The Terrible Triangle

1. There is me. I am the fire.

All through your involvement with my kind you will be worked into a triangle. There will be one major triangle, smaller triangles, intersecting triangles and then triangles within triangles. Many people know to look out for our cycle of narcissistic behaviour but they do not always realise that our favourite shape is a triangle.

I am at the apex of this triangle. A fitting place of course since I naturally must be at the top. I am the conductor, the orchestrator of this triangle and I decide who fits within at also the roles that the unwitting participants have been prescribed. I am the fire in this triangle, for without me the triangle will not operate. I provide the ignition through my flames but without the other two parts my flames will soon be extinguished. The other members of this triangle are important though of course they are not as important as me, but you know that by now.

As head of the triangle I get to decide who does what. I often begin by assuming the mantle of victim. I have been sorely done to by another and I need to be rescued from their horrible and harmful behaviour. Of course this is all manufactured but because my route to you is direct and seductive, you will listen to me. You will feel sorry for my situation because as an empathic person this is what you do best. You hear my story and accept it without condition or question. I choose to be the victim in the initial triangle in order to draw you in.

As time goes on I no longer wish to be the victim because, well, I never was. I prefer to become the dominant force inside the triangle and assume my rightful position as the aggressive perpetrator but such is the brilliance of my ruse, you will be spending all of your time looking sympathetically at me, thinking I am the victim, whilst casting aspersions at The Other, thinking that she is the perpetrator. My powers of illusion are significant and extensive and they are at work here.

2. There is you. You are the fuel.

Next comes you at the base of the triangle, beneath me and level with The Other. This is the rightful order of things. Your role in this triangle is at first to be the rescuer. You are kind, honest and caring and I want those attributes directed towards me, hence my tale of my terrible treatment at the hands of The Other. Like some fairy godmother or white knight, you arrive in order to save me from this fabricated menace. Only you can save me and my gratitude and false love gushes forth in order to ensnare you further. You may ride in as a rescuer but it will not be long before I change your role to that of victim. I pass my mantle onto you. Of course I have blinded you with my seduction techniques and also distracted you with the malice of The Other so that you do not notice this sleight of hand. You are too busy keeping The Other at bay, preventing him or her from hurting me further. Yet, as time goes on, I stop speaking of them in such harsh and accusing tones and instead I begin to sing their praises. What has happened? Surely they are the perpetrator and they should be avoided at all costs? Why am I spending time with them again and not you? Why am I comparing them to you and doing so in a favourable fashion towards them? This makes no sense. Whilst you were so busy keeping this apparent troublemaker away from our blissful kingdom I have removed your mantle of victim and this time made you the perpetrator, awful and nasty savage that you are. Throughout these changing labels there is one constant however, you provide me with fuel. From the praise, to the caring tenderness, to the bewildered confusion. Your fuel is offered up in order to keep my flames burning.

3. The Other. She is the air.

She begins as the perpetrator to allow you to rescue, a crazed harridan who made my life hell. Keep her away from me, do not believe anything she says, she is dangerous, poisonous and thank goodness I have you to keep her at bay. Stay with me and protect me. Just like a furnace it cannot operate with just flame and fuel, there must be air in order to fan the flames so that I can consume the fuel. Thus she is admitted into our dynamic and she completes our triangle, occupying a lower berth just like you. It is not long however before she becomes the victim of your repeated assaults and slanders as you fight to keep her at bay. Your consternation increases and you grow into the role of perpetrator as you become confused at the attention I provide to her as she becomes the victim and I her rescuer. At the same time I am telling her of the horrible treatment you subject me to (does this sound familiar at all?) and she is sympathetic to my situation. She rescues me as I return to victim once more as you remain the nasty perpetrator. The Other can see this for your efforts to prevent her from becoming close to me again convince her of your evil nature. Why else would you behave as you do? It cannot be anything to do with your desire to save you and I could it? It is nothing to do with the fact that you are completely confused as to what is going on, is it? The Other is taken in by my false apologies and my admission that I was misled by you as you promised me the world but delivered nothing. Her air escalates the intensity of the heat and the flames climb higher as flame, fuel and air combine to create a conflagration.

