Narcissistic Triangulation in Love, Family, Work & Friends

How does Narcissistic Triangulation work?


Narcissists follow various tactics to trap the victims in the abusive cycle. Among that, Narcissistic triangulation is a crucial and covert tactic that narcissists play on a victim. The answers to the questions, why do narcissists triangulate? and how does narcissistic triangulation affect the victim in different circumstances? will be stated clearly in this article.


Narcissism is a dark triad personality that has the ability to harm people in both emotional and physical ways. The one who possesses this personality can be more exotic and noxious seeking to exploit others’ lives. Narcissistic triangulation is one of the tactics narcissists use to damage the victim. It is difficult to diagnose a person with narcissism. So, it is advisable to limit or avoid having any relationship with narcissists.


What is Narcissistic Triangulation?

Narcissistic triangulation is a crucial and covert activity to trap the victim in the narcissistic abuse by bringing a third unknown or lesser-known person into the relationship. The third person does not necessarily be the victim of the narcissist and still somehow gets included in the triangulation.

The narcissistic triangulation is also called the “divide and conquer” method.  Narcissistic Triangulation may occur within Love, Family, colleagues and Friends which can be more abusive and damaging than any emotional manipulation.


Why do narcissists triangulate you?

The narcissists deliberately triangulate you with another person to

  • Gain control over you
  • Drive you to chase them
  • Make you feel insecure
  • Trigger chaos between the two

Thus, restoring the sense of entitlement and superiority, i.e., narcissistic supply.


How do narcissists use the triangulation tactic?

The narcissist will limit or give no authority to have a conversation with the third person in the triangulation. They keep this distance as a precautionary method to avoid getting exposed and control you easily. Meanwhile, trying to have contact with the other person in the narcissistic triangulation enrages the narcissists and abuses you abruptly.

Narcissists use triangulation tactics to play abusive patterns like manipulation, love-bombing, Ghosting, and gaslighting over the victim in the relationship. The triangulation tactics of the narcissist on a victim differ when the circumstances they are in charge. Whether it may be a narcissistic love, narcissistic family, workplace, or friendships, they play different tactics to obtain different narcissistic supplies from the relationship.

Let’s see the triangulation tactics used on different sequences by narcissists with examples.


Narcissistic Triangulation Across Various Platforms

As stated above, narcissists conduct their narcissistic triangulation differently based on the circumstances. Narcissists find the triangulation technique as a big drama stage and they have the tendency to act on it perfectly as they wish.

They can maneuver the victim or both the victims through triangulation and control them as they wish. The way they control and abuse the victim is what differs in situations. Let’s see how they triangulate the victim across various situations with an example for each.

The narcissistic triangulation will possibly happen within


Narcissistic Love Triangulation: “Hideous and covert”

Love and intimacy are what make you obsessed with the narcissist. You value every word, sex, love, fun, and care you have shared with your partner(narcissist). But, on the flip side, narcissists see you as a mere pawn that can be controlled and sacrificed when they want.

The triangulation in narcissistic love includes another person who is more likely to be the narcissist’s friend, secret partner, or ex. The ultimate target for a narcissistic triangulation in love is to make you feel insecure and admit that the narcissist does not deserve you. So, they include this person in the relationship and always bring them in normal chats to make you feel envious of them.

The narcissist might not blatantly compare you both, but constantly bringing them into the conversation can make you insecure. The other person is probably secretive and does not interact much with you in the triangulation.

Fingers with Face

Narcissist just wants you to feel like you are nothing special for them as they have other better options. But there are possibilities where the narcissist does not even have any contact with the other person and simply uses them for triangulating you.

In case you start to become aware of their triangulation tactic, or try to communicate with the other person, the narcissist will gaslight, give the silent treatment, or abuse you for trying to unlock the truth.


Example of Narcissistic love triangulation

Let’s assume you are a male, who is in love with the narc (N)(female), N introduces a new persona B(male) into the relationship. The N always try to speak about the new guy with you by saying things like,

“He was better at doing this, you know?”

“I remember his voice which I used to love the most”

“His shoulders are much broader than this movie character”

“He knows a lot about sex”

“I love your smell, but his smell is something unique to forgot”

“You can’t handle your emotions like my previous boyfriend”

“This place reminds me of him”

If you ask the N to stop mentioning B, the N responds with something like “Are you doubting me?”, “why are you feeling insecure?”, “I’m just mentioning about him, not comparing with you”, or giving silent treatment for interfering with the N’s triangulation.


