7 Narcissistic Triangulation Examples and How to Respond

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Narcissistic triangulation is a potent tool in the arsenal of manipulative tactics used by narcissists. 

It's a complex psychological strategy aimed at creating jealousy, stirring up conflict, or altering perceptions to their advantage.

This technique typically involves three players: the narcissist, their target, and an unsuspecting third party. 

In the following sections, we will explore seven scenarios illustrating how a narcissist might employ this tactic, along with recommended responses to counteract these maneuvers. 


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1. Diverting Blame

Diverting blame is a common strategy used by narcissists to avoid responsibility for their actions and to manipulate perceptions.

This often involves the use of a third party, making it a form of triangulation. For instance, a narcissist might say something along the lines of, "Even John thinks you're too sensitive," in an attempt to validate their hurtful behavior and make you question your reactions.

In this scenario, the narcissist is essentially using John as a shield, deflecting any potential criticism or consequence that could come from their inappropriate behavior.

It's a method of shifting the focus from their actions to your reaction, thus diverting the blame.

The key to responding effectively to this form of manipulation is to remain calm and assertive. Rather than getting drawn into an argument over what John may or may not think, it's important to bring the conversation back to the issue at hand. 

You can say something like, "I appreciate your perspective, but I'd prefer if we kept our discussions focused on us. My feelings are my own and they are valid regardless of what John or anyone else thinks." 

By doing this, you are not only asserting yourself but also setting a boundary that discourages the involvement of third parties in your relationship. 



2. Creating Jealousy

Narcissists often use tactics like creating jealousy to manipulate and control relationships. One such tactic might involve them deliberately flirting with someone else in front of you to elicit feelings of jealousy and insecurity. 

This behavior is designed to make you feel less secure in your relationship, thereby giving the narcissist more power and control.

However, it's important not to react emotionally to such provocation. Instead, assertively communicate your feelings without resorting to accusations or blame. 

You could say something along the lines of, "When I saw you flirting with that person, it made me feel uncomfortable and upset." 

By articulating your feelings in this manner, you're maintaining your dignity and self-respect, while also setting clear boundaries about what behavior you find acceptable. 


3. Provoking Competition

Narcissists often provoke competition as a means to manipulate and control others. They might compare you to another person, subtly or overtly, in an attempt to make you feel inadequate or to push you to strive for their approval.

This tactic not only fuels their ego but also creates an environment of insecurity and rivalry. It's crucial, however, not to get caught up in this comparison game. 

Instead of trying to live up to the narcissist's standards or outdo the person they're comparing you to, focus on asserting your worth independently. Recognize that your value is not contingent on someone else's opinion or accomplishments. 

You can respond by saying something like, "I appreciate your perspective, but I don't measure my worth by comparing myself to others.

I am proud of who I am and what I've achieved." By doing so, you maintain your self-esteem, set boundaries, and refuse to be drawn into the narcissist's manipulative tactics. 


4. Invalidating Your Feelings

Narcissists often employ tactics that serve to invalidate your feelings as a way to maintain control and superiority in a relationship.

They might, for instance, use someone else's opinion or the supposed consensus of a group to undermine your emotions, saying things like, "Everyone thinks you're overreacting." 

This is a manipulative strategy designed to make you question your own feelings and reactions, thereby creating self-doubt and confusion. When faced with such a situation, it's important to stand firm in your feelings and assert their validity. 

You could respond by saying something like, "My feelings are my own and they are valid, regardless of what others may think or say."

Remember, no one else has the right to dictate how you should feel or react. 



5. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a common tactic used by narcissists wherein they manipulate you into questioning your sanity and perceptions. 

For example, the narcissist might tell others that you're "crazy" or "unstable," in an attempt to isolate you socially and make you more dependent on them. 

This form of psychological manipulation can be devastatingly effective, gradually eroding your self-confidence and sense of reality.

If you suspect that you're being gaslighted, it's essential to reach out to trusted friends or seek professional help. 

Don't let the narcissist's distortions cloud your judgment or make you feel alone. 


6. Playing the Victim


A favorite tactic of narcissists is to play the victim, casting themselves in the role of the innocent party and painting you as the villain.

This strategy serves to manipulate others' perceptions and turn them against you, while simultaneously garnering sympathy and support for the narcissist. 

It can be incredibly frustrating and damaging, leaving you feeling misunderstood and maligned. In such situations, it's vital to maintain your boundaries and avoid getting defensive or drawn into their narrative. 

Instead, calmly and firmly assert your perspective, reminding yourself that their portrayal of events is distorted and designed to serve their own needs. 

You don't need to justify or explain yourself to those who are unwilling to see beyond the narcissist's manipulations.

7. Creating Confusion


Narcissists often use confusion as a tool of manipulation, telling different versions of the same story to different people. 

This tactic not only undermines your credibility but also creates a fog of uncertainty that can leave you second-guessing your understanding of events.

It's a way for the narcissist to maintain control and keep others off balance. If you encounter this behavior, it's important to insist on clear, direct communication. 

Don't allow yourself to be drawn into their web of conflicting narratives. Instead, stick to the facts as you know them and demand honesty and clarity in all interactions. 

It's not your responsibility to make sense of their inconsistencies; it's their responsibility to communicate truthfully and transparently.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, dealing with a narcissist can be a formidable challenge. Their manipulative tactics, such as gaslighting, playing the victim, and creating confusion, are designed to control and undermine those around them. 

However, it's important to remember that you have the power to resist these manipulations. By reaching out to trusted friends or professionals, maintaining your boundaries, insisting on clear communication, and refusing to accept their distorted narratives, you can protect your mental and emotional health

You're not alone in this struggle, and there are resources and support available to help you navigate this difficult situation. 


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July 18th, 2024

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