Living with a narcissist can be challenging, and divorcing one might push you to the limit of your patience. Knowing how to deal with narcissism could help you manage the situation a little better.
We cannot promise that it will be easy to end a marriage with a narcissist, but a Michigan divorce attorney can work with you to control what is possible. Here are a few tips for dealing with a narcissistic ex during a divorce.
The Rules of Engagement
You will not be able to change a narcissist's basic personality. A narcissist will try to control the situation and gain attention by creating drama. The judge in your divorce will not micro-manage your ex-spouse's behavior. Divorce with a narcissist is not pretty, but you can get through it if you have a game plan.
Assemble Your Team
You will need emotional support during this process. Your ex will spread lies about you and hurl accusations about your parenting, money management, and other conduct. Often, false accusations are the very things that your spouse does badly and tries to project onto you.
You should have a trusted friend or relative to whom you can turn when you when a calm, supportive “island.” Just make sure that talking about the divorce or your ex does not monopolize your conversations with the person.
Find authoritative resources to learn about narcissistic behavior. There are many reliable books, articles, and videos available to explain this personality disorder. Your ex might have conditioned you during the marriage to feel at fault for the problems in the relationship. Knowing how and why narcissists do this behavior can help you realize that everything was not your fault after all.
Narcissists will argue about anything and everything. If you say that the sky is blue, that innocent statement could launch a debate that escalates quickly into an argument that the narcissist turns into putting you down and belittling you. Realize that your ex does not care about the topic under debate. They engage in conflict for the attention and the emotional rush they get from fighting.
In the movie “Back to the Future,” people manipulated the main character by calling him a chicken. They know that word was a hot button for him, and whenever they pushed that button, they could make him do whatever they wanted. Think of the ways your ex manipulates you and pulls you into confrontations.
No one ever wins an argument with a narcissist, so save your energy for more important things. Let your lawyer fight your battles for you.
While it is counterproductive to confront a narcissist, you do not have to be a doormat. When your ex makes false accusations about you to others, calmly set the record straight when the narcissist is not around. If they know you and are true friends, they will already know the kind of person you are.
What Is a Narcissist?
People tend to use the word narcissist without having a clear understanding of the term. The Mayo Clinic defines a narcissistic personality disorder as a mental condition in which the individual masks weak self-esteem that can crumble at the slightest criticism with these factors:
- Lacking empathy and caring about others
- Demanding for constant attention
- Needing unwavering approval and admiration from others
- Wanting incessant confirmation and proof of affection
- Feeling that they are far more important than they actually are
These traits, understandably, lead to troubled relationships, breakups, and divorces. Narcissists tend to struggle in work and social relationships as well as romantic ones. These individuals are often miserably unhappy when they do not receive the special treatment they think they deserve. When they are not happy, they try to “punish” those around them, particularly those they blame for supposedly mistreating them.