Examples of Narcissistic Triangulation
Examples of Narcissistic Triangulation

Narcissistic Triangulation – a term that may sound complex, but it’s a manipulative tactic that many individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) employ in their relationships. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the world of narcissistic triangulation, exploring what it is, why it’s important to understand, and providing 25 powerful examples to shed light on this toxic behavior.

Why Study Examples of Narcissistic Triangulation?

Before we dive into the examples, let’s address why it’s crucial to study and comprehend narcissistic triangulation. This behavior is a cornerstone of narcissism, a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Understanding triangulation helps victims and potential victims recognize and protect themselves from its harmful effects.

Narcissism, a term derived from Greek mythology, refers to excessive self-love or self-centeredness. People with NPD often exhibit manipulative and controlling behaviors to maintain their inflated self-image.

Triangulation, on the other hand, is a manipulative tactic wherein the narcissist involves a third party in a relationship to create jealousy, insecurity, and confusion.

Studying examples of narcissistic triangulation can:

  1. Raise Awareness: Knowledge is power. Recognizing these behaviors can help individuals spot red flags early in relationships and take necessary precautions.
  2. Validate Victims: If you’ve experienced triangulation, understanding that it’s a common narcissistic tactic can provide validation and reduce feelings of isolation.
  3. Empower Recovery: For those who’ve been through the ordeal of narcissistic abuse, knowing what they went through can be a crucial step towards healing and recovery.

Now that we’ve covered the significance of this topic, let’s explore 25 real-life examples of narcissistic triangulation. For each example, we’ll provide an explanation, discuss its effects on victims, and offer guidance on how to cope with such behavior.

Whether you’re dealing with a narcissist in your personal life, workplace, or therapy, or simply are a student of narcissism and narcissistic triangulation, these examples will shed light on the manipulative tactics deployed by narcissists and help you navigate the challenging terrain of narcissistic triangulation.

25 Examples of Narcissistic Triangulation

Here are 25 concrete examples of narcissistic triangulation which we see in every day life. This type of narcissistic triangulation exists in all aspects of life.

Narcissistic Triangulation exists in families, in romantic relationships, in friendships and amongst siblings. The harmful effects of narcissistic triangulation can last a life time, which is why it’s so important to stop narcissistic triangulation the moment it is detected.

So, with that here are some of the most common examples of narcissistic triangulation.

1. Family Favoritism

  • Explanation: Family favoritism is a classic example of narcissistic triangulation, where a narcissistic parent may play siblings against each other by favoring one child over the others. They may praise one child excessively while devaluing the rest, creating jealousy and competition among siblings.
  • Effects: This behavior can lead to lifelong sibling rivalry, low self-esteem in the unfavored children, and a strained family dynamic.
  • How to Cope: If you’re a victim of family favoritism, it’s essential to recognize that the issue lies with the narcissistic parent, not you. Seek support from a therapist or counselor to navigate these complex family dynamics.

2. Love Triangle

  • Explanation: In narcissistic triangulation a romantic relationship, a narcissist might engage in a love triangle by pursuing another person while still in a committed relationship. They use this third party to manipulate and control their partner, creating confusion and emotional turmoil.
  • Effects: The partner may experience profound emotional pain, insecurity, and self-doubt. It can erode trust and lead to a cycle of emotional abuse.
  • How to Cope: If you find yourself in a love triangle with a narcissist, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor to understand your options and make informed decisions regarding the relationship.

3. Workplace Sabotage

  • Explanation: Narcissists may engage in workplace triangulation by pitting colleagues against each other. They spread rumors, undermine trust, and play favorites to manipulate their coworkers and maintain control.
  • Effects: Workplace sabotage can lead to a toxic work environment, damaged professional relationships, and harm to your career prospects.
  • How to Cope: Document instances of workplace sabotage and maintain open communication with HR or a supervisor. Seek support from coworkers who have also experienced the narcissist’s behavior.

4. Friendship Jealousy

  • Explanation: Narcissists can foster jealousy among friends by constantly comparing them to one another, highlighting perceived flaws, and manipulating their insecurities to maintain control.
  • Effects: This behavior can lead to the dissolution of friendships, feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, and a sense of betrayal among friends.
  • How to Cope: Talk openly with your friends about your experiences with the narcissistic friend. Consider seeking professional guidance to navigate the complexities of the friendship.

5. Competitive Sibling

  • Explanation: In families with narcissistic parents, siblings may be pushed into competition with each other for the parent’s attention and approval. The narcissistic parent fosters this rivalry.
  • Effects: This competitive environment can damage sibling relationships, create feelings of unworthiness, and perpetuate a cycle of emotional manipulation.
  • How to Cope: Seek therapy to heal and rebuild your sibling relationships. Recognize that the competition was orchestrated by the narcissistic parent and not your fault.

