What Is Triangulation: A Deeper Look Into A Narcissist’s Manipulation


What Is Triangulation

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.

Related: Narcissist Triangulation With Ex: Types of Triangulation: Emotional Abuse In Relationships

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:

  1. The Persecutor – top right of the triangle
  2. The Rescuer – top left of the triangle, and
  3. 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.

Narcissistic Triangulation

The Persecutor

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.

Related: Understanding Narcissist Triangulation And The Love Triangle

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.

The narcissist is rabid in these times – and totally oblivious that the fuelling of his or her narcissistic rage is self-hatred. You just happen to be the container ‘holding’ these projected split-off parts.

The very definition of unconsciousness is the inability to self-reflect. This retards all ability to grow, heal and evolve – and this is narcissism personified.

A friend and I had a discussion recently about his estranged narcissistic wife. The discussion was how, even if responsibility is feigned by a narcissist, if you confront and attempt to discuss the narcissist’s childhood wounds (the absolute cause of atrocious behavior), the narcissist’s defenses come screaming up like a ten-foot electrified razor-wire fence.

Narcissists do not genuinely confront, claim, admit or take responsibility for these inner wounds. Do the slightest prodding and you will discover how flimsy the ‘taking responsibility’ is.

Okay…back to triangulation…

The triangulation process begins when the narcissist acts narcissistically toward someone, the abused person reacts, and is then classified by the narcissist as ‘the enemy’.

According to the narcissist’s disordered psyche brutal offense is necessary in order to survive. The narcissist truly believes the threat needs to be eliminated, and he or she needs to get the upper hand and disable you before you attack.

Naturally, people who model humanity as love, dedication, and loyalty are devastated when they are ‘adored’ and then ‘abhorred’ on a dime. The narcissist dehumanizes in a way that is unmistakable at these times.

The shock is ‘How can you treat me like this?’

The truth is this – the narcissist has regressed back to the stunted childhood wounds deeply embedded inside him or her. The times of feeling victimized, unacceptable, unlovable, powerless, and violated.

Because these wounds are disowned they have taken on a life of their own and control the narcissist’s personality as a result of triggering severe panic, pain, and rage (all responses to intense powerlessness).

The narcissist unconsciously tries to exorcise these demons by projecting them onto someone else and then destroying that person and the wounds along with them.

Of course, this repeat cycle person after person after person never produces healing, results, or freedom – no matter how many people the narcissist manages to ‘annihilate’.

Additionally, it doesn’t matter how much integrity you have. The narcissist believes and accuses you of things that you don’t have the capacity to think about let alone execute.

The narcissist is totally unconscious regarding your character and is totally clueless to the fact that your reaction of criticism or anger was triggered as a result of being abused by the narcissist.

Instead, the narcissist only has the capacity to de-humanize and demonize you as the container of the narcissist’s shadows.

This narcissist is now a terrified child in an aggressive adult’s body doing anything to stop the imagined assaults he or she believes are inevitable from you, and that he or she feels (childishly) powerless to defend alone. Hence the urgent and frenetic need to recruit allies.

The narcissist, inherently knowing that he or she is powerless (False Selves are anti-life they can’t generate their own authentic energy) needs to rally people or systems as reinforcements to hopefully completely discredit you, and cripple you before you can strike back.

Triangulation is a tactic he or she has generally mastered at a very early age. Virtually every narcissist does it, and it is one of the absolute trademarks of narcissism.

Related: Narcissistic Triangulation and The ‘Normals’: Why They Behave The Way They Do

The Weapon of Deception

The deception required to recruit an organization or another person to do his or her bidding comes easily. Narcissists are amoral – the end justifies the means.

The narcissist as a grown adult is extremely capable of pathological lying, and the narcissist’s brain wiring is disordered. The narcissist often fully believes his or her own lies. Brains are very good at creating ‘stories’ especially when neuron pathways are hard-wired to self-avoidance (unconsciousness).

