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Divorcing a narcissist: 5 things you need to know

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2023 | Divorce |

Narcissism is a mental health disorder that gets its name from a Greek myth. The story of Narcissus is a tragic one. He was incapable of loving others and so enamored by himself that he eventually wasted away in front of a pool of water admiring his own reflection.

Real-world narcissists very rarely engage in behaviors that cause themselves direct harm, like forgetting to eat and rest. Narcissists often prioritize their comfort and well-being above all other considerations. Many narcissists are experts at hiding the darker sides of their personality. They are self-centered and manipulative, but subtly so. As a result, someone who is preparing to divorce a spouse that they believe is a narcissist will potentially benefit from following the five tips below.

Learn about narcissistic behavior

Narcissism can manifest in a variety of different ways. It is crucial that someone preparing to leave a narcissist understand what kind of misconduct they will likely face during the divorce so that they can more effectively protect themselves.

Gather evidence of misconduct

A narcissist will typically seek to control how others view them, usually by spinning the truth in their favor. It is therefore crucial for someone leaving a narcissist to gather evidence of how they have actually behaved. Screenshots of abusive messages or pictures of the damage that someone caused to a home in a fit of rage can both help establish that the narcissistic spouse has threatened or intimidated their spouse previously.

Tap into support networks early

Once a narcissist knows that divorce is imminent, they may try to isolate their spouse from the people who would usually provide them with assistance and clarity. It is important for someone divorcing a narcissist to reach out to their closest loved ones early in the process to give their side of the story first. Providing warnings about the manipulative and untruthful conduct of the narcissist spouse can reduce the likelihood that their version of events will sway someone’s inner circle during the upcoming divorce.

Learn to stand in the truth

A narcissist may seek to undermine someone’s understanding of what has transpired in the relationship. People need to maintain their own perspective and avoid communicating in a way that will make them vulnerable to gaslighting and other forms of manipulation. Many people choose to go no-contact during the divorce process with the exception of necessary communication about shared children because of how difficult communication with a narcissist can be.

Limit what the narcissist knows

Someone with narcissistic personality disorder will do everything in their power to manipulate the divorce process and the evidence that their spouse can obtain. They will view their spouse as an enemy and will stop at nothing to win. People therefore need to be ready to leave, with all the evidence they already require, before notifying a narcissistic spouse about their intentions.

Knowing how to handle the conduct of a narcissist during divorce can help people obtain the fresh start they deserve. Seeking legal guidance can be very helpful in this regard as well.



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