If you are going through a divorce, and you suspect or know that your spouse is a narcissist, the process will be even more challenging than most divorces. There are many traits of a narcissist that makes a divorce emotionally exhausting and often more expensive.
Fortunately, there are certain ways to strategize and prepare to minimize the challenges.
Traits of a narcissist
According to PsychCentral, narcissism refers to a personality disorder in which someone has an elaborate sense of self. An individual with narcissistic personality disorder has a variety of traits, and although many people may exhibit some of the symptoms at times, the diagnosis of a true narcissist occurs when someone meets a minimum of five of the nine criteria. One of the most definable traits is a lack of empathy for others. Other criteria include:
- Sense of entitlement
- Over the top sense of self-importance
- Abuse or corruption of others for own benefit
- Need for attention and admiration
- Belief they should only associate with people of high status
- Haughty or arrogant
For a narcissistic diagnosis, a person needs to exhibit at least five of these criteria regularly, and they must impair the individual’s ability to function normally in daily situations.
How to approach divorce with a narcissist
According to Psychology Today, only .05 to 5% of the population are true narcissists. However, some people can show narcissistic tendencies while going through a divorce.
During the divorce, it is important to surround yourself with a strong support system, as one of the strategies a narcissist uses is to manipulate people against you. Limit all conversations with your soon-to-be ex. Communicate with your attorney and let him or her speak for you.
Narcissists often lie if it benefits them, so document everything, including all texts, emails and voicemails, as your spouse may edit them.
If you have children, prepare to defend your parenting skills to many different people along the way. Expect that your spouse will say you are a bad parent and do not react emotionally. Save anger and frustration for when you are with your trusted support system.
Additional tips for dealing with the divorce are to create firm boundaries, stick with a logical plan and focus on the children. If you understand how a narcissist behaves and reacts, you can be strategic in how you approach things.