Getting divorced can be mentally, emotionally, and physically draining, especially if the process is less than amicable. If your spouse is a narcissist or is self-centered and vindictive, you may be worried about the difficulties you may face during the divorce process. Below, we discuss tips for divorcing a narcissist, the ways they may make the divorce process hard, and more.
What Is a Narcissist?
While we may jokingly call our friend a narcissist or use the term narcissist causally, narcissism is a type of personality disorder. Approximately 5% of people have this disorder. A narcissistic personality disorder is clinically defined as a mental condition that causes a person to have:
- A deep need for admiration and attention
- A lack of empathy
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- Troubled relationships (at home, work, and/or school)
A clinical diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) can only be given if a person exhibits five or more of the following traits (according to the Cleveland Clinic):
- Willingness to take advantage of others to achieve goals
- Need for excessive admiration or praise
- Lack of empathy (i.e. a failure to understand and/or consider the needs and feelings of others)
- Feelings of superiority along with a desire to surround oneself with people of high status
- Feelings of entitlement
- Constant thoughts about being superior to others in terms of power, success, attractiveness, brains, or love
- An inflected sense of self-importance
- An arrogant or snobby attitude
Why Is Divorcing a Narcissist So Hard?
Divorcing a narcissist can be challenging because they often struggle with patience and compromise. Their need to feel important and superior can affect their willingness to cooperate throughout the divorce process, and their sense of entitlement and arrogance can sometimes mean they are unwilling to negotiate or make concessions.
If you are divorcing a narcissist, it will likely be a contested divorce. Contested divorces can be filed by one party without the consent of the other party, and the filing party can outline their wishes concerning alimony, property division, and other terms. The court will then help you work towards an agreement or make determinations that you and the other party could not agree on.
In addition to the aforementioned difficulties, divorcing a narcissist can be hard because they:
- Try to make certain aspects of the case hard for you (like gaining access to financial information, etc.)
- Try to elongate the process by not responding to messages or calls, asking for continuances, reneging on agreements, etc.
- Refuse to cooperate with you, your attorney, or the court
- Lash out at you (or other people in your support system)
- Gaslight you or your children to control or manipulate you or the situation
- Attempt to turn your children against you
- Attempt to isolate you from others (by defaming you or your character or destroying your reputation)
Tips for Divorcing a Narcissist
The best tip we can give you is that you should retain a reliable attorney if you are divorcing a narcissist. An attorney can help you develop a personalized strategy, and they can handle the case legalities, including (but not limited to):
- Filing motions to request information from the other party
- Handling litigation or negotiations
- Fighting against motions by the other party for continuances and/or shady tactics/practices
- Helping you calculate alimony and child support
- Helping you understand your legal rights and options
- Acting as the communication touch point and handling all calls and emails concerning the case
Divorcing a narcissist doesn’t just mean preparing to handle the legalities; you will also need to prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. To better handle your divorce from a narcissist, you can:
- Build a support system. Getting divorced is hard even if you’re not divorcing a narcissist. While you have the complication of a troubled soon-to-be-ex, getting divorced is a major transitions, and you may struggle with having to grieve your relationship, dreams, future plans, and more. You should have friends or family who can stand with you and support you during this time.
- Consider therapy or a support group. These activities can help you process your thoughts and emotions throughout the divorce process. While you may be able to talk through your emotions with people in your support system, you may benefit from hearing from people who are going through something similar.
- Document everything. You should document and save any interactions you have with the other party because this information (and screenshots) can be used as evidence in court. Saved texts, emails, social media posts, and other messages can be especially helpful for custody and asset division determinations.
- Establish boundaries. Regardless of whether you believe the other party will honor them, you should have and set clear boundaries with them. Whether that involves communication boundaries or some other form of rules, you have the right to set limits concerning what you will allow. You should also speak with your attorney because they can help you by either acting as a buffer or helping you consider legal options to protect yourself.
- Expect challenges. Be realistic about the coming process. Being honest with yourself about the challenges you can expect can help you better prepare mentally.
- Prioritize self-care. Throughout the divorce process, you should talk time to recharge and rest. Even in amicable cases, divorce can take a toll on your emotional and mental health. With the mind games and tactics that narcissists may employ, you may be even more drained, which is why you should take care of and even treat yourself when possible.
- Refuse to engage in certain battles. As we mentioned, narcissists may lack out or try to manipulate you. Whether they pick a fight on social media or goad you in court, you should avoid engaging them. If you retaliate or lash out yourself, your response can be used against you in court. Pick and choose your battles and remember that your actions can impact your case.
Get Legal Help
William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys is equipped to help you navigate your divorce. With over two decades of legal experience, our attorney is known for providing aggressive yet compassionate legal counsel. If you or a loved one are involved in a complicated divorce, our firm is here to help. Whether you need help with child support, spousal support, property division, or any other divorce-related matter, you can trust our team to help you understand your rights, options, and protections available to you.
Schedule a case consultation today by calling (215) 515-9901 or reaching out online today. You don’t have to face this alone.