The term “narcissist” gets used often without a common definition, and when it comes to divorcing a narcissist, it is important to understand exactly what type of person you are dealing with. There is an actual personality disorder associated with narcissism, but many people may have characteristics of narcissism without having a real, diagnosable disorder.

When facing a divorce with someone who demonstrates characteristics that resemble narcissism, it can be extra challenging to make progress without continual roadblocks and emotional conflict. Learn more about the types of narcissistic behavior you may face, and ways you can successfully deal with this behavior during the divorce process.

Characteristics of narcissists

People who have narcissistic tendencies are paradoxically often quite charismatic, attractive and have many friends. Therefore, it may not appear at first glance that these people can be difficult romantic partners and spouses.

A vital characteristic of a narcissistic person is someone who is unable to listen to others and makes everything about them. When you raise concerns, the narcissistic person often turns these concerns back on you because he or she is unable to accept constructive criticism or responsibility for his or her actions that are hurtful to others. A narcissistic spouse will probably often or always make you feel as if everything is your fault, especially when you raise legitimate concerns about his or her behavior. To the narcissist, this notion is true because the person lacks empathy, and as such, is unable to step outside of him or herself and examine how his or her behavior negatively affects others. 

Tips for divorcing a narcissist

If you face divorce from a narcissist, you need to be well-equipped for a potentially long and difficult battle. Because narcissists often try to twist the truth or outright lie to get their way or deflect responsibility, you need to protect yourself with a qualified family law attorney who can work for your best interests. 

The narcissistic spouse likely lacks empathy for others, and this includes your children in the divorce. That being the case, you need to ensure you put your children’s needs at the forefront of all your decisions. Do your best to protect your children from your narcissistic spouse’s attempts to use them as pawns or negatively influence them against you.

Approach all your divorce dealings with a rational outlook rather than allow yourself to get bogged down with heated emotional disputes. Maintaining your calm can go a long way in terms of successfully moving forward with a narcissist. Enforce clear boundaries, and surround yourself with a strong support team of friends, family and helpful outside counselors. Make sure you document everything as you move through the process.

Many people have gone through the painful process of dissolving marriage with a narcissist. Although it takes endurance, patience and courage, the process will ultimately lead you to a healthier outcome for yourself and your children.