6 Mistakes To Avoid When Divorcing A Narcissist

narcissist mistake

Divorcing a narcissist can feel like you’re waging a never-ending battle. Your ex’s aggressive, manipulative behavior may wear you down emotionally so that you react impulsively and make important decisions without thinking clearly. Knowing the common mistakes people make when divorcing a narcissist can help you avoid pitfalls and navigate the marital dissolution process as smoothly as possible.

Mistake #1: You react to the narcissist’s angry emails. Narcissists are fond of writing nasty emails and texts. You may be tempted to respond in kind, or with defensiveness, which just inflames conflict and drains you emotionally. Here’s a tip: don’t take anything the narcissist says personally. Focus on relaying information, and don’t waste time trying to prove your point or win an argument — there is really no victory in winning a fight with a narcissist.

Mistake #2: Caving to the narcissist’s demands. Your narcissist will try to bully you into accepting his terms. If you over-accommodate in an effort to keep the peace, or just get the divorce over, you will signal to the narcissist that he or she can continue to treat you like a human doormat. So stick to your guns and ask for what you believe is fair. 

Mistake #3: Thinking a verbal agreement will hold up in court. Some people enter into verbal agreements because they’re undecided on certain issues, or because they want to avoid legal fees. Do not make this mistake! Verbal agreements are meaningless; they don’t hold up in court. And the longer you go without a court order, you will establish a precedent for maintaining the status quo. For instance, if your children are with your ex most of the time during the “verbal agreement” period, it may be harder to get 50-50 custody later on.

Mistake #4: Trying to reason with the narcissist. Are you attached to the idea of “fairness?” Do you spend copious amounts of time trying to make the narcissist see the error of his ways, put the children first, or treat you with respect? Narcissists are devoid of empathy and don’t believe in reciprocity, and nothing you do or say will make them change. So stop trying to give your ex a personality transplant, and accept that they’re always going to behave in an unreasonable manner. This will keep you off the emotional rollercoaster of toxic hope so you can live in reality.

Mistake #5: Hiring an attorney who doesn’t understand narcissism. When you’re interviewing potential attorneys, make sure you ask about their understanding of narcissism. You want a family law attorney who knows you may be in for a long fight and who also understands the emotional impact of divorcing a narcissist.

A final word: narcissists want to keep you psychologically entangled so they can maintain the upper hand. If you expend energy trying to give your ex an epiphany, or wallow in victimization, you won’t be able to move on. The key to a successful post-divorce life from a narcissist is to disengage emotionally and focus on your next chapter.

Learn More:

Divorcing a Narcissist: 5 Strategies for Getting Through It

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