Are you getting ready to divorce a narcissist? Then you’re in for the fight of your life. By the end of this article, you’ll know what kinds of tricks narcissist play in divorce, and what to do to be prepared for it.
So, you know the old expression, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail, well, that is magnified by like a million when you’re dealing with a narcissist in divorce. I’ve seen it many, many times, I’ve represented them thousands of times, I’ve been on the other side of them, I’ve seen them as opposing counsel, and I’ve actually had to deal with a couple of pesky, awful horrible narcissist in my own life, so I know exactly how the mind of a narcissist works and what the psyche of a narcissist is like in the middle of a divorce.
Here are a couple of the tricks that they play in divorce, twisting everything you do or say. So every time you send them a text or an email, or you just speak to them in person, or you communicate with them in any way, or even if they hear about something that you’ve said, they’re going to twist it. They’re going to take the parts that they like. They’re going to cut off other parts. They’re certainly not above cutting and pasting parts of texts or emails to make it look like you said something, or didn’t say something, they’ll do whatever they can to make you look bad, and then look good. Remember, with narcissists, they have no sense of inner value, all of their value comes from the external. They need an endless amount of what we call, narcissistic supply, which is where they are boosting up their ego. And supply can come in the form of good things, such as a big house or what I call positive things, a great job, being friends with the right people, things like that. Or it can come in the form of what I call, negative things, which is causing you to feel devalued, debased, degraded, making you squirm, manipulating you, they get supply from that as well. And so that’s what you see happening in a divorce.
For a narcissist, you have no value. Your value when you’re in a relationship with them is just what you can do for them, and what kind of value you can give to their endless need for supply. So once you’ve shown yourself to not want to be in a relationship with them anymore, even if they are actually in the process of doing the discard, then you have no value left for them anymore. So, now you’re the enemy. Because when you’re dealing with a narcissist, you can’t just nicely walk your own direction and shake hands and just say, “Well, let’s just let the law dictate what’s fair, and we’ll just sign something and be on our way, and wish each other well.” It doesn’t work that way with narcissists, with narcissists, you’re either for them or you’re against them. So that’s why they’re going to twist everything that you do or say.
The next thing that narcissists do in divorce is obstruction. So, it’s crazy because there’ll be laws in every state and everywhere that you have to provide certain types of financial documents to each other, and it’s mandatory, it’s required, and they won’t provide what’s mandatory, they won’t provide what’s required, or they might only pick and choose what they want to provide. So if they’re supposed to provide 12 months of credit card statements, you’ll just see them provide 10 months worth, but suddenly July is missing or September is missing, and then you have to try to go back and try to get it, and all of this is just very frustrating.
And a lot of times my clients will end up saying to me, “How is he getting away with this? How is she getting away with this?” Well, something that I remind people all the time is that there are no divorce fairies that just pop out in the middle of people’s living rooms and go, “Hey, you’re not allowed to do that.” Or, “Hey, you’re supposed to provide that document, how come you’re not doing it?” So they’re going to get away with it until they can’t get away with it anymore. And what happens is, they will no longer get away with it when somebody brings it in front of the judge. Because, remember, the only person who has any power to order somebody to do something is a judge, no one else, or the police, if you call the police because they’ve done something criminal.
But when you’re talking about civil actions, you can just push everything through the judge. So you end up filing a lot of motions, motions to compel and motions to enforce and things like that, so that they produce the documents that they’re supposed to produce. So, that’s number two trick that they play is obstruction.
Another thing that you’ll see narcissists do is ignoring court orders. And that’s what I was just talking about with ignoring laws, but they also ignore court orders. And it’s just so mind boggling sometimes because, what I’ve seen people do sometimes is early on bill, come up with a parenting plan, or maybe you come up with an agreement that’s signed that becomes a court order that says you’re not supposed to introduce new, significant others to the children, and lo and behold, there they are introducing their new girlfriends or new boyfriends to the children, and that’s a violation of now a court order. And so you have to file a motion to get it in enforced or ask the court to issue a show cause order as to why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for violating that court order.
But the thing with narcissist is narcissists are street fighters, they will fight dirty, and they’ll do as much as they possibly can that they think that they can get away with, there’s really no bar that’s too low or no thing that’s too far. As long as they’re pretty sure that they can get away with it, or even if they’re so sometimes arrogant about it or so distorted in their thinking that they think that they’ll get away with things, even if they don’t necessarily end up getting away with things.
