Triangulation is introducing a third person into your relationship. When the narcissist you are related to does it, it is narcissistic triangulation.
Narcissistic triangulation is emotional abuse, by any standard. It is crucial to spot this manipulation early on.
Why you must stop narcissistic triangulation?
Narcissistic triangulation must be stopped immediately because it can make the victim feel confused, unwanted, competitive, more servile to the narcissist abuser, and even planning to harm them.
When the narcissist triangulates your relationship, be well aware that they are purposefully trying to instill jealousy and insecurity in you.
Victims of narcissistic triangulation often feel betrayed and isolated. They may also be made to believe that they themselves are the source of their problems.
How To Stop Narcissist Triangulation
Your best bet is this: When caught up in a drama triangle, refuse to play any part in it.
Stop playing the victim, stop blaming others, and stop trying to fix other people’s relationships.
Here are four steps to handle the toxic narcissistic triangulation:
1. Recognize Narcissistic Triangulation Early
Awareness of the fact that they might be triangulating can push you to examine the issue in detail.
Start observing their words minutely to see if they are using a third person’s reference to put you down.
Of course, it is more obvious if they bring home that third person and share with them your relationship issues. You can hear them pointing out your flaws to the rescuer person.
Recognizing that they are triangulating will help ease your sense of guilt. It can help you realize that they are the problematic ones, not you.
2. Reach Out To The Third Person
Actively seek opportunities to reach out to the third person and talk with them.
Tell them what the narcissist has told you about them. Ask that they share with you their impression of you based on the narcissist’s version.
A narcissist will often triangulate you with someone who is more powerful than you. Then the narcissist stands back and watches the authoritarian figure beat you into submission.
In any case, your goals are to know each other better, clarify your stand to the other person, and work through your misunderstandings.
Take the time to explain why their presence isn’t helping, and emphasize your role in the partnership.
Be cautious, however, that it could be dangerous reaching out to a third person to discuss your issues, as it may unmask the narcissist. It may cause the narcissist to explode in a typical narcissistic rage.
3. Break Away From The Narcissist
Most counselors specializing in narcissism suggest that going “No Contact” with the narcissist is the best way to deal with their narcissistic abuse.
Breaking off all contact with them is the decisive step toward putting an end to narcissistic triangulation and all other forms of narcissistic abuse. A temporary time away from each other will not work; only a clean cut.
To keep your future safe from the narcissist’s reach, block them once you cut the relationship.
Prevent them from contacting you in any way, including phone calls, messaging, social media, messengers, and even common friends.
Stop all any future chance meetings with them. Avoid going to places where they are likely to be. Try to minimize your interactions with mutual friends when you split up with the narcissist.
Involve the police if they stalk you.
4. Make Them Agree To Your Boundaries
If you cannot break away from them, as when working in the same office, or parenting children with them, set these six new boundaries.
Make them know about the new boundaries and get them to agree to your honor them.
Getting them to agree is of utmost importance because they usually find it hard to backtrack from commitments.
Let at least some people around know about the new boundaries you have set for them. This is essential as narcissists are wary of losing public respect.
Why Do Narcissists Triangulate
Narcissist triangulation creates the drama triangle, with the victim, the persecutor, and the rescuer on three corners.
The narcissist introduces the rescuer to make the victim feel insecure and jealous.
As the victim feels competed against, they become even more desperate to cling to the narcissist.
The narcissist will also gaslight the victim while triangulating.
The idea is to make them feel bad about how others perceive them. This turns the victim distrustful of any person other than the narcissist. Those other persons could be an ex-partner, family, friends, colleagues, or their counselors.
Narcissists triangulate to gain ultimate control over you. In fact, they are obsessed with controlling other people in their lives.
Narcissists often triangulate their children. They put the child in a dilemma by asking to name their preferred parent.,
“Who loves you more, mama or papa? Who do you prefer to spend your time with?”– A narcissist parent
A healthy child loves both parents and wants the love of both parents.
However, when a child is forced to express a preference for one parent, the child is turned into a prize to be won in the spousal struggle.
In response to divorce, the narcissistic personality parent will frequently use psychological manipulation to “triangulate” the child into the spousal conflict.
They will attempt to control the child’s “thoughts, feelings, and relationship to parents” in order to fix the failing psychological structure of the narcissistic parent (C. A. Childress, 2016).
Signs of Narcissistic Triangulation
Narcissistic triangulations can be difficult to spot at first.
You are so perplexed and insecure that you do not notice that they are doing it deliberately. However, the narcissist always makes sure that you know what’s happening.
Here are some tell-tale signs that can help you identify if they are triangulating you:
- Narcissistic triangulation involves the narcissist using another person to make you feel unstable and insecure in the relationship. They may openly flirt with others to make you jealous.
- They might show up late for dates or not show up at all, and not explain it. It makes you suspect that there is someone they went to meet. But they won’t confirm or deny it.
- They might start ignoring friends and family, and would not explain why. They make it a point to wait till you declare your intentions to go somewhere with them. Then they tell you that they are not available on that date.
- They will try to make themselves seem more desirable by making it appear as if they have a lot of potential or showing their good side to the other person.
- They might be angry, irritable, or secretive, and hide things from you. This is often a thinly veiled attempt – they make sure you notice that they are hiding things from you increasingly.
- They might have a sudden change in personality and become distant from you. It could be an elaborate show, beginning with them caring about you on a certain day, like your birthday. Then, by evening, they suddenly become distant and even leave at short notice.
- You might notice they are always busy with their phones while at home. They take their mobiles to the washroom, and, if they had forgotten their phone at home, they may even drive back halfway from the office to retrieve it.
- Of course, they always keep their phones, safes, and drawers locked, and never reveal the passcodes.
- Children’s Triangulation during Inter-Parental Conflict: Which Role for Maternal and Paternal Parenting Stress? – Elena Camisasca, Sarah Miragoli & Paola Di Blasio, 2019
- Coparenting, Parenting Stress, and Authoritative Parenting among Hong Kong Chinese Mothers and Fathers – Eva Yi Hung Lau & Thomas G. Power, 2019
- Is Parent-Initiated Triangulation Associated with Pathological Narcissism in Youth? – LM Lee-Rowland, 2019
- “Now I Can See Things for What They Are”: The Experiences of Adult Children of Narcissists – Komal Jagasia, Peter Saunders & Louise Roufeil, 2022
Any type of narcissistic abuse aims to keep the narcissist in power and control their victims more.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissistic person, please spot triangulation early and prevent this type of abuse from ruining your sanity.
Reach out to friends and family who support you.
Even if you have no one to turn to, leave them and go solo. Most narcissist abuse survivors hold that being alone is far better than being with a narcissist.
Take the help of mental health professional whenever you feel you cannot handle it.
• • •
- What Is Narcissistic Mirroring (What Makes It So Distinct)
- How Do Narcissists React When They Can’t Control You?
- How To Gray Rock Your Narcissistic And Abusive Spouse?
• • •
Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental wellbeing, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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