Narcissistic Triangulation: Top 4 Narcissist Triangulation Tactics

Narcissistic Triangulation: Top 4 Narcissist Triangulation Tactics narcissistic triangulation: top 4 narcissist triangulation tactics

A narcissist will employ various manipulation techniques to get to you and one of those techniques is triangulation. Triangulation is where a narcissist introduces the presence of another party to your relationship dynamic. They may triangulate you not only when you’re in the relationship but also when you’ve left the relationship and you’re moving on with life. Triangulation triggers your deep insecurities and drives you jealous which makes you not want to leave the relationship or regret leaving the relationship. It still a way the narcissist exerts control and dominance over your life.

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They can triangulate you with your coworkers, best friends, children, siblings, ex-partners or just anyone who they know will draw your attention. They don’t have a limit on who they can use in their game of manipulation and deceit. It’s such an insidious technique and when you’re caught in the middle of it, you may not even be aware you’re part of a well-calculated game. In this article, I am going to share with you 4 triangulation techniques so that you may at least catch yourself before falling for the narcissist’s bait.

Examples of Narcissistic Triangulation

  1. Manufacturing a Perceived Sense of Competition Between You and Another Party

This is where narcissist constantly expresses that someone else is better than you. This can either be done covertly or overtly. They do this so that you feel you’re not good enough or that your position is under threat in that relationship. They may make comments about your looks, attire, skill or just any of your attributes and jokingly (or even directly) compare it with those of someone close to you (like a coworker or a close friend).

When you’re constantly fed with this narrative, you will always feel that the narcissist will abandon you for the other person and you may try to change your appearance so that you can be at par with the perceived sense of competition. To make things even harder, the narcissist may even tell you that they’re going out with the third party which makes you more jealous and feel like you’re not worth it.

You may even start hating on the third party who’s just being used by the narcissist as a means to an end. The other party may also not be aware of what’s happening and you might find yourself competing to win over the narcissist’s attention. The instigator of the game is just there watching as you tear other apart.

In case of toxic family dynamics, the family scapegoat will always be the one facing triangulation from an overly controlling and narcissistic parent as someone who needs to match up with the golden child. The most common phrase is, “Why can’t you be like your sibling who does ABCD?” You end up living your life trying and trying to win your parent’s approval even to the point you become enraged by the actions of your innocent sibling. Another common one which I encountered in a workplace setting in the past is where I was constantly compared to another ‘good’ worker who did not complain about being overworked or working long hours.

2. The Narcissist, the Ex (Soon-To-Be-Ex), and the New Girlfriend/Boyfriend

The other type of triangulation which is really dangerous is where the narcissist makes the new catch worry about the threat of the ex-girlfriend/boyfriend and the ex-girlfriend/boyfriend worry about the new catch. They manufacture a love triangle between who they’re about to leave and who they’re about to date.

In fact, the best way to spot this is when someone who you’re dating tells you that they will leave them for you or they’re about to leave them. So, you’re left there hoping and waiting while you supply the narcissist with their needs. They use you for sex or a place to run to when they want to avoid conflict or accountability with their ‘current’ relationship or marriage.

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The narcissist will keep promising you that they’re on the verge of leaving or they’re just finalizing the divorce process in their marriage. They will use you as a shoulder to cry on and even explain to you how their wife or husband is stressing them and that they can’t wait to leave.

In some cases, they may just tell you they’re staying in the marriage for the sake of the kids and if they had an option, they would leave them for you. This makes you feel sympathetic of what they’re going through or of what they’re being put through by their ‘manipulative’ spouses (you know how persuasive they’re with their crocodile tears. In most cases, their partners even know that the narcissist has a side chick/guy but they can’t do anything about it because they’re just traumatized and trauma-bonded and are just deeply enmeshed in that toxic relationship.

To make this even more complicated, after some time, they leave the new catch and go back to their partner complaining about how they’ve been mistreated by their side chick (pity ploys). The trauma-bonded spouse, of course, welcomes them with open arms and vows to be with them and never leave their side. So, the triangle is more of a cycling between their new relationship and their old relationship leaving both parties in limbo not knowing that they’re all just part of a very well-calculated move to supply the needs of the narcissist.

The new catch wishes the narcissist could just make up their mind and leave their ‘abusive’ spouse so that they can have a healthy relationship together. On the other hand, the spouse wishes that the narcissist would ‘process’ (heal) what they’re going through and stop cheating so that they can focus on rebuilding that relationship.

3. Inappropriate Relationships

Another example of triangulation is where the narcissist may have improper relationships that threaten their relationship with you. This could be a weird closeness with a friend of the sex that competes with you romantically. This is the person they run to when they’re going through a tough time.

For example, when they’re grieving or have work stress instead of coming to you their partner, they first run to that close friend. They seek solace and comfort more in another person. When you ask them about it, they may give you a vague kind of explanation like, “There’s something about her/him that you cannot understand.” They may also label you as paranoid or jealous of their friendship and that you want to ruin it. You feel like an outsider in your own relationship.

The narcissist may even be having weird and provoking conversations with this other party that you start becoming suspicious of what they’re up to. It’s all about making your feel insecure and doubt your position in that relationship. You will start thinking that there’s something the other party does which you’re not doing which further leaves a dent in your self-esteem.

4. Referencing Real or Imagined Allies

This is where the narcissist will quote or reference a third party that agrees with their negative sentiments towards you. For example, they may something like, “One of your friends has confirmed to me that you’re acting crazy and you’re not yourself presently.” So, because you trust what your friends say and you know they cannot just say something out of the blue, you start doubting yourself or even believing what the narcissist says.

You now want to know the full details of what those friends said but the narcissist tells you that you have to keep it a secret because your friend will feel bad about it. They may not even mention the name of that friend. So, you cannot prove if those sentiments are true and you also start losing trust in some of your friends because they said something negative about you behind your back. You can never know if those allegations are true or false because the only source is the narcissist.

Dealing with Narcissistic Triangulation

The best way to look at triangulation is not from the eyes of what’s happening but from your own eyes and how you feel deep inside when a manipulative person triangulates you. When you look deep within yourself, you’ll realize that the narcissist is just playing with your deep fears like fear of abandonment, insecurity or feeling unworthy of love.

That’s why you need to do the inner work and really build yourself to be that kind of person who deeply embodies and understands that he/she is not an option to someone and they deserve better than being seen as the second fiddle or being in a relationship with a manipulative person.

As for the new catch, it’s better to disengage early on because if you invest in the relationship, a few months down the line, you’ll be the ex and another one will be groomed the same way you’re being groomed in the present moment. Do not force a relationship with someone who’s not yet fully moved on from their current relationship or ‘someone who’s just finalizing a divorce’. Go inwards and build that healthy relationship with yourself. Triangulation is one of their favorite weapons but as always, you can empower yourself by just aligning with your true self and upholding healthy boundaries in all your relationships.

One last thing is, it becomes easy to recognize abuse and all those kinds of manipulative techniques once you start working on yourself because you will not be operating your life from a blurred lens or with a distorted perspective on what relationships are supposed to be. When you heal, you have clarity and you can see what’s unfolding in front of you or what will unfold in the future if you keep playing with that fire.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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