Triangulation is one of the favorite weapons of a narcissist; when they see that they’re unable to manipulate you, they bring this out of their arsenal. But what does triangulation mean, and how to react to narcissist triangulation? And most importantly, how to deal with narcissistic triangulation?
A lot of people have asked me to write an article on triangulation because it is a very common tactic that narcissists use to inflict abuse.
Most of the people in this community have suffered triangulation, as I also have personally.
There is already a great deal on the internet about triangulation, and I know many of you have read this information, however, I really wanted to feel into this and understand and convey the dynamics of triangulation on a deeper level.
What is Triangulation?
Triangulation is an indirect dynamic of communication and behaviors involving more than two people that are unhealthy and unwholesome. The trademarks of triangulation are covert operation, deceit, and abuse.
The simple definition of triangulation is: one individual attacking, discrediting (smearing), or/ and abusing another person with the use of third-party people or institutions.
There are three traditional parts of the ‘triangle’. These are:
- The Persecutor – top right of the triangle
- The Rescuer – top left of the triangle, and
- The Persecuted – bottom of the triangle
Many people, on a surface level, believe there is only one person in the triangle acting out unconsciously and unwholesomely. Or at the most two, which of course ‘makes sense’ if we don’t believe we need to raise our own consciousness to change our life, and the only way we can be healthy and safe is to only hold other people responsible.
I don’t endorse this powerless model, and I believe if we choose to remain unconscious we have no ability to detach and heal from toxic situations and create, generate and participate in healthy relationship dynamics.
What I realized, when I previously felt deeply into triangulation, needing to heal the deception of it within my own life, was the ‘gaps’ within myself that had caused me to play out not just one, but two sides of the triangle myself.
I have been the receiver of persecution at the bottom of the triangle, and I have also been at the left-hand top of the triangle believing and defending narcissists against other people they were discrediting.
If you are honest with yourself, you may also recognize a time you too bought into the narcissist’s lies and deceit and believed him or her in regard to discrediting others.
The truth is, to heal and understand everything in our life, and to evolve past any painful lesson, we need to self-reflect. We need to recognize the parts of ourselves that require up-leveling.
These are the disowned inner parts that lead us into unwholesome triangulation, and before healing these parts, how we may have contributed to fuelling the triangulation.
Let’s look at the three roles within triangulation.
This role is something that high-conflict personalities are drawn to adopting. The irony is the persecutor completely believes him or herself to be the victim.
What we need to understand is this – the narcissist is severely emotionally stunted and underdeveloped. Regardless of how mentally high functioning, a narcissist appears to be, he or she has the emotional intelligence of an angry, irrational young child.
Because the narcissist has such intense disowned inner parts of shame and self-loathing, not only does the narcissist behave abysmally (on a hair-line trigger) after perceiving any criticism (intended or not), he or she has to disown any accountability to these knee-jerk reactions.
The narcissist has tried to amputate him or herself away from his or her dark and painful inner shadows unsuccessfully. They still exist, and because the narcissist will not embrace them, take responsibility for them, or heal them they are super-imposed onto the person targeted by the narcissist.
Thus the narcissist, in his or her maladapted thinking, believes you are the pathological person acting out atrocious behavior and that he or she is the victim.
The narcissistic (unconsciously) attacks and tries to destroy the parts of him or herself that he or she despises – the parts that have been projected onto you.
This is the irony of narcissistic abuse – the narcissist acts out and abuses you and then blames you for these acts and seeks to punish your further.