Narcissists are notorious for having extreme reactions, and the way they respond to divorce can be apocalyptic. Even if the narcissist wanted the divorce, the fact that the marriage ended tarnishes their image and makes them feel shame. And because narcissists can’t see their part in problems, they project that shame outward. Are you preparing to divorce a narcissist? Make sure you educate yourself about the ways your spouse will likely behave during divorce.
Top 5 Ways A Narcissist Acts During Divorce
- They create chaos. “Why make things easy when they can be hard?” is the narcissist’s divorce mantra. The narcissist loves to keep you off-balance by making things as confusing and dramatic as possible: threats, stall tactics, making scenes, turning molehills into mountains. Helpful tip: keep calm and don’t give the narcissist the satisfaction of seeing you lose your cool.
- They blame you. Narcissists are incapable of personal accountability so they seek targets of blame – that’s you, your attorney, your family, and anyone else they perceive to be in your camp. Any minor transgression on your part will be exaggerated into heinous behavior. Helpful tip: don’t defend yourself or try to get the narcissist to see the error of their ways, which will just invite more blame.
- They play the victim. Narcissists feel entitled to have their way, 100% of the time. Whoever is not doing or saying what they want is persecuting them. You want 50-50 custody? You’re trying to steal the children from them. You expect child support? You’re keeping them from the lifestyle they so richly deserve. You’re not agreeing to all their (unreasonable) terms? You’re making their things so difficult! Helpful tip: don’t let yourself be manipulated and keep your boundaries.
- They triangulate the children. Narcissists compete with you for the position of “Favorite Parent.” They do this by putting children in the middle: over-confiding in them, using them as messengers, telling them they don’t have to follow your rules. Helpful tip: accept that you will not have an ideal co-parent and be the role model your children need.
- They weaponize communication. Narcissists love a good fight, and electronic communication gives them 24/7 access to bully you. Expect to receive multiple incendiary emails and texts throughout the day, accusing you of egregious acts and threatening you with dire consequences if you don’t behave. Helpful tip: don’t respond in kind! Be concise, informative, and keep a neutral tone.
Although you can’t control a narcissist’s behavior, knowing how they’ll react will help you anticipate problems and create strategies to navigate your high-drama divorce.
Need more support in your divorce? Here are some resources that can help:
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