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    Narcissistic Triangulation: Putting a third person against you

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    Louise Hay
    @louisehay
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    Does your partner continually compare you to the ex?

    Does a friend speak ill of you to exclude you from your circle of friends?

    Did your father / mother turn the rest of the family against you?

    If any of these situations are familiar to you, chances are you are a victim of narcissistic triangulation, a form of manipulation common in narcissists, but not limited to. It is a toxic game in which the manipulator destabilizes his victim by resorting to third parties, a subtle and destructive form of psychological abuse based on the generation of confusion, in order to exercise control over the victim.



    What is narcissistic triangulation?

    Triangulation is an indirect manipulation tactic involving more than two people. The manipulator attacks, discredits or abuses his victim with the help - usually unconscious - of a third person. It resorts to an elusive communication style that includes another person, real or imagined, in a relationship where there should only be two of them.

    The 3 actors of triangulation

    In triangulation there are three actors: the manipulator, the victim and the third person. Each of them plays different roles:

    1. The manipulator

    He is the person who is pulling the strings in the relationship, and although he engages in abusive behavior, he is likely to perceive himself as a victim. In fact, many people who resort to manipulation, such as narcissists, have a conflicted and stunted personality, so their emotionality is more like that of a child than that of a mature adult.

    Therefore, it is not unusual that, in his logic of thinking, he considers himself a victim who is defending himself and tries to blame the real victim for his actions and emotions. This person will subconsciously try to exorcise his demons by projecting them onto his victim, who he will try to dominate or even destroy.



    2. The third person

    He is the third person who introduces the manipulator into the relationship to control his victim, although he may also be a fictional character created especially for the occasion. The manipulator will use this person's statements - real or fictional - to make his victim feel guilty. In some cases, that person is also called "savior" because, according to the story told by the manipulator, he has the mission to take his side and "save" him from his victim / executioner. Typically, the third person is also a victim of machinations, because he is used by the manipulator to achieve his goals.

    Indeed, the manipulator will have no qualms about lying to her, engaging her in chaos, and dragging her to get what he intended. He will use it to do the "dirty work" and when he no longer needs it, he will probably put it aside. Generally they are people who are very close to the manipulator or who want to get his approval, so they usually fall into his game without putting up too much resistance or reflecting on his words and behavior, so they do not detect inconsistencies, falsehoods or injustices.

    3. The victim

    It is the person who is being manipulated, who is subject to abuse of power or the smear campaigns of the manipulator. At first, it is normal that she does not notice the manipulation because the emotional bond with the manipulator leads her to justify her behavior.

    It is important to keep in mind that every relational dynamic always implies a certain "complicity" between two people, so the victim also has a share of responsibility in the manipulation, usually because he takes on a passive and submissive role. It is likely that at first she chose - more or less consciously - to remain unaware of what was happening in order to maintain the idealized image of the manipulator and not generate further conflicts.


    This does not mean that he is to blame for the manipulation, it just means that sometimes our psychological mechanisms play tricks on us, making us more likely to become victims. Indeed, people who have developed insecure attachments are more vulnerable to falling into toxic relationships, motivated by their emotional dependence.


    How is triangulation produced?

    Typically the manipulator starts his game after an idyllic time. After covering his victim with attention, love and all kinds of details, he begins to withdraw them, accusing her of being the culprit of his change. Then the third person appears, which can be a former partner with whom he constantly confronts her or a mutual friend who criticizes her behavior.

    In this way the manipulator sends a clear message: you are no longer the center of my life, you have stopped being a special person to become a toxic person who is damaging the relationship. He will say that other people in his closest circle think alike, especially if the victim respects or appreciates the people he refers to.

    As a result, the victim will begin to feel insecure, jealous and disparaged. He will wonder if he is behaving correctly and, probably, to satisfy the manipulator, he will surrender to his desires in a vain attempt to recover the initial idyllic relationship - something that will not happen again or will happen cyclically to fall back into the cycle of punishment.

    The 3 tactics of triangulation

    1. Generate jealousy

    Manipulators often resort to triangulation to generate jealousy in the partner. In the beginning, they will be casual and sporadic conversations about a new person or former partner, in which the victim will always lose because he is not smart enough, kind or attractive enough as the third person.