I sit at the apex of this arrangement, easily moving the titles of Victim, Perpetrator and Rescuer between us all, back and forth the titles go as this triangle continues, a perplexing and shifting state of affairs. I am the puppetmaster and both You and The Other are dancing to my tune as I triangulate you in order to gain what I require.

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49 thoughts on “The Terrible Triangle”

  1. Oh I was triangulated with his others .. I always bring up his others . I tell him I know about them . I tell him they can have him I don’t want him . He did not like hearing that

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      1. he compares me to them when he is ticked off at me.. so i tell him ..go to them.. read four of your books by the way..

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      2. Thank you for reading, do continue to do so and increase your knowledge and understanding. Would he go to them or would he round on you or slink away somewhere else?

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      3. Don’t know. He gives me the silent treatment when I bring it up so I give him the silent treatment also.

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  2. Hi! I’m new in the blog. Just finished your book “Sitting targets…..”, it has been really an education!. Thank you very much!
    Do you think that a cerebral can behave as a victim with a secondary fuel and as a real cerebral with a primary one?

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    1. Hello Marga, thank youfor your post and I am pleased you found the book of interest to you. With regard to your question, the answer is absolutely the case. That would be classic triangulation. The N is easily able to portray himself as a victim (and if he is cerebral he can show traits of being a Victim Narcissist as well as playing the standard victim to the secondary source) and then show his brilliance to the primary source.

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      1. HG, I have read your detailed descriptions of the Narc categories, but how do you distinguish between a true Victim Narc and every other kind- since all play victim card in the beginning.
        Also, how would you categorize an Elite (has many somatic & cerebral traits; also extremely high-functioning, highly paid, big deal in the community) who likes to be dominated in bed? I didn’t think that was an Elite’s preferred bedroom style, but I seem to recall somewhere you mentioning that some Victim Narcs like to replay mommy issues by having their partner “punish”/dominate them in bed?
        I’m inclined to call G an Elite, but the sex part has me confused.

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      2. Yes, we will play the victim card (“VC”) at some point but with the Victim Narcissist his state of helplessness is pervasive and more obvious. He will repeatedly suffer from ill health (unlike episodic occasions with the VC), he is unlikely to work, where as other Ns will, he will not assist with chores even during the seduction period, whereas other Ns will do so during the seduction period before withdrawing that assistance, he targets those who are exceptional carers and do not necessarily rate in other trait which appeal to the somatic, cerebral and elite narcissists. The Victim Narcissist is just “more” with his illness, lack of interest in sex, laziness, helplessness and need for mothering. Other narcs will play the VC now and again but nowhere near the frequency of the VN.
        It is entirely understandable that someone will tick the boxes for the elite variety but in the sexual arena exhibit VN tendencies. If you consider certain areas as indicators – looks, intelligence, sociability, interest in material items, standard of conversation, health, job, home, sexual preferences, friendship groups and so on and then ascertain the Ns behaviour in each category you may have a situation where if there are 20 indicators, 17 show somatic and 3 cerebral. He is therefore a somatic narcissist. If there are 16 cerebral, 2 somatic and 2 victim, he is cerebral with slight victim tendencies but still a cerebral If he is 10 somatic, 8 cerebral and 2 victim, he is an elite. This latter example could therefore denote an elite who has victim tendencies in the sexual arena. One looks at the constituent parts and see which dominate. In the same way that normal people have some narcissistic traits but they are not narcissists, narcissists can exhibit traits from different areas but still be one type in the main.

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    2. Marga, I knew a VN with heavy cerebral traits. It was almost 50/50. He had mommy issues and wanted a woman to take care of him. He tried to date me, but men that cry victim totally turn me OFF!!! He was brilliant….and I loved talking about issues with him…but he was ALWAYS BROKE! He took me out twice…and that was the “golden period”. Then he started trying to devalue me….I never agreed to be his gf…so I took it all with a grain of salt. He was my neighbor…and we saw each other often…and we went our separate ways…
      I am not the type of woman that would support a man…..that’s all this guy was looking for.

