Understanding the Challenges of Divorcing a Narcissist

Everyone has a little bit of a narcissist inside them, something easier to spot in this time and age of social media. It’s another story, however, when someone has full-blown narcissistic personality disorder, a mental problem estimated to affect around 8% and 5% of men and women respectively.

You can only imagine what it must be like to be married to one, much less having to divorce them.

That’s exactly what compelled family therapist Karyl McBride to write her book, “Will I Ever Be Free of You? How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family.” It’s a definitive guide for people who want to get out narcissistic relationships, and highlights the challenges of divorcing narcissists and why they seem to thrive in long and bitter legal disputes.

Narcissism Defined

According to McBride, most people think of a narcissist as someone who’s boastful and full of themselves. But that’s not narcissistic personality disorder, she says. What she’s concerned about are those people who don’t have the ability to empathize and sync in with their partner or children’s emotions. These people enter a relationship with charm and confidence, transforming into their narcissist selves once they get what they want. Narcissists refuse to be held accountable for their actions, and want the relationship to be centered on themselves and their wants.

McBride notes that many spouses end up reeling from the shock of marrying someone they hardly recognize after being seduced into the marriage.

Divorcing a Narcissist

Individuals with narcissistic personalities or even an unusually high number of narcissistic traits can wreak severe emotional trauma on their spouses and children. According to McBride, It only escalates when the other partner decides to file for divorce, which often necessitates dealing with family law, therapists, and if children are involved, custody evaluators.

Divorces are often a rough experience, but they’re especially turbulent when narcissists are involved, as they never get over the experience. Other people will naturally be hurt and angry during and after a divorce, but they get better over time and move on. Narcissists, on the other hand, blame their partner, even causing them harm. They will often find ways to exact revenge on their partners, something that unfortunately, can be done through the justice system. Whether it’s delaying the proceedings through a contentious legal battle, or disclosing sensitive secrets and fabricating facts to make their partner look bad, it’s all fair game to a narcissist.

It only gets worse if children are involved, says McBride. Kids already have a hard time going through a regular divorce, and that experience is much more traumatic in these contentious and emotionally draining divorce cases. Children are often in the middle of the conflict, deeply scarred by all of it.

Learn how to protect yourself and your children when ending a marriage by seeking the advice of a reliable family lawyer from Lyttle Law Firm. Call our legal team at 512-215-5225 to schedule a consult or fill out our online contact form.