Recommended Read: Only these people can make narcissistic love long-lasting


Triangulation in Narcissistic Families: “Deceiving, Manipulative, and family divider”

In a narcissistic family, there are possibilities for any one of the parents or both of them to be narcissists. Having a narcissistic parent might be upsetting when you realize all the love and care given by them has a selfish intent followed by narcissistic abuse. You grew up around them without even a single idea about narcissism and now, you are mature to see your true self after all the agony.

Triangulation in the narcissistic family does not need to have an unknown persona and can be your sibling, parent, relative, or family friend. In the family triangulation scenario, you know the other person well, but somehow you are conflicting with them. The narcissist in your family deceives you to see them as a problem-solver and acts as a mediator between both of you. Psychologists say the narcissists in the triangulation can form alliances with one victim and hurt another.

Brother and Sister surprising their mom

The problem will seem to be solved with the help of the narcissist but it won’t. The conflict will again start between you and the other person. It will feel like being on a rollercoaster as the conflicts arise and subdue simultaneously. Only when giving a deep insight into the problem, you will come to know that the narcissist will be the core reason for those dramas, but acting to be a supporter.

Narcissists are great at twisting the meaning of your words, actions, or whatnot, then triggering a fight between you and the other person in the triangle. They can even use your simple sight (giving a look) against you by saying to the other person that your look means something. 


Example of Narcissistic Triangulation in Families

Let’s assume the family where the Single mother is a narcissist, her son and daughters were the victims of triangulation. If both the kids were younger, the narcissistic triangulation will mostly be a biased comparison on one over the other. It makes the kids insecure and depressed. The narcissistic mother may also assign any kid (let’s say the son) to be her favorite and overvalue him. On the other hand, her daughter will experience shame, guilt, abuse, gaslight, etc., while the son is getting praised. The over-validated son might end up as a narcissist because of his own mom.


Give a Read: How Narcissism originates in Kids?


If the victims were adults, the narcissistic triangulation might differ and be complicated. The narcissistic mother will likely deceive both the kids as being the caretaker and use them against each other for her agenda. She might use phrases like these to act as a victim in the triangulation,

“A family should be always together”

“Let me speak with him for you”

“My own daughter bad-mouthed me”

“My death is the only thing that will join both of you”

“Let the God take me and join this family together”

“If I’m not here, you both will be end up fighting to death”

“I’ve been doing this for our family to be together”

Whatever the narcissist says, it was always been about them. The victim kids will fall for these

words and actually believe that their narcissistic mom cares for them. But in reality, the narcissist is the backbone for every problem that goes on between those siblings.  


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Narcissistic Triangulation in Workplace: Credibility and attention Stealer

Believe it or not, most narcissists are found to be successful in their careers. So, the chance of the narcissists being your trainer, supervisor, manager, or CEO is high. You might be probably engaging with one now, who is trying to play the triangulation tactic on you.

A narcissist in the workplace can be irritating, especially when he/she is in a higher-up job position. They always boast about themselves, and their achievement, and expect to be validated by the employees. If validation and attention lack from someone, the narcissist is more likely to try to fire them. If he/she can’t fire you as you have proven potential in the workplace, the narcissist might plot out the triangulation process to make you unworthy, and lose your credentials and credibility.

The narcissist might triangulate you with your co-worker, or another employee that lies between you and them. They order loads of jobs and criticize you even if you get the job done while praising the other one. Working under a narcissist will be exhausting and non-satisfactory.  

When the narcissist is your co-worker, He/she might look friendly, appreciative, and supportive. However, the narcissistic trait covertly complains or lies to your boss about your incapabilities. You will never know why your boss is upset with you, even if you worked hard. The narcissist will steal your hard work by saying that it was all because of their help. Finally, get praise and attention from the boss for your work.

Narcissistic CEO and Manager angry at the employee

Example of Narcissistic triangulation at the workplace

Assume your c-worker(he) is a narcissist who is triangulating you with the boss, he always clings around you as a good workmate in others’ eyes but silently plots against you. He won’t directly reach the boss and say ill about you. However, he will never forget to mention your flaws to your boss behind your back. He may say these to your boss about you,

“He is good at work, but kind of slow that I have to finish everything at last”

“I won’t usually complain about anyone, but his works are sometimes awful”

“If it’s not my guidance, he couldn’t have perfected this work”

Narcissists saying these will create a thought in your boss’s mind that the narcissists have good leadership skills and think about promoting him. In reality, he just stole your works, displaying them as his.


