Over the past 5 years there has been an explosion of cases in which there has been reference to either a narcissistic personality, Narcissistic Personality Disorder known as CPD and generally references to conduct which amounts to narcissistic behaviour.
In such cases, there are more distinct issues that raise themselves and have to be dealt with than in the normal cases that we deal with. Put simply, NPD is a form of personality disorder and presents itself in a certain way which impacts on divorce proceedings. We set out below the kind of issues that come up in such cases: –
I must win as a narcissist
As most people are aware there are no real winners or losers in divorce proceedings. The family courts in England and Wales always will try to arrive at an agreement which is seen as fair for both parties. For someone suffering from narcissistic syndrome this is unlikely to be the case. Their whole processing of the proceedings are that they are there to win. More accurately perhaps they are there to see the other party lose.
One of the major tenets of NPS is that it brings with it a sense of entitlement. The narcissist will invariably see themselves as the victim in any divorce proceedings, even if all the evidence suggests that it is their actions which have put them in this position in the first place. They will often ask their spouses why this is happening to them, all the while seemingly oblivious to the truth. Therein lies another aspect of NPD, the truth appears to be whatever suits them most in order to win, which may often have those outside of the situation, eventually regarding them as quite a deluded individual. It is not that they are being dishonest with everyone else, it is that the truth is really only an option for them, and they can bend it without a second thought since their self-protection is the most important aspect of their being.
This kind of belief can lead to extra marital affairs and problems with addiction, both of which are recognised as grounds for divorce as is the whole concept of a narcissistic personality.
A narcissist believes that they have or should have total power. One aspect which they often will emphasise is that they would wish to keep their opponents off balance just enough to give them a strategic advantage. Once again whilst this may seem somewhat ludicrous to an outsider and frustrating, they will often make false accusations in an attempt to play the system because they believe that they understand how things work so much better than their spouses. Not only do they believe this to be the case, but they also know that such strategies can and have previously worn the other party down.
It may seem obvious but it is vital that if you recognise these kinds of behaviours, that you do require the services of a divorce lawyer with experience of dealing with narcissists. They will be more than aware of the strategies utilised and will not be thrown off balance by ultimately stalling or particular tactics on the part of a narcissist, all designed to get their spouses to give up or in some cases to reconcile. Regardless of what their motivations are, the narcissist simply needs to win.
What about emotional empathy
If you are reading about how to divorce a narcissist, then there is a strong possibility that one of the issues in your own marriage is that your partner may be displaying no emotional empathy. They can appear cold and distant and show a total disregard for how anyone else is feeling. Their own feelings are all they will ever want to talk about. You may find yourself sharing a piece of very bad news and all the narcissist will want to talk about is how they feel about it.
This is a classic symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and what is really unfortunate is how this total lack of emotional empathy can impact on the other party.
Going through a divorce is for most people a very unsettling experience. For the narcissist, they will seem not to care how anyone else is feeling, not their spouse, their children, literally anyone surrounding them but their own feelings and views are to be considered.
One of the main reasons that so many cases settle at an early stage is that most normal people can wish to consider the feelings of the other party, try to keep it civil and decide that they may go through mediation through lawyers to arrive at a sensible outcome. Not so for the narcissist, they will come at any divorce proceedings like a bull in a china shop. They won’t consider how their actions will affect any future relationships, because in their mind they are 100% correct and therefore in court they would wish to prove that they are the victims and it is their attackers that should be brought to heal and punished. They can go about divorce proceedings like a military operation and are looking to decimate the enemy and leave no man standing on the battlefield. If you find yourself facing this kind of action, it is important that you discuss with your divorce lawyer tactics to deflate this, deflect or unsettle the narcissist to the extent that you are in control of the proceedings, not them.
It’s all about power
The narcissist does not need to feel powerful; they just always do even when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable. Psychologists agree that in order to maintain a sense of power, the narcissist actually needs to be in a relationship. If they are not, they will have nobody over which they can feel dominant and powerful. For this reason you should find a divorce lawyer with experience in dealing with narcissists otherwise the process can be long and drawn out. Whilst the divorce is inevitable and imminent, until it is finalised the narcissist is still married, they are in a relationship and they can still maintain a sense of power. To some outside of the world of narcissism this may seem very strange but we are talking about a specific way that a narcissist thinks and believes which is alien to most people.
It’s not enough to win – the other has to lose
Taking a divorce through the courts will allow the narcissist to relinquish some of their control to the judge. This may seem counter intuitive. You have to remember that the narcissist must feel powerful. Accordingly, if there is an unfavourable decision to be made, they won’t take any responsibility for it. The chances are that they are psychologically incapable of doing so anyway.
Even more bizarre is that giving control over the courts can actually feel from the narcissist’s perspective that they are still in control, or moreover, that they can present the illusion of being in control to their spouse, all in an attempt to weaken their resolve and see them not just lose in the divorce but lose spectacularly.
All of this all speaks to their strategy. The narcissist will draw proceedings out mainly for the reasons referred to above, but also because it adds to their victory that their spouse will have to run up an expensive bill for their own divorce lawyers.
The narcissist will rarely negotiate. In their mind they are right, so by extension everyone else is wrong. They will attempt to smear the good name of their spouse in the process and this can often extend to them offering up complete falsehoods to the court. This is as a result of a number of specific patterns of behaviour. The first and most obvious is that their NPD has them seeing a different truth. To them they are not lying, they genuinely believe their accusations to be true.
The other reason is one that we have touched upon before. Once an accusation is made, it is incumbent on the other party to prove that the accusation is not true, and doing so adds time and money to the entire divorce proceedings, hence another win for the narcissist.
So how do you divorce a narcissist
The first thing that you should do is to prepare yourself for an unpleasant and expensive process. You should also in most cases take advice from a therapist or counsellor as soon as possible in how to deal with this narcissistic behaviour, so that it does not impact so much on your psyche or cause you to want to give up The process is not going to be pleasant, but with the right handholding, your lawyer can bat away all of the nonsense, tear it away back to its very centre and ensure that the courts concentrate on the correct core issues in the case.
Sometimes it is possible to negotiate from the prospective that the narcissist believes erroneously that they are winning in such negotiations. This takes very skilled and careful negotiation but can be achieved with the right lawyer.
Sometimes simply tit for tat behaviour will simply draw out the proceedings even longer and be more destructive. However, this is not always possible to avoid since the narcissist will try to draw everyone into their battlefield.
We should also point out that one other trait of a narcissist is even when they lose, they feel they have to win and may keep appealing decisions in the hope that they will get the right one in due course. Again, it is very important for you to ensure that your lawyer makes clear to the court that this is the kind of conduct that will wipe out the parties assets and encourage the judge not to allow any further appeal since it is to be regarded as vexatious.
Dealing with a narcissist is very different from dealing with an ordinary kind or spouse or partner. It is therefore vital that you ensure that a divorce solicitor has the skills to bring matters back to where they should be and not to stay stray into narcissist land. If you recognise these patterns contact us so that we can guide you through the conduct and correct steps to take to protect you, your wellbeing and those of the children at a very difficult time in your life.