      N3 was a cerebral that knows how to play the VC. He was always losing professional white collar jobs…but he came from family $.

      5 star dating all the way…and he had great manners. I love to be courted…so the golden period was all very special…until it wasn’t.

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  3. HG, I remember at first my ex always making his failed relationships there fault especially his two ex wives! But in the next sentence he would say how much he loved his ex wives because they gave him his children! Honestly I didn’t care, they were in his past and had nothing to do with me or us!! Boy I must of made him so angry inside by not reacting !! Lol

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      1. There was one though that always brought out his fury! He would call her a f buddy a friend of his first ex that got pregnant!! His exact words were, she was just a hole! I fucked her 3 times and now I have to pay support until the kid is 18! I ask about the child ( wrong thing to do) did he ever see her because he had said she wanted to meet her father! No I don’t ever want to see her all I want is for her to turn 18 so I can stop paying support!! Wow

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  4. The triangle of the triangle I did not have but simpe triangle with comments I did have only from 1 ex.. So its not so easy for me yet to understand what the fuel outcome of the above should be.. Question HG.
    So what is the best reaction to such a triangulation in order that you get what you requiere? Jealousy scenes?? insults? Ot that the other withdrawls??
    For example in fools me 1 time’s comment, how was she supposed to react to the comment of the exes to not infuriate her ex? Or give him the best fuel? Im curios to know. 😁

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      1. Not me . I don’t get jealous or angry .. I tell him to go to them which makes him angry at me . For not getting jealous .

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  5. All this sounds like my ex could have written it. His exes were all liars, cheats, evil etc initially. Then when he’s got me where he wants me, all of a sudden his most recent ex all of a sudden isn’t so bad… then she’s positively wonderful and I’m the bitch for not getting on with her despite the fact she’s apparently said horrible things about me. And then everytime the situation calmed down between the two of us, all of a sudden there’d be another woman ringing and texting him about her ‘relationship problems’, or ‘stalking’ him. It’s like a being in a constant emotional threesome. And it drives you crazy.

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    1. Precisely Miss Sunshine and of course we have done nothing wrong, she is “just a friend” and “can’t I talk to other people now?” and “I am only being helpful”.

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  6. Yup…my mother is there at the top & I am triangulated with her other children, so she can easily move us around like pieces on a chess board.

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      1. My father has been in the barca lounger for the four decades they’ve been married. He watches while she moves us around. Sometimes she moves him around too.

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  7. Of course, and I’m obviously the jealous, possessive, with trust issues. But if I as much as laughed at another mans joke, all he’ll would break loose and I’d be on the receiving end of a savage ‘meltdown’, as he liked to call his rages. But he could flirt with women right in front of me in my own home. That’s fine.

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  8. How does the triangle work when the target is “rescuing” the married Narcissist from his “unloving, neglectful” wife? He certainly can’t mention the other woman to to his wife (who is clueless about the other women) without risking his family life & reputation, so how does he create triangles with other women to provoke the target?

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    1. The triangle is N husband (victim) with wife (perp) and mistress (rescuer). Husband complains to rescuer about wife’s treatment, rescuer gives positive fuel to the husband. The rescuer is being triangulated with the wife. If the husband does not wish to tell his wife then there is still a triangle (as described) but the fuel comes from just one corner, the rescuer.
      The husband may escalate it by mentioning the rescuer but in a way which allows him to refer to that person as “just a friend” but raises suspicions and a reaction from the wife so she provides negative fuel but she is unable to prove he is having an affair, for example, referring to the rescuer a lot in the context of someone he works with. In this instance the escalation allows positive fuel (from mistress rescuer) and negative fuel (from perp wife).
      The husband may further escalate by then talking in good terms about his wife to the mistress and treating his wife well. He gains two lots of fuel again positive fuel (from wife rescuer) and negative fuel (from mistress perp). This can be done again without the wife knowing about the existence of mistress (husband is loving towards wife without mentioning mistress and thus still gains fuel) or he can refer to the mistress as a crazy stalker who he hasn’t done anything with but she won’t leave him alone.

