Divorce can be a stressful situation for anyone, but it is even more so when dealing with someone who has narcissistic tendencies. Narcissism is defined as having an excessive interest or admiration in oneself.
To rank as a personality disorder narcissism must go a step further and manifest as a condition where someone is arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, demanding and lacks empathy for others. It also often means being in a relationship with someone who exhibits controlling or coercive behavior.
What problems can arise when divorcing a narcissist?
With a narcissist there can be a risk of parental alienation. This occurs when a parent psychologically manipulates a child to create an unwarranted fear or hostility towards the other parent.
This can cause problems when the court is determining child custody and assessing whether a child has a valid fear or reason underlying reluctance to see a parent. The court will be looking for signs of harm, neglect or exposure to domestic abuse. Unfortunately, a narcissistic parent may use this tactic along with unfounded accusations to gain control. A parenting coordinator or private guardian ad litem may be able to see through this behavior and facilitate a resolution.
What do you need to know when you are divorcing a narcissist?
When dealing with a narcissist, it is essential to know what they are thinking and what to expect; otherwise, you may find yourself with a challenge that can seem insurmountable. Here are three things that you need to recognize if a former spouse has narcissistic tendencies:
- In it to win it: Even though you may see divorce as a non-winning situation for all parties, a narcissist is likely to see it as an opportunity to play the victim in order to receive what they feel they are entitled to, even if their viewpoint does not line up with the facts. A narcissist may never meet you in the middle.
- Gaming the system is part of the plan: Since their goal is to win, it is no surprise that they may play as dirty as they can. This can be especially dangerous if they have a lot of resources. They are likely to continue to file motions and make random accusations to keep running up your bills and drag out the divorce process.
- No concern for emotional losses: Since empathy is a trait that a narcissist does not possess, they will have no regard for how their games and manipulations are affecting others around them, even their own children.
If you are divorcing a narcissist, make sure that you choose an attorney who knows how to deal with one. Staying proactive and focused on solving the problems can make the difference.