6. Social Media Stunts

  • Explanation: On social media, narcissists may post content intentionally designed to incite jealousy or insecurity in their followers or friends. This can include flaunting material possessions, lavish vacations, or idealized relationships.
  • Effects: Social media stunts can lead to feelings of inadequacy, envy, and low self-esteem among those who view these posts.
  • How to Cope: Limit your exposure to such content, unfollow or mute the narcissistic individuals, and focus on your own well-being rather than comparisons.

7. Gossip-Mongering

  • Explanation: Narcissists often engage in gossip to create divisions among friends or colleagues. They may spread false information or exaggerate facts to tarnish someone’s reputation and manipulate others into taking their side.
  • Effects: Gossip-mongering can lead to damaged relationships, mistrust, and a hostile social or work environment.
  • How to Cope: Avoid participating in gossip, and if you’re a victim, confront the narcissist calmly and assertively. Seek support from those who value honesty and integrity.

8. Emotional Blackmail

  • Explanation: Emotional blackmail is a manipulative tactic where the narcissist threatens to withdraw love, affection, or support unless the victim complies with their demands. They use guilt and fear to control their target.
  • Effects: Victims of emotional blackmail may feel trapped, anxious, and emotionally drained. It can lead to a cycle of submission to the narcissist’s wishes.
  • How to Cope: Establish healthy boundaries and seek support from a therapist or counselor to develop strategies for dealing with emotional blackmail.

9. Triangulation in Therapy

  • Explanation: Even in therapeutic settings, narcissists may employ triangulation by portraying themselves as the victim to the therapist and painting their partner or family member as the problem. This can hinder progress in therapy.
  • Effects: Triangulation in therapy can impede healing and growth, leading to frustration and despair for the true victims.
  • How to Cope: Communicate openly with your therapist, expressing your concerns about the narcissist’s behavior. Consider seeking therapy individually or in a safe, supportive environment.

10. Parent-Child Involvement

  • Explanation: Narcissistic parents often involve their children in adult matters or conflicts, forcing them to choose sides. This can lead to undue stress and confusion for the child.
  • Effects: Children caught in this triangulation may experience emotional trauma, feelings of guilt, and a damaged sense of self.
  • How to Cope: Protect your children from parental conflicts, maintain open communication, and seek therapy to help them cope with the situation.

11. Excessive Flattery

  • Explanation: Narcissists may employ excessive flattery when meeting new people to create jealousy or insecurity among their existing relationships. They shower new acquaintances with praise to manipulate their emotions.
  • Effects: Existing friends or partners may feel devalued and question their worth in the narcissist’s eyes.
  • How to Cope: Trust your instincts and maintain open communication with your loved ones. Recognize that the narcissist’s flattery is a manipulation tactic, not a reflection of your worth.

12. Projecting Insecurities

  • Explanation: Narcissists often project their own insecurities onto others, making false accusations and blaming their victims for the very flaws they possess.
  • Effects: Victims may feel unjustly criticized, gaslit, and confused about their own behavior.
  • How to Cope: Maintain a strong sense of self and seek support from trusted friends or professionals who can help you separate the narcissist’s projections from reality.

13. Comparison to an Ex

  • Explanation: In romantic relationships, narcissists may constantly compare their current partner to an ex, highlighting supposed deficiencies to create insecurity.
  • Effects: This constant comparison can erode self-esteem, trigger jealousy, and lead to feelings of inadequacy.
  • How to Cope: Communicate with your partner about your feelings and establish boundaries regarding discussions of past relationships. Seek couples therapy if necessary.

14. Love Bombing New Supply

  • Explanation: When a narcissist begins a new relationship, they may excessively love bomb their new partner, making their previous partner feel discarded and replaced.
  • Effects: The discarded partner may experience heartbreak, betrayal, and confusion about the narcissist’s sudden change of affection.
  • How to Cope: Focus on self-care and healing after the relationship. Recognize that love bombing is a tactic used by narcissists to manipulate their new supply.

15. Triangulation in Parenting

  • Explanation: In parenting, a narcissistic parent may undermine the other parent’s authority or use the children as pawns in power struggles. They manipulate the children’s loyalty and affection to control the dynamics of the family.
  • Effects: This behavior can lead to divided families, children caught in the middle, and emotional distress for all family members involved.
  • How to Cope: Seek legal or therapeutic assistance if necessary to protect the children’s well-being and maintain open communication with them about the situation.