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      1. *waves to Anon* Unloving neglectful wife of 21 years here! With 8 years of experience with this one – once the dust cleared after an ugly, spit flying screamfest, fist balled up, use his volume and size to attempt to discard this family- I finally figured out what he was. ( I got my conceal and carry shortly after that. ” You wouldn’t…”. ‘ You are 3x my size. If I feel my life is in danger I will NOT hesitate to empty the clip’. He calmed his ass down). I was nodding all the way through Malign’s explanation. I was the ‘perp’ and know his second source. I call her his replacement wife… The whole family actually. I also discovered his third when little hearts bubbled across his phone and I checked the bill. His texting had tripled. I managed to NOT react. At all. Total disinterest. Once in awhile he’ll comment on how much someone appreciated what he has done, the only replies he gets is ,” Hmmm” or “Nice of you to save the world, must be exhausting.” Then he pouts, the phone comes out, and I get the silent treatment. Point for me!

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    2. Welcome, Anon.

      It’s none of my business, but I wouldn’t have anything to do with a married N. There is ALWAYS 3 SIDES to a story….his, hers, and the truth. The truth is if this married N (probably with kids at home), spent more time with his family instead of his girlfriends….his wife would be happier….happy wife-happy life… I’d bet any amount of $ that his description of the “rescuer” to his wife and family is “stalker”. JMHO

      If he’ll cheat with you…he WILL cheat on YOU!

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      1. Hello T,
        Not all Ns reveal a wife. When our son was little, Wonder Dad took him to school, events, to play with friends. When I finally met one friend’s mother, she looked surprised, ” I’ve seen wonder dad often, I didn’t even know there WAS a mom in the picture. He never mentioned you. ”
        (Well of course not, he’s not about to shift the spotlight from cute kid and devoted dad!)

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  9. Thank you for this explanation. My ex Triangulation with his mother mostly where I am concerned. I can’t have no contact because I have 3 children with him. Do you think he may disappear once he gets a new stable target as I no longer provide emotion to his sad stories.

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    1. Hello Jennifer, he will look to you less readily for fuel when he has a new primary source of fuel but expect to be involved in his machinations there by reason of triangulation. He will always look for an opportunity to gain fuel from you and it will depend on how often you present in his sights. Since you have children together that opportunity will keep happening and that will be when you will be most susceptible to a hoover. He may leave you alone the rest of the time once he has another primary source but given that you will always have some contact with him, the opportunity for him to extract fuel from you will always present itself.

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  10. Thanks for the analysis, HG. Sam Vankin really can’t compare- not by a long shot! And yet he is easy to find when google researching narcissism. It took me way longer to find you. But so glad I did.
    PS Based on the HG criteria, G definitely an Elite with victim tendencies in bed. And that may just be reserved for certain targets. He could just as easily be the punisher/sadist with others…

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      1. We all know that the only reason SV is more “prominent” is because you choose to remain anonymous and you do not (yet, at least) shamelessly whore yourself out online. You obviously are reserving your energy for hunting down fuel, which you get far more of in person than online from your devoted fans here. But, if you ever did start actively marketing yourself, you would blow SV out of the water.

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      2. Dr. Vankin can’t compare with you, HG! He is good with the “clinical stuff”…but when one is suffering at the hands of an N, and needs answers and facts in an intelligent yet understandable way…HG leaves Dr. V. in the dust!!! Hands down!

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    1. True. When you write narcissism on google -just did it- only SV comes. I found they were taking about your codependant book in a psychology forum 😘.
      You are much better than him in explaining the subject.

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  11. So what if you react in an unexpected manner by saying something like I don’t mind if you have a mistress. I am happy with whatever you want. How will he react to that? Is that fuel?

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    1. It is because they are kind words albeit not the expected fuel and if you are in the devaluation stage, he may well look to shift to a different form of devaluing manipulation because you have outflanked him on that one.

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