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The Threeway: A common manipulation Technique to gain people towards your cause

Triangulation is one of the most common forms of social manipulation dynamics but, the shocking thing is each one of us is engaged in triangulation at some point in our lives. Manipulation using Triangulation is done to gain people towards your cause. It can be done to protect one’s ego and get people on their side by triangulating against others. 

If you ever have had a problem with a family member or friend, direct communication may not have occurred, but they might have used a third party to say everything they needed to say and that’s how triangulation occurs.


People usually hope that they get treated in the same way they are treating others but, there are many people who manipulate others for their own personal benefits. One of those manipulation techniques is called Triangulation.

This tactic is used to avoid direct conversation and as the name indicates, it involves three parties. Anybody can be involved in this process, doesn’t matter if it is a friend, family or a colleague from your office. 

Basically, one person seeks to control a three-person interpersonal situation for their personal satisfaction, it often involves the strategies that aim to divide and conquer. You can see adults and even children use this tactic in a very obvious and hurtful way.


Triangulation can be done by anyone but still is very common in people with Cluster B personality disorders such as Narcissistic personality disorder, Histrionic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. They may seek ways to undermine and manipulate someone they view as a threat.

People with narcissistic personality disorder frequently use triangulation to enhance their superiority complex, raise their self-esteem, and devalue other people. They might tell a second person about how they are better than you or how you are not on their level instead of directly talking to you.

Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder may use triangulation to manipulate a lover to feel jealous as a way of getting proof of their love or get some form of commitment. They are focused on getting reassurance that they are lovable and avoid the feeling of abandonment. The person getting manipulated usually knows that they are falling into someone’s trap, but they don’t do a sensible thing because of being emotionally too hooked.

According to the research of Psychology Today, people who use triangulation have one thing in common, “They feel insecure or overwhelmed and are willing to manipulate other people in hurtful ways to get more attention, sabotage a competitor, or feel safe in a relationship”.

This is very common in families as well, it occurs if a parent refuses to acknowledge their children’s personality and individualism. If siblings are treated differently and are being discouraged from communicating with one another except through the parent, it is triangulation.  

 Elinor Greenberg, a Gestalt therapist and author of Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations said “The pursuit of Love, Admiration, and Safety, explains that a parent with narcissism may pull a child into a triangle when the other parent loses patience and leaves the relationship”. The narcissistic parent may manipulate the child by lying about the parent who left or ignoring reasonable rules set by another parent. These practices divide the child from other parents and make them biased towards the narcissistic one.


•Apparently, triangulation is obvious but gaining awareness of these potential dynamics is critical. If you catch yourself being the victim, try not to bring additional parties in the matter and communicate as much as you can. Being confident in sharing your feelings with people can also be helpful and lead to peaceful conflict resolution.

•One should stay in control of their own emotions and refuse to allow third-party stories into the room as direct communication is the key.

•If you feel like the triangulator is trying to manipulate you against a third person, try to avoid the conversations as much as possible. Do not allow yourself to become provoked by gossiping, trash-talking, and lies.

•Setting boundaries can be helpful in dealing with narcissistic triangulation. However, even if you cut ties with the manipulator, nothing stops them from talking about you to others who are still in your life. You may have to accept and just ignore what they have already said about you for your mental peace.

•Ignore attempts to bait or manipulate you and just walk away from situations where you find yourself alone with them. Try to protect your well-being by being around supportive friends and loved ones.

Triangulation is a common tactic used by people with narcissistic tendencies or other insecurities. It can be extremely toxic and contagious. You may not be able to eliminate this issue from your culture but can avoid it. Stand out for direct conversation and make people aware of it.

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