According to the Mayo Clinic, Narcissism (or narcissistic personality disorder) is “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
Even though you won’t recognize most of the psychopaths or narcissists you’ll meet over your lifetime, if you married a Narcissistic Psychopath (NP), you’ll know it. Divorce is hard; your divorce will be 100 times harder.
Here are five important facts to learn if you’re divorcing an NP.
1. You will never be able to entirely divorce them. Even after divorcing an NP, they will always be there waiting to hurt you every chance they get – especially if you have children together.
2. Do not expect them to be civil during or after divorce. It will never happen, because they only feel good when they’re making you feel bad. Every text, email, conversation, and interaction will be focused on putting you down. The best response to this is to react with a “whatever” sort of attitude. If they’re rude, you may choose not to respond at all; if they’re rude to you in person, you are best to just walk away. Do not take the bait. You will lose.
3. Healthy, responsible co-parenting will never happen. The NP views you and the children as a package and will never cease to use the children to hurt you as much as possible, both emotionally and financially. This, of course, does its own damage to the children. Unfortunately, there is little you can do about it because they can be good enough parents (when it fits their agenda) not to lose custody or visitation rights, and the NP will work the law to their advantage. The best you can do to protect your children against the damage of an NP parent is by consistently showing them unconditional love. Teach them by example how to calmly respond to someone like this. Also, don’t speak badly of their other parent, no matter what, as it will come back to haunt you.
4. You cannot beat them at their own game. Don’t even try. No matter how clever you may be, you’ll never be able to turn the tables on your NP ex-spouse. Why? Because you’re normal and have that thing called empathy hardwired into your core being, which prevents you from ever being this cold and calculating. The NP will always be one step ahead of you and be ecstatic to create problems where none existed, or take current problems to an all new level just to torment you. Trying to win at this game will only leave you overwhelmed with stress and depression. Losing your health is not worth it. Your children need you. The NP does not feel remorse for their “bad” behavior and does not care about your health and well-being – quite the opposite.
5. Working with a therapist will help to improve your emotional health, enabling you to better cope with your interactions with the NP. Whether it’s to help with your or your children’s emotional health – before, during, and particularly after a divorce – it’s important to find a therapist who specializes in personality disorders. If money is tight (and after divorcing an NP, it likely is), ensure that you can arrange visits with your therapist on an “as needed” basis, and be sure to bring a notebook for note-taking. Prepare any questions you need to have answered in advance, and if possible, email your questions to the therapist before your visit so that he/she can be prepared.