Narcissistic Triangulation in Friendships – How to Respond?

What is Narcissistic Triangulation? How does narcissistic triangulation in friendships affect the social circle? How to respond to such situations? If you have a narcissistic friend, then toxicity does not leave your social circle.

There might be a new issue every day that you may have to deal with; as having a narcissist in the social group is a curse and a boon at the same time. Troubles begin to pop up as soon as the narcissist walks in and troubles prevail until they leave. Though this may seem like an exaggeration, the gist of the statement is that narcissists are manipulative and they do not give up any chance to create chaotic and biased situations and obtain their narcissistic supply.

If you have a narcissistic friend then might have come across a situation of dispute where they involve others just to make their point stronger. Narcissistic triangulation is where they involve a third person in an ongoing issue for various reasons. They often use this technique while having disputes, uncommon arguments, or disagreements. If you are facing a similar situation then this is the right chance to acknowledge those with this article and also know some way to respond to such situations.

Before proceeding with the topic, let us know mainly what is triangulation and why narcissists triangulate.

What is Triangulation?

Triangulation while referred to with psychology, is a situation where a single person is able to play off with two or more people at a time, manipulating them, playing with their emotions, and forcing their victims only to communicate through them. It is a similar strategy to divide and rule, where the narcissist is the conqueror or ruler and the victims become their subjects. They would manipulate their victims to side with them, outwinning the other victims.

In simple words, it is just a circumstance, where one person tries to control situations, where they maintain control over their victims or opponents by encouraging differences of opinions and forbidding the other two parties from uniting. They only want they become the centre of the dispute and both parties fight it off to side with them.

It is a manipulative tactic where two parties or two people try to draw in a third party or third person to change the trajectory of the problematic situation. It is a situation where a person wants to seek an advantage over others by creating issues and forcing them to choose sides to dominate the scenario. Triangulation may not always be intentional for other people, but for narcissists, it is a way to navigate and make the situation more uncomfortable and rugged than it already is.

The goal of triangulation is to be the deciding factor or derivating person who becomes someone of true importance by making a critical situation in a dispute situation. Sometimes this can be done by directly or indirectly participating in a disagreement between two parties and becoming a critical link to drive the end result of the problem thus holding the power as the third party who may be active or inactive in playing their role, but wins ultimately.

Reasons why Triangulation is commonly used

To create a distraction from the real issue and divert people off-topic.

Diverting the stress of a problematic situation onto a third party.

Making the critical difference in a tricky and troublesome situation to gain control and power.

To incline the argument towards someone by seeking help from others.

Strengthening one person’s superiority to make a ruling.

This may be a positive point, but sometimes triangulation is also used to make an attempt to solve an argument using a third party.

What is Narcissistic Triangulation?

Triangulation may or may not be done on purpose, whereas narcissistic triangulation differs here, as it is done on purpose with intentions. Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder use consistent and unchanging patterns of triangulation that may include some major roles. These roles are in context with a narcissist’s characteristics and desire to win the third party in order to win the argument or disagreement.

These major roles are discussed below,

The Victim – Narcissists would present themselves as the victim here. They would present themselves as someone who is being taken advantage of and someone who is helpless. Narcissists have the victim mentality if they believe that they can gain something out of the guilt-tripping. Narcissists are manipulators and they tend to manipulate people around them to gain benefit.

The Rescuer – To imagine a narcissist as a rescuer may not seem very likely, and unimaginable but there are a few instances where a narcissist plays the role of a rescuer in order to gain superiority and power in some situations. They would take the role of a rescuer just to present the final verdict and smoothen things over. They would also take the responsibility to support the party they are siding with to make them feel guilty.

The Persecutor – Narcissists acts as the initiator for blaming, attacking, and using aggression and criticism to highlight the wrongdoer. When they make up their mind regarding someone as the wrongdoer, they would take any measures to establish the same.

Why Does a Narcissist Use Triangulation?

Narcissists use triangulation to gain control over others and also to gain attention and adoration. Narcissists may also use triangulation to protect their boosted egos. Narcissists constantly need their narcissistic supply, which they gain by manipulating others and gaining control over them. Narcissists gain control over the situation by using triangulation by siding with the victim and acting as the mediator who is able to change the situation for the victim by winning over the argument.

