“His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.” (Psalms 55:21)
Triangulation is a manipulative tactic the narcissist uses to create drama or conflict involving three people. A common example would be the narcissist, his wife and another female, maybe the girlfriend. What would happen is that the narcissist would pitch one against the other. It might be a situation where all three go out to dinner and the narcissist would be more attentive to the other female and would almost completely ignore the wife.
He would pay compliments to the female and express awe at the other female’s accomplishments making the wife feel unattractive, insecure, uncomfortable and jealous. After the dinner, the wife would discuss her feelings with the husband and he would dismiss it and claim that she is misreading the situation or is jealous. The goal for the narcissist is to cause the wife to develop low self esteem, insecurities and jealousy.
I have had to counsel wives whose husbands have behaved in the above manner. It’s an emotionally destructive and manipulative act designed to devalue and invalidate the partner. My husband used to do this a lot to me with other females, especially members of the church. I remember particularly an occasion in church, where I felt quite uncomfortable with all the praise he was lavishing on a leader in our church, that I questioned him about it and told him I felt upset. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem when someone is acknowledged for the work that they do, the bible says you should give honour to whom honour is due. It was just the way it was done, I could sense that the lady was also feeling uncomfortable as well. The following week, after the meeting, he went to that same individual and did the same thing again in my presence. He took real pleasure at my discomfort and it was his way of saying, ‘no one tells me what to do’.
Another instance of triangulation is the narcissist uses another person against the victim. For example, my husband has on many occasions when we have a disagreement will say that he spoke to someone else and they agree with him. Usually the person is someone whom I respect and have a high regard for; it used work on me, because as soon as he said that I would keep quiet, because I would believe him. However, it no longer works on me anymore, because I found out he was lying. So he doesn’t use that technique on me anymore, because he knows now I don’t believe him and also I just behave as if I don’t care what other people think or believe (grey rock technique).
Another thing he does is pit members against each other. A few times we’ve had to settle disagreements between two female members of the church because one was upset because the other was receiving more attention from my husband, who is the pastor of the church. On one occasion, my husband told me to visit a very active member of the church who had stopped coming to church because, my husband had employed a personal assistant who was now doing the work she did. I found out when I went to see her was that she was attending another church. My husband then decided to give her another prominent role in church.
What the narcissist will also do is tell his girlfriend that he is no longer in love with his wife and that the wife does not understand him like she does. He will be feeding the girlfriend lies and everything she wants to hear. The girlfriend gets sucked into his lies. And then when he’s bored or the relationship starts to fizzle out, to spike things up he would abruptly discontinue his relationship with the girlfriend and go back to the wife. And he starts feeding the wife lies and stories about the girlfriend and the girlfriend starts begging him to come back. And it goes back and forth; a cycle of abuse, with the narcissist in control of the women’s emotions.
The ultimate goal of the narcissist is to create conflict between two people, to control and gain attention(supply). They take pleasure at people’s hurt feelings. They have no empathy or compassion for others. The best remedy against these tactics is to ignore their actions. They want attention and supply so deny them any whatsoever.