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Divorcing a narcissist: Everything you need to know

When you married your spouse, you probably didn’t think you’d end up here, divorcing a narcissist. 

It doesn’t matter how long it’s been—divorce is hard. Divorcing a narcissist is even harder. Some gpeople call it the ultimate challenge.

The road may be scary and dark, but it doesn’t have to be. I have your 10 easy tips for successfully divorcing a narcissist. You’ll end up one step ahead, and you’ll finally get your life back.

Are you ready? 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about narcissism, narcissistic behavior, and how to get your life back after divorce.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a real mental condition. Your soon-to-be ex could be annoying, frustrating, rude, or even egotistical. But if it’s a step above that, they may have NPD.

Those with NPD have an inflated view of themselves. They think that they are, quite literally, a god. Attention is what they thrive off of, and admiration is equally as important.

Because of these tiresome needs, you’ll often find those with NPD to have bad relationships, volatile interactions, and a complete lack of empathy.

If it isn’t something to do with themselves, they aren’t interested. And though these people sound pretty hard to get along with, that’s not completely true.

In fact, most narcissists are extremely charming.

They bring you in with their confidence, arrogance, good looks, and desire.

And for a while, they may even put themselves aside, wooing their partners into believing that they are the most important people in the world.

But, it always comes crashing down. Because the true intent of wooing their partner is to have someone to control.

Divorcing a narcissist isn’t an easy road because it can take years to figure out that the charming, often-delightful, person that you fell in love with has been weaving a web of lies and manipulation.

Truth is that many people have inflated egos or strong self-esteem, but that doesn’t make them a narcissist.

NPD affects more males than females, but it doesn’t show until teens or early adulthood. And because teens and adults naturally inflate their egos, it can be hard to tell whether someone is truly a narcissist or not until much later.

So, how can you tell whether or not you’re dealing with a naturally arrogant person or a true narcissist?

Signs your partner is a narcissist

While every narcissist will have their different ways of manipulating, there are some key signs of narcissism that nearly everyone can see:

  • Belief that they’re better than everyone else
  • Distort the world around them to better fit their views
  • Always want attention and constant praise
  • Entitled and demand special privileges
  • Use guilt and shame to make others feel bad
  • Often talks down to others
  • Gossips, bullies, and tears others down to build themselves up
  • Lie a lot
  • Tell others they are “crazy” or “can’t remember things”
  • Isolate their partners
  • Doesn’t care about others’ passions or hobbies

10 tips for divorcing a narcissist

When divorcing a narcissist, it isn’t going to be a cut-and-dry divorce. Most of the time, it’ll be a struggle, so you’ll need to be prepared.

Thankfully, these tips should help to get you on the right path:

1. Find a specialist lawyer

Because narcissism is not your average mental condition, you’ll need someone that knows how to deal with going against narcissists.

It can be really difficult, but there are lawyers out there that have dealt with it before.

While any divorce attorney can help you finalize your separation, look for one that specializes in going against narcissists. Once you beat them, you’ll be glad you did.

2. Don’t try to rationalize with them

Nothing makes you more frustrated than your soon-to-be ex. But no matter of rationalization will work with them. 

When you come to a narcissist with rational thoughts, they don’t care.

They’re so involved in their view of what happened, they’ll bulldoze your view completely.

Save those rational thoughts for the people who care—your support team. They know the truth, and when you show them the rational side of things, they’ll be there for you.

3. Limit contact with them

As frustrating as they are, don’t engage with them. Anything can be twisted or edited in this age of technology, so the less contact you have with them, the better.

If you do need to talk to them, go through your lawyer. You can tell your lawyer what needs to be said, and they can connect for you.

This way, you’re out of the picture and they can’t twist what you did or didn’t say.

4. Don’t become emotional

Every narcissist is going to do the same thing—try and get a rise out of you. That’s their main goal. Because when you get emotional, you become the person they say you are to the court.

Then, the judge and witnesses see you getting emotional or frustrated, and the narcissist ends up looking rational.

Remember, narcissists are extremely charming and manipulative. They will paint a picture that makes them look good and you look bad.

The less emotional you can be during the whole process, the better it will look. You can yell and scream about them in private all you want, just don’t do it in your court appearances.

5. Record everything

Because things like voicemails, texts, and emails can be edited, you need to record everything. Keep copies of your emails, voicemails, and texts.

This is time-consuming (and annoying), which is why it’s really best to limit all contact with them. Before you go to trial, make sure to send copies of any past conversations to your lawyer so they have it on hand.

You’ll also want to take screenshots of any social media slandering or bullying. They can delete this whenever they want, so as soon as you see it, take a picture.

6. Make a plan

As you can see, it’s not an easy process. Divorcing anyone is difficult, and divorcing a narcissist comes with added issues.

Before you enter into a trial, make a plan. Hopefully, your plan is to separate all of your assets in a reasonable manner so that you can move on with your life. 

However, narcissists aren’t going to be reasonable. For them, it’s all or nothing. They want everything, and they’re going to fight for it all.

Stick to your plan. At some point, you may feel like giving up, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Look at everything that you and your spouse own.

Decide what you’d be okay with giving up and what you aren’t okay with giving up.

