Divorcing A Narcissist and How To Go About It
A personality disorder, like narcissism, is quite different than any behavioural disorder.
Never buy into the emotional entrapping of your narcissist because this is exactly what they want.
Be ready to deal with deflections, distractions, and defensive arguments.
Specialized mediators know how the mind of a narcissist works.
The narcissist will try to direct the path of discussion from a logical perspective to an illogical.
What tactics do narcissists use?
Before you even decide the proceedings of a divorce with a narcissist, it is imperative to determine if you’re indeed dealing with one. A person can be all sorts of bad sporting all hazardous qualities like lying, cheating, mean-spirited, jealous, possessive, or insecure, but these negative qualities don’t necessarily translate into narcissism.
There are 2 major qualities that set aside a narcissist from the rest: lack of empathy and brushing off their core, important responsibilities. Thy don’t feel sorry for the kitten they just ran over, for the person they just beat up unnecessarily, or for their partner they cheated on. They are the center of their universe. Only those things that cater to their self are worth their time and effort.
Some surest signs of narcissistic behavior include…
- Living in their own bubble of pseudo self-righteousness
- Sporting an exaggerated sense of fragile self-importance
- Believe others are out to get them
- Never hold themselves accountable or responsible
- Possess unhealthy and unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, wealth
- Uses every person for their own selfish gains without acknowledging the needs of others
- Exploit human relationships without an iota of empathy
How does a narcissist behave during divorce?
Along with the above-mentioned characteristics, a narcissist also takes to gaslighting to have their own way. Gaslighting is when an individual resorts to manipulation by making others question their own reality and gain power over them.
Blatantly lying, denying any proof of their wrongdoings, denying an incident ever occurred, and projecting their own actions onto others are all tactics of manipulation. Their actions don’t match their words and they often label you as a liar and a cheat who doesn’t stick to their words.
A narcissist’s world revolves around their own very selves. They seldom take anything else into consideration. In their own little world, anything that serves their selfish purpose is right regardless of how morally incorrect that actin may be.
They are quite an emotional roller-coaster. They be making life-long promises to you today while treating you like you don’t exist tomorrow. Their emotions swing on complete opposite sides of the spectrum and are difficult to wrap one’s head around it.
When one tries to free themselves from the clutches of a narcissist or decide to part ways with them against their will, their love and affection starts peaking. A narcissist will shower you with all the love and concern they can to win you back temporarily and have you change your mind until they start treating you badly all over again.
Not only that, narcissists are known to give the silent treatment very often when things don’t go their way or when they see someone taking a firm stand for themselves. A silent treatment is the narcissist’s way of bringing down someone to adapt to the narcissist’s demands.
When everything else fails, a narcissist will resort to verbal assaults often accusing the other party of false, malicious intents. Their agonizing and terrorizing threats are mere verbal doings incapable of any serious damage.
Since the mind of a narcissist is equipped to work in this manner, they will bring forth the same behaviour in divorce settlements as well. They will delay, fight back, accuse, gaslight, and terrorize until you decide to change your route or give up on it entirely.
What is the weakness of a narcissist?
Before we understand the tricks narcissists apply to sabotage divorce proceedings, it is important to first understand why they do it. A narcissist is at the center of their world where there is no place for anyone else. They are completely oblivious and indifferent to others’ emotions and plights.
In layman terms, a narcissist fails to recognize their own flaws. And when someone points it out to them, they get into defensive mode, coupled with intimidating you, which is often referred to as ‘narcissist injury.’ Narcissist injury is when a narcissist feels threatened when they realize that they can be exposed.
They find their self-worth at risk when people, such as yourself, begin pointing out the obvious deal-breakers in a relationship that they aren’t ready to take responsibility of. You can state all clear proofs in the world, have your family back you up, and your therapist on your side, a narcissist will still deny all claims and stand their ground firmly despite being in the wrong.
A spouse asking for divorce is nothing but them having seen through the narcissist’s superficial behavior, and calling them out on it. It threatens the very existence of their personality. It shakes up their core and almost causes their mask to fall off before family and society.
These reasons activate their defense mechanism and they try and prevent you from going all out with the truth. They want to direct the course of the divorce in a way that suits their personal agenda and does not paint them in a bad light, even if it messes up your mental health in the bargain.
Throughout all stages of divorcing a narcissist, they want to be seen as the victim rather than the perpetuator of it. Here are some of the most common divorce tactics that people with narcissistic personality disorder use:
- Steering the conversation to irrelevant, insignificant details while pushing core problems aside
- Delaying hearings, not showing up, trying you to give in prematurely
- Verbal abusive scar tactics
What to do when divorcing a narcissist?
