Mental Health Moments: Relationship Triangles, Raid Teams, and Star Wars

Daniel A. Kaufmann, Ph.D
Dr. Gameology on Twitch & The Gaming Persona Podcast
Owner of Area of Effect Counseling

Communication can get complicated, especially if you only have micro-seconds to pull of the most brutal game mechanics together!

Hi everyone! It’s time for a Mental Health Moment!

This is an idea that came from my raiding in Star Wars the Old Republic, and I wanted to share it with you whether you’re my audience from Twitch, or my students in my classroom … we’re going to talk about relationship triangles.

Now this is something that’s especially damaging because what happens in a triangle is that two people who should be communicating in a linear, two-way fashion bring in a third person and start sending messages through that person to the other party. This is a dangerous thing in families, in couples, in friendships; but also in raid teams. So there is a video game life component to this too.

It’s really important for people to be supportive, understanding, open, honest, and assertive in their communications instead of blaming, toxic, negative, and cowardly.

Image Credit: Bioware (2011) - Star Wars: The Old Republic

When you’re sending important comments and insights through a third party to another person, it’s usually because you’re afraid of the way they will receive it. Over time this can become something that you naturally do. So it’s really important to ask yourself “Why am I bringing in that third party? Am I triangulating?” And, if you are, take the time to build up the courage and kindness to have the conversations you may be avoiding and face them head on. Then the two people who need to be communicating will start communicating.

From a fandom perspective, we see a lot of “relationship triangle kinds of things” in the movie Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. Anakin is trying so hard early in that film to make everyone happy and to get what he wants. Those two goals do not go together very well. And so Chancellor Palpatine ends up becoming a point where messages that should be sent between the Office of the Chancellor to the Jedi Order are now being triangulated to Anakin. By realizing this, the main mistake the Jedi Order makes really begins when they start triangulating Anakin into the situation as well. So now Anakin loses his agency, and he stops being a person that has his own ability to make decisions that are healthy. He’s pushed into a box where all of his decisions have strings attached, and potentially lead to an unhealthy reality. And so the end game of Revenge of the Sith is actually -from a certain point of view- initiated. The outcome is a cautionary tale of how terrible relationship triangles actually are.

The Relationship Triangle consists of the Rescuer, the Victim, and the Persecutor. Each of the roles cause more chaos as the communication breaks down in a way that focuses the confusion on the victim.

So, if you’re doing this to other people, bringing them into your business to deliver messages for you, I would encourage you to ask “Why am I afraid? How can I develop the courage to ask this myself and directly to the right person? Is the worst-case scenario of me having this conversation person-to-person with my message recipient really that dangerous?” And then, just HAVE THE CONVERSATION.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm - Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Even if it goes poorly, that is a better reality than ruining the livelihood of the third person who was brought into it for no reason. If you are that third person, we have a word you can use from psychology called DETRIANGULATION. This concept is how you have the right to say, “I’m not going to deliver that message. This is something that really the two of you need to talk about.” Again, sometimes this has to happen in order for raid teams, couples, intimate relationships, and families to be healthy.

After all, we see what happened to Anakin Skywalker and the Jedi Order, and that’s not ultimately what we would want for anyone that we’re trying to care about (And Defeat Bosses With).

That’s the mental health moment everyone. I hope you enjoyed it! If you’re my students, or my Twitch audience, this is for you.

And as always, remember … Continue the Journey!


Bioware. (2011). Star Wars: The Old Republic, EA Games.

Lucas, G. (2005). Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith 20th Century Fox.

Transcript completed by Shara B. (Moderator for the Dr. Gameology Twitch Channel).

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