When you said “I do,” you didn’t think you were committing to spending your life with a narcissist. Narcissists are irresistibly charming and charismatic at the start of the relationship. They’ll shower their partners with flattery, affection and gifts, but once the commitment is made, things start to go downhill – fast.
Anyone who’s lived through it will tell you that living with a narcissist is a nightmare. The only thing worse is divorcing one.
Here are five things to expect when divorcing a narcissist.
1. Narcissists Don’t Go Quietly Into the Night
It’s easy to assume that once the divorce proceedings begin, your nightmare will finally be over. But narcissists tend to ramp up their abuse during a divorce.
Divorce can bring out the worst in even the most amicable of couples, but narcissists use the legal system to continue their crusade of fear and manipulation.
If you don’t play the game carefully, strategically and without emotion, the whole ordeal can inflict severe psychological wounds.
It helps to have someone by your side who knows and understands how narcissists work. Experts recommend hiring a lawyer who has handled divorce cases involving narcissistic spouses.
2. Narcissists are In It to Win It
Let’s be honest: nobody wins in a divorce. But if both parties can come to a fair and just agreement, the end result is far more satisfying.
Narcissists are not likely to view any agreement as fair or just. They’re in it to win it. There will be no negotiation and no mediation.
Narcissists need to be validated and in this case, proven right. They’ll say anything – no matter how far-fetched the lie – to get what they want.
The truth is optional when divorcing a narcissist.
3. Narcissists Aren’t Afraid to Sling Mud in Court
Narcissists will sling whatever mud they can get their hands on – whether it’s true or not – just to see what sticks. Be prepared for your partner to paint you as the bad guy, both in the paperwork and in the courtroom.
Narcissists lack empathy, have a desire to win above all else, and could care less about the consequences of their behavior.
Your ex will work hard to pollute the waters and paint you black to the judge, your co-workers, family, friends and anyone else who will lend their ears.
4. Narcissists Will Do Their Best to Lure You Into Their Game
No matter the situation or the circumstances of the divorce, narcissists will always view themselves as the victim. Your ex will want to know why you’re “doing this to them,” and will pin the blame on you entirely.
And when you try to bring up real issues that need to be addressed, the topic will be shifted back to you and your “poor qualities.”
But no matter how inflammatory the remarks, it’s important not to get lured into your ex’s game. Take away your ex’s power by ignoring these comments and staying focused on the issue.
If possible, keep communication to a minimum during and after the divorce. If kids are involved, you may need to discuss the logistics of visitation or travel, but it’s okay to completely disregard any other communication. There’s no need to continually reopen old wounds or expose yourself to your partner’s abuse.
5. Narcissists Will Drag Out the Proceedings
Your narcissistic ex will likely refuse to settle or negotiate during the divorce. Remember, narcissists only care about winning and getting what they want. There’s no room for negotiation in their minds.
Whether it’s dividing your assets or deciding on child custody and support arrangements, your ex will drag on the proceedings – and run up your divorce bill.
It can take years to heal the wounds of a marriage – and divorce – with a narcissist. Having a good support system in place and an attorney who knows how to handle narcissists can help make the entire process smoother and less stressful.