At the very least the narcissist will believe his or her righteous justifications for telling the lies.

Unfortunately, many humans don’t suspect that a seemingly ‘sane’ ‘functioning’ person can tell them bare-faced lies. Narcissists are also brilliant actors. From a very young age, they have perfected the craft of acting out emotions in order to manipulate.

As you can imagine I have heard the most incredible stories narcissists have used to smear business associates, love partners, friends, and family members. I also have experienced the most incredible smear campaigns myself (as I am sure you have too).

Sadly, many people believe the narcissist’s lies because they surmise “Why would this person be saying that unless it was true?!”

However healthy people do not get involved, or seek the truth for themselves.

People who are not hooked by the narcissist may believe the lies, offer sympathy and even suggest solutions or support for the narcissist, but are unlikely to take on attacking the person who the narcissist is smearing as their own personal crusade.

If they did – I only have one assessment for that. This person has their own unresolved shadows (inner wounds) that they project outwards as righteous attacks of ‘trying to right the world’s evils’.

Organizations often have no option other than to get involved with the narcissist’s lies, because it’s their job to investigate claims of child abuse, criminal activity, fraud, tax evasion, violence, etc.


The Rescuer

Triangulation may include an organization at the top left of the triangle, a fictitious character, or a fabricated statement. Narcissists commonly use third-party ally statements (real or fabricated).

An example is “I spoke to Joe. He and his wife agree what you do is ruining our relationship.”

Or of course, there may be a real person, convinced that the narcissist is the good person, playing the rescuer role for the narcissist.

The rescuer is being used by the narcissist; he or she is also a victim, and also being abused.

The narcissist uses the rescuer as an extension of his or her agenda and has no qualms about dragging these people in, lying to them, getting them involved in the chaos, or putting them at risk – even criminally, if they chose to engage in that level.

These people are objects and may be discarded when their usefulness is complete, and then maybe re-recruited by the narcissist when the next triangulation opportunity presents.

The narcissist may go as far as to incite these people to do his or her dirty work, exit the scene and let them take the fall in his or her place.

So what makes someone susceptible to this role?

A variety of things.

Generally, this person has been hooked by the narcissist and is trying to win his or her approval.

This person may have assigned the narcissist as their ‘source’, and due to struggling to generate their own self-worth and self-value buys the narcissist’s lies about ‘how special they are to the narcissist’.

The narcissist may lie or feign promises leading to some ‘hope’ for the future that this person believes is necessary from the narcissist – such as ‘love’, ‘approval’ ‘repayment’ of ‘making amends’ or ‘security’.

The common denominator for people who chose to believe the narcissist’s version of events (despite the ‘off’ and unwholesome feelings internally experienced and red flags appearing), is in some area of their life they see the narcissist as the source of what they want or need, rather than believing they are a generative source of that to themselves.

Related: The Love Triangle: Why Triangulation Is So Intriguing To A Narcissist?

Intimate Partner Rescuers

New partners are often easily triangulated against ex-partners.

The new partner wants to believe the fairy tale, and the façade the narcissist presents as ‘the dream partner who is the answer to all previous loneliness / emotional pain / security. ‘

The new partner does not want to investigate the ex-partner(s) evidence, does not want to question ‘the dream’, and easily believes the narcissist’s version. Especially when the narcissist is supplying the intoxication of ‘perfect love’ that narcissists do in the love-bombing period.

The new partner would rather ignore the truth and believe the lies.

Down the track, ex-partners, who were once at the bottom of the triangle being smeared and discredited to third parties, are often re-recruited to rescuer status when things turn sour with the new partner.

The narcissist is apt to go into a hoovering phase with still contactable ex-partners when cracks appear in future relationships. The narcissist may be low on narcissistic supply and/or suffering narcissistic injury, and the narcissist wishes to inflict punishment and revenge on the new partner for not complying with the narcissist’s False Self.

