How to Handle a Narcissistic Ex During Divorce
You divorced them for a reason: they’re a narcissist and made your life miserable. Unfortunately, if you’re in the middle of divorcing a narcissist or recently divorced and now trying to navigate co-parenting with a narcissist, there’s much to learn. The person you were married to is still the same person; you’re the one who will have to change how they interact with that individual so that you can get the most favorable outcome possible.
In this article, we will discuss how to navigate divorce with a narcissist, including important tactics to maintain your sanity and reclaim your life as your own.
- Narcissists don’t change. Regardless of why you divorced, when you divorced, or what any of the other circumstances were, the person you were with is still the same person. Because of that, they don’t change. In fact, they might even act out. Just remember, they didn’t change in the past and won’t change now.
- It’s important to remember that you’re now divorced and your life is your own. Unfortunately, some narcissists still think that their ex-spouse is theirs. Do not feed into their attention or pleas for inappropriate relations outside of marriage.
- The narcissist has groomed you to feel like you need to give an immediate response to their text, phone, or email messages. Try scheduling responses. Start with a 15 minute delay and work up to longer delays, but no more than 24 hours so that appropriate expectations are set.
- Never give them more information than what they need. If they ask a question only answer the question they’re asking (if it is too intrusive, then deflect to something else). You are not obligated to give lengthy explanations for what is going on in your life, who you’re with, your expenses, etc. You are divorced and no longer attached to each other. Answer questions with as little words as possible.
- Have a zero tolerance policy for abuse. Your narcissist likely abused you (either physically, emotionally, sexually, or a combination of all three). Stand up for yourself and enforce a zero tolerance policy for this type of behavior. Lean on the police if you need to. If they get abusive on the phone, hang up. If they text or email abusive things, ignore them, and involve the police if possible. Your tolerance must be significantly higher so that you can move on.
- Narcissists love attention, but will go silent from time to time. When they are silent, take the time to appreciate it and focus on yourself. It’s likely their need for attention is being satiated elsewhere and they may come back once that source dries up.
- If you need something from the narcissist, use what therapists call “the hamburger method.” This method makes receiving criticism easier. You compliment the person, confront them, then compliment. Basically, you ensure you’re putting a positive spin on your interactions.
- Limit interactions as much as possible. If you do need to interact, try to do so in public where other people are around and the environment is neutral. Limiting your engagement with the narcissist is an important part of setting boundaries and reminding them that they are not a part of your life anymore.
- You know your ex well. Their past behavior is a great predictor of future. Ignore their threats which are likely to come out when they feel like they’re losing. More often than not these are empty, however, if their past behavior indicates otherwise, get the police involved and ensure you are safe.
- Do not interact publicly and if you must, limit interactions so as to avoid embarrassing them. When a narcissist in embarrassed, they retaliate and it can get very ugly. Instead, take the high road. When the narcissist tries his or her behavior, it’ll reflect poorly on them in front of others and their true colors will be revealed.
If you were going through a divorce or considering divorce, contact our New Hampshire divorce attorneys. Our team brings decades of experience and has helped thousands of individuals get a favorable outcome to the divorce case so that they can move on. Book a free consultation to learn how we may be able to help you navigate the process of divorce.