The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
Triangulation is usually what it is called when the narcissistic person creates a triangle dynamic, with themselves as the sought-after object and at least two other people in the position of competitors for this sought-after object. It can also refer to playing two people against each other, or using third parties to victimize or isolate the targeted person.
For example, a narcissist jealous of the victim's close family relationships may tell the victim's family that the victim is saying negative things in order to destroy the thing they are jealous of. They may then go and tell the victim that the family has done something hurtful or cruel in an attempt to turn the victim against the family as well. This not only cements the destruction of the relationship, but it keeps the two sides from speaking to each other and finding out that nothing they are being told by the narcissist is true. In these situations, the narcissist often presents themselves as a champion for whatever side they are speaking to in the moment. This type of triangulation not only eases the anxiety the narcissist experiences as a result of their jealousy, but it also puts them into a power position, controlling the other people involved and the situation in general. It helps to feed them esteem and self-worth as well, because they have taken a position of confidante of both parties, creating the illusion that they are important.
All types of triangulation are about the narcissist and their needs. It is never about the target or the target's life or anything else. Triangulation, just like everything else the pathologically narcissistic person does, is about them and them only. They are manipulating and moving people around like pawns on a chess board, arranging them in the way that best serves the narcissist's needs. There is no more to it than that. It's about them. That's it.
There's an old rule of thumb in marketing which states that if you can make something appear to be in high demand, you will create a sense of urgency in people and they will feel more desire for it. That's why you see those graphics on commercials and things like that which say "Only this many more of this item left!" or "Get it while it lasts!" They are trying to create a sense of urgency in you, to make you believe that if you don't act right now, you will lose out. They are making the item appear more attractive by making it appear that many people want it. This is the basis of romantic triangulation. You will always want something more when you are afraid you will lose it, or when you believe that you have won it. It's just human nature.
This is the way pathologically narcissistic people artificially inflate their value. They may intentionally manufacture a love or relationship triangle - either real or implied - in order to create the idea that they have more value. We often see narcissistic partners doing this with their ex partners or friends. Other people are thrown into the mix in order to make the narcissist appear to be in demand. This creates competition between people for the narcissist's attention. The narcissist then becomes what they dearly want to be: an object worthy of fighting over. People are vying for their attention. People are jealous and envious because of them. People are being controlled and dominated and manipulated by the narcissist. Nothing feeds their ego more. Their self-worth skyrockets and they will do everything they can to prolong and protect the situation. Once a pathologically narcissistic person experiences being the coveted love object, they may create this situation again and again.
Sadly, triangulation often occurs with children in narcissistic homes. The children may be turned against the victim, or they may be used to pass messages back and forth in a manner that hurts the victim or the children - or both.
For example, if the narcissistic person is jealous of the relationship the victim has with the children, the children may be told lies about the other parent in an effort to destroy the relationship. They may be told the victim doesn't love them, or doesn't love the narcissistic parent. They may be told the victim has abandoned them or is destroying the family. They may be told that the victim is bad, or that the victim is abusing the narcissistic parent. There are narcissists who will hit or harm themselves and tell the children that the victim did it. This is so toxic and abusive. Boundaries are trampled, feelings are dismissed and disrespected and people are used as the objects the narcissist believes them to be. This could be done for spite, revenge, out of jealousy, to establish control or for simple entertainment. It is a form of playing pretend games with the lives of real people and the damage it can do, particularly to children, is devastating.
If you find yourself in this situation, remember that narcissistic ploys are like magician's tricks: their success relies on people buying into them. You have to play along or it falls apart. No one is worth your dignity or self-respect. Like the saying goes, stop crossing oceans for someone who would not jump a puddle for you. You deserve more. And if your children are being triangulated, this is abuse. It is beyond abuse, in fact. It is cruelty. The situation needs to come to an end. There are resources that will help you. Please reach out to them before it's too late.
Shan Moore from Philippines on March 29, 2018:
Great topic for a hub to slread awareness about Narcissism. Thanks!
Lisa Chronister from Florida on March 29, 2018:
I just posted a comment, but it wouldn't load, so I do not thin it went through.
I found this article very interesting. I am pretty sure I know two narcissist, but they are teenagers. I wonder if it is common for two narcissists to be in relationship. I know that Empaths tend to draw Narcissists. This is very thought provoking. Thanks for posting!