“My spouse is a narcissist.” When I hear this, I take note, having seen the damage that a true narcissist can inflict during a divorce. Still the term “narcissist” gets tossed around pretty easily. In the midst of separation, its an easy label to attach to any over-bearing, bullish, vain or full-of-themselves individual.
This is pretty important to understand. Most of us have a notable dose of narcissism. We are all capable of being egotistical, unfeeling, gutless or an egomaniac, however that doesn’t really make the person in question a true narcissist.
True narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a serious psychological diagnosis. They are emotionally broken individuals who have developed profoundly dysfunctional defense mechanisms to protect themselves against what is actually a staggering internalized sense of inferiority. True narcissism is not bad behaviour, a strong personality or even egotism, but rather a serious pathological, mental condition.
At the onset all narcissists tend to be charming, agreeable, confident, open, well-adjusted, entertaining and often quite successful. Only later after entering into permanent relationship does one see through the narcissists’ façade to the profound lack of empathy, lies and manipulations played out on others. Not all narcissists are men. Women can also be narcissists.
Serious difficulties and conflict arise quickly in narcissistic relationships. It’s very easy to fall in love with a narcissist, difficult to live with a narcissist and profoundly painful to leave one. Relationship instability is expected when personality pathology is present and a disproportionate number of narcissists get divorced. Divorcing a narcissist requires a unique personal strategy.
1. Hiring a lawyer before understanding all their negotiation options
2. Succumbing to emotions at the expense of their financial future
3. Not starting with a smart, legal and financially savvy go-forward plan