Triangulation- A Universal Game of Dysfunction

   The following is an excerpt from the book, “Confessions Of A Sociopath-A Life Lived In Plain Sight” by M.E. Thomas (pg. 221-22) and outlines very well, psychopathic attempts to triangulate and the intentions behind it:

“She was striking, particularly in her similarity to me, which made me want to ruin her. In my mind I quickly did the calculations— Lucy was smitten with Cass, Cass was smitten with me, which meant I had an unexpected power over Lucy.”

“At my direction, Cass began pursuing Lucy. In the meantime, I found out everything I could about her from her well-meaning friends. These little forays with the friends were not only a means to an end but their own independent sources of pleasure. It turned out Lucy and I were born hours apart on the exact same day. This information fed my obsession in the most delicious way.”

“I began thinking of her as not just a doppelgänger, but as an actual extension of me, like a walking mirror image. We had the same predilections, the same pet peeves, the same style of distracted, quasiformal, slightly awkward communication. In my mind she was my alter ego, which, of course, made her exceedingly interesting to me.”

For as long as Lucy dated Cass, I kept him as my side piece. I would induce him to make and then break dates with her in favor of being with me. He was complicit through most of it— he knew that I was using him to mess with her.” 

“When he started feeling pangs of conscience, I broke it off with him. I waited until he focused all his attention on Lucy again, waited until she got her hopes up that he had turned over a new leaf, then called him up again. I told him we were meant for each other and I was just testing his resolve. I had no respect for him.”

“Lucy was just as bad in her own way. She had no sense of keeping personal things private, particularly with people like me who would use that information against her. I felt like she must have been emotionally damaged. It was almost farce, like a campy vampire movie where the love interest/ victim is always traipsing along giving herself paper cuts, or tripping and scraping a knee, or cutting her finger while chopping onions, that sort of a thing.”

“And if it wasn’t Lucy telling me things herself, it was her well-intentioned friends. It was such a head trip. Sometimes I wondered if I was being punked, because things could not have gone more perfectly for me.”

“The thing that kept it all interesting was that I was genuinely fond of Lucy, smitten even. Her Pollyanna attitude was captivating. I almost wanted to be sincere back to her, almost wanted to be a true friend. There were so many interesting psychological angles going on, at least in my own mind, such that even the most mundane of conversations was absolutely thrilling to me. Just thinking about it makes me salivate.”

“In fact, after a while, I began to avoid Lucy. She became a dessert too rich, too painfully pleasurable. Lucy gave me a stomachache, so I made Cass break it off with her for good. And this is what I mean about ruining people being relatively harmless.”
“What did I actually do to Lucy? Nothing. From Lucy’s perspective, here is what happened: She grabbed a boy and kissed him at a party. She liked this boy and they saw each other a couple times a week after that, sometimes with his creepy friend (me). After a while, it didn’t work out. The end. I didn’t ruin anything about her, really.”
“She’s married now, has a good job. The worst thing I did was propagate a romance that she believed was sincere but was actually staged (as best as I could manage) to break her heart.”

“And that’s the thing. I don’t just manipulate others; I manipulate myself. I mess with my own emotions as much as I try to mess with other people’s. In fact, in enacting the ruination of others, I concoct elaborate psychological fantasies that may or may not be happening. And the thought of the possibilities is often enough to satisfy me.”

In reading this book, there are so many scenarios in which the sociopath describes her own behaviors and intent, involving empathic people, it’s enough to speak for itself.

I could go to great lengths to lay out a thousand different triangulating scenarios that the psychopath perpetuates, and where the victims participate, the above being the most common: The main target is triangulated with the psychopath’s ‘exploits’ outside the relationship. As long as the victims react to one another, instead of holding the psychopath accountable, the game of triangulation is a greatly rewarding one for the psychopath.

Dysfunction in the form of envy, rage, fear of abandonment, hatred and a few more intense emotions, are at the core of these triangulations, most often leaving the psychopath out of accountability, as he (she) sits back as a misguided director of a play and watches those involve, fight over him.

