Engaging in the divorce process is stressful both emotionally and financially; however, divorcing a narcissist elevates the stress level to new heights as you try and rationally communicate with an individual who is only focused on their own well-being. According to the DSM-IV, the official manual of the American Psychiatric Association that classifies and defines mental health disorders, narcissistic personality disorder or NPD is a pattern of grandiose self-importance and a lack of empathy, which typically begins in early adulthood.
Divorcing a narcissist can be challenging due to several factors:
Manipulation and Control: Narcissists often exhibit manipulative and controlling behaviors. They may use tactics such as gaslighting, emotional manipulation, and deceit to maintain power and control over their spouse. This can make negotiations and reaching agreements during the divorce process extremely difficult.
Lack of Empathy and Cooperation: Narcissists typically lack empathy and struggle to consider the needs and perspectives of others. They may prioritize their own interests and refuse to cooperate or compromise during divorce proceedings. This can lead to prolonged and contentious legal battles.
High Conflict and Litigation: Due to their need for dominance and superiority, narcissists may engage in high-conflict litigation. They may prolong the divorce process, file numerous motions, and engage in aggressive tactics to wear down their spouse emotionally and financially.
False Narratives and Character Assassination: Narcissists may attempt to tarnish their spouse's reputation by spreading false narratives or engaging in character assassination. They may manipulate facts, distort the truth, and attempt to discredit their spouse to gain an advantage during the divorce proceedings.
Lack of Accountability: Narcissists often struggle with taking responsibility for their actions or accepting blame. They may engage in blame-shifting and refuse to acknowledge their contribution to the breakdown of the marriage, complicating negotiations and resolution.
Emotional and Psychological Toll: Divorcing a narcissist can take a significant emotional and psychological toll on the spouse. The constant manipulation, gaslighting, and emotional abuse can lead to feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and distress. If you are divorcing a narcissist, it is crucial to seek support from professionals such as experienced family law attorneys at Family Legal Advocacy Group, and support groups. Support groups can be obtained through referrals from mental health providers, Therapeutic Support, and Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, MNADV. These resources can help you navigate the challenges and protect your rights during the divorce process while prioritizing your well-being.