Narcissist Triangulation – What it is, why Narcissists do it, and how to deal with it

Narcissist triangulation is a common tactic employed by narcissists in order to maintain their power and control in relationships. It can involve using friends, family members, or even strangers as pawns in order to win an argument or to reinforce their sense of superiority.

The narcissist will try to turn a conflict between themselves and their victim into a conflict between them and an ally, versus their victim. Faced with a two-against-one situation, the victim is more likely to back down.

Narcissistic Triangulation Tactics

How a narcissist will use triangulation in romantic relationships

In romantic relationships, the most common form of triangulation is when the narcissist introduces a third party into the mix, creating a psychological “threesome.”

In the beginning of the relationship, they will do this in a manner that will make the new supply feel valued. They might share sad stories about how horrible their ex was, and comment about how much better their new lover’s cooking is.

However, as the relationship progresses and the abuse cycle moves from idealisation to devaluation, they will start to use triangulation to make their victim feel threatened or jealous. They do this by bringing up an ex-lover in a conversation, reminiscing about the “good times” they had together, or by making seemingly offhand remarks such as – “oh, you don’t like that. My ex loved it!”

How a narcissist will use triangulation to isolate their victim

Triangulation can also be used by a narcissist to drive a wedge between friends or family members who may be close to their new supply. By playing these people off against each other they manage to isolate their victim and make them even more dependent on them.

Triangulation also comes into play in narcissistic families. It is often used by a narcissistic parent to create division and turmoil, either by playing off the children against each other, or by driving a wedge between the kids and their other parent. The narcissist may use this tactic to make the scapegoat feel watched or judged by others around them, including other relatives like grandparents or siblings who are considered more important than the victim, such as for example the golden child.

How a narcissist will use triangulation at work

Narcissists often use triangulation in the workplace as well, in order to create conflict and turmoil. They might pit co-workers against each other or use them to get ahead. For example, a narcissistic boss might make an offhand remark to one co-worker about how much better their co-worker is performing, and then watch as the two of them start to compete for who can do the most work. Other narcissist triangulation tactics include the creation of cliques, that can be used to exclude certain people and to play off workers against each other, and also the selective sharing of information, creating different “classes” of workers.

The Bottom Line about Narcissist Triangulation

The main goal of narcissist triangulation is to create a constant state of anxiety in the victim. Narcissists use triangulation to make sure that their victims are always feeling on edge, and unsure of what they should do next. It’s also a way of gaining narcissistic supply from as many people as possible.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are being triangulated by a narcissist, the best thing to do is to try and keep your cool. Don’t react to their provocations, and don’t get drawn into any arguments. Try and communicate with them as clearly as possible, setting boundaries and making it clear that any issues are to be discussed directly between the two of you, and no third parties syou will not tolerate this type of behaviour. If possible, try and get help from friends or family members who can support you during this difficult time. Remember, you are not alone.

For Further Reading:

The following are the most potent abusive tactics in the narcissist’s toolbox –

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