Questions & Answers about Narcissistic Abuse & Recovery... Helping YOU to understand this virulent form of insidious, toxic abuse, and what you can do to protect yourself and start healing. 

What is Narcissistic Triangulation? Understanding the Positive & Negative

What is Narcissistic Triangulation? Understanding the Positive & Negative

Triangulation is a tactic Narcissists use to employ a third party by bringing them into the relationship (superficially or otherwise) in their attempts to belittle, confuse, or worry you, create jealousy, fear of loss and causing you to vie for their attention and affections.


So triangulation involves three people – the narcissist, their victim, and the ‘third party’ who gets drawn into the drama, usually in a covert operation orchestrated by the narcissist. And I should point out at this time, that the narc can have several of these triangles operating at any one time.

However, not all triangles are the same – there are two sides to triangulation – positive, and negative.


Positive triangulation is the tactic narcissists use to gain favour with other people - it could be your family, your friends, their family and friends, work colleagues, ex-partners, future potential partners, and even complete strangers. Basically, just about anyone in your life, and in their life, will be a target for them to build a web of lies and deceit about you so that they can gain more narcissistic supply or fuel from all concerned.


They use this positive triangulation to make themselves seem like angels, and paint you as unstable, crazy, difficult, demanding, and a thousand other things that are simply not true about you. This helps them gain sympathy – aka fuel – from the triangulation target, and it goes a long way to explaining why their subsequent smear campaigns against you can be so successful.


They are so charming, convincing, and believable, that they can completely discredit you, even to people who you believed would never fall for such lies. Yes, even family and ‘best friends’ have been duped.


Positive Triangulation like this is also used to make you feel inadequate,  inferior, and worthless. For example, when your narc openly flirts with another right in front of you, or when a parent openly praises your sibling but never praises you. Very few people, when they are receiving praise, will EVER consider that it’s at someone else’s cost… 99% of the time, they will just enjoy the compliment. In the case of flirting, if the flirting narc is attractive, there’s also a hidden agenda and they’re probably looking at their next tasty narcissistic snack. 

And of course, you realize that this new person could be a threat to your relationship, so it sparks the fear in you that you could lose your partner. Obviously, this takes place when you are still in love and though confused and distressed most of the time in the relationship, you’re still not ready to let go. You’re afraid to lose this partner because you’re still hanging on and hoping for a return to the golden days.

But the Narcissist is  doing this deliberately, to instill this fear of loss into you... to make you feel that you're at risk of losing them to this new, attractive person they are flirting with. This causes you to want to please them even more, so you become more subservient, pliable and fall deeper under their spell, and ultimately, their control. 

So what can you do if you’re dealing with this? The harsh reality is that you have to open your eyes and see what the narc is doing to you. If they regularly flirt in front of you, that’s a huge red flag. Someone who loves and respects you just doesn’t behave like that.


Research triangulation and start looking for the correlating behaviours in your relationship. Look for evidence. And once you find it, you’ll realize that this kind of behaviour is not going to stop. Narcissists are incapable of changing their behavior and everything they do is geared to getting supply, and destroying you in the process.


Your only answer is to get out. I know that’s not going to be easy, but it is the only answer. No matter how long you’ve been in the relationship, no matter how scared you might be, you have to plan your exit strategy because if you don’t, you will spend the rest of your life in misery.


However, while you’re planning your exit strategy, what you CAN do during this stage is to IGNORE the flirting. Don’t let the narc see that it’s upsetting you. Put on your poker face! By doing this, you deprive them of fuel and if you can perfect your poker face, they may at least let up on this particular tactic.


But I reiterate that you need to get out. You can’t be happy in a relationship with a narcissist. And I want you to know that there IS a way out. There is always a way out. You have to start believing that right now, if you’re watching this and thinking that there isn’t.


Everything that is happening to you is a reflection of your deep inner beliefs about what you deserve. Subconsciously, you are attracting this relationship because deep down, you don’t love yourself. You don’t believe you deserve better. You have very low self-worth and a hurting inner child who needs your love.


Realising this, and coming to understanding and accepting it, is a big step… but it’s at the core of everything, across the board of Narcissistic Abuse as far as I’m concerned.


If you loved yourself unconditionally, and had infinite self-worth, you would never, ever become a target… or a victim of a narc. You’d send them packing at the first sign of disrespect. What I want to do in these videos is help you to understand that.


Negative Triangulation is when there is an important person in your life who the narcissist sees as a threat – for example, your child or children. The Narc can’t bear to see you giving your time and attention to anyone else, so they will do everything they can to disrupt, corrupt and destroy that relationship. They will try every trick in the book to drive a wedge between you and your child, or whoever the person is who’s important to you.


And it doesn’t matter if you’re caring for a sick, elderly parent… the narcissist hates illness and weakness of any kind and they have absolutely no compassion towards the sick… so if you’re in this kind of situation, the narc’s hatred of you for caring for a sick person will intensify.


So what can you do about it? Firstly, learn about it, know the tricks the narc will play, familiarize yourself with them, and know that nothing you try to say or do will change them. You can’t reason with them.


As with all narc relationships, your only true chance of finding peace is to get out. So once again, my advice is to plan your exit strategy. Find the way out. And remember what I said about self-love and self-worth… if you can learn to love and value yourself for the unique person that you are, you’ll never be a victim of any kind of abuse, ever again.

Maria McMahon


Narcissistic Triangulation