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Divorce with a Narcissist: Strategies, Tactics, and Support to Manage Gaslighting

A man trying to speak with a woman who is giving him the silent treatment

Understanding narcissism is key to handling a narcissistic spouse during a divorce. The Mayo Clinic

defines narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as a mental health condition marked by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, an insatiable need for attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a marked absence of empathy towards others. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder may crave attention and admiration and have difficulty empathizing with others.

Common Narcissist behaviour

The following is a non-exhaustive list of common traits that many narcissists portray:

  • Lying and exaggerating one’s own achievements and talents

  • Individuals may engage in performative social behaviour, such as oversharing personal

information, in the hope of eliciting others to share secrets.

  • Becoming annoyed at any perceived criticism

  • Demanding unwarranted sympathy, pity, or charity

  • Monopolizing conversations

  • Lack of empathy

  • Sense of entitlement

  • Behaving arrogantly and pretentiously

  • Control issues

  • Discarding friends or relatives when they no longer provide usefulness to the individual.

  • Coercive behaviour

  • Projection of blame

Divorce with a Narcissistic Spouse

Most divorces are challenging; adding the extra burden of one of the parties being a narcissist or

displaying narcissistic behaviour can generate added costs, time, and emotional stress, and the process is very unpleasant, time-consuming, emotionally draining, and costly. Narcissists have trouble understanding how others may feel, they tend to act on emotions such as anger. This pattern of behaviour tends to lead to friction between the parties.

Common Narcissistic Tactics During Divorce

The following are some narcissistic behavioural traits that are observed during divorce. Spotting and understanding the following will help in understanding how to combat narcissist behaviour.

  1. Gaslighting

  • Narcissists may attempt to gaslight their spouse in a divorce by making them question their actions. The Tactic of gaslighting is one of manipulation, in which, the abuser will make statements accusing the other spouse of an action that makes them question their own reality.

2. Financial Abuse

  • By controlling the family finances, narcissists can manipulate their spouse. By making a spouse's life financially difficult through the divorce process, one spouse gains the upper hand.

3. Alienating Children of the Matter

  • It is common for narcissists to use the tactic of using the children of the marriage as

pawns of litigation. Through withholding parenting time and making unilateral decisions

regarding the children of the marriage. The spouse on the receiving end may feel at a

loss when it comes to their children.

4. False Accusations

  • During a divorce, a narcissist may make false accusations against their partner in an

5. Delaying Tactics

  • Narcissists may use various tactics to delay divorce proceedings, such as refusing to

Tips on how to deal with Narcissist during Divorce

  1. Document

  • Gather as much detail as possible and document evidence to strengthen your side of

the claims.

2. Stay Strong

  • Michelle Obama once said, "When they go low, we go high." This quote perfectly

describes how to respond when your spouse wants to engage in rude or hurtful

behaviour. You should practice restraint by being the bigger person.

3. Support Systems

  • Friends and family are a good source of comfort during difficult times such as divorce.

Remember to not isolate yourself and communicate with loved ones.

At INB Family Law, we understand how terrifying the idea of a contentious and lengthy divorce

can be. You do not have to go through it alone. Whether in or out of court, having a good lawyer

on your side can make a massive difference. A skilled lawyer can help you feel more confident

and provide you with the necessary legal support to protect yourself and your children.

If you are going through a divorce and would like to explore your options, take the first step and book a consultation with us. Call now to schedule your appointment.

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