Virtuous Circle Counselling

emotional abuse

Understanding Triangulation in Emotional Abuse: Insights from Virtuous Circle Counselling

Triangulation is a subtle yet harmful form of emotional abuse that can occur in relationships, families, and social circles. This manipulation tactic involves the abuser manipulating two or more parties into conflict or miscommunication, creating a dynamic where the abuser remains in control or receives validation. The impact of triangulation on mental health and interpersonal relationships can be significant and long-lasting. At Virtuous Circle Counselling, our team of experienced counsellors works diligently to support clients affected by emotional abuse, including those experiencing triangulation within their relationships or families.

In this article, we will explore the concept of triangulation in emotional abuse, focusing on the following vital areas:

  1. The Nature and Tactics of Triangulation
  2. Recognizing the Signs of Triangulation in Relationships and Families
  3. The Impact of Triangulation on Mental Health and Well-Being
  4. Strategies for Responding to and Addressing Triangulation
  5. The Support and Resources Offered by Virtuous Circle Counselling

By raising awareness of triangulation and providing strategies for addressing this form of emotional abuse, individuals and families can work toward healthier, more supportive relationships.

The Nature and Tactics of Triangulation

Triangulation involves an individual, commonly referred to as the triangulator, manipulating relationships between two or more parties. The triangulator may exploit communication gaps, create confusion or misunderstandings, and actively control the flow of information between those involved. Tactics employed by triangulators can include:

  1. Pitting People Against Each Other: The triangulator incites conflict between others, positioning themselves as a neutral party or sympathetic ally.
  2. Relaying Miscommunications: The triangulator may intentionally deliver misleading or false information between parties, fostering confusion or tension.
  3. Playing the Victim: Triangulators frequently portray themselves as victims in an attempt to gain others’ sympathy and support.
  4. Diverting Blame: The triangulator manipulates situations so that others take the blame for problems, ensuring the triangulator maintains a positive or powerful position.

By employing these manipulative tactics, the triangulator works to maintain control, feed their ego, or avoid responsibility.

Recognizing the Signs of Triangulation in Relationships and Families

Being able to recognize the signs of triangulation is crucial in addressing this form of emotional abuse. Red flags may include:

  1. Frequent Misunderstandings: Triangulators specifically create miscommunications between people, leading to regular misunderstandings or disputes.
  2. Breakdown of Trust: Trust within relationships or families may erode as the triangulator manipulates bonds and fosters conflict.
  3. Dependency on the Triangulator: The triangulator may manipulate others to rely on them for validation, emotional support, or as the sole source of information, consolidating their power.
  4. Emotional Exhaustion: Affected parties often experience emotional exhaustion due to constant conflicts, confusion, and broken trust, which can impair their well-being and the quality of their relationships.

Recognizing these signs is the first step to understanding and addressing the damaging impact of triangulation.

The Impact of Triangulation on Mental Health and Well-Being

Triangulation can severely impact the mental health and well-being of those involved. Some potential effects are:

  1. Anxiety and Depression: The ongoing emotional turmoil created by triangulation can contribute to the development of anxiety and depression.
  2. Low Self-Esteem: As trust and communication between individuals break down, those affected may experience feelings of doubt or low self-worth.
  3. Relationship Difficulties: The manipulation and tension created by triangulation can damage relationships between family members, friends, or romantic partners, leading to long-lasting interpersonal challenges.
  4. Reduced Resilience: Long-term exposure to triangulation can weaken an individual’s resilience, making it more challenging to cope with future stressors or conflicts.

Understanding the impact of triangulation on mental health and well-being is essential in addressing the issue and seeking support.

Strategies for Responding to and Addressing Triangulation

When confronted with triangulation in relationships or families, implementing proactive strategies can help mitigate its damaging effects. Some valuable approaches include:

  1. Open Communication: Encourage open, honest communication between affected parties and engage in direct conversation to address issues or misunderstandings.
  2. Fact-Checking: Verify any information received from the triangulator with other parties involved, ensuring accuracy and reducing confusion.
  3. Establishing Boundaries: Set and enforce boundaries with the triangulator, limiting the opportunity for them to manipulate relationships.
  4. Seeking Professional Support: Professional help, such as counselling services, can offer guidance and support in navigating the challenging process of addressing triangulation and emotional abuse.

By employing these strategies, individuals and families can begin to regain a sense of trust, communication, and stability in their relationships.

The Support and Resources Offered by Virtuous Circle Counselling

Virtuous Circle Counselling is dedicated to helping those affected by triangulation and other forms of emotional abuse. Some support and resources they offer include:

  1. Individual Counselling: Experienced counsellors work with individuals to process their experiences, develop healthy coping strategies, and build resilience in the face of emotional abuse.
  2. Family Counselling: Virtuous Circle Counselling also offers family counselling geared towards rebuilding trust, fostering open communication, and addressing the dynamics that enable triangulation.
  3. Couples Counselling: For romantic relationships affected by triangulation, couples counselling can provide essential insights and skills to overcome this form of emotional abuse and strengthen relationship bonds.
  4. Education and Workshops: Educational workshops may focus on understanding manipulative behaviours, setting boundaries, improving communication, empowering individuals to recognize better and addressing triangulation and emotional abuse.

By seeking support from Virtuous Circle Counselling, individuals and families can find the tools and guidance needed to confront and overcome the effects of triangulation in their relationships.

Overcoming Triangulation with Virtuous Circle Counselling

Triangulation is a damaging form of emotional abuse that manipulates relationships, erodes trust, and impairs mental health. By recognizing the signs of triangulation and understanding the tactics involved, individuals and families can take crucial steps toward addressing this harmful dynamic. Virtuous Circle Counselling offers compassionate, professional support to those affected by triangulation and other forms of emotional abuse. With individual, family, and couples counselling, as well as educational workshops, they provide the resources and guidance needed to overcome the effects of triangulation and foster healthier communication in relationships.

If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing triangulation in their relationships, don’t hesitate to reach out to the dedicated team at Virtuous Circle Counselling. Our experienced therapists in Calgary are here to support you in your journey to heal, rebuild trust, and strengthen your relationships. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step toward a more fulfilling, supportive relational dynamic.

Share This Article


We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.