Are you divorcing someone you think is a narcissist? You need to become battle-ready – this will not be easy!

How could you have known? When victims of narcissistic abuse are faced with the biggest challenge of their lives – divorcing a narcissist – they always reach the point of self-blame and wonder, “How could I have not known? How did I miss all the red flags and write off such bad behavior for all this time?”

First, forgive yourself for not seeing who they really were. You can’t recognize what you don’t know. There will be much work for you to do to get a better understanding of what happened and heal after you get through your divorce. Please don’t get stuck on the, “How could I…” or “How did I…” scripts because it will only make it more difficult to become “battle-ready” and that is where you need your focus to be. Narcissists have a need to always win and, in their mind, winning at this divorce has high stakes and will become an obsession. The tactics used by the person you once loved and gave your heart to will leave you in shock and confusion, and the level to which they lie will cut to your core.

Stay strong and get the help you need, including proper legal support, a good therapist or coach, and a support group. If you are in a position where you feel you might be in danger, call 911 or the Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233. Keep yourself safe at all costs.

Before we get deeper into the narcissistic spouses behaviors, you need to first understand the DSM’s Criteria for any narcissist.

The disorder begins by early adulthood and is indicated by at least five of the following to be medically diagnosed as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder

An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Believes he/she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
Requires excessive admiration
Has a sense of entitlement
Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends
Lacks empathy
Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes

Prefer to learn by watching video on Divorcing a Narcissist

These two interviews are very powerful, Bill Eddy, Karen & Catherine are leading experts in divorcing narcissistic cluster b people


Rule 1: Narcissists must win at any cost – Do not expect them negotiate or settle on even the smallest requests. In their eyes they are the victim and you are trying to take everything from them. Winning things like money, assets, and even children or pets are only a part of the need to win. Winning over you gives them far more supply then stuff, because to them winning is power.

Rule 2: Gaming the system to maintain control – This can be the covert tricks they are pulling on you, the lies and smears to hide what they are doing to game the courtroom. It is important that you be prepared for the filing of a great number of motions, requests for more time and delays, and for them to claim emergencies. Expect them to never comply with the judge’s orders. Narcissists have no issues lying on sworn documents, even about things that you can easily prove not to be true; this strategy is a tactic to run up your legal bill trying to prove that they are lying.

Rule 3: Keep composure and charm the judge – The judge is watching both of your performances in the courtroom. A common trick narcissist pull before a hearing is to do something: make false accusations to wear you down, or to make you angry or sad. While you struggle in the courtroom to fight the lies, they stay composed and reasonable, so the judge sees you as the crazy one and them as the reasonable one.

Rule 4: File endless motions – To wear down your legal team and judge to distract from what they are really doing and from what is really going on.

Rule 5: Create false accusations – Rinse repeat – expect them to attack the things that you are most likely to protect. If you are a great mom or dad, they will accuse you of neglect and abuse. Do not be fooled, they don’t even care if you are a good parent, they just need to be the better parent. They often fight for the children, not because they want them, but because you do. Remember rule one – they must win.

Rule 6: No empathy will ever be shown – Narcissists cannot look at how their actions will affect you; nor do they care, because all they can care about is their own point of view and how to win so you can lose. I heard somewhere that during a divorce you can expect them to indulge in what military strategists call a ‘scorched-earth’ policy which is to leave nothing left standing in his or her wake and take no prisoners. From personal experience, I can say this was my ex-husband’s goal.

Rule 7: Run up the divorce bill with frivolous false claims – The game here is to outspend you and ruin you financially. A fact a lawyer recently shared with me is the number of divorce cases where the narcissist’s legal bill gets run up and then they refuse to pay. Much like s/he has no interest or responsibility to pay you anything, in their eyes, the lawyer didn’t do his job if ‘he’ needs to pay them, so they often skip out on payment forcing the lawyers to incur additional costs to fight them for the balance. I saw this first hand with my last narcissist. He owed dozens of attorney’s money. His tactic was to run up the bill, blame them for not doing the job, not pay them and then hire the next lawyer to jump in without any intention to pay them either. It’s a game for them.

Rule 8: Never walk away from the battle – The narcissistic injury that occurs during a divorce is something that comes back like a festering wound that never heals. If you have children with this narcissist it is more than likely that they will keep on using the court system to resolve any real disputes, as well as to create new ones. Often the reasons are a lack of communication, or not sharing the children’s schedule and activities or appointments with the other parent; these are reasonable requests to a normal divorced couple, not in a narc-war.