Another thing you see narcissists do is constantly move the goalposts when you’re talking about agreements. And what I mean by this is, and listen to me when I tell you this, do not send letters back and forth between your lawyers trying to settle the case, you’ll never settle the case with a narcissist that way. And it ends up just being a waste of your time and money. Because what happens is, they’ll send over a proposal, and even if you agree to a 100% of everything they send over, by the time you send over your agreement, they’ve already changed what the deal is. They’ll say, okay, well, you still have to live up to everything that you just agreed that you’re going to give the other person, but now they want more, and they’re going to give you less of whatever it was that they were supposed to do. And it just constantly changes, constantly changes, constantly changes, because they get supply out of making you squirm.
So, while you, as a reasonable person, think that you’re working toward a goal of resolving the case, silly, their goal is to manipulate you and make you squirm as much as possible. So you actually don’t even have the same goals there. So one of the things you will see them do is constantly move that goal post, constantly change back and forth.
Another thing I will tell you is, do not use a collaborative process. Don’t use a collaborative attorney, it’s a waste of time when it comes to dealing with narcissists in divorce. And also don’t mediate too early, you’re going to need leverage before you go to mediation.
Another thing that narcissists do as far as tricks in divorce is they start triangulating smear campaigns, getting all their flying monkeys lined up the people that they’re turning against you so that you feel like the world is against you and everybody’s believing their lies.
One other thing that they do is engage in intimidation tactics, scare tactics, try to make you think that you’re going to lose your kids, or you’re going to have no money, or be out on the street, or that they’re going to take everything from you. They’re going to use the court system as their sword, they’ll use the children as pawns, things like that. I mean, as I said, there’s really no bar that’s too low, they’ll do whatever they can to scare the crap out of you. And if you’re dealing with a narcissist in divorce right now, and you’ve already seen them do these things, give me a totally in the comments right now.
Okay. So here’s what to do to be prepared, document, document, document. I cannot say it enough. In your documentation, you will end up finding your leverage, I promise. Leverage isn’t necessarily always this smoking gun, it is usually made up of many different things, such as lots and lots of text messages, or figuring out when they didn’t show up for the kids, and how often, and what are the percentages, building a strategy around what kinds of leverage you have.
So, that’s all actually part of my slay program, for those of you who are familiar with my program, which is, Slay your Negotiation With a Narcissist. And slay actually stands for having a super strong strategy, having invincible leverage, anticipate with the narcissist is going to do, and be two steps ahead of them, and focusing on you and your case. And so you’ve got to have this slay method together, but the first part of you getting that method together is definitely documenting every single thing. You can just have the notes part of your phone open, just assuming that you’ve changed your passwords and all of that, and just keeping track of absolutely everything.
The next thing you can do, I just alluded to, is change your passwords on everything, including all your cloud devices, anywhere you have a login, make sure you change those passwords. The next thing that you can do to be prepared if you haven’t filed for divorce yet is have a stash of cash available, especially if you are the non-moneyed spouse, if it’s possible for you to have at least three months worth of cash, until you can get to a temporary relief hearing. And nowadays, the courts are a little bit crazy and they’re super backed up. So, who knows when you’ll even be able to get a hearing. So you want to have at least a few months worth of living expenses, both to live on and also to be able to hire a lawyer.
The next thing you’re going to want to do is figure out a plan. Where are you going to be living? Are you going to stay in the house? Is the other person going to stay in the house? Are you going to stay there together? If you’re going to move out, where are you going to go? How are your expenses going to be paid? If you decide to move out, make sure that you’re thinking about a parenting plan if you have children. You want to think about all these things ahead of time.
One of my clients who actually left a narcissistic husband too early said that she ended up having to go back, and then he punished her and made it worse, and it was so much worse for the next couple of years. So, the next time she left him, she got all her ducks in a row and she knew exactly how she was going to execute it down to the latter. She actually even packed the suitcase and walked out the door while he was sleeping in the middle of the night. And she knew exactly what hotel she was going to, she had directed us exactly what time and where to serve him. She knew she was going to be away for at leas two weeks after he was served, then she went and stayed with her mother. She had it all planned out ahead of time.
And by the way, she had hired me ahead of time. So that’s something else that you should be thinking about is hiring a lawyer and getting the right lawyer, somebody who understands narcissism, who’s going to be on your side, you’re going to feel like you have a rapport with, and who’s going to go on the offensive for you. Because the nicey nice method when you’re dealing with a narcissist doesn’t fly, they just see it as weakness and use it as an opportunity to make things worse for you.
If you are dealing with a narcissist and you want to know more about how to communicate with them, come join me at my FREE Webinar, the 3 MUST HAVE Secrets for Communicating with a Narcissist. You can sign up for that RIGHT HERE.