How to Stop Narcissistic Triangulation
How to Stop Narcissistic Triangulation

Have you ever felt trapped in a relationship, unsure of why you constantly find yourself in emotional turmoil? OR where you constantly question your worth? If so, you might be experiencing a manipulation tactic known as narcissistic triangulation. In this article, we’ll unravel the complexities of narcissistic triangulation and provide practical strategies to free yourself from its grip.

Narcissistic triangulation involves introducing a third party into your relationship, creating competition and insecurity. It’s time to understand what it is, how it works, and, most importantly, how to stop it. Let’s embark on a journey towards healing and self-empowerment, discovering how to stop narcissistic triangulation for good.

Introduction to Narcissistic Triangulation

What is Narcissistic Triangulation?

Narcissistic triangulation is a psychological manipulation tactic frequently used by individuals with narcissistic personality disorder. It’s a subtle yet effective tool they wield to maintain control and exert dominance over their victims within toxic relationships.

At its core, triangulation involves bringing a third party into the relationship dynamic, creating a sense of competition or jealousy between the victim and the third party. This third party, often referred to as a “flying monkey,” unwittingly becomes an accomplice in the narcissist’s manipulative game.

Narcissistic Triangulation exists in all kinds of relationships including within families, friendships, romantic relationships, amongst siblings and more.

How Narcissists Manipulate Using Triangulation

Narcissists employ triangulation as a means to an end. By manipulating the victim’s emotions, they achieve several twisted goals:

  • Eroding self-esteem: The narcissist intentionally makes the victim doubt their worth and desirability. They create insecurity by insinuating that the victim is not as valued as the third party.
  • Control: Triangulation gives narcissists a sense of power as they watch the victim vie for their affection or approval, keeping them on an emotional leash.
  • Fueling their ego: Narcissists thrive on attention and admiration. Triangulation provides a constant source of this, as both the victim and the third party compete for their favor.

An Example of Narcissistic Triangulation

Imagine a scenario in which a narcissistic partner flirts with a coworker in front of their significant other. The partner’s intention is not to form a genuine connection with the coworker but to make their significant other jealous and insecure. This emotional turmoil gives the narcissist a sense of control and superiority.

Potential Impact on the Victim of Narcissistic Triangulation

The consequences of narcissistic triangulation can be profound and devastating for the victim:

  • Emotional abuse: Victims often suffer from emotional and psychological abuse, leading to severe trauma.
  • Gaslighting: The narcissist may deny any wrongdoing or claim that the victim is overly sensitive or paranoid, further exacerbating the victim’s confusion and self-doubt.
  • Victim blaming: In the twisted world of narcissists, they may blame the victim for feeling jealous or insecure, further intensifying their emotional distress.
  • Manipulation: Triangulation is just one tool in the narcissist’s arsenal of manipulation tactics that keeps the victim trapped in a cycle of toxicity.

Understanding the insidious nature of narcissistic triangulation is the first step in breaking free from its grip. In the following sections, we’ll explore how to recognize its signs, the psychology behind it, and most importantly, how to stop it and begin your journey to healing and resilience.

Recognizing the Signs of Narcissistic Triangulation

Common Signs and Red Flags of Narcissistic Triangulation

To protect yourself from the corrosive effects of narcissistic triangulation, it’s crucial to recognize the signs and red flags early on. Here are some common indicators:

  1. Constant comparisons: The narcissist frequently compares you to others, highlighting your supposed shortcomings or their interactions with more appealing individuals.
  2. Creating jealousy: They intentionally make you jealous by flirting or forming seemingly innocent connections with others, only to later accuse you of being overly possessive or paranoid.
  3. Playing the victim: Narcissists are adept at flipping the script. They may present themselves as victims, claiming they’re being pursued or harassed by someone, leaving you feeling guilty or obligated to protect them.
  4. Triangulation statements: Listen for phrases like “Why can’t you be more like [third party]?” or “They understand me better than you ever will.” These statements are classic signs of triangulation.
  5. Isolation: The narcissist may try to isolate you from your friends and family, making it easier to control and manipulate you.
  6. Mixed messages: They send mixed signals, oscillating between affection and cold indifference, keeping you perpetually off-balance.
  7. Sudden interest: When you start showing interest in someone else or gain confidence, they may suddenly become more attentive to reel you back in.

