Being married to a narcissist is hard, divorcing one is even harder. Here is how to avoid the pitfalls and walk away in one piece.
In my role as a divorce and co-parenting coach, I've witnessed how divorce can bring out the worst in people. Their behaviours can become irrational, self-centered, and even extreme. This often stems from fear and a defensive mindset. As we navigate divorce, conversations with friends and family can shed light on situations, making it important to distinguish between a true narcissist and someone hurting and lashing out.
A narcissist is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "a person who has a condition in which they are only interested in themselves and what they want, and have a strong need to be admired and a lack of understanding of other people's feelings."
Dealing with a narcissist during divorce is uniquely challenging because they seldom acknowledge their issues, making seeking help or diagnosis unlikely. Consequently, marriages may break down, and it's often the spouse dealing with the narcissist who seeks assistance.
Narcissism exists on a spectrum, and healthy aspects like confidence and self-sufficiency can be beneficial. However, extreme narcissism is marked by toxic vanity, entitlement, and exploitativeness. At the far end of the spectrum lies Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which predominantly affects men. To diagnose NPD, at least five behaviours from the following list must be exhibited over time:
Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used by narcissists to gain power and distort reality. Common behaviours of gaslighters include blatant lies, denial of actions, using personal information against you, inconsistency between words and actions, strategic compliments, projecting actions onto you, isolating you from others, and branding you as "crazy."
Understanding these behaviours is essential to prepare for potential gaslighting or other tactics during your divorce.
Facing a narcissistic divorce is no easy feat, but with the right strategies and support, you can emerge stronger. Remember, you're not alone, and there's help available.
Wishing you all the best on your journey.
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