Narcissistic Triangulation in friendships: “Gossips and Relationship Breaker”

Friendship with a narcissist might seem safe, but it’s not. You might think that you can leave the narcissist behind at any time as it is just a friendship. In reality, a narcissistic friendship can be as hurtful as any narcissistic relationship. They can abuse, control, manipulate, use you as a flying monkey, or damage your reputation.


Recommended Read: How are narcissists hurtful in friendships?


In a narcissistic friendship, the friend you have might act as a great supporter, listener, and caretaker. But the thing that never changes is that they gossip about you behind your back. They can exaggerate any small thing into a great deal. For instance, if you have a misunderstanding with your partner, they might gossip about that like, you are having a breakup with your partner.

Yes, a narcissistic friend envies your relationship even if they have a relationship of their own. So, they force themselves into your relationship and become the center of attention between you and your partner. And that’s how they coordinate narcissistic triangulation in a friendship.

A girl envious of her friend's relationship

Example for narcissistic triangulation in Friendship

Assume you are having a narcissistic triangulation with your friend and your love partner. They listen to things you say about your partner, then exaggerate them in a negative way to your partner. Also, they will tweak the dialects that your partner says about you to them.

This sparks a quarrel between you and your partner. You will never be able to suspect the narcissist and then the narcissist will again act as a mediator to solve the problem. The narcissistic friend will never allow your relationship to be healthy in a triangulation and it finally leads to a breakup. To bring a fight between you and your partner, the narcissists might say,

“Your partner texted me all night and we talked about you”

“You don’t fight him/her, I’ll deal with it”

“The relationship will not last long, if it isn’t me helping you”

“Your partner flirted with me in a friendly manner”

“If you both are not in relationship, I would marry him/her”

“Your partner is my childhood crush, but now I’m the savior of your relationship”

They exaggerate things that make you question your partner in every way. You will completely trust your narcissist that they won’t try to ruin your relationship. But ends with a break up doubting your partner. The narcissist will always show themselves as a victim, but the most vicious one in real life.


How to deal with narcissistic Triangulation?

Getting rid of a narcissist from a narcissistic triangulation is difficult. They might have earned trust and credibility from the other person or people around you. So, getting rid of them quicker might give you a bad face from others. So, follow these quality tips to slowly rid the narcissist from the triangulation. 

  1. Try to ignore the narcissists’ statement
  2. Recognize their intent
  3. Don’t express emotions
  4. Prioritize other trustable peoples
  5. Answer Uninterestedly (Gray-Rock Method)
  6. Reduce communication
  7. Reach the other person in the triangulation to speak up directly
  8. Set boundaries and 
  9. Go no contact if you have to

are the ways you can come out of the narcissistic triangulation, and have a peaceful society with others. If you follow these, there are chances where narcissists can finally leave you in peace, figuring that you knew about them.


To Conclude

Triangulation is like a game for a narcissist. They have the upper hand of everything inside the triangulation until you figure out who they were. Having a narcissistic triangulation in love, family, workplace, and even in friendships can be hurtful. It may also be difficult to go no contact. But setting boundaries, and developing self-worthiness can save a lot of time in trapping you into a triangulation and getting away from narcissistic abuse.

One thought on “How does Narcissistic Triangulation work?

  1. My N “mother” did this and completely destroyed the entire family. It happened so fast that i couldn’t function for about two years. For our entire lives, my siblings, older sister, younger sister and baby brother, has been close and shared the connective bond that we all couldn’t stand our mother. She was a blatantly selfish and covert narcissist. All my life i was the caretaker of everything and i was the one everyone came to for help. I’m not bragging, I’m just the empath in a circle of narcissists (until i became the scapegoat). I truly loved my family unconditionally. And thought they felt the same. This did not happen until i was 49 years old. One day none of us could stand our mother then sudden!y, no one could stand me and my mother was elevated to a saint. I don’t understand how they all collectively forgot every single horrible thing she has done to them. To this day, 9 years ago to be exact, i still have yet to get an answer to exactly what i did or even why they all abandoned me and betrayed me so horribly. i went no contact one day after this abuse. It was really hard, and did 4 years they wouldn’t leave me alone, even after my sweet father died. (We had made our amends when be was dying in the hospital when none of my family was there). Today, I’m a new person and can’t believe i didn’t see the signs that every one of them was a different kind of narcissist. It’s so strange how this is only possible once you’re out of it.

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