16. Sabotaging Friendships

  • Explanation: Narcissists may actively sabotage their friends’ relationships with others by spreading rumors, creating conflict, or sowing distrust. This keeps their friends dependent on them.
  • Effects: Friendships may deteriorate, trust may be shattered, and emotional turmoil can result.
  • How to Cope: Maintain open communication with your friends, address any concerns directly, and consider distancing yourself from the narcissistic friend if necessary.

17. Scapegoating

  • Explanation: In families with narcissistic parents, one child may be consistently scapegoated, blamed for all family problems, and subjected to emotional abuse.
  • Effects: The scapegoated child often experiences long-lasting emotional trauma, low self-esteem, and a distorted self-image.
  • How to Cope: Seek therapy or support groups to heal from the emotional scars and set boundaries with the narcissistic parent.

18. Professional Sabotage

  • Explanation: In the workplace, narcissists may engage in professional sabotage by taking credit for others’ work, spreading false rumors, or undermining colleagues to maintain control and dominance.
  • Effects: Professional sabotage can lead to a toxic work environment, hinder career growth, and cause emotional distress.
  • How to Cope: Document instances of professional sabotage, maintain professionalism, and consider discussing the issue with HR or a supervisor.

19. False Accusations

  • Explanation: Narcissists may make false accusations against their partners or friends to create conflict and confusion, often without any basis in reality.
  • Effects: Victims of false accusations may experience anger, frustration, and damage to their reputation.
  • How to Cope: Gather evidence to refute false accusations and communicate calmly with the narcissist to address the issue.

20. Playing Victim

  • Explanation: Narcissists often play the victim to gain sympathy and support from others. They twist facts to make themselves appear as the injured party.
  • Effects: This tactic can cause confusion, lead others to doubt the true victim’s credibility, and perpetuate the narcissist’s manipulative behavior.
  • How to Cope: Maintain your perspective and seek support from those who understand the situation.

21. Favoring the Golden Child

  • Explanation: In families with narcissistic parents, one child may be elevated to the status of the “golden child” while others are devalued. The narcissistic parent favors the golden child, creating jealousy and resentment among siblings.
  • Effects: The favored child may feel immense pressure to live up to unrealistic expectations, while the other siblings suffer from feelings of neglect and inadequacy.
  • How to Cope: If you’re a victim of this dynamic, seek therapy to heal and rebuild sibling relationships. Understand that the golden child’s position is a result of the narcissistic parent’s manipulation.

22. Competing for Attention

  • Explanation: Narcissists may create situations where loved ones compete for their attention and affection, intentionally sowing seeds of jealousy and insecurity.
  • Effects: This competition can lead to strained relationships, feelings of inadequacy, and emotional turmoil for those involved.
  • How to Cope: Recognize the manipulation at play and communicate openly with your loved ones about the situation. Focus on healthy self-esteem and self-worth.

23. Martyr Complex

  • Explanation: Some narcissists adopt a martyr complex, where they constantly position themselves as self-sacrificing victims, often using third parties to confirm their narrative.
  • Effects: This behavior can make the victim feel guilty, responsible for the narcissist’s happiness, and trapped in a never-ending cycle of catering to their needs.
  • How to Cope: Establish boundaries and seek therapy to navigate the complexities of a relationship with a narcissist who has a martyr complex.

24. Triangulation in Co-Parenting

  • Explanation: In co-parenting situations, narcissists may use their children as pawns in a power struggle with their ex-partner. They manipulate visitation schedules, spread false information, and create tension.
  • Effects: Co-parenting triangulation can harm children’s well-being, strain the relationship between co-parents, and lead to ongoing conflicts.
  • How to Cope: Document interactions with the narcissistic co-parent, seek legal assistance if necessary, and prioritize the children’s best interests.

25. Gaslighting with Third-Party Testimony

  • Explanation: Narcissists may use third-party testimony to gaslight their victims, convincing them that their perception of reality is incorrect. They manipulate friends, family, or colleagues into validating their false narratives.
  • Effects: Gaslighting with third-party testimony can lead to confusion, self-doubt, and isolation for the victim.
  • How to Cope: Trust your instincts and seek support from individuals who validate your feelings and experiences. Recognize that gaslighting is a manipulation tactic.


In this comprehensive exploration of narcissistic triangulation, we’ve uncovered 25 powerful examples of this manipulative behavior that can wreak havoc on relationships, whether in families, friendships, workplaces, or romantic partnerships. By shedding light on these tactics, we hope to empower you with the knowledge needed to recognize and protect yourself from the destructive effects of narcissistic behavior.

Remember that if you’ve experienced narcissistic triangulation, you’re not alone. Seek support from trusted friends, family, or a qualified therapist who can help you navigate the complexities of these relationships and guide you on a path towards healing and self-empowerment. Understanding these behaviors is the first step towards breaking free from the cycle of manipulation and emotional abuse often associated with narcissism.