Divorcing A Narcissist: Tips, Tools, And What To Expect
Going through a divorce is a stressful experience even when the parties agree to an uncontested divorce. However, when divorcing a narcissistic spouse, the divorce process can be far more challenging and traumatic.
Narcissism, like most health and personality disorders, is not black and white. And while there are several criteria to determine if a person is a narcissist, ultimately it boils down to selfishness at expense of others, combined with the incapacity to consider other people’s feelings. As a result, narcissists dislike losing, in general, so they may interpret a divorce as a battle they have to win.
For this reason, if you find yourself in the situation of not knowing how to divorce a narcissist, you have to learn what to expect and develop strategies to protect yourself. Below, we share some important tips and tools that you can use to give yourself a better chance of achieving your divorce goals while keeping conflict to a minimum.
What To Expect
Your narcissistic soon-to-be-ex will, for the most part, try to make your divorce a difficult journey. Don’t have any high expectations and assume they’ll show any sympathy. The odds of your ex being willing to negotiate are slim so prepare yourself for a long and not-so-fun ride.
A narcissistic person isn’t always keen on being open for dialogue, mediation so finding a mutually beneficial agreement will probably not be an option. You might be faced with a difficult battle with a lot of drama and going back and forth. Narcissists lack self-awareness and conflict resolution skills and this is the main reason why mediation often fails.
When you’re divorcing a narcissist, expect them to use your kids, if you have any, as pawns. They’re known to create drama and will try to hurt you by obstructing your relationship with your children and portraying you as the villain. Your narcissistic spouse will not recognize that your children might suffer tremendously as they’re pressured to take sides so any effort to amicably co-parent will most probably fail.
Narcissists thrive on drama and their relentless need for attention may result in a high-conflict divorce marked by cyber-bullying, badmouthing and tarnishing your image and reputation.
Tips On Divorcing A Narcissist
The standard divorce wisdom usually doesn’t apply when divorcing a narcissist and may even aggravate things. Your spouse doesn’t recognize any rights and boundaries so the number one rule is to remain calm and not engage in arguments. Defending yourself against their claims will only invite more attacks so refrain from justifying your stances or apologizing and just make sure you stick to the facts.
Narcissists will walk over others to get what they want so you must maintain and enforce your boundaries. Don’t respond immediately to calls, texts, and emails, refer to court orders and don’t allow your spouse to intrude on visitation time by frequently contacting your children. It can be a sensitive subject when discussing your spouse and problems with your children but remember that you’re allowed to counter any lies and defamation of character with facts but always keep the emotional charge out of your voice.
Last but not least, don’t listen to advice from family members and friends. They may mean well but not know what it means to be in a relationship with an irrational human being. You can extend your gratitude for their concern but let them know that you would rather not discuss your divorce.
Tools You Can Take Advantage Of
The first step when divorcing a narcissist is to hire a reputable attorney who has a strategy for dealing with such persons. An experienced attorney will know how to handle a narcissist avoid engaging you in an endless battle and run up your legal fees. They will refrain from responding to every single crazy allegation, generate a pile of paperwork, or tell you to go to court over minor issues.
It’s crucial for you to also document everything you can. Narcissists tend to manipulate and lie so keep records and make copies of important documents. You may never know what’s going to be presented in court so be prepared. The court doesn’t like to be deceived so managing to expose your ex-partner’s lies could get the judge to rule in your favor.
Divorcing a narcissist may take an emotional and mental toll on you but staying in a toxic marriage can do greater harm. One of the best ways to prepare yourself for the divorce proceeding is to seek legal advice, practice self-care, and set boundaries. A narcissist hates losing so remember to be as honest as possible with your attorney so that they can build a strong case, help you navigate through the harsh process, and protect you.