Narcissistic Triangulation: Breaking Free

By JH Simon

Breaking free of narcissitic triangulation

Table of Contents

Narcissistic triangulation can seem like a debilitating, inescapable force. Nothing makes you feel smaller than having the person you adore parade someone else around just to hurt you. However, there is a way out of the suffocating triangle.

In this article, you will gain a blueprint for overcoming the narcissist’s manipulative and destructive triangulation — in romantic relationships, the workplace, the narcissistic family and beyond.

It requires first understanding the hidden intention behind narcissistic triangulation. Next, we will learn exactly why it takes hold the way it does. And finally, we will explore the way out of the triangle, which passes through a narrow path you might not have considered.

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What Is Narcissistic Triangulation?

Narcissistic triangulation is the introduction of a third person into a relationship dynamic between two people with the aim of negatively impacting the other.

Narcissistic triangulation takes one of two forms, with the following examples:

  1. Physical: The narcissist leaves you behind and flirts with another person, spends increasingly more time with someone ‘special’ while neglecting you, or gangs up on you or takes sides with another person.
  2. Verbal: The narcissist talks someone else up or compares you to them unfavourably. In a narcissistic family, a parent will do this between you and your siblings. In a romantic relationship, this is usually done with an ex or a potential successor. In the workplace, your narcissistic boss will favour and talk up your colleague to get you to perform.

Narcissistic triangulation can make you feel the following:

  • Inferior.
  • Jealous.
  • Threatened.
  • That you are not as important to the narcissist as you had hoped.
  • That the narcissist is a valuable commodity who you must fight to keep or please.

Why Do Narcissists Triangulate?

Some reasons a narcissist might triangulate are:

1. It Makes Them Feel Wanted And In Demand

Having multiple people show interest makes a person feel like a valuable commodity. Telling the people about each other then creates competition and increases insecurity, making the ‘competitors’ feel inferior and unworthy. It communicates “You are not special, let alone the only one.”

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2. They Want To Control You

Triangulation can trigger a person’s jealousy and sense of abandonment, leaving them feeling needy and insecure. When someone is in that state, they become desperate to feel close to the person at the centre of the triangle.

These feelings of insecurity make you reactive and panicky, and so easier to control. You are always on edge, doing everything you can to ensure the person you need does not make the other person more important than you, or drop you altogether.

A mother or father in a narcissistic family can also triangulate to get their way and direct their children how they want. In all such cases, it is about control.

3. It Helps Them Win An Argument

If so-and-so also thinks the same way as the narcissist, then that’s two against one. Often it can be dozens against one, since “everyone” thinks the same way.

4. Fear Of Commitment And Vulnerability

They keep multiple people around to avoid being ‘stuck’ with all their eggs in one basket.

5. Grandiosity

The narcissist can never make someone as special or more special than them. Triangulation keeps others feeling insignificant and tips the power distribution in the narcissist’s favour.

Whatever the reason for narcissistic triangulation, however, one thing remains:

You still have the choice to decide whether it affects you.

The Truth About Narcissistic Triangulation

Ultimately, narcissistic triangulation exists only in your mind. It is created and reinforced by the thoughts, meanings and emotions you apply to the situation. Triangulation, above all, says less about the other person than it does about you.

This is a difficult pill to swallow, but is also a doorway to enlightenment. It is a way to break codependent habits, learn the art of detachment, and above all, to deepen your connection with your True, Authentic Self. Yes, a triangle has three points, but every single one leads directly back to you.

Learning From Narcissistic Triangulation

Narcissistic triangulation can be a great teacher. It can help you understand that:

  • We are born alone, and die alone: Accepting and leaning into this reality can help diminish the power of the triangle by bringing your focus deep into your greatest fear.
  • Nobody is in our keeping: You are your own Self, and others are their own Self. Your Self is sufficient unto itself, and answers only to God.
  • We always have the option of directing the focus back on ourselves: The power to shift your focus is always available to you. By focussing on the narcissist and who they bring into your relationship dynamic, you are ceding control to them.
  • Enmeshment stunts growth: We must constantly let go of the other person and relate to them from a healthy distance if we are to grow with them. They will do or say what they must. What is it that you must attend to?
  • Control is an illusion: You cannot make the other person ‘yours’. You cannot make them give up anyone. You can only make sure you do not give up yourself in the panic, shame, jealousy and anger of triangulation.

Narcissistic triangulation only seeps into your heart and body if you let it. You can reject it, and call that person out. You also have the option of seeing it for what it is, and divesting your emotions away from it — and into Self growth instead.

Discovering Our Inherent Specialness

Triangulation exposes the poison of comparison. We should compare our current Self to our previous Self, and not to others. Every day is an opportunity to connect deeply with our True Self and let it guide us toward growth. Triangulation distracts us from this accessible reality by drawing us into the ego-based duality realm. Less than, more than. Mine, not mine. Special, not special.

Above all, triangulation has an uncanny way of exposing our unhealthy desire to be the ‘special’ one.