Benefits of Early Recognition of Narcissistic Triangulation

Recognizing narcissistic triangulation early on offers several advantages:

  • Preserving your mental health: Identifying the manipulation allows you to distance yourself emotionally and avoid long-term trauma.
  • Empowerment: Knowing the tactics used against you can help you take back control of your emotions and actions.
  • Preventing further manipulation: Early recognition can disrupt the narcissist’s cycle of control and manipulation.
  • Setting boundaries: Armed with awareness, you can establish firm boundaries to protect yourself from future triangulation attempts.

By familiarizing yourself with these signs and red flags, you’re taking the first step towards regaining control of your life and breaking free from the toxic grip of narcissistic triangulation. In the next section, we’ll delve deeper into the psychology behind this manipulation tactic, helping you understand the narcissist’s motivations and power dynamics at play.

Understanding The Psychology Behind Narcissistic Triangulation

The Narcissist’s Motivations

To effectively combat narcissistic triangulation, it’s essential to delve into the twisted motivations driving the narcissist’s behavior. Understanding their psyche can provide you with invaluable insights into why they employ such manipulative tactics.

Narcissists are primarily motivated by:

  • Power and control: Above all, narcissists crave control over others. Triangulation is a means to maintain dominance in the relationship, ensuring that you remain emotionally tethered to them.
  • Ego gratification: Narcissists thrive on adulation and admiration. Triangulation provides a constant stream of attention and validation, boosting their fragile self-esteem.
  • Diverting blame: By introducing a third party, the narcissist deflects attention away from their own flaws and wrongdoings. This enables them to play the victim and shift blame onto you or the third party.

How Triangulation Boosts the Narcissist’s Ego and Manipulates Others

Triangulation serves as a potent tool in the narcissist’s manipulative arsenal. Here’s how it works:

  1. Creating competition: By making you feel as if you’re in competition with a third party, the narcissist ensures you remain emotionally invested in winning their affection and approval. This competition is entirely one-sided, with the narcissist as the sole judge.
  2. Emotional turmoil: Triangulation keeps you in a perpetual state of emotional turmoil. The highs of occasional affection are interspersed with lows of jealousy and insecurity, creating a traumatic and addictive rollercoaster of emotions.
  3. Control through guilt: When you express discomfort or jealousy, the narcissist can twist your emotions to their advantage. They may accuse you of being controlling or irrational, further eroding your self-esteem and perpetuating their control.

Understanding the psychology behind narcissistic triangulation is essential in breaking free from the narcissist’s control. In the following section, we’ll explore practical strategies and steps to stop narcissistic triangulation and begin your journey towards healing and self-empowerment.

How to Stop Narcissistic Triangulation

Now that we’ve unraveled the complexities of narcissistic triangulation and explored the psychology behind it, it’s time to equip you with practical strategies to halt this destructive cycle. Remember, you have the power to regain control of your life and protect your emotional well-being.

#1. Recognize When You Are Being Triangulated

Awareness is Key: The first step in stopping narcissistic triangulation is recognizing when it’s happening. Trust your instincts and pay close attention to the signs. Acknowledging the situation is crucial because denial only perpetuates the cycle of manipulation.

Understand the Patterns: Take time to understand the patterns of triangulation. Reflect on past instances and identify common themes and tactics used by the narcissist. This understanding will empower you to respond more effectively.

#2. Set Firm Boundaries with the Narcissist

Establish Clear Boundaries: Setting boundaries is essential in dealing with a narcissist. Clearly communicate your limits, values, and expectations. Be firm but remain calm during these discussions. Narcissists may test your boundaries, so be prepared for resistance.

Consistency is Key: Consistency in upholding your boundaries is crucial. Narcissists thrive on pushing limits, and any inconsistency can be seen as an opportunity to continue manipulation. Stay resolute in your commitment to self-preservation.

#3. Maintain Emotional Distance

Detach Emotionally: It’s vital to detach yourself emotionally from the narcissist’s manipulations. Understand that their actions are not a reflection of your worth. Reframe their behavior as a reflection of their own insecurities and issues.

