Have you ever been involved in an argument where a third party is suddenly introduced, and you end up being on the losing side even though you were right? Or have you experienced being compared to another person just because your partner wants you to please them?
These are some of the signs of narcissist triangulation you should know. In this article, you will learn more about narcissist triangulation, how to identify the situation, and the right way to respond.
What does narcissistic triangulation mean?
Narcissistic triangulation is an emotional manipulation strategy a narcissist uses to push things in their favor.
They introduce a third party into the picture so that the conversation or argument goes their way. If the third person is physically present, narcissists use triangulation to cause division. Hence, the third party ends up being on their side.
In this research study by Nicholas J.S. Day and other authors, you will learn more about the personality trait of narcissism and how it affects their relationships. This study is titled Living with pathological narcissism.
Why do many narcissists triangulate?
On why do narcissists triangulate, one of the reasons is because they want to show their superiority status over the other person.
They also want to shift the burden of an argument to the third person so they won’t be alone. Narcissists also use triangulation to distract the other person from the main point or argument.
How does narcissistic triangulation look like in a relationship?
Narcissists do not get tired of wanting things to go their way; this is why they triangulate. One of the ways to identify narcissistic triangulation in a relationship is when the narcissist keeps talking about the good deeds of their ex.
The goal is to let their current partner feel jealous and do their bidding. Another way is to reach out to a third party to report their partner to them. They do this often for the third party to take their side in an argument.
A narcissistic employer or boss can also use triangulation to influence your productivity in the workplace. For example, they can compare a performing team member to someone struggling to meet milestones. Your boss could also confide in you about another team member, which can change how you see your boss.
Additionally, your co-worker can gossip to you about how another co-worker treated them. This is to seek your support when anything happens in the future. Also, if you disagree with a coworker, they can triangulate the boss to take their side.
When there is conflict in marriage, a narcissistic partner will focus on pouring love on their children so they can take their side.
They will not communicate with their spouse, but they will use their child as a medium to pass on any information. Also, they will vent and express their feelings to the children instead of their partners.
How to respond to narcissistic triangulation?
The truth is many narcissists will employ different strategies to tip the scales in their favor. So if you want to stop narcissist triangulation, here are some ways to respond.
1. Spot the signs
The first step in addressing triangulation emotional abuse is to learn to spot the signs. You won’t be able to stop a narcissist from this unpleasant act until you know how to recognize it. Unfortunately, many narcissists are smart and will try to ensure that you don’t see their moves coming.
However, no matter the hack they use, it is important to know the basic signs. For example, a narcissist who wants to triangulate would try to complement others so they can put you down. Some of them use the excuse of wanting to motivate you, but it is not the truth.
For instance, a narcissistic partner might praise their ex-spouse for the joy and vibe they brought into their lives. This compliment might leave you wondering if you are not doing enough in the relationship.
You will notice that they won’t say anything about your efforts in the relationship because they want you to take a cue from their ex-partner.
When narcissists employ the triangulation tactic, they expect you to lose your balance and act in a way that you will end up taking the blame.
However, when you notice this, the best way on how to react to narcissist triangulation is to keep calm and preferably maintain a neutral disposition to leave them further confused.
When you remain calm, you subtly tell them that you won’t be victimized, irrespective of what they do.
Also, it is important to keep telling yourself that everything they say is false. This is where you focus on reality instead of your emotions which might be influenced by the narcissist triangulation tactics.
Watch this video on how to stay calm during a confrontation:
3. Communicate with them and be assertive
During narcissist triangulation, when you notice that they have finished what they have to say, this is when you try to speak. It would help if you began with a calm but assertive tone so they know you are serious.
Being assertive can also serve as a future warning to them not to try any form of narcissist triangulation with you again. While communicating with them, ensure you use respectful words so they don’t use them against you.
When the narcissist is listening to you, they are probably waiting for you to make one mistake so that they can hold onto it. So instead, use a respectful voice to tell them you are not pleased with their communication style.
Tell them that it is not healthy for you and the relationship. If they keep comparing you with someone, ensure they realize that you and that person have different strengths and weaknesses.
4. Set firm boundaries
As you communicate with them and try to break free of narcissist triangulation, you must set clear and strong boundaries. These boundaries will serve as a reminder for them not to repeat the bad habit.
