Triangulation is one of the many manipulation tactics a narcissist has and sadly, they love to use it. It’s a manipulation strategy in which one person doesn’t communicate directly with another person, but rather uses a third person for communication to the second person, thereby forming a triangle.
Triangulation exists in many forms and has similarities to more common (unhealthy) behaviour such as gossiping, comparing to others, and bad-mouthing others. It’s also called triangulation when there is a form of splitting in which the narcissist manipulates a relationship between two parties by controlling communicating between them.
Triangulation is disturbing behaviour and results in negative energy and chaos instead of harmony in an environment. It can be hard to recognize this behaviour as a narcissist can be very subtle in how they use triangulation or a victim could be very involved in the ‘triangulation game’. Therefore, it’s helpful to learn about it and how this form of manipulative behaviour can play out.
Sometimes a victim doesn’t notice their mind is negatively impacted and that they have become more involved in negative energy. It could become a negative vicious circle of gossiping, comparing, and feeling envious. This can result in being isolated from your support system and as a result becoming more dependent on the narcissist.
The relationship between the narcissist and triangulation can manifest itself in a variety of ways. The narcissist can employ positive reinforcement, telling one of the manipulated parties how much better they are than some other person.
In a romantic relationship, this is used during the “Love bombing phase”, at the beginning of the relationship. The narcissist might speak about how much better their new partner is when compared to their ex and detail everything that was wrong with the former partner.
This always progresses to a “devaluing phase”, where negative reinforcement and positive punishment is used. The narcissist reverses their behavior and criticizes, perhaps by speaking about how much better their ex was compared to the new partner.