1) Hire the right Mediator:
A personality disorder, like narcissism, is quite different than any behavioural disorder. The latter is generally superficial and temporary while the former is often deep-rooted in one’s personality and needs to addressed seriously.
Specialized mediators are quite adept in the ways of narcissist proceedings. They know how the mind of a narcissist works and how to adhere to their ways to extract the best deals in divorce settlements. Always check in with a family law lawyer for legal advice as you move through the mediation.
The right mediator knows the tactics a narcissist adopts in court and legal proceedings, the way their mind works, and how to see through their problematic intentions. With the right mediator by your side, negotiating a divorce settlement with a narcissist can be quite an easier job than without one.
Not only that, the right professional will guide you step-by-step through this high-conflict divorce so as to prevent saying or doing anything that will give your ex a reason for further dragging the case with an upper hand in the proceedings.
2) Rational ideas seldom work:
Any rational discussion or logical reasoning with a narcissist is bound to meet a dead end since they are always too blind to see anything that makes sense. There is no point in sitting down with them for a discussion or an argument with the hopes of settling things outside of court.
Be ready to deal with deflections, distractions, and defensive arguments if you ever decide to sit down on a logical discussion with your soon-to-be-ex narcissist partner. This situation is similar to playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how smart or unpredictable your moves are, the pigeon will still stamp across the board and strut around like it won the game anyway.
The narcissist will direct the path of discussion from a logical perspective to an illogical and irrelevant one without you even realizing when exactly did the conversation change its course. Once you start talking about irrelevant things within your conversation, know that you’ve fallen for their trap of directing the conversation.
This is precisely why you need to hire a mediator who specializes in dealing with narcissistic behaviour. Instead of arguing or speaking with your ex directly, let the lawyer handle the case and communicate with them in a manner that fits right.
3) Document every detail:
As mentioned before, narcissists are known to be deviating from every true claim made on them. They are hell-bent on denying every wrong action that led them to the divorce proceedings in the first place. Any word you say or any action you commit can be twisted in their favour and used against you if it’s not backed by proper, clear documentation.
Stay clear on your information, put down everything on paper, and share the contents with your ex and your lawyer so that everyone stays on the same page. This will not just ensure continuity but will also prevent any room for mischief that the narcissist may be intending to commit.
4) Get family and friends onboard:
Your narcissist ex has probably already ruined your image as a spouse and/or as a parent before your family and common friends. They may have tried every trick in the book to make you come across as cunning, shrewd, slanderous, incompetent, and unbalanced with respect to running a household and keeping a family intact.
They may or may not have succeeded in their endeavours so far, but will push it even further now that you’re pressing for divorce. This is the time to stand your ground as firmly as you can while building and strengthening your support system as well. Involve your family and friends as closely as possible and show them your side of the story.
Never buy into the emotional entrapping of your ex because this is exactly what they want. Their trick is to divert all attention from themselves on to you so that they are free of any accountability, responsibility, and confrontation.
They will most likely paint a bad image of you wherever they go by claiming you to be the bad spouse and problematic parent. They will work hard to get an emotional reaction out of you with their false accusations and lubricious comments.
Your ex is looking for the tiniest of opportunities to swing their dirt at you, and you must avoid giving it to them at all costs. This is why you need to show your side of the case to the people that matter the most to you before they buy into the fabricated stories of your ex.
5) Narcissist Divorce Tactics
Your basic plan is to part ways with your ex owing to their narcissist behavior that is now becoming a deal breaker. Your idea is to take a firm stand for yourself above all wrongdoings committed by your narcissist ex and respect yourself regardless of how loving, compassionate, or caring they may be.
If you have any children together, you’re doing it for them to give them a healthy, happy childhood devoid of any trauma or gaslighting.
While this is your plan, keep reminding yourself why you’re in this process in the first place. Whenever you find yourself being emotionally influenced or considering going back, remind yourself of the reasons why you decided to end this marriage.
Adopt a strategic, determined approach and stick to it regardless of all circumstances. Discuss all terms with your lawyer closely regrading every tiniest detail even if it seems insignificant. Devising a plan and sticking to it is one of the surest ways to go about the divorce.
It can be quite daunting and emotionally taxing to undergo all legal proceedings along with carrying a strong heart to see your family breaking apart. Instead of blaming yourself, find out why you fell for them in the first place.