The ex-partner, if still hooked and not recovered from the previous narcissistic abuse, is highly susceptible to be used for sex, attention, sympathy, becoming an object of revenge, energy, resources, and anything else the narcissist feels entitled to at this time.

The ex-partner may also take a stand against the new partner in a futile attempt to convince the narcissist that he or she is loyal and therefore worth loving and committing to again.

The narcissist can be totally charming, appear remorseful, and even adoring when moving the ex-partner up from the bottom of the triangle to the top left-hand corner.

This ex-partner naturally wants to believe the lies.

This person despite previous abuse doesn’t want to imagine the narcissist is very capable of demoting him or her again and is likely to be playing out multiple games of smearing and demonizing different sexual partners to each other (behind their backs) and creating them as the rescuer (in person) simultaneously.

This, of course, sets them up against each other.

The different parties completely distrust each other and don’t believe each other’s versions. They also choose to believe the narcissist is so repulsed that there is no way he or she would go near that person let alone heaven forbid have sex with them.

Despite the numerous warning bells, red flags, inconsistencies and gnawing horrible feeling that something unsavory is taking place.

The narcissist thus continues his or her operations undetected.

Many of you may have experienced this and know exactly what I am talking about. Maybe now you are thinking back and a light has come on for you.

The second narcissist in my life was discovered doing this with at least three different women (myself being one of them).

Eventually, we all discovered the truth despite his lies and demonizing allegations about ‘us’ all against each other.

Naturally, behavior like this is incredibly disturbing, pathological, and quite frankly sick. However, what is incredibly important is to take responsibility for how we got into such a toxic dynamic, why we choose not to see the truth, and why we chose to believe lies and dismiss red flags.

My healing journey required enormous self-reflection and extreme dedication to self-work in order to release horrendous betrayal, and the darkness of female misogyny and sexual and emotional predatory abuse.

Most importantly, what required confronting and releasing was my inner unhealed and disowned parts which had led me to being involved with a narcissist, and being both the persecuted and the rescuer on such a dark pathological triangle.

The blind spots without ourselves cause us to miss the blind spots in others.

Related: 8 Mental Abuse Tactics To Watch Out For

Non-Intimate Rescuers

Rescuers can also be people who are not past or current intimate partners.

Other people, used by the narcissist against the narcissist’s target, can include a family member (suffering from lack of self-worth) who is trying to source worthiness via the narcissist’s approval.

Likewise, a business associate (suffering from a lack of self-capability) who believes the narcissist is a ticket to security and wealth may delude him or herself and combine forces with the narcissist against the target.

Friends of the narcissist who suffer from a lack of self-worth and self-esteem, who get the payoff of the narcissist in their life for emotional approval and favors, or who are hooked and manipulated with guilt, may also be easy recruitment targets.

This is especially likely if this person acts out ‘righteousness’ as a result of projecting their own disowned inner wounding,


The Persecuted

Many people in this community know exactly what it is to be at the bottom of the triangle – being subjected to the narcissist’s smear campaigns, abuse by proxy, and discrediting your family, friends, community, and associates.

If you are hooked on this, you are in for a very hard time.

Narcissists are masters at playing out pathological behavior, inciting reactions, and turning the tables with “Look at him/her. THAT is the insane person”, and the more upset and frantic you become the guiltier you look.

I have been privy to more triangulation cases than I can count – as well as having experienced it myself.

This I promise you – the more you try to plead your innocence, highlight the narcissist’s pathology and clear your name the worse things get.

The more distressed, dismayed, angry, and victimized you are, the more you hand over your narcissistic supply, the more people will band with the narcissist and the greater your reputation, relationships (even those with the people you love the most) and livelihood will suffer.

The Self-Defeating Model of Unconsciousness

You may feel like this is totally unfair.

You may exclaim “I have a right to be incensed!”

And of course, you can continue down that path if you want… however there are two crucial reasons why it’s pointless.