You must be clear about what you can accept and cannot tolerate. For instance, you can allow them to crack jokes, but it should not get to the point where they make you feel less of yourself.
Also, you can set some consequences if they exceed the boundaries. Doing this will let them know that you are serious and won’t allow yourself to be a victim of the narcissistic victim syndrome.
5. Digress to a different topic
One of the ways to stop a narcissist in their tracks is by changing the subject. But unfortunately, they cannot see this coming because they are deep into what they’re doing.
When you digress to a different subject, you are saving your head, especially when there is a third party. This will stop the narcissist triangulation and make them lose track of what the angle of the conversation.
If they try to change the subject to what they were saying, you can change the topic again to throw them off balance. Of course, doing this repeatedly might get them angry, but they will realize that you cannot be baited. Hence, they may stop what they are doing.
6. Give an excuse to leave
It is always important to include the element of surprise when dealing with a narcissist. If you are in the heat of narcissist triangulation, you can make an excuse to leave. However, you need to know that the longer you listen to them, the more they get into your head and drain your energy.
If care isn’t taken, you won’t know when you begin to conform to their will. So, whatever excuse you give, ensure it sounds genuine and let your body language support your claims. Then, you can give the narcissist a calm goodbye and take your leave.
Doing this shows the narcissist that you have other important people and places in your life. They will also learn not to overestimate their importance in your life because you have other crucial things.
How to recover from narcissistic triangulation?
Breaking free from narcissistic triangulation could be difficult, especially if you’ve known the person for a long time and you’ve not realized that they’ve always been preying on your mind.
Here are some tips on how to stop narcissistic triangulation completely
1. Write down how the narcissist made you feel
Sometimes, you might be unaware of how something has affected you until you begin to write them down. For example, many people suffering from narcissist triangulation do not know how much they’ve been influenced.
When you write down your feelings, it becomes easier to work through them. If you see or hear anything related to how the narcissist made you feel that causes tension or uneasiness, you know that you still need more space from them.
Another benefit is that putting things down prepares you because there will always be narcissists. You will know better on how to spot and avoid them.
2. Build a healthy support system
Now that you can recognize the signs of triangulation in relationships, you need to build a solid support system that can provide healthy interactions. But, again, it is better to build this support system with people who don’t have a relationship with narcissists.
Most narcissists move in packs, and they influence one another’s thinking. Therefore, create a safe space with trusted people with whom you can be vulnerable.
Let them know what you are dealing with, and seek their assurance that they will be there for you when you need a shoulder to lean on.
3. Walk away from the relationship
Being with a narcissist in a friendship or romantic relationship is toxic, and one of the permanent ways to help yourself is to cut them off. When you notice that all your conversations are centered on competition, comparison, emotional abuse, etc., you must make plans to leave their life.
One of the goals of a narcissist is to ensure they have you wrapped around their finger so that you will do anything they want. However, when you notice the signs of narcissist triangulation, you can tell things are about to worsen.
It is better to leave them because they do not add value to your life. You can begin by deleting their contacts, unfollowing them on social media, and even stop talking to some of their friends and acquaintances. It is important to eliminate anything in your life that reminds you of them
4. See a therapist
If you are struggling with the effects of narcissist triangulation, you can see a professional to help you pull through. It might be worse when you live with the person or stay close to them. A therapist will help you create strong boundaries to help you cope until you can leave.
Additionally, if you’ve cut contact with them, but the negative effects of their messages are affecting your everyday life, you need the therapist’s help. They will help you develop a positive mindset to block any negative thoughts from developing.
For more tips on how to handle narcissistic triangulation, read Darlene Lancer’s book titled Dealing with a Narcissist. This book contains some steps to boost self-esteem and set boundaries with difficult people.
Someone with a narcissistic personality disorder might find it difficult to change, so it is best to keep your distance and hope they seek treatment for a behavioral change.
After checking these signs of narcissist triangulation, you now know how to respond and what to do when facing a similar scenario. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with what the narcissist has done to you, reach out to a therapist for counseling.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Noah loves to write on matters of the heart and mind. His experiences have taught him that being an honest friend who communicates well and giving importance to self-love can go a long way in maintaining loving relationships.When he’s not writing or advising people on how to thrive in their relationships, he loves exploring new places with his partner, working out, and pretending that he’s good at cooking exotic stuff.