We all know and understand what the official statistics say – about 1-5% of the population suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. This extreme disorder causes a person to experience a marked lack of empathy, an exaggerated yet extremely fragile ego, and a distasteful sense of entitlement. What this statistic fails to take into account is just how much chaos and pain that this 1-5% can cause to the rest of us. Interacting with narcissist-like individuals is extremely draining, damaging, and destructive, so you can only imagine what it’s like to be married to one of these highly disordered people.
If you suspect that you married a narcissist, then you need to plan out your exit strategy or next steps very carefully. Do not take your safety for granted. Instead, use the following five tips to safely plan your exit. Divorcing a narcissist is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but you can break free. Get informed and empower yourself to change below. This blog addresses tips to divorce yourself from a narcissist in the way that causes you the least turmoil and gets you divorced in the most effective way.
First off, if you’re with a narcissist, then there’s a great chance you often suffer from cognitive dissonance. You are likely feeling confused and don’t even know if the person you’re dealing with is a narcissist or not. The truth is you do not need a diagnosis to leave! Focus on the person’s behavior more than the diagnosis. The fact is that a true narcissist will almost always evade a diagnosis because they aren’t willing to see that there’s a problem to begin with. Do not consume yourself with thinking you need to confirm a diagnosis to justify your departure. The abuser’s behavior is enough proof. Also, don’t get caught up in the cycle of defending yourself from accusations and projections from the narcissist. This can keep you trapped in the cycle of abuse and prevent you from leaving.
Second, never tell the narcissist you are planning to divorce them until your divorce plans are in place. Another important rule to follow is to never tell the narcissist that you’re planning to divorce or leave them until you have a plan in place and in motion. If you do tell the narcissist your plans, then they will do everything within their power to prevent you from leaving. Since some narcissists are violent, you could be putting your physical safety at risk by disclosing your plans.
Third, you need to build a support team who will see you through the divorce. Divorcing a narcissist will inevitably result in significant conflict. The more intertwined the two of you are, the more difficult it will be to break free because the narcissist will use any connection to you as leverage against you. With that in mind, you need to build a strong support team that understands what you’re going through. This includes hiring a narc-informed lawyer who is willing to represent you through the chaos that may cause the divorce to drag on and on. Your support team may also include family or friends that do not support or enable the narcissist. Be careful with who you trust here, as narcissists are known to have a flock of flying monkeys that are willing to continue abusing you for them! Research the term ‘flying monkeys’ if you have not already done so.
Fourth, prepare your exit plan. You need to covertly start to gather essential supplies (like a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, and your important documents) for your ultimate departure. You should also start to figure out where you’ll go, how you’ll enforce your new boundaries, and how to ensure that you are safe and secure once the narcissist catches wind of your plan to leave. If it’s possible, then start to set aside a few dollars each week until you have enough money to escape.
Fifth, prioritize your safety and mental health. In order for the narcissist to feel okay with your departure, they need you to feel broken. That means they will do anything within their power to chip away at your self-worth, criticize your newfound freedom, stalk, and harass you. Narcissists often implement “hoovering techniques”. See these efforts for what they really are – a weak attempt to do anything they can to get your attention. Don’t fall for the hover. Instead, prioritize your safety with restraining orders. Focus on your own mental health and implement either no contact or “grey rock” method if you have children with the narcissist.
If you are planning on getting divorce from a narcissist, don’t focus on getting a diagnosis (you already know), defending yourself, or otherwise attempting to make the narcissist understand your point of view. It is literally impossible for a narcissist to empathize with what you’re going through. Instead, get everything you need to leave in place. Don’t tell the narcissist while you are doing this. Build up your support, get your plans in motion, and make the move. Your freedom is worth everything that you’re leaving behind.
And select an experienced domestic lawyer who understands the mental health diagnosis of narcissism and the spectrum of narcissist behaviors and steps they may take during a divorce. Ciyou & Associates are attorneys who are experienced at handling divorces and their close connection with mental health and substance abuse—and the specific diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. We can be by your side as you divorce the narcissist and fight that lies ahead. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle complex domestic matters throughout the state. This blog is written for general educational information. It is not to be relied upon for a specific legal issue or matter. The blog is not legal advice. It is an advertisement.