This comes from childhood, where the first triangle emerged between your mother, father and you. Understand that your emotions usually stem from this time.

Yet you are no longer a child. Having the focus of your parent meant life and death when you were a baby. Now you are an adult with numerous resources. You can always develop more resources, both within and without.

Your significant other is important, but they are not the difference between life and death. Those existential feelings are not from the present moment, but from the past. You needed to be special to survive.

Now, you are inherently special, but you do not need another person’s complete focus and positive regard to access that. It is there either way. And there is a way to find it.

Inner Freedom From Narcissistic Triangulation

Overcoming narcissistic triangulation begins within. A spiritual approach to breaking the triangle includes the following:


Orient with your world. Notice the details around you. What objects are there in the room you are in? What can you hear, feel and smell? Orienting with the world around you allows you to shift your focus out of your mind, where duality rules. You stop comparing and analysing, and start being.

From this place of neutral observing, you will notice your current emotional state. Allow those feelings to arise. Sadness, grief, shame, anger. Regardless of what you feel, allow it to come up. Now ask yourself:

Who is noticing these details? Who is feeling these feelings?

In this awareness you will remember your Self. There is no more triangle in your mind. There is simply you and your feeling Self, i.e. Your True Self. And by asking the question of who is feeling and noticing, you introduce your Higher Self into the fold. A new triangle emerges, one that serves you rather than crushing you.


Bring your focus inside your body. Allow your muscles to relax, breathe deeply into your belly and chest, and then allow the exhale to center you. Keep repeating this over and over until you get a sense of inner anchoring and calm.


Stop comparing yourself to the other person in the triangle. Start comparing your Self to your previous Self. What growth have you noticed in your life since a month ago? A year ago? Five years ago?

Practice this often. Every time you feel less than or threatened by another person, bring your focus back within and celebrate where you are and where you have come from. Master this, and you learn the essence of spirituality.

Dying Before You Die

Reflect on death. What might it be like? How do you feel about it? Does it terrify you? Intrigue you? Inspire you to live fully? Think about it. Read about it. Fall into it.

All reaction to triangulation is a desperate clinging to escape death. Death of a relationship. Death of your self-worth. Death of your specialness. Transcend it all by meditating on and accepting death.

Outer freedom From Narcissistic Triangulation

Everyone has the freedom to do what they want. You cannot control them, and you cannot control every outcome. However, freedom is not free. It comes with consequences. A person can find someone ‘more special.’ A significant other can cheat and leave you behind.

Yet if you drop the triangle regardless, at least you are living on your own terms. You are no longer being crippled and controlled by another person’s manipulation or circumstances.

With narcissistic triangulation, you can only choose from two options:

1. Codependency

You control each other, and limit your relationships to each other. You use triangulation to control each other. You lash out whenever you feel insecure or threatened. You panic, feel anxious, and try to snoop around on the other person to feel secure again. You feel terrible about yourself and fight for the acceptance and approval of the other person.


2. Freedom

There is another way: You let go, and accept the consequences. Your parent might yap on about how great your sibling or cousin is. Your partner might have feelings for others, or have awkward close encounters before deciding to pull away. They might cheat. You might be left for someone else.

Ultimately, you need to accept that you have no control over that. We all have the freedom to live on our terms, and connect with whoever we want while agreeing to a set of boundaries and rules. Your significant other might slip. You might slip. You have to live with this possibility while trusting and hoping for the best. This is the nature of freedom.

Putting A Stop To Narcissistic Triangulation

Until you have done the inner work, you are always susceptible to narcissistic triangulation. You will be bashed around by it. Your sense of security, serenity and agency will be gradually worn down.

When a narcissist triangulates and you have done the work, however, it will cease to impact you. You can speak out firmly when they introduce another person into the relationship dynamic in a hurtful or manipulative way. You can simply bask in your own serenity and peace while they focus on the other person.

From this place of power, you can then look over what is left of the relationship with calmness, and simply act, rather than react.

Reaching The Pointy End Of The Narcissistic Triangle

Walking away is always an option. Either the person is being grossly manipulative, or the situation is simply untenable for you, especially when it comes to exes.

But first ask yourself:

What inner work can you do?

Can you truly be fine with yourself alone? If not, then why? Can you tolerate the presence of ‘outsiders’ in your intimate space? If not, then why? Can you feel sufficient and worthy even when others enter your relationship dynamic?

Why do you need to be ‘special’, i.e. the only one? Is it possible that such a rigid two-person world can grow stale, and become a breeding ground for resentment? Do you not think that some flexibility and trust in yourself and others can create space for wonder and growth to enter into your life?

Regardless of whether you are alone or in a romantic relationship, in a narcissistic triangle or out of it, ask yourself: Can I direct my focus within every single day, and grow from that place? Do that, and you will discover the greatest triangle of all: You, your True Self, and your Higher Self. There is no more empowering dynamic that you can develop. And there is no other way to stop narcissistic triangulation.

Want to learn more about narcissism? Check out How To Bury A Narcissist for the definitive resource on overcoming narcissistic abuse.

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