The first is, that you are playing straight into the narcissist’s hands. You will NOT achieve exposing the narcissist. Instead, you grant the narcissist the egoic delight of knowing he or she has the power to severely affect you.

This is A-grade revenge and narcissistic supply at its best.

The energy you direct at the situation provides what every high-conflict personality thrives on – the fuelling of a battle where you are NO match for the insane, delusional out of bounds behavior that the narcissist is capable of.

You may have some people in your camp granting you sympathy and agreeing with your constant dismay and efforts to expose the narcissist.

Related: Emotional Abuse and Sociopaths

The following may be a hard pill to swallow, but it is the truth. Regardless of how much this person empathizes with your pain, a healthy true friend could not view your obsession and see the mania of it without realizing how unhealthy it is.

If these people agree with you – they are enabling your own self-destruction, and are ‘Yes” people who have their own agendas for not telling you the truth, or they have extremely poor boundaries, or/and their own unconscious issues to allow them to be involved with fuelling victimhood.

If these people aren’t calling you out on what you are doing to yourself they are not authentic friends. These people are extremely similar to the unhealthy people the narcissist recruits as ‘The Rescuer’.

Not surprisingly you will discover many people pull away from you, because you have become too toxic and unhealthy to be around.

I promise you with all my heart – I have not seen ONE person on the incensed victimized track get well, get relief, heal or be able to productively get on with their life.

How can they when every day is poisoned with the toxic energy of ‘what the narcissist has done, is doing, or will do’.

The second reason, and as far as I am concerned the most important reason you shouldn’t take on the incensed victimised stance is: if you DO you have MISSED your evolution lesson.

Which means you are doomed to re-create it over and over again – until you finally DO take it on.

Let’s go back to the understanding of what unconsciousness is.

Unconsciousness is the inability to self-reflect and realize that you are the emotional energetic creator of your own experience.

Unconsciousness is the powerlessness of trying to control and change situations outside of yourself to improve your life rather than evolving yourself.

Unconsciousness is the root of all pain, all less than experiences, all inability to change painful patterns in life and all dysfunctional relations and relationships – including the devastation of triangulation.

We know the narcissist has no hope of becoming conscious, and that is not ‘ours’ anyway.

Related: Confronting Narcissistic Abuse

The Empowering Model of Consciousness

So how do WE become conscious?

By taking our attention inside us to ‘what hurts’ and drop deeply within to find and heal the original wounds that led us into this mess.

Module 4, 5, and 8 of The Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program are very powerful self-reflection and healing tools for triangulation.

By going deeply inside we discover many things about our own shadows that caused us to generate being triangulated (as our wake-up call), and exactly why we are panicked, incensed, hooked in, and feeling so abused and powerless.

What is it really about?

Here is a small list of the types of inner wounding that commonly leads us to attract and be persecuted in triangulation.

  • Believing your worth is dependent on approval from others, rather than loving and approving of yourself.
  • As a child being scapegoated, blamed, and distrusted.
  • Believing you will ‘die’ or feel like you are ‘dying’ because the person who you thought was the source of your life is now demonizing you.
  • Carrying the young inner wounds of terror of being punished (or even annihilated) because of something you have done.
  • Carrying the young inner wounds of terror that you will lose things or people dear to your heart because of something you have done.
  • Being triggered with the intense young inner panic “I have to change crazy people from being crazy so that I can be safe.”

I promise you – no matter how BADLY the narcissist is behaving your fearful, disturbed, panicked reactions are NOT coming from a healthy adult inner center. They are triggers from very young, underdeveloped unhealed parts of you that established these wounds LONG before the narcissist brought these submerged wounds up to the surface for you.

One of the most simplest and profound realizations is this: when we have unresolved trauma it is trapped in our bodies. It then has ‘a life of its own’. What this means is we have internalised the abuser and the abusive acts, and we remain bonded to them, and we will continue re-creating that abuse over and over again.

