Triangulation in Narcissistic Relationships: Understanding its Dynamics, Effects, and Coping Strategies.
Triangulation in narcissistic relationships refers to a manipulative strategy employed by narcissists to maintain power and control. This complex dynamic involves the narcissist drawing a third person into the relationship in order to create tension, insecurity, and confusion within the victim. Through triangulation, narcissists aim to reinforce their dominance, assert their superiority, and ensure the victim’s dependence. This article explores the various ways narcissists utilise triangulation, analyses its detrimental effects on victims, and provides recommendations for coping with such manipulative tactics.
Nine Ways Narcissists Employ Triangulation:
- Emotional Manipulation: Narcissists leverage triangulation to manipulate the emotions of their victims. By involving a third person, they create jealousy, competition, and feelings of insecurity within the victim.
- Idealisation and Devaluation: Triangulation is often used to reinforce the narcissist’s power and control by comparing the victim to another person. Initially, the narcissist idealises the victim, making them feel special, before purposely introducing another person, causing them to feel devalued and unworthy.
- Pitting Individuals Against Each Other: The narcissist may intentionally create conflicts between people in their lives, such as a love triangle, to ensure their attention and loyalty. This further secures the narcissist’s control over both relationships.
- Seeking Validation: Triangulation allows narcissists to seek external validation from others, often at the expense of their victims. By involving a third person who praises and admires the narcissist, they reinforce their self-image and emotional stability.
- Isolating the Victim: Through triangulation, narcissists manipulate victims into feeling isolated and alienated from their support networks. The presence of a third person can cause the victim to doubt their own reality, creating a sense of dependency on the narcissist.
- Gaslighting: Narcissists use triangulation as a tool for gaslighting victims, making them question their own sanity. By involving a third person and distorting reality, they undermine the victim’s perceptions and create self-doubt.
- Control and Power Dynamics: Triangulation enables narcissists to assert power and control over their victims by making them prove their worthiness or constantly vie for their attention. The narcissist becomes the central figure, maintaining dominance over the victim’s emotions and actions.
- Emotional Desensitization: By exposing the victim to a constant state of tension and anxiety through triangulation, narcissists desensitise the victim to their emotional abuse. The victim becomes accustomed to the unhealthy dynamic, rendering them more susceptible to continued manipulation.
- Validation of Narcissistic Supply: Perhaps the most pronounced reason behind triangulation is the constant validation narcissists seek from multiple sources. By involving others in their relationships, they ensure a steady stream of admiration, adoration, and control over the victim’s emotions.
The Devastating Effects of Triangulation:
The impact of narcissistic triangulation on victims can be profound and deeply damaging. Some common effects include:
- Diminished Self-Worth: Repeated exposure to triangulation erodes a victim’s self-esteem, creating a constant feeling of inadequacy and worthlessness.
- Increased Anxiety and Depression: Triangulation leads to heightened stress levels, anxiety, and even depression as victims struggle to navigate the emotional manipulation and uncertainty imposed on them.
- Isolation and Relationship Strain: Victims of triangulation often find themselves isolated from friends, family, and healthy support systems, which strains their ability to form and maintain healthy relationships.
- Instability and Confusion: The constant manipulation, gaslighting, and emotional rollercoaster caused by triangulation can leave victims feeling perpetually confused and uncertain about their emotions, their reality, and their position in the relationship.
Handling Triangulation: Coping Strategies
- Educate Yourself: Understanding narcissism and triangulation is crucial to breaking free from its destructive grip. Empower yourself by learning about the tactics employed by narcissists.
- Seek Support: Reach out to trusted friends, family, support groups, or therapists who can provide emotional support, validation, and guidance during the healing process.
- Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with the narcissist in your life. Assert your needs and values, protect yourself from further manipulation, and make your boundaries non-negotiable.
- Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities that promote emotional well-being, such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, and spending quality time with loved ones.
- Seek Professional Help: If the effects of triangulation become overwhelming, consider seeking therapy or counselling to work through the trauma and develop healthy coping strategies.
Triangulation is a powerful manipulation tactic employed by narcissists to maintain control and dominance over their victims. Recognising the nine ways they employ triangulation, understanding its detrimental effects, and developing coping strategies is the key to breaking free from the toxic cycle. By prioritising self-care, seeking support, and asserting boundaries, victims can gradually regain control over their lives and redefine their self-worth.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.