A man staring at his reflection in the mirror, clearly in love with his appearance

What To Know When You Divorce a Narcissist

They Are Their Own Best Friend

Being married to a narcissist is incredibly hard, especially when you don’t even realize the person your spouse really is. Divorcing a narcissist, however, is even more difficult to do because of the tactics they may use against you throughout the process. You deserve to be happy and to have a fresh start, so knowing how to recognize signs of narcissism in your spouse as well as knowing how to navigate their attacks without compromising yourself is key to getting yourself on the right path.

Signs of Narcissism in a Spouse

Early on in your relationship with your spouse, you may have noticed odd behaviors here and there that you may have shrugged off, but now that you are married those behaviors have become both more pronounced and more consistently observed. There are several signs to check for to see if your spouse is exhibiting narcissism, including the following:

  • A highly inflated sense of self-importance.

  • Persistent feelings of entitlement.

  • Incredibly charming at first, but later withdraws that interest and charm.

  • Manipulative of you or others to get what they want or serve their own needs.

  • Lacking empathy and faking concern for your issues.

  • Dominant in conversation (with topics generally deflecting back to themself).

  • Overly concerned with personal appearance and how they are viewed among peers.

  • Embellishes details to inflate self-worth or talents, or intentionally gives themselves backhanded compliments or minimizes their accomplishments so people reassure them of how talented they are.

  • Deflects blame on others and never takes responsibility for their actions.

  • Unable to (or outright refusal to) recognize personal boundaries.

Narcissists may also do whatever it takes to keep what they feel is theirs to themselves, so it is possible to feel cut off from your friends and family because your narcissistic spouse may be taking steps to keep you isolated.

A Narcissist’s Tactics During Divorce

Your spouse’s narcissistic tendencies may cause you to feel unloved, and no one deserves to feel that way. Rather than put up with that behavior for the rest of your life, you have the option to pursue your happiness and freedom; however, a narcissist can make divorce incredibly challenging.

A narcissist may take whatever steps they deem necessary in order to “win” the divorce, even if they are the person who initiated the process. Because a narcissist is so full of self-importance and illusions of grandeur, negotiating a divorce settlement outside of litigation may be impossible. You may also expect your narcissistic spouse to try dirty tactics throughout the divorce, such as hiding assets from you, badmouthing you, and trying to turn your children against you.

Take Necessary Steps to Protect Yourself

While these tactics could be frustrating and cause a range of emotions, it is important that you take practical steps to protect yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally throughout your divorce. Here are some ways you can work to give yourself the best possible chance of maintaining your overall well-being throughout your divorce from a narcissist.

Document Everything You Can

Lying is a common trait in a narcissist. Your spouse may say whatever necessary in order to paint you in a negative light or to obtain something they want in the divorce. If you have any communication from your spouse that may shed truth on an issue in court, it is important to save that and keep it in a secure place to use later on.

In addition, you may also want to thoroughly comb through your assets, including any joint accounts, to determine if anything may be missing or to prevent your spouse from doing anything deceptive with them.

Learn Your Spouse’s Tactics

Being familiar with how your spouse is going to behave throughout your divorce can actually give you a mental advantage. Knowing they may project their flaws onto you or try to blame you for the failed marriage can not only save you stress but can also help you stay ahead of them and plan out your responses.

If You Feel Like You Can’t Beat Them, Don’t Join Them

If you decide to use your spouse’s tactics yourself, you may fall prey to exactly what your spouse may want. Engaging in similar behaviors in order to gain revenge may actually cost you more in the long run. While difficult, it is far better to maintain the moral high ground. In the end, your reward is a fresh start; try to give yourself the best start possible by avoiding the same manipulative tricks they may use.

Maintain Boundaries

You do not have to respond to your spouse’s communication right away nor do you have to allow them to dominate your time in other ways. Take the time to list out boundaries in order to protect yourself mentally and emotionally throughout the process. Allowing yourself to be pushed around by your spouse can do more harm to you than you may realize.

Practice Self-Care

Divorce is difficult for anyone, and a narcissistic spouse can only add to that stress. Rather than let yourself be crushed by the weight of your emotions, take practical steps to ensure you are caring for yourself. Eating healthy and exercising can go a long way in helping you feel at your best.

It is also important to rely on your circle of support. Remember that they are there for you.

Hire A Divorce Attorney Who Can Help You Turn Your Life Around

Above all, it is incredibly vital to have an attorney that can help you protect your rights and guide you on how best to handle your narcissistic spouse. Your attorney can help you understand how best to navigate your difficult divorce and can work to help you obtain the best possible outcome.

At O'Connor Family Law, we are committed to helping you move out of your difficult situation and on to a new chapter of your life. As draining as a divorce can be, our goal is to leave you feeling empowered as we help you move forward together.


To set up a consultation with a member of our Massachusetts family law team, call our office at (774) 214-2137 or visit us online.

Categories