Rule 9: Actions really do speak louder than words – Don’t blindly listen to what your spouse says. Watch what your spouse does. Don’t trust promises that they will “do the right thing”. My goal here is not to scare you, but to make it clear that divorcing a narcissist is not like a normal divorce. Normally it’s ok to assume the best, but in this case, you must prepare for the worst. Your future and your children’s futures depend on you being strong and educated.

Rule 10: If you are finding out that your spouse has lied to you, remember that! – They have only just begun as the lies to the court will be done under oath and they simply don’t care if they get caught or charged with perjury. They believe they can charm themselves out of anything and judges are used to “he said/she said” lies. Your best tactic here is to document everything; you bring the proof to dispel the lies. Judges love this because it takes it out of the “he said/she said” world into reality. Ask the advice of your lawyer before spending endless hours proving something that will not matter. A lawyer will point you in the right direction to pull evidence that can be used.

Read Tracy A Malone’s Best Selling Book on Divorcing Your Narcissist

Understanding the divorcing a narcissist game

Narcissists hate to lose at anything and everything becomes a game. If you haven’t seen this yet, stay tuned. Divorce will bring this out in them.

The victim card is the first game you can expect
Regardless of who instigated the divorce it, causes a narcissistic injury. They cannot be responsible for the failure of a marriage, so they must start “operation smear campaign” to blame you, call you crazy and accuse you of everything they are doing or have done. The narcissist knows time is of the most importance to convince your family and friends of the terrible things they have endured while married to you, so expect them to try to get to them.

This tactic of getting to your family and friends may very well be covert in the messaging strategy. They might call your friends and family telling them that you have been drinking and that they are so concerned for you. They aren’t directly telling them you are a drunk, they are building a dialogue that comes across as caring, but also makes them the victim of your drunken behaviors.

Get to your family and friends early and prepare them to hear from your soon-to-be-ex partner. Listen closely to your conversation with them to see if the narcissist has gotten to them already and be cautious of over-sharing until you have absolute conviction that they are loyal to you only. Expect to lose friends, neighbors, and possibly family, as the line in the sand gets drawn early and often without your knowledge. Narcissistic people have been planning for this since the day they met you. They have identified which of your family and friends buy their bullshit and which ones will always be true to you. Proceed with caution and always be on alert as to whom you can trust until they have proven their loyalty.

A nugget of truth makes everything so much more believable
My ex-husband told our friends that “I was so distraught that I was threatening to kill myself.” While that was true, he took it one step further telling them I was using this as a tactic to get him back again. I remember a conversation with a close family friend of his; she was accusing me of using this tactic to hold onto someone I needed to let go of. The whole thing confused me, because I really did want to die that night. If not for the suicide hotline that one night, I would be dead. It wasn’t a tactic, it was the bottom of the bottom and it was turned into a weapon to use against me, to call me unstable and crazy.

The next narcissist in my life (ex-boyfriend) told our mutual friends not to believe my story of how he had me arrested because I was a such a good storyteller and that I was making it all up. I guess I am a good storyteller, yet this was used against me and that friend never believed the true version of that day; he is no longer in my life. The nugget of truth in their stories can make the lies they are going to embellish the truth with that much more powerful.

The need to win no matter what the cost
The laws of splitting assets and separating lives is the purpose of a legal divorce. Not when it comes to a narcissist that demands the attention of being the victim. Regardless of the facts, their need to win becomes a life or death fight. Expect no middle ground, no compromises, no negotiations, no mediation and no empathy for your needs or the needs of your children.

Proving themselves right is their goal and using tactics like outright pathological lying is sadly more the narc-normal then trying to make an easy and civil break. Understanding that truth does not have a seat at the narcissistic divorce table is hard to accept, but a reality you must understand and prepare for.


Hire a divorce attorney that understands the battle of the narcissist in court
Let me be clear here, do not try to divorce a narcissistic person without the right attorney. Do not listen to your spouse as s/he says they will do things amicably; that is just a trojan horse keeping you unprepared for the battle you are heading into. You need to get the best attorney possible to protect your assets, your children and your future. Attempting to do this without a lawyer will put you at great risk because you are unfamiliar with the process, tricks and games that will be pulled on you. This may be the most important thing to learn, so learn it early. The person you married is not the person you are divorcing. Get rid of any preconceived notion that s/he would never hurt you.

While the idea of finding a lawyer that specializes in narcissists is a great idea, most attorneys do not advertise a specialty of “understanding the narcissistic abuse” so that task will lead to many disappointing calls. Instead, seek out recommendations from friends and put calls into as many attorneys as you can to ask them some basic questions.