Whatever wounds we have within us that remain unconscious present to us from the outside – from The Field of Life – in order to make them conscious.

Until they are healed…

That’s WHY this trauma has to be accessed and released.

Related: What is Narcissistic Abuse: 16 Signs To Identify And How To Protect

It’s vital to understand the original wounding is NOT the narcissist – he or she is the continuation of The Field bringing to you your already unconscious wounds.

This is why it is fruitless to think the changes CAN take place outside of you. If you remain unconscious and your inner wounds keep fuelling your reactions, then The Filed via the narcissist will just get LOUDER.

The more IGNITED these wounds are, the more they project into and draw from The Field the absolute evidence of them.

No amount of unconscious ‘doing’ rectifies this.

Can you see what is really going on?

If you were coming from a healthy adult centre you would detach, pull back, know your own solidness, truth and integrity non-dependent on others ‘getting it’, create boundaries, deal with everything calmly and logically as needed, and start generating your own healthy life that does NOT include pathological insanity.

The real truth of the matter is: if you were already healed and did not have these blind-spots, triangulation could NOT have turned up in your life. You would have pulled away long before matters got to this level.

The truth is when you do heal these parts you will feel solid, you will feel resolved, and you will no longer be addicted and obsessed. You will healthily detach, and you will be free.

Not just from this toxic exchange – but ALSO from the possibility of future events.

That was my REAL truth – and it is yours as well.

This is not about shame and blame – this is about taking personal responsibility and claiming personal power. The truth is never shaming unless we chose to try to stuff our shadows back down, and then of course we shame ourselves. In stark contrast, The Truth is the LIGHT that dissolves these shadows and sets us free.

The evolved parts of ourselves know Life supports truth, integrity, and solidness and we have nothing to fear from powerless False Selves.

It is only our young, fearful, insecure unhealed parts that hand energy over to narcissists – and it is these parts of ourselves that provide the fuel for narcissists to do what they do.

Without our wounding and associated fear and pain narcissists have NO power.

Which is exactly what you will experience for yourself if you take the gift of the lesson and evolve yourself.

You will up-level into no pain, no handing over of energy, no obsession or thoughts spent on rubbish. Additionally, you will experience people automatically believing you (not that your Identity requires that to feel ‘whole’) and you will know a greater level of empowerment and emotional freedom than you ever believed possible.


Because this experience led you to heal your inner shadows that you previously didn’t know you needed to heal.

The unconscious became conscious.

You will also experience the narcissist falling flat on his or her face (not that your Identity requires that to feel ‘whole’). Because when you no longer provide energy, the narcissist can’t produce any on his or her own.

The truth is: narcissists are ‘lifeless’ and have to steal energy to produce any.

Related: Singed and Spinning From Gaslighting: An Emotional Abuse Weapon Of Extreme Narcissists

Defeating the narcissist authentically by starving him or her of your energy may be your initial motivation to start becoming conscious.

However, I’d like you to understand the greatest powerful truth you could ever know, one that your entire life experience depends upon.

When your orientation becomes totally about dedication to detaching from what other people are or aren’t doing and becomes firmly involved in the up-levelling of your own unconscious parts, you will break free into the greatest joy, expansion, peace, love, and flourishing that you have ever known.

You will start connecting with and generating your True Being and your True Life. You will also create a world one person at a time where energy is no longer provided to narcissists.

Then they will be left with themselves only, with only two choices remaining…

Get conscious or become extinct.

I look forward to replying to your comments and questions.

Want to know more about narcissists triangulation? Check this video out below!

Narcissistic triangulation in relationships

Written By Melanie Tonia Evans   
Originally Appeared On Melanie Tonia Evans 
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What Is Triangulation: A Deeper Look Into A Narcissist’s Manipulation
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What Is Triangulation: A Deeper Look Into A Narcissist’s Manipulation

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