    In a relationship, for example, the manipulator may flirt with another person, but then he will deny it and cause the victim to obsess so he can use his jealousy against her, claiming that he is exaggerating, that he is too sensitive and it is oppressing him. This turns a normal, understandable reaction into a cause of guilt.


    2. Enlistment

    In this case, the manipulator recruits third parties to oppose the victim. In fact, this triangulation tactic is meant to get as many people to stand on his side and share his distorted view of what's going on.

    If the manipulator is arguing with his victim about a disagreement, for example, he will ask friends and family for support to stand on his side, against the victim. It is also common for him to just tell his version of events to attract more supporters.

    3. Defamation

    This triangulation tactic is extremely harmful as the manipulator recruits third parties by falsifying reality. It is no longer a limited and self-centered view, but invents things against the victim so that everyone thinks he is the "bad guy".

    In other cases, the manipulator is likely to tell the victim that a friend of hers has spoken ill of her, pretending to be on her side and even to defend her. He is thus able to isolate her from his most intimate circle, feigning solidarity and presenting himself as the "defender". When the victim is alone and fully trusts the manipulator, he will have tremendous power over her to get what she wants.

    How to get out of the triangulation network?

    Getting out of the triangulation network and closing emotional wounds is not easy, but one must embark on the journey of recovery for a simple matter of psychological survival. How to do it?

    - Become aware that you are a unique and special person

    To get out of the triangulation it is not enough to break the ties with the manipulator, you have to do a deep psychological work to replace the maladaptive beliefs that have been planted in your mind.

    It is necessary to raise awareness of the toxic nature of the manipulator and the reality of the abuses suffered. Realizing what happened does not mean taking on the role of a passive victim and regretting one's bad luck, but it is an essential step to free yourself from the sense of guilt and to be able to move on for good.

    On the other hand, people who resort to triangulation strive to make their victims believe that they are easily replaceable. This destroys their self-esteem, which is why victims are often psychologically devastated. The manipulator "brainwashed" him to believe they were the problem, a deeply ingrained belief that you need to eliminate.

    To recover you must restore the identity that the manipulator tried to erode, erase and belittle. You have to find your worth and understand that you are a unique person. This involves diving within yourself to find those values ​​and characteristics that make you special.

    - Stop idealizing the manipulator

    When the manipulator starts his game by introducing a third person, the victim's normal reaction is fear, the fear of losing a meaningful relationship. Fear, however, is not a good travel companion and can cloud your judgment by making you idealize the manipulator.

    Instead, you need to develop a more objective view. To achieve this, the practice of detachment can help you. Imagine the worst that could happen if that relationship ended. What situation would you find yourself in? What would it change? Maybe it would be difficult, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. It will certainly hurt, but only once. If you stay in that relationship you will suffer forever.

    - Eliminate unnecessary comparisons

    One of the manipulator's strategies is to try to make his victim compete with the third person and make sure he always loses. You have to understand that it is not necessary to compete with anyone. When someone loves healthily, they won't want their loved one to have to compete for their love or attention.

    Consider that one of the most damaging beliefs we carry from childhood is that we have to compete with others to prove our worth. This belief allows for toxic and destructive conditioning in relationships, so it is likely that even if you have moved away from the manipulator, you will continue to confront each other.

    But if you spend your life confronting every person you meet, your mental balance will suffer greatly. Confrontation is a huge obstacle on the path to healing. The truth is that you are a complete person, with its weaknesses and strengths, so you don't have to keep comparing yourself with the people the manipulator triangulated you with, or with anyone else.

    - Find out which part of you facilitated the triangulation

    As important as getting out of a situation of narcissistic triangulation is to avoid falling back into its network. Indeed, it is not unusual for some people to escape one toxic relationship to fall into another, because the psychological patterns that caused them to fall into that web have not been eliminated and continue to foster an addictive relationship.

    This means that if you want genuine change to take place, you need to look within and identify those beliefs, attitudes, expectations and / or needs that have allowed a manipulator to take control of the situation. This is not about self-blaming, but about taking a mature attitude and understanding what psychological blind spots the manipulator has touched, so you can strengthen them and never fall into this type of relationship again.

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