Contrary to the logic that hiring a “shark attorney” is a good idea, one must remember that narcissists love conflict, they love a battle and they will do anything to win no what matter the cost. Most shark attorneys also love a good battle, so unless you have unlimited money, you need to find a lawyer that can balance the crazy demands with logic and the tools of law to stop the narcissistic divorce train from running you into the financial graveyard. Your lawyer needs to understand when to push the button of law and when not to react. Remember the narcissist’s goal it to get you to react. Your lawyer needs to be your rock.



Plan your divorce battle with your lawyer
What do you really need, what are you willing to fight for and what are you willing to give in exchange for that need. Sadly it’s about giving them enough that they think they won and they can walk away feeling like the hero… gag

Protect your digital life
Block them, their family and friends on ALL social media. NOW! Don’t wait, don’t explain just protect yourself. Their family and friends will become spies (flying monkeys) and they will cause you more drama, so just do it now! Change passwords on everything, banks, Amazon, Netflix, everything. This will sound weird, even if you have a courtesy card for anything, even if it’s your grocery store (they will see what you buy and use it against you). Passwords to email too because they can hack into your email and gain access to your communications with your lawyer and see your game plan. Don’t forget the phone password and your kids’ phones password. If they can access your kids’ phones and you have texted your kids they will be able to see it, and they will use it against you and possibly the kids. Protect them, please.

Find support
Get to a properly trained therapist or coach.  Please be really mindful to not use your lawyer as a therapist, first they don’t care except for the $300 an hour they will get when you call them to share the latest smear story. Second, your lawyer is not trained on personality disorders and they will cause you more harm because they are not sharing with you the tools to deal with this.

Keep your cool
Don’t let them drag you into that fight on the phone. Remember a common trick is for them to record you acting crazy to use against you. Stop fighting and let the law handle this from now on. “No contact” is the healthiest for you but “Grey Rocking” them will protect your sanity. If they are verbally abusive, record them, but first, ask your lawyer for the laws in your state so you can determine if the court would even listen to or use the recordings. There are a few states that it is illegal to record, so be careful and smart and don’t give them something they can use against you.

Get everything in writing
If you can limit contact to no phones, no texts and just have contact through emails you will be better off. If you can do this your life will be a little bit calmer throughout the process.

Keep copies of everything
To avoid the typical warfare in court – bring the documents so the judge can determine the conflicting stories. If you are the one without the proof the narcissist will walk all over you.

Find super-power strength
Understand that this stupid and long process will eventually end and that you just need to get through this with the power of a mother lifting a car off her child. You need that strength because in many ways you are fighting for your life against a person who is out to destroy you in every way possible.

Never tell them you think they are a narcissist
This tactic never ends well. You are dealing with someone with no ability to care about you and are willing to up the game to destroy you, no matter what the cost. This is a secret you will need to keep from them. When a narcissist feels like the game is up, the mask has fallen and you are no longer going to be under their control, then the game changes and they will do everything to hurt you: the lies and the smears will reach epic proportions. Try to avoid this common mistake.

Protect yourself and listen to your intuition
There is no one that can tell you whether to have your narcissistic spouse in your life but you. Ask yourself what types of behaviors you are willing to allow from your spouse and be honest with yourself to examine if they can keep their end of your guidelines. Your intuition has always been warning you of the dangers; now tap into that and listen to it.

Set better boundaries
The boundaries we tried to set as children didn’t work. To set a proper boundary you need to clearly define what it is that you do not want them to do anymore. Then decide a consequence if they violate it. It is so important to set something that is possible. If you tell them if they violate your boundary again that you will…. Make sure it’s enforceable. Then communicate to them the boundary, because if you don’t tell them and you keep this only in your head then it’s not a boundary, it’s a wish. They need to hear it for it to be a proper boundary. Then, if they violate it again you must be willing to enforce the consequence or they will begin the walking all over you again game. Learn to set strong narc-proof boundaries here.

Often going no contact is your only solution
Narcissists do not like to play by a new set of rules and narcissistic spouses that have had a lifetime of using you as a punching bag will not go down without a fight. The game you are playing now (self-healing) will piss them off and they may begin to jack up the pain and smears, in which case evaluate going completely no contact. It may not be easy to never see your spouse again because of children events but set up a parenting app to communicate to reduce the amount of annoying communication. If you cannot go completely no contact, then learn Grey Rock techniques to manage the exposure you will have with them going forward. Only when you are free from the narcissistic spouse are you free to heal and release the drama.

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