Maybe you want the car but will give up some furniture. Or maybe you keep the house and the other person gets everything else. Every situation is going to be different, but divide it up and create a few “must haves” with your belongings and forget the rest.

7. Create a reliable team

A divorce is a hard and grueling process. You need a reliable team, and this goes beyond your legal team.

While a divorce lawyer may be the most important person in court, you need support people. Surround yourself with a team of people willing to fight for you.

These people will help watch your kids (if you have them), listen to you when you’re sad, and encourage you when you’re down.

This may be family, friends, counselors, or more. Create a reliable team of people that you can count on throughout the process. It may be the most important thing you do.

8. If you have children, put them first

Sometimes, narcissists are extremely abusive to the spouse and children. If that’s the case, document everything so you can prove that you’re the best person to have custody of your children.

However, if there isn’t documented abuse, your children are going to probably see the narcissistic partner. Divorce is hard on kids, but you constantly griping about your ex is even harder.

This is something that you’ll have to keep away from their eyes and ears. Fight for custody, but expect them to have visits or parent time with the other partner. When this happens, encourage them to have fun. It will do good in the end.

9. Go to counseling

Narcissism is draining. It’s going to take a big chunk of your life. There are probably a lot of thoughts and feelings that you’ll need to work out over the course of a couple months or more.

Counseling is a great way to help you through the hard time. When someone has been gaslighting or bulldozing you over a long period of time, it can leave you questioning your own reality.

You may feel lost or confused. It may be hard to recall how certain things really happened. Counseling will give you back the confidence that you lost. It will also help you develop yourself and be ready for a loving, supportive partner the next time you go out in the dating scene.

10. Give yourself a break

 So many people go through pain while divorcing a narcissist. It can be frustrating, and you may be mad at yourself for ever marrying them in the first place. 

If you’re feeling down, give yourself a break. Narcissists are charming, and it’s hard to see past their façade. You did nothing wrong.

You have to forgive yourself for choosing this person. Once you’re out on the other end, you’ll see how refreshing and freeing it is. Let yourself feel every emotion, and then, forgive yourself.

Stages of divorcing a narcissist with kids

When divorcing a narcissist, there are four stages of the divorce. These are:

Pre-divorce

This is when you file paperwork, but nothing has been done yet. You may be separated from your ex, and you’re calling the shots with each other. 

In this stage, you can expect a lot of pushback. Everything you say will begin an argument.

Know what you want and stick with it. If you want to see the kids 50% of the time, make sure that happens. If you want more than that, push for it. 

Temporary orders

Temporary orders are when you go to court for the first time. Your divorce will not be finalized, but the judge will give temporary orders for you and the kids. 

Unfortunately, you’ll need to follow them closely. Even if it’s not what you want, follow them. The last thing you need is for the narcissist to say you are not following the orders.

Final Orders

If you want your temporary orders changed, you’ll work that out in court. Once everything has been agreed upon by the two parties (or court-ordered), you’ll have your final orders.

Limited Contact

Finally, the last stage is when you should be away, starting your new life. Obviously, having kids with a narcissist is another level of difficulty. When you do have to have contact with them, go through email.

You can also have someone else be the mediator between the two of you so that you do not need to talk directly to each other.

Keep in mind that a narcissist will continue to try and get under your skin—no matter how long it has been. Read each email with that in mind and don’t respond until you can rationally do so.

Aftermath of divorcing a narcissist

Narcissists often inflict emotional abuse on their partners. Once you have divorced them, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure. You may question your own abilities, blame yourself, and still feel tethered to your ex-partner.

Divorcing a narcissist doesn’t end when you sign those final papers. It’s something that continues on with you for some time.

Counseling is invaluable for getting over a narcissist and moving on with your life. A good counselor will help you heal and see things for how they really were.

Don’t feel bad. Divorce is hard, and it can lead to anxiety or depression as well. You can feel both relieved from getting away and sad that the relationship is over. Every single one of your emotions are valid.

Divorcing a narcissist quotes

Remember, you aren’t alone. Millions of people have been in relationships with narcissists. And millions of people have successfully cut ties. When dealing with a narcissist, here are some quotes that may help:

“A narcissist paints a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people’s true colors.” – Karla Grimes

“Nobody can be kinder than the narcissist while you react to life on his terms.” – Elizabeth Bowen

“A man who loves others based solely on how they make him feel, or what they do for him, is really not loving others at all — but loving only himself.” – Criss Jami

“Narcissistic love is riding on the rollercoaster of disaster filled with a heart full of tears.” – Sheree Griffin

“Relationships with narcissists are held in place by hope of a ‘someday better,’ with little evidence to support it will ever arrive.” – Ramani Durvasula

“Relationship with a narcissist in a nutshell: You will go from being the perfect love of their life, to nothing you do is ever good enough. You will give your everything and they will take it all and give you less and less in return. You will end up depleted, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and probably financially, and then get blamed for it.” – Bree Bonchay

In conclusion

Divorcing a narcissist can be hard, but with strength, determination, and rationality on your side, you can do it. Once you’ve gotten out on the other side, you’ll see how much better it is to be free.

 

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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