triangulation a harmful form of psychological manipulation

In the field of psychology, triangulation refers to the act of using exclusion or manipulation as a means of control. It is a form of manipulation that involves indirect communication, often conducted behind someone's back. Triangulation is widely recognized as one of the most prevalent toxic behaviors. Let's delve deeper into what triangulation entails, why it is commonly employed as a manipulation tactic, and how to identify its presence. Keep reading to gain further insights.


Signs & Examples of Triangulation

Triangulation is utilized by individuals who share a common trait: insecurity. These individuals are willing to engage in harmful manipulation to achieve their desires or establish a sense of security within a relationship.

It is an incredibly effective strategy to gain an advantage over perceived rivals by instigating conflicts between them. Those who employ triangulation typically do so to protect their egos and find comfort.

Typically, the triangulated individuals have limited to no direct communication and are instead forced to communicate through the manipulator. Triangulation can manifest in various ways, but the underlying motive is always to divide and conquer or pit people against each other.

For instance, if a parent refuses to acknowledge the unique personalities and individuality of their children, while simultaneously discouraging direct communication between siblings, triangulation is at play.

Similarly, when a partner or friend involves a third person to create a hostile environment, stir up drama, or pressure you into undesirable actions, it is an instance of triangulation. People also employ triangulation to bring a third party into a relationship or friendship without directly addressing the underlying issues.

Connection to Personality Disorders

Certain individuals with Cluster B personality disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder, tend to evaluate themselves in relation to others and perceive relationships as competitive.

This competitive mindset can sometimes turn malicious, leading those with personality disorders to seek ways to undermine or manipulate individuals they perceive as threats.

Let's explore how individuals with NPD and BPD commonly use triangulation, as these disorders frequently involve this manipulative tactic.

Triangulation in Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder may employ triangulation to bolster their sense of superiority, protect their self-esteem, and devalue others while keeping potential competitors off-balance. Remarkably, their behavior mirrors that of children navigating status hierarchies in middle and high school.

Triangulation in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

People with borderline personality disorder often crave reassurance of love to alleviate feelings of abandonment. They may utilize triangulation to manipulate someone into feeling jealous, thus proving their commitment and love.

Triangulation in Relationships

Triangulation can manifest in various dynamics. Let's examine its presence in both family dynamics and romantic relationships.

Within a dysfunctional family unit, an unhealthy and self-centered caregiver projects two distinct images onto their children: a morally idealized self-image and an inferior self-image. Consequently, one child becomes the favored golden child, while the other becomes the scapegoat.

The golden child is idealized and perceived as faultless, while the scapegoat is devalued and believed to be constantly at fault. These projections can fluctuate over time, depending on the caregiver's emotions toward each child.

Triangulation in Romantic Relationships

In romantic relationships, the manipulator often involves a third party to create friction, confusion, and jealousy. The manipulator typically enjoys the attention, be it positive or negative, and may even disclose the existence of other individuals involved to instigate competition for their attention.

In some cases, the triangulated individuals may not even realize they are being manipulated, or only one of them may be aware. Furthermore, individuals with narcissistic tendencies may triangulate someone they no longer associate with to exert control over those they are currently in contact with.

Impact of Triangulation

Experiencing triangulation can evoke feelings of fear, humiliation, concern, and the need to protect oneself. It is natural to desire to set the record straight or confront the other individuals involved. However, by doing so, the manipulator wins. They often anticipate such reactions, hoping to witness loss of control and impulsive behavior driven by fear.

While this form of manipulation may temporarily alleviate stress, it also perpetuates dysfunctional patterns and cycles within the relationship. If reinforced repeatedly, it can create a tangled web of hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

Coping Strategies for Triangulation

When facing triangulation, it is crucial to remember that you have control over your own actions, not the individual provoking or baiting you. Recognize that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • Reacting impulsively to surprising news.
  • Taking a step back and considering the facts.
  • Striving to maintain emotional composure and self-control. While you cannot control others, you always have power over your own words and responses.
  • Making promises, commitments, or agreements that could harm your relationships with trusted and loved ones. Genuine love and support never seek to isolate you from healthy relationships.

Here is what you should do:

  • Seek clarification before acting on any information received.
  • Stay connected with loved ones you trust, sharing any problems or issues that arise.
  • Maintain a healthy balance between family, friends, work, and leisure activities.
  • Remove yourself from conversations that become unhealthy or dysfunctional.
  • Uphold your self-control to retain your power and demonstrate that you refuse to be manipulated.

The Bottom Line

Healthy communication requires openness, authenticity, and a commitment to resolving conflicts rather than perpetuating them. The most effective approach to such situations is to step back, evaluate the circumstances accurately, and respond accordingly. If you believe you or someone you know would benefit from your support, consider using iFindCheaters to know for sure and take action. Without resorting to extreme measures, our online service allows you to discover any secrets your partner may be keeping from you. Click here to learn more.

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