Divorcing a Narcissist
Divorce offers opportunities to make a fresh start and improve your life. If you want to learn more on how to go about divorcing a narcissist, contact Family Law Attorney Angela Larimer at 773-370-0600.
What is narcissism and why does it seem to be a term that people tend to throw around without really understanding it?
According to Mayo Clinic, Narcissism is a mental condition that is one of several types of personality disorders. It is where someone has a deep need for excessive attention and praise, has an inflated sense of self, lacks empathy and compassion and struggles to maintain healthy long-lasting relationships. It is important to note that Mayo Clinic also mentions that individuals who suffer from this condition also tend to have fragile egos and do not take well to criticism. Narcissism is often linked to other personality disorders such as bi-polar disorder or psychopathy (Mayo Clinic, 2022).
Narcissism in romantic relationships can have long lasting and devastating effects. In the beginning stages of dating a narcissist maybe you experienced ‘love-bombing’ which is a common tactic of theirs that entails an over-load of romance and affection. More times than not, once a narcissist knows you are comfortable with their grandiose gestures and special treatment it slowly dissipates… Maybe you don’t realize it at first but over time you might not recognize the same person you are divorcing today. You may have experienced your partner's attempts at making you question your own reality. The narcissist will be deny their dramatic shift in treatment. They might accuse you of being dramatic or try to convince you that you are the one who has changed, not them. This tool is called ‘gas-lighting’ which is an emotionally abusive strategy to feel superior to their partner and divert the topic of conversation to go in their favor. You may have felt as though you couldn’t trust your own thoughts, memories or instincts. Another common experience with a narcissist is that they may expect you to have automatic obedience or compliance. Narcissists have a tendency to also over-exaggerate their accomplishments and social importance. This is not only common in a relationship but also in the workforce. Maybe you became isolated from friends and family because they made you feel guilty for giving attention elsewhere in your life. Or maybe you felt threatened or had a fear of being exploited for their personal gain. These are all common situations that occur when one is involved with a narcissist. The problem is, more times than not, their ego protects them from thinking that they have any faults; they do not know that they have a disorder and may blame those around them for being ‘too weak’ or ‘overreacting’ to their treatment towards others.
Divorcing a narcissist takes self-discipline and requires true strength.
When divorcing a narcissist, the first thing one should do is cut off all communication (if possible) and lawyer up immediately! Leave the communication-exchanges up to the attorneys if you can. You do not want to risk falling back into their manipulation, lies, gas-lighting and other mind-games. Be smart and play it safe.
Secondly, always keep evidence if possible. Text messages, email exchanges and videos are all important forms of evidence to build a case. Please review our previous blog, Blog #5: Important Documentation for more information on documentation and evidence.
Also, before you decide to divorce your narcissistic spouse make sure you have a financial safety-net if possible. Make sure you have a security emergency fund. You do not want to risk them draining your bank accounts before you can even afford a good attorney. You want to make sure you have enough money for your children and you on a temporary basis. Always try to stay two steps ahead of them.
Additionally, remember to shut down any manipulation tactics they might try to pull on you. Do NOT entertain their apologies or excuses for their terrible behaviors. You are moving forward with your life and they will try to do anything they can to convince you that you are making the wrong decision. Once you do not give into their pleas or other mind-games, you may experience a different beast coming out of them. This person might try to slander your name, accuse you of being a terrible spouse and/or accuse you of being a horrible parent. They might become more abusive or aggressive or even threaten you. Document everything and stay strong. This is not an easy road but it will be worth to your children and you so you can get to a better, peaceful and honest life. One that truly reflects reality, not one that is distorted through the narcissist skewed and inaccurate viewpoint.
Lastly, it is important to remember that even if you feel like a victim, or if you feel robbed of your time and love, always remember that you (and your children) never deserved any harmful or abusive treatment from the narcissist. This is not an easy path but always remember you are making the right decision. Label yourself not as a victim, that label we will put in the past. Label yourself a survivor!
For More Information on this Topic Please Visit:
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), (2022) Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Mayo Clinic Web Retrieved: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662
Nicole Smith (2022), The Ultimate Guide to Divorcing a Narcissist, Survive Divorce
Web Retrieved: https://www.survivedivorce.com/divorcing-narcissist
Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD (2022) Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissism, Very Well Mind