Triangulation can be described as manipulation tactics in which one person will not communicate directly with another person.  Instead they will create triangles where they draw in a third person to relay information to the second.

In romantic relationships the narcissist will have you believing that they are the most desired person on the planet.  They delude themselves and tell you stories of their desirability.  They will surround themselves with their enablers, their ex-partners, and quite likely, your successor.  You feel flattered that you are the one who has gained their attention amongst all of their admirers.

One of the ways the narcissist manufactures situations in which they appear to be in such high demand, is to triangulate.  They will create triangles where they will turn people against one another, creating jealousy and rivalry.  Creating jealousy and rivalry does two things. Firstly, it brings about feelings of insecurity in the narcissist’s partner who will feel that they may be replaced. As a result they will try harder to please the narcissist to prevent this from happening. Secondly, the narcissist will gain narcissistic supply when in their deluded mind they feel both desired and in control of this twisted dynamic.

Triangulation can take place in any type of relationship.  In dysfunctional families children can be pitted against one another by a manipulative parent or a parent may try to get the support of one of their children against their partner.  In normal relationships drawing a third person into a disagreement can be helpful and beneficial.  However in a dysfunctional relationship, this tends not to be the case.  The third party often feels pressured into taking sides.  They may be manipulated into becoming part of a conflict that they have no desire to be a part of.

Pitting people against each other is known as, ‘Splitting’ in psychology.  If the narcissist is getting bored in the relationship or believes that their target has sussed them out, they will spread malicious gossip behind the back of the real victim, in an effort to tarnish their reputation.  This often takes place before the relationship comes to an end.  A narcissist will portray themselves as a victim and their target as unbalanced, even crazy and will blame them for the very things that they have done themselves.  Sadly, they are often believed by the listening ears who fail to listen to two sides of a story and pass judgement accordingly.

Written by Anne McCrea

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