Triangulations are an incredible power inducer for the psychopath. There are some situations in which the victim’s are literally convinced that the other is the one to blame for the the reasons the psychopath is not choosing either one or is perceived to BE choosing one over the other. Psychopaths will often intentionally add third parties to the relationship, in no matter what form, to assert more power and control over the main target, as well as creating new victims to hurt, and as long as we PLAY THE GAME, the psychopath WINS.

What is critical to understand in any situation involving triangulation with the psychopath is that we can choose not to participate. Often this means leaving the psychopath and the triangulated third party behind. When you are healthy, you do not need the emotional damage, trauma, drama-rama, chaos and pain triangulations are meant to create.

Asking ourselves why we would participate in this game is important because the answers usually involve something within ourselves that continues to keep the cycle of triangulation going if we are engaged in it.

Triangulations involve gossip, smear campaigns, back stabbing, intolerance, infidelity, ‘friendships’, family dysfunction, low self worth, low/no boundaries, drama, chaos, anxiety, confusion and cognitive dissonance, etc. Triangulations are the hornets nest of dysfunction in relationships of any kind.

I believe triangulations are very pathological in nature. We don’t necessarily need to be full blown psychopaths, narcissists or sociopaths, to engage in it. There have been survivors in the past who have tried to engage me in gossip about other survivors in which they know me to be familiar. This has happened on my face book page, A LOT in the past. I simply ignore these attempts because I have a strong repulsion to chaos and drama provoking behavior.

How people approach me and communicate with me on the page and on the blog, or in email matters and is something I pay attention too. I do not need to be impolite or rude to those who wish to engage me in gossip and drama. I simply ignore the comment or politely divert the conversation when I know it’s headed to the drama train. There is a very big difference when a survivor alerts me to potential psychopathic targeting and lurking, versus trying to engage me in triangulation with another survivor on the page, blog or in email.

As we begin to recover and are looking more within and healing ourselves, we develop a repulsion to triangulations and we can easily see when someone is trying to manipulate us to participate in it. Because the disordered LOVE these games the most, I am hyper aware as to when it’s occurring.

Things that seem benign in an attempt to triangulate, can be huge red flags if you’re paying attention to them. One example of this is when, during love bombing, the psychopath plays the part of victim to one or all of his ex victims.
This is the beginning of triangulation if you are being targeted by a psychopath and it’s very strategic in manipulating you to HATE the ex’s, particularly if one is still involved in the psychopath’s life and shares custody with him.

Another example is when a pathological pretending to be a victim or an unhealed survivor contacts me, and attempts to manipulate me into conversing about a survivor on the blog or on my page. RARELY does this happen on the blog, but has more often on my page. These contacts are not about something serious in warnings about another pathological who IS on the page and is in target mode, these contacts are in the form of gossip.

As in the above example that the sociopath discusses about a particular target’s friends being very open with information about the target, I will not be. Refusing to give out someone’s personal information, no matter how benign it might appear to be, and no matter who is manipulating to get it, will not be getting it from me.

There is a difference between gossip or an effort to triangulate, versus confidential discussions with those close to us that are NOT power moves or manipulation, when it involves discussions of other people.

There are people in our lives that we are very close to, people we can trust to confide in when we have issues with someone else. as often happens in recovery. Discussion about those who have hurt us and the affect they have had on our lives, is far different than an effort to manipulate someone into triangulations.  This is not the same as participating in a three or more person drama that is ongoing and are power moves and distractions related to the psychopath or to gossip and drama in general.

Unfortunately, triangulation is another game that is universally popular amongst dysfunctional people anyway and if you’re in a genuine recovery process, triangulation will be something that you’ll make great effort to avoid.

Triangulation games require PARTICIPANTS. CHOOSE not to play.

Onward and upward.