Practice Emotional Self-Care: Engage in emotional self-care practices such as mindfulness and meditation. These techniques can help you stay grounded and resilient in the face of emotional turmoil.

#4. Avoid Taking Sides

Resist the Competition: One of the primary goals of triangulation is to make you compete for the narcissist’s approval. Resist this urge to compete with the third party. Remember that your self-worth should not be determined by their validation.

Focus on Self-Validation: Instead of seeking external validation, focus on self-validation. Remind yourself of your worth and the qualities that make you unique. Cultivate self-esteem independently of the narcissist’s opinions.

#5. Practice Self-Care, Relax, and Reduce Stress

Prioritize Self-Care: Invest in self-care practices that nourish your physical and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and a sense of fulfillment. Self-care is essential for building resilience.

Stress Reduction Techniques: Implement stress reduction techniques such as exercise, deep breathing, and spending time in nature. Reducing stress is vital for maintaining emotional balance and healing.

#6. Seek Support: Talk to a Therapist or Counselor

Professional Guidance: Consider seeking the support of a therapist or counselor experienced in dealing with narcissistic abuse. They can provide you with valuable tools to cope with the trauma of triangulation and guide you towards healing and self-empowerment.

Group Therapy: Group therapy or support groups can also be beneficial. Connecting with others who have faced similar experiences can provide validation and a sense of community.

#7. Limit Contact or Go No Contact

Evaluate Your Options: Depending on your circumstances, assess whether limiting contact with the narcissist or going no contact is the best course of action. This can be a difficult step, but it’s often necessary for your mental health and recovery.

Implement Boundaries: If you choose to maintain some level of contact, implement strict boundaries to protect yourself. Limit communication to essential matters and avoid engaging in emotional discussions or confrontations.

#8. Document: Keep Record of Instances of Triangulation

Evidence Matters: Keeping a detailed record of instances of triangulation can serve as valuable evidence and validation of your experience. Document dates, times, and descriptions of the events. This documentation can be crucial if you require legal protection or support in the future.

Maintain Privacy: Ensure that your records are kept securely and privately to prevent the narcissist from discovering them and using them against you.

#9. Build a Support Network of Friends and Family

Lean on Your Support System: Reach out to trusted friends and family members for support. Share your experiences with those who genuinely care about your well-being. A strong support network can provide emotional sustenance during challenging times.

Consider Professional Mediation: In cases where the narcissist is a family member or close friend, consider involving a professional mediator to help navigate difficult discussions or conflicts.

#10. Focus on Your Growth

Personal Development: Use this challenging experience as an opportunity for personal growth. Reconnect with your passions, goals, and aspirations. Investing in your personal development is a powerful antidote to the effects of triangulation.

Set New Goals: Establish new goals and priorities that align with your values and desires. Channel your energy into positive pursuits that contribute to your overall well-being and happiness.

#11. Educate Yourself about Narcissism and Manipulation Tactics

Knowledge is Power: Educate yourself about narcissistic personality disorder and manipulation tactics. Understanding the narcissist’s behaviors and motivations can help you disarm their tactics and regain control.

Resources and Literature: Read books, articles, and attend workshops or seminars on narcissism and recovery. Knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions.

#12. Above All – Stay Safe!

Prioritize Your Safety: Your safety should always be your top priority. If you ever feel physically threatened or unsafe, seek immediate help and protection from law enforcement or a domestic violence shelter. Your well-being and security are paramount.

Breaking free from the clutches of narcissistic triangulation is an arduous but worthwhile journey. By recognizing the signs, understanding the psychology behind it, and implementing these strategies, you can regain control of your life, heal from the trauma, and emerge as a stronger, more resilient individual. Your path to healing begins with the decision to take back control of your life.


In the face of narcissistic triangulation, it’s essential to remember that you are not alone, and there is hope for healing and reclaiming your life. By recognizing the signs, understanding the motivations behind this manipulative tactic, and implementing practical strategies, you can break free from the toxic grip of narcissism.

As you embark on your journey to recovery, always prioritize self-love and self-care. Surround yourself with a support network of friends, family, and professionals who champion your well-being. You have the resilience to overcome the trauma and emerge from this experience stronger, wiser, and more empowered than ever before. Your path to healing begins with the decision to take back control of your life.