How to Divorce a Narcissist, Part II

In Part I of How to Divorce a Narcisssist, we laid out the two most fundamental steps to successfully separating yourself from the narcissist in your life: first, see them for what they are, and second, disengage from them entirely. But anyone who has even the slightest inkling what a divorce is like already knows that you cannot disengage from your spouse during the divorce process, because the process shoves them back into your face over and over again to discuss every detail of what the divorce will entail. So keeping in mind that your goal is to disengage as much as possible, here’s the rest of what you need to know:

Step 3: Take the Time to Strategize
The second path forward (told you in Part I that this would appear here!) that a narcissist will take once you attempt to disengage is to burn it all to the ground. If they can’t get you to keep validating them, they will invalidate you. They won’t just lie to the judge — they will completely fabricate reality whole-cloth while smiling, looking the judge right in the eye, and shaking his hand. If they can outspend you, they won’t hesitate — and if they can’t outspend you, they will engage every strategy they can think of to make you spend money while they don’t. It doesn’t matter how they are able to reduce you to a pile of emotional, financial, and even physical rubble — they will find a way.

So it’s crucial to go into a divorce with a narcissist with an extremely clear idea of what you want to get out of it — and be prepared to sacrifice everything else to get those few things. Just as importantly, make sure that your lawyer knows exactly what those few things are as well, and is prepared to fight with you to ensure you walk away with at least those few things in hand when it’s all over. Be prepared to give up things like your pride, your reputation, and your lifestyle if you have your heart set on getting sole custody of the kids and keeping the house.

Step 4: Learn to View Narcissism as a Weakness
Narcissism is often viewed as a kind of indomitable power — a narcissist has no attachment to reality, no qualms about hurting others, and no goal except to feel special and powerful, and those inhuman qualities make them willing and able to do things that normal people would never attempt. But the reality is that narcissist are extremely weak, with staggeringly low self-esteem that requires constant maintenance — a condition that requires them to either get approval from or profoundly negate the value of any other human being they encounter.

Because of this, you can learn to view narcissism as a weakness you can exploit. By choosing when to withhold or give approval, what to display as valuable or non-valuable, and when to allow them to see that they’ve hurt you (ProTip: never), you can twist their narcissism into a tool that you can use.

Step 5: Don’t be Afraid to Hurt Them
Narcissists — like all abusers — have this amazing ability  to leave you clinging to some thin thread of hope that they will change and show you the charming, affectionate person that you know they are able to be. This can make you want to avoid hurting them — but the simple fact that you saw fit to divorce them is already such a grievous insult to a narcissist that you’ve already crossed that line the moment they get served the divorce notice. All you can do at this point is use their offended pride to help you win in court.

This can mean dropping a choice bit of condescension or insult to provoke them into a fit is narcissistic rage in front of the judge, or deliberately acting possessive toward some bit of property you really don’t care about so they go after it (and ignore the piece you really want). Yes, it’s petty, and yes, it’s mean, and yes, it’s actually kind of stooping to their level — but unfortunately, the experiences of millions of victims have proven that there is no “high road” when dealing with a narcissist. The closest thing you can get to a ‘high road’ is to ignore their existence entirely, and unfortunately, divorce cases don’t let you do that.


So give yourself permission to win. Do what it takes to walk away with your goals met, and then wash your hands of the ordeal and never return another communication from them again.

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