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Understanding Narcissistic Triangulation in Relationships

Understanding Narcissistic Triangulation in Relationships

Relationships are not always easy. Sometimes, maintaining a bond with your friends, family or even co-workers can get stressful and irritating. This can also lead to intense situations, especially when the past issues come haunting while we are dealing with certain current issues. Natural human emotions of anger, sadness, and frustration can develop.

These emotions are negative and each one of us tries to get rid of them in order to lessen the discomfort. And that’s when some people adopt a way of triangulation in a relationship. 

Narcissistic Triangulation — An Overview

To help decrease the heightened and uncomfortable emotions we are feeling for the other person, people sometimes pull in a third party. So as the name suggests, it is basically involving a third person to vent out to when two people are having issues. Triangulation can be habitual. Even if temporarily, it makes you feel better.

It involves finding ways to get rid of some steam and carrying on with your usual routine, that somehow feels messed up because of your ongoing issues. It can happen with two people venting out to two different people and so on.

Why Is Triangulation Harmful?

Many people perceive triangulation as a coping mechanism and fail to see its underlying harm. Venting to a third party feels better momentarily, however, it is not that simple. Temporarily, it may feel good but unfortunately, triangulation does not resolve the issues two people have in the first place.

As mentioned above, triangulation, with time, becomes a habit.

This pushes all relationship problems underground, where they fester. You feel like these issues are solved, only to face them again and again when new triangles are created between you and your partner. With triangulation, past issues remain unearthed when they should have been discussed in the first place. This causes the last issues to pop up again and again only to pile up instead of resolving what’s in front of you. Triangulation makes it more difficult to heal past hurts.

All relationships go through rough patches. In fact, it is said that acknowledging and working on your rough patch helps make the bond stronger. However, having a third party involved in it ruins the whole purpose of resolving. Issues remain unsolved. To get rid of any problem permanently, you need to face it and not avoid it. Triangulation in relationships is avoiding the problem until you possibly forget about it and bringing it back from time to time. This will hurt you more and make it difficult to completely solve any issues. Sometimes, minor issues may look like major ones because of piling up the feelings attached and relationships that can be saved may feel like a burden— all because of triangulation.

The Harmful Type of Triangle

Some cases are about triangulation between adult siblings and a parent which leads to ongoing stressful relationships. Repercussions are however much worse when these triangles are created between a parent and an adolescent child, creating a harmful type of triangle.

To decrease the negative feelings, couples in a relationship often find it tempting to triangulate with a child or a young adult. This is common in most households. Parents fail to see the effect of this on their relationship as well as on the child. This type of triangulation ranges from venting out a small number of thoughts and feelings to disclosing everything about the relationship and its negatives. It involves complaining to a child about the partner’s bad habits, revealing everything about the relationship and the reasons for its breakdown, and sometimes, having a conversation through the child to avoid talking face to face with the partner.

Moreover, in a family system, the parents are ideally the head of the household. For children to mature into adults, it is important that they grow up in a healthy environment. A healthy environment is created when children see that the adults are stable and provide a united front for the household and for the kids. When a child is forced into triangulation, it is snatching that perception of stability. The end result is the child being distant from or against a particular parent, damaging another relationship. Furthermore, the child might have low self-esteem, from the belief that half of their “gene pool” is unacceptable or wrong.

Note: If you have an urge to complain to your child about your relationship or partner, stop right away! You can always find someone else to talk to till things get better.

How To End Triangulation

By now, you know how triangulation is a habit, and habits die hard. With appropriate efforts, it is possible to get rid of the hardest of habits. So can one end triangulation?

While having issues in a relationship, try to resist the urge to drag a third party into the situation. If at all there’s no way to communicate with your partner about the issues, practice self-healing habits. You can go for a walk, run, take a shower, read your favourite book, listen to music, bake, indulge in good food, watch a movie, or do anything else that you love — the options are limitless! Just find something that will distract you from the current feelings until things are calm enough to sort out and look at from a rational vs. emotional mindset. Another important thing is to try and not be a part of someone else’s triangle.

To Conclude

Being a habit, triangulation is difficult to stop, especially because we experience immediate relief through it. It takes courage to initiate a conversation about the issues you are having. It is not certain how the other person will respond. Put your mind to it and change your usual patterns.

Sometimes, the people wanting you to be a part of the triangle may get angry. It is important that you understand the people in front of you and explain to them how you’re not willing to be a part of this behavior. It will take courage and consistency. Once the triangle is broken, the people involved will have to face the issue and resolve it in time. This might take a while but with time, you will learn the right method to solve problems and see positive results.


Dharmendra Chahar is a content writer who believes that content can drive the change. I write about Technology, Health, relationships, Lifestyle, Travel, Places, Food, and drinks. I always look for new and catchy content. I run my own blog – Crazy India Tour.

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