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7 Responses to Triangulation- A Universal Game of Dysfunction

  1. Simone says:

    So true, about holding the triangulator accountable, yet they can sometimes be very hard to pin. I agree with you, often the only way is to walk away completely, and leave the drama. I found in my experience, anyone involved in the triangulation had some kind of dysfunction also, lack of self-esteem, or competitive nature, or no morals, etc etc. I can’t tell you how many triangulation participants my x was involved with, from the very beginning of our relationship until the end. It’s the reason why he was the owner of a very successful business. By constantly playing one off against the other, he managed to form a group of semi-loyal followers. All of them had something slightly missing though. Anyone with strength and decency moved on and away from him, either swiftly and abruptly, or quietly without causing a commotion. I worked for him once (that’s how I met him). The first person he triangulated me with was my replacement, (his employee), it was horrible, I should’ve left then and there, but sadly didn’t. He then triangulated every subsequent female employee that he added to his business from therein. I could never understand why they didn’t like me, or acknowledge me. He used to make out as though they were all (yes, I repeat, ALL) jealous or insecure, because I was their boss’s partner. One girl who I even put forward for a job there, who I liked, turned on me also. I could never work it out. He also triangulated at least three x-girlfriends and multiple friends of his partners, who seemed very close to him and infatuated by him, even though they were either married, or living with one of his friends. These married women, had no trouble calling him at night for an hour long chat, while their husbands were away, leaving me sitting there waiting to eat dinner, not asking how I was or to speak to me. I found this strange also. They would call and invite him places, never inviting me. He triangulated me with his own mother, his mothers friends daughters, business acquaintances, even his cleaner and pizza delivery lady. He would always ask for her personally when ordering his pizza and have long flirting conversations with her on the phone, and when she arrived to deliver it. He would get her to drive down through the back of his property to deliver it when we were having a bon fire, and would run down to meet her, laughing and talking for half an hour. One day when I asked him, why he ran down there like a desperate school girl (yeah I know, straight back at ya!) he responded by saying ” I don’t like her, she has a thing for me ” I then asked why he played along with it, seeing as she was someone else’s wife. He said, “Well people are dumb, if she’s dumb enough to play along, then why not?” It startles me now, when I read how the disordered think, it’s all so true, word for word. Many many times, he told me the truth of how he thinks and how he is, I just didn’t listen or I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It really was a game to him to see how much attention he could get, it didn’t matter who it was, how old they were, or what walk of life they had come from. He could be boldly telling me how rough and feral his young secretary was, and the next minute, he’d be loaning her money for a car, and they’d be taking the day off together, to take secret trips to the city. I consider myself well and truly over him, and so grateful to be free, but I must say, just thinking about these things brings a fresh burst of anger.

  2. missnadinelouise says:

    Thank you Kelli for confirming what I thought about this… I’m not as “old” to all tricks of the trade… But I do thank you for reconfirming that I have a fairly new male friend that I respect and appreciate and he is in a relationship… I have shared with him some of the shit mt xN has been putting me thru, but I know for a fact it is not to set up triangulation,..
    It is to get a male friends prospective!!!

  3. Wendy says:

    this is an excellent post. As you say at the end – it happens in family dynamics – and in many places where its not even a P (necessarily). I grew up in it. My mother did it with all of us children. I never really knew what it was? But for a while I was hated by my siblings and they all triangulated me and took joy in it. My mother would play with them. She was obvious with ‘favorites’. Sigh. Well… at least I know what it is now. I had a client a few weeks ago try his Narc stuff on me, and I called him on it – which was good, however – his 2 daughters are also my clients and he is triangulating right now. I am not even accepting appointments from his children at this time – I don’t want any part of the whole thing – even if I lose money.

    • Wendy,

      EXCELLENT boundaries. I too will not participate with clients either. But thank God I’ve not been faced with this in mentoring, mainly it’s limited to my page.

      Bless your heart!! Thank you for all you do for others!

  4. Darksign says:

    interesting to read this. i have to laugh at this guy (?), his being so stupid in his own way. he believes that the love affairs were entirely staged. that is a crude understanding of human life. the people involved had real feelings, even under the circumstances. the writer is incapable of acknowledging them properly, and that makes him goofy.

  5. Darksign says:

    great commentary offered here, very useful to think about your remarks. thanks

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