The term narcissist has become a big buzzword in recent years, used to describe someone who acts in a selfish way. When you’re in a long term, difficult relationship with someone that is coming to an end, it may be easy to point to something they did as an example of why this term fits them.
But in reality narcissistic personality disorder is a serious mental health condition where a person has an inflated sense of their own importance but struggles to understand the feelings of others. Understandably, it’s difficult to be in a romantic relationship with someone who is self-centered, obsessed with success, and who feels and acts superior to others–while at the same time being very insecure.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is diagnosable but it’s also easy to hide, especially in the beginning of a relationship, and so many people with NPD don’t know or refuse to believe this diagnosis could apply to them. They also struggle to take criticism or blame and have a deep belief that everyone is jealous of them.
It’s also important to note that there is a range of severity for NPD. Some people may be selfish without having NPD. Others may be narcissists without having an official diagnosis.
If you’ve found yourself married to someone with NPD and are heading for divorce, you should be prepared for a tough battle. These divorce cases can be very contentious which can take a toll mentally and emotionally.
Narcissists are known for belittling partners and manipulating them so the narcissist can feel superior and admired. Once a divorce is mentioned, these tactics may become more extreme.
If you believe your partner may have NPD, there are some steps you should take before discussing divorce with them.
The first is to find yourself a good support system. Strengthen your relationships with people who build you up and make you feel important. You should also arm yourself with a good attorney and a good therapist. Let each of these influences help you develop a safety plan as narcissists are also known to be aggressive when threatened.
The next step is to gather your evidence. Document any forms of abuse, make lists of all your assets and make copies of all the important documents in your life. Keep all of these records in a safe place that your spouse cannot access.
Once the divorce is under way, continue to document all communication with your spouse and follow your safety plan. Part of your safety plan should be plans for self care. Create routines around caring for yourself as leaving this relationship may open wounds you did not realize you had.
An experienced attorney is an important part of this plan. They will help you navigate through the court system and fight the battles that are ahead. You should do your research before hiring an attorney. Find someone you can trust and who you feel understands your communication style. They need to understand all the details of what has happened in the relationship so they can help fight for what is fair.
It’s common for narcissists to lie, even in court. Your attorney needs to be prepared with careful documentation and notes to refute any false accusations that may come up.
When divorcing an individual with NPA, it is important to set clear boundaries and keep all communication clear and concise. Set times for meaningful discussion and have another person present if necessary. It’s also a good idea to keep all communication over text or email to ensure it is recorded.
Individuals with NPA may see divorce as a chance to “win” to protect their own ego. They may use your most precious possessions, even children, to manipulate you. Don’t try to handle it all on your own.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A contentious relationship can often lead to serious depression and mental health conditions. If you or someone you know is struggling with this now, please reach out to a professional for help.
Pangerl Law Firm P.L.L.C. focuses on divorce, child custody, mother’s and father’s rights, child support, and all other areas of family law, as well as personal injury claims. Our office is located in Deer Valley and serves the greater Phoenix area, including the communities of Scottsdale, Peoria, Glendale, Cave Creek, Avondale, Goodyear, Surprise, Mesa, Tempe, Anthem, New River, North Phoenix and Phoenix. For more information, call: 602-942-6200.