How to Divorce a Narcissist

How to Divorce a Narcissist

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The person you married may seem like a distant memory to the person who now shares your home. You may now feel that the time has come to divorce.

If your soon-to-be ex-spouse has a narcissistic personality, you may have faced mistreatment throughout your marriage without immediately recognizing it. Individuals with these personalities can easily manipulate and make others feel worthless without obvious displays of violent or frightening behavior.

What is a Narcissist?

A narcissistic personality may not be instantly recognizable as a problem. Often, individuals with narcissistic behaviors come across as confident, charismatic, and charming. Sadly, many people find themselves drawn into a relationship and marriage with a narcissist only to find that their spouse remains charming to others while taking their frustrations from keeping up that charismatic public persona out on their spouse.

Mental health professionals describe Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as a personality disorder in which a person has little empathy or regard for others while they also have a deeply rooted belief in their own superiority. Narcissists require validation of their self-worth from others while also feeling a sense of entitlement and a desire to control those close to them. During a marriage, a narcissist may do the following:

  • Belittle their spouse either blatantly or subtly
  • Engage in grandiose behaviors showing they believe others should admire them at all times and their spouse should defer to their superior wisdom
  • Run “hot or cold” or fluctuate back and forth between effusively declaring their love for their spouse or belittling and controlling them through verbal and emotional abuse
  • Manipulate their spouse and other family members by creating problems between the spouse and their family and friends to isolate the spouse from outside support and create a greater dependence on themselves

Marriage to a narcissist isn’t easy, and divorcing a narcissist is almost always a traumatic, emotionally fraught experience.

Prepare for Drama

Because narcissists love attention and want everyone on their sides, the possibility exists that your spouse may attempt to cause considerable drama by playing the victim. He or she may try to sway friends into believing that you caused the problems in the relationship, and in some cases, this tactic may work. Though you may feel hurt and angry that your friends may choose to believe such untruths, you may want to remember that your spouse has likely put up these acts for years and may seem believable.

Even if you would like to jump in to defend yourself, avoiding such action may prove wise. Your insistent defense may only fuel the fire and allow your spouse to gain more of the attention he or she craves. Therefore, you could find it beneficial to remain focused on the legal proceedings ahead.

Know What You Deserve

Over the years, the manipulation, emotional abuse and other mistreatment your spouse put you through may have diminished your feelings of self-worth. However, you should not let these feelings control your future decisions, especially when making choices during the divorce proceedings. Though your soon-to-be ex may have made it seem like you deserve nothing, remember that you have options for fighting for the settlement outcomes you desire.

Take Action

It can understandably seem daunting to go against a person who has won over friends, made you feel small and seems as if he or she can get anything he or she wants. Luckily, you do not have to face this type of situation alone. Divorce can prove complex and distressing, and gaining the assistance of a Denver divorce attorney could help you understand your options.

learn how to protect yourself while divorcing a narcissist

How to Protect Yourself While Divorcing a Narcissist

No divorce is easy, but divorcing a spouse with narcissistic personality disorder can be extremely painful. After years of marriage to a narcissist, you may have an eroded self-confidence which makes it challenging to separate from the spouse who bullies you. Once you’ve made the decision, the following tips can help you through the difficult process ahead:

  • Organize ahead of time: before you tell your spouse or file the petition, it’s important to organize by starting your own checking account, arranging alternative living arrangements for you or your spouse, gathering financial documents, and arranging emotional support from a trusted family member or friend. Develop a safety plan if your spouse is abusive.
  • Hire an attorney with experience in narcissists during the divorce process
  • Safeguard any valuables or important paperwork
  • Resist the urge to badmouth your narcissistic spouse to family and friends. If someone repeats your words to your spouse, he/she may use them against you
  • Keep copies of any threatening emails, texts, or voice messages
  • Be aware that narcissists often enjoy a divorce trial because they seek the spotlight and drama of a trial. By seeking an attorney and being the petitioner in the process, you may be able to form a fair settlement agreement and avoid a trial. However, this doesn’t mean you should give your spouse everything they want
  • Anticipate an increase in emotionally abusive and manipulative behaviors
  • Minimize contact with your spouse and have an attorney present for all meetings
  • Develop a parenting plan that prioritizes the children’s needs and wellbeing
  • Change your passwords on all banking, social media, email, and streaming service accounts

Finally, stay focused on your reasons for divorce, even if this means writing a list and referring back to it any time you have doubts. Narcissists are excellent manipulators and may make you doubt yourself and your decision. However, despite extravagant promises, narcissists rarely change their behaviors for long.