Narcissists treat every aspect of their life as a prized possession or a trophy that they need to get hold of. Any romantic relationship, children, job, wealth, or material possession is looked upon by them in the same manner with no difference whatsoever.
They put forward their best, romantic face when trying to woo someone while their uglier side seeps out slowly and gradually as the days pass by. Their confident and charming personality was trying its best to ‘achieve’ your love in the most competitive manner possible.
Therefore, it wasn’t your fault that you decided to marry them. And now that you know their true side, you’re parting ways for good. You may not feel the best about yourself now, but you’re a winner in the bigger picture. Now that you know the signs of a narcissist personality, you can easily spot all its red flags before getting romantically involved again.
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since you’re here…
Do you value fair costs, compressed timelines, your well-being and a favourable outcome?
If you have children, are approaching retirement, or simply in the primary pursuits of life, no matter what your station in life, separation and divorce often presents some unique challenges. That said reaching a settlement should not break you financially or break your family. Like life, Separation and divorce also have their stages. The early decisions you make and the path you take are directly connected to the quality of your outcome.
The path you take
Let’s hear from Divorce Industry insiders about lawyers and litigation.
“Entering the litigation process forces people to take an adversarial stance because that’s the way the system is designed.”
“Because a court can only do so many things, the answers are impeaching us already. Has to be custody, has to be access, has to be amount of support, has to be division of assets, in a way that the law stipulates. So they’re very bounded by the results because a court can only order so many things.”
“Lawyers unfortunately because that’s their job, tend to reinforce that [adversarial stance]. When you have people who are hurt, who are in crises, who are afraid, who are worried, and they see it as a war. And that’s really dreadful for kids”
June Maresca – Family Court Judge
“The process requires people to bring out the worst in each other. My ex-husband is like this and like that, all the most horrible things. My ex-wife is like this and like that, it brings out the worst in people. So the other party reading that gets their back up and retaliates.”
“She said I knew that our marriage was broken, but after the litigation our family was broken. And it just, it broke my heart.”
Toni Pietrantoni – Family Law Lawyer
“Once you thrown mud at somebody and they throw mud back at you, it typically gets to the point where the hate level does not decrease, the hate level increases.”
“When I see litigation, it’s based on a binary system. You either win or you lose, or on an issue, you’re right or you’re wrong.”
Richard Bennett – Family Law Lawyer
“And at one point my mom said well you have to choose who you’re going to live with, me or your dad. And I couldn’t study for about a good two months and we had finals coming up, so it was difficult.”
Child of Divorce
“The time has come for a fresh conceptual approach to resolution of family disputes in Ontario”
Warren Winkler – Ontario Chief Justice 2007 – 2013
“The empirical evidence shows that it isn’t necessarily the separation and the divorcing of parents that creates the psychological and emotional damage in children, it is the conflict that happens afterwards.”
Julia Haasz – Family Law Lawyer
“The litigation process is expensive, time-consuming, and it’s not going to have the effect people think it’s going to have.”
Francine E. Van Melle – Family Court Judge
What about Self-Representation?
The family court system has seen a terrific increase in the number of self-represented litigants (self-reps, or SRLs) over the past few years. But what does it mean to be a self-rep? Judges and lawyers, as well as the system itself, are all struggling to understand who how to better accommodate self-reps in a system built upon the expectation of both parties having lawyers to act for them.
The National Self-represented Litigants Project revealed some disturbing figures. Over a period of 4 years and 3 months ending April 6, 2016, in Ontario Superior Court cases where there was one self-rep and one represented client, the self-rep won only 14% of the time and lost 73% of the time. (The remainder resulted in no orders or split orders.) While there are many explanations for this, it’s clear that a person without any legal help or assistance is facing an uneven playing field.
The resolution value ladder
The further down the resolution value ladder you start, the higher cost go, and the longer timelines extend. Bypass low-value processes and start with the high-value mediation process. Whether you have a settlement in mind and just need a separation agreement prepared or need assistance reaching a settlement, contain costs and conflict by working with a neutral third-party – mediator.
Learn more about Soft Landing Divorce Settlement Method
“Research tells us the greater the degree to which the parents own the outcome, the greater the likelihood they will actually follow through, and that reduces the conflict.”
“People are like snowflakes, families are like snowflakes. No two are the same. And so the benefit of a collaborative process, there is no rubber stamp, there is no template that anyone has to fit in to”
Gary Direnfeld Social Worker MSW, RSW
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