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Registered: 10-2008
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Triangulation: Cinderella


By Lynn S.

Once upon a time there was a girl named Cinderella.
Her fondest dream was that she'd find a really special fella.
The dream guy would be strong and kind with wit that was disarming.
He wouldn't be just any Prince, he'd be her own Prince Charming.
Cinderella worked her little fingers to the bone,
And still no matter what she did, she found herself alone.
There always seemed to be someone who stood in Cinder's way
Of getting back the love she gave. She'd worked for zero pay.
First it was the sister who got all the finest toys;
Then it was her friend in school who stole the cutest boys.
At last she thought she'd found the guy who'd end her lifelong quest
But then he bailed and proved he was no different from the rest.
Then it happened. A real prince showed up to save her life.
He seemed to have it all; in fact, he even had a wife.
This was a tad disturbing, but the prince turned on his charm,
Assuring Cinder that a little fling would do no harm.
He wasn't happy, after all. His wife was mean and cold.
Cinder thought, "Aha, this time I'll win the pot of gold."
Her competition was no threat. She wasn't even nice,
And Cinderella was prepared to pay most any price.
Once again she worked and worked to be all she could be.
Underneath the cinders, soon a Princess he would see.
She hung on every word he said, and gave him all she could;
Then he said the magic words, "I choose you...or I would."
He promised he would give to her a pair of new glass slippers.
She'd have them when he cut the cord but first he needed clippers.
These shoes he had been saving and they were the Soulmate Brand.
They were designed to fit the fairest maiden in the land.
He couldn't quite make good on that. He seemed to have a glitch.
She didn't understand it, but he wouldn't leave that witch.
She hung on, though, for years and years. She wouldn't give up hope
That someday he'd be hers for keeps. Until then, she would cope.
And cope she did with all his lies and push-me, pull-me games.
All of it was worth it if someday she'd bear his name.
He said it long ago, that he would choose her if he could.
She needed to believe that finally someone really would.
Then he did it, left his wife and showed up at her door.
To her surprise she didn't want the slippers anymore.
Without a rival for his love, there was no game to play.
She needed to compete for men, and work for zero pay.
So Cinderella told him to go back to his dear wife.
If he did, then maybe she'd come back into his life.
If not, then she would go along and find another jerk
Who'd let her try to earn his love and next time it would work.
Of course he'd had to have a wife or girlfriend he had spoiled.
She had to have that ring to chase. Without it, she was foiled.
The moral of the story is that love is not a game
And real Princes haven't given someone else their name.

And while we're spinning lessons from the Cinderella story
Another one occurs to me regarding love and glory.
There's not a lot of usefulness to slippers made of glass.
Especially when they're promised by a narcissistic azz.

© 2007


While it may be a bit of a twist to cast Cinderella in 'the other woman' role, she seemed the right character for this section, mostly because of the elusive glass slippers offered by the prince in the original story. Like this Cinderella, a partner of a Narcissist who is the 'third' in the relationship is likely also working hard to earn those slippers. They symbolize his love, a love the narcissist declares is reserved only for a very special person. In this competitive equation, it can seem that since there is someone else involved who supposedly cannot meet the challenge of loving the narcissist well enough, the 'prize' is even more valuable. This is, of course, exactly how the Narcissist wants his affections perceived: unique, special, and elusive. The supply this arrangement garners a Narcissist is irresistible and he will encourage and prolong the chase with great delight.

I have seen numerous examples on the forums throughout the years of targets who find themselves in this position. At times the role of competing for 'love' is one they've never found themselves in before; at others it's a familiar one due to replay issues. In this poem, Cinderella is living out a repetition compulsion. Unconciously, the pursuit is familiar and it motivates her to pursue the unavailable prince, though she doesn't see this at the time she's involved. The fact that the prince is a Narcissist only compounds the situation. He will exploit her vulnerabilities and zero in on her need for validation. She does not realize that he has set things up to make 'having him' a prize to win nor does she have a conscious awareness of why she even wants to win it. What drives and prolongs this relationship can be partially attributed to her own issues. The second contributing factor is his skill at setting up a triangulation dynamic which makes her work to win his love.

Whether the third wheel is a role with which the woman is familiar and comfortable as is portrayed here or it is a role that is new and adopted at a time when she was vulnerable, the dynamics within these triangulated relationships are similar. When this relationship occurs, 'Cinderella' is most likely caught on what is known as the Karpman Drama Triangle where the roles of victim, rescuer, and persecutor are played out in full force. The Narcissist will put into place a chase where he is a victim who needs to be rescued from his miserable existence and a new partner assumes the mantle of rescuer while the previous or existing partner is cast as the persecutor who is responsible for all the misery. Then the roles switch to serve the shifting needs of the Narcissist and occasionally it will also shift to serve the needs of the other members on the triangle who may have their own pathologies or issues playing out.

The original article published in 1968 by Steven Karpman examining the roles of persecutor, victim, and rescuer in what has since become known as the Karpman Drama Triangle can be found here. Interestingly enough, it references Fairy Tales and the Scripts we follow:

Fairy Tales and Script Drama Analysis by Steven Karpman

Triangulation can occur in any relationship, but it is very common in a relationship with a narcissist. It may happen at home, at work, with friends, or within in family of origin. He may pit you against another woman, several other women, his mother, his friends, or any other person he can get to engage in his victim-playing who is willing to serve the role he assigns. He may also adopt the role of persecutor to assign blame or rescuer to maintain control of his image. In the end, this travel around the triangle is how he dumps shame and finds someone to blame for his misery. If there is always a role to play, there is always a way to escape responsibility by shifting the position on the triangle.

The answer to the exhaustive push and pull of a triangulated dynamic in a relationship with a Narcissist is to simply step off the triangle and refuse to play. It's a game you cannot win.


"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Dec/4/2008, 11:49 am Link to this post  
missmonica Profile
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Registered: 11-2008
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Re: Triangulation: Cinderella

Lynn S.

This is just on time, the poem and attached article are phenomenal.....
I really needed to see this because of a similar situation that I am danger of entering and this clarifies so many things for me, this strengthens my resolve to continue on the path of healing and restoration....


I got a lot of living to do before I die and I ain't got time to waste -lets make it!!

50 Cent-Wanksta
Feb/2/2009, 9:21 pm Link to this post  
Wai2 Profile
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Re: Triangulation: Cinderella


The Narcissist will put into place a chase where he is a victim who needs to be rescued from his miserable existence and a new partner assumes the mantle of rescuer while the previous or existing partner is cast as the persecutor who is responsible for all the misery

OMG!!! I think this is what is happeing to me! I am the previous partner, and I have just recently been thinking that this has been going on. I think he is now provoking me to reinforce this image he has protrayed of me. I am on to him now. No more distressed phone calls to him. Phew! Thank you for conforming what I thought was going on.
May/3/2010, 7:19 am Link to this post  

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