Triangulation may encourage the victim to support the narcissist by complimenting them, admiring their presence in the argument, and being supportive to them, thus providing a narcissistic supply to the narcissist indirectly. One of the parties with whom the narcissist is siding may praise the narcissist and would do anything to win against the opposite party. Though both parties would not understand what is going on, also they would understand the manipulation tactic of triangulation.

Narcissistic Triangulation in Friendships

A narcissist would try to bring triangulation in the friendships and other social relations that they are involved in. They would use triangulation to distract their peer’s attention from their changed behavior after revealing their rushed bond. When their mask of fakeness falls off, they need a distraction to maintain their reputation among their peers. They would use triangulation to bewilder their peers from figuring out the true self of the narcissist.

It becomes really difficult to figure out the narcissists as they conceal their true selves flawlessly. Yet there are a few examples which may help you to recognize the triangulation tactic,

Always looking for praise and adoration in the friendship, in order to feel more worthy.

To gain superiority in friendships by flaunting one’s knowledge to win some argument.

Repetitively mentioning other friends to make the current friend group feel inferior. This way they would intrigue their friend’s interest in making the narcissists feel more satisfied with their friendship. This way narcissist procures their narcissistic supply.

Acting entitled to their friend, in order to gain importance in the friendship, and making them choose between them and other friends just to boost their sense of entitlement.

Always comparing themselves to a person’s other friends in the peer group and making them feel predominant.

How to Respond or Deal with Narcissistic Triangulation in Friendships?

Narcissistic friendships do not involve trust and support. They constantly manipulate others using many tactics, thus it becomes important to find ways to deal with Narcissistic Triangulation in Friendships including other relationships. Let us know a few steps that you can take to respond effectively to the Narcissistic Triangulation in Friendships,

Establishing Boundaries

Setting boundaries can help you maintain your emotional well-being in the first place. It is not possible entirely to stop the narcissistic friend from manipulating you, but it is absolutely possible to remind them of the boundaries now and then. Setting boundaries means clearly discussing what behavior is acceptable and what is not. Stick to your boundaries and do not let them manipulate you.

Seeking support outside the narcissistic friendship

When you start realizing that narcissists are constantly using triangulation to side with whoever is beneficial to them, it may not take much time to turn this triangulation into a regular and toxic cyclical abusive incident. When this happens start seeking support and friendship from someone else other than the narcissist. You can seek support from family members, other friends, or even a professional therapist. Seeking help from others may provide a safe space for you to vent, gain guidance, and feel secure from narcissistic abuse.

Knowing your self-worth

A narcissist directly targets you to degrade you and make you feel low and bad. They always try to victimize the innocent by blameshifting and creating a make-believe situation where even you can be tricked by their manipulative tactics. They would often side with their friends in a social circle, who are influential and beneficial. They would use triangulation to make others feel inferior. But do not forget your worth here, you are much more important than a narcissist’s devaluation.

Recognize the Signs

One of the most important steps to recognize that you are being abused is noticing the signs of narcissistic triangulation. A narcissistic triangulation involves one person who is the narcissist manipulating other friends in the group by creating disagreements, arguments, and fights in order to maintain their power and control. The important signs to note here are controversies, differences of opinion, rumors, gossip, and pitting them against each other.

Make a habit of communicating directly

Avoid gossip and make a habit of communicating directly with other friends without including the narcissist in the communication. This would ensure that the narcissists are unable to use you as a pawn in their game of triangulation.

Final Thoughts

Remember that dealing with narcissists and their manipulative tactics is never easy. Thus dealing with triangulation requires you to believe in yourself, be self-aware, and prioritize and protect your well-being. Also, make sure to protect your emotional and mental well-being.

Make sure to surround yourself with positive and uplifting friends around you.

Ella Carrillo

Ella Carrillo

Hey Reader, I am Ella, an Online and Offline Therapist holding an experience of 6 years in this field. From Relationship, Depression, and Personality Disorder to Narcissistic problems, I have helped a lot of people find their solutions. Upon gathering a number of common problems that people face, I decided to put the information on this blog so that anyone can get their answers easily.

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