

The responsible person is able to listen, and allow a vulnerable person the space and room to find their own way.


The potent/assertive position is someone who actively meets their own needs and drives, but unlike a persecutor, they won’t need to do it at the expense of anyone else. They will be good problem solvers and negotiators, finding a way to meet their needs, without shaming, belittling, or picking on others.

Knowing these two theories allows us to shift into healthier relationships, take responsibility for our own behaviour and feelings, and meet our needs without guilt or manipulation.

Any questions or additions?

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