How to Ask a Narcissist for a Divorce (and Escape Unscathed!)

So you are in this relationship with a narcissist, you’ve been married to this narcissist, and you finally realize what it is that you’ve been dealing with and that you need out. What are you going to do about it? How are you going to get out? It’s so hard to just start the process but there are a few key things that will make the world of a difference.

Develop a Winning Mindset

When you’re preparing to ask a narcissist for divorce you have to get your mindset in a place where you feel strong enough to be able to do just that. This might seem like a really strange place to start but you really do have to start with your mindset. You must believe that you can actually get free of this person.

I’ve had many clients come into my office and say, “I can’t leave,” or “I don’t know how to leave,” or “I don’t even think I have the strength to leave.” Narcissists manipulate their victims into believing that they’re so powerful, that everybody loves them, and that they have the whole world under control. So, no matter what you do, you feel like you can’t win and that there’s no way you’re going to be able to get out of this thing. That’s what they want you to believe and it is so not true. I’ve helped people out of the worst of situations, the deepest of holes, and the darkest of places.

You must first develop a winning mindset. Know that 80% of a negotiation is won before you even walk into a room. Understanding that you can win is just 50% of that 80%. Your odds are actually pretty high if you have this mindset so just believe that you can win and that you can get out. 

How to Ask a Narcissist for a Divorce (and Escape Unscathed!)

Plan of Action

Before you even ask that narcissist for a divorce, you must have a solid plan in place. Make sure to figure out where you’re going to live, how you’re going to serve this person, whether or not you’re going to hire a lawyer, what lawyer you are going to hire if you do. All these things need to be in place before you ask that narcissist for a divorce because when you do, you will most likely trigger their narcissistic injury and rage. So before the consequences of that occur, you want to be able to put all of these pieces in place to allow yourself to have control over the situation when you ask that narcissist for that divorce. 


When you go into the discard phase of a narcissistic relationship, regardless of whether or not you are doing the discarding or that other person is doing the discarding, it triggers their rage. You need to be able to anticipate the narcissist’s behaviors upon triggering their narcissistic rage and plan accordingly. Where are you going to be when you ask for a divorce? Is it going to be in private or public? Are your kids going to be around? Are you going to be at someone else’s house? 

I once had a client who decided to ask his spouse for divorce during their marriage counseling session. Because he wanted to control the process, I actually thought that was a good idea. He decided to tell her that he was going to be asking for a divorce during marriage counseling and that she was going to be served later that day. Their marriage counseling was at noon on a weekday so afterwards, he went back to work and she went home. When he got home at around six o’clock that night she was nowhere to be found. He found a note that she left saying she was somewhere else which was about an hour away. So, we went to serve her there. Upon arrival, we came to find out that she was not at this other location and had actually fled the state with their dogs. She hired some heavy-hitter, celebrity divorce attorney and ended up filing for a divorce in that state and serving him first. We ended up having to litigate the case in another state before we could even get the merits of the case in our state. We basically had to get the other case dismissed which ended up costing him lots of money prior to even proceeding on with the new case. Needless to say, this plan really backfired on him.

It is important to anticipate what it is that you think the narcissist is going to do when you ask them for a divorce in a particular way.  

How to Ask a Narcissist for a Divorce (and Escape Unscathed!)

Ask or Inform 

You will always trigger narcissistic rage if you are truly dealing with a narcissist. So, sometimes the better option is to have everything planned ahead of time and then to just go ahead and serve them. I had another client who packed up all of her stuff and slipped out in the middle of the night when her husband was sleeping. He woke up in the morning, she was gone, and we were able to serve him at just six o’clock. That’s how he got told that she wanted a divorce.

Sometimes the best way to ask a narcissist for divorce is to not ask them at all but to inform them of your desire for a divorce by serving them with divorce papers. This can protect you from whatever might occur as a result of their narcissistic rage. Some people would rather not do it this way because they have general empathy and compassion for others; however, it is important to remember that if you are dealing with a true narcissist, they do not have those same feelings for you. Do what you have to do in order to protect yourself- especially if you have children and need to protect them too. 

If you decide to have a conversation with them about your wanting for a divorce, it is best you do so while remaining calm and unemotional. It’s also best to do this in public or with potential eye-witnesses around. Of course, this is dependent upon the type of narcissist that you are dealing with. Even so, you don’t want anything you say to be twisted in a certain way and used against you. Remember, narcissists will use nearly everything you say and do against you if they get the chance. 


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