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Problems with Divorcing a Narcissist

In Greek mythology, the legend of Narcissus refers to a young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, pushing away others who loved him. This legend is the origin of the word “narcissism” and the psychological condition known as “narcissistic personality disorder.”

A person who is legitimately suffering from narcissistic personality disorder can make life difficult for themselves and especially for people who get romantically involved with them.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder include the following:

  • Belief in self-superiority over others
  • Constant belittling and demeaning others
  • Exploitation of others for personal gain
  • Lack of consideration for the negative impact they have on others
  • Fantasies of success, intelligence, uniqueness, and power
  • Constant craving for attention from other
  • Intense jealousy toward others

Importantly, people who do not have narcissistic personality disorder can exhibit these characteristics from time to time. However, a person who has been diagnosed with this psychological condition most likely exhibits these traits at such an extreme level that it noticeably interferes with their ability to lead an average life and maintain crucial interpersonal relationships.

Determining whether someone has narcissistic personality disorder is the responsibility of psychological professionals. If you suspect that your spouse has narcissistic personality disorder, knowing for sure can be a significant benefit during divorce proceedings.

Spouses often have a front-row seat to a narcissist’s behaviors. However, spouses can also carry resentment that can exaggerate the nature and extent of a person’s actions. For these reasons, spouses and significant others can be either a good and bad source of data for a narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis

That is why it is important to avoid diagnosing people in one’s head and leave that responsibility up to trained professionals.

Narcissism and Divorce Proceedings

Persons who have narcissistic personality disorder are so fixated on themselves that their perception of the world becomes accordingly distorted. The disorder impairs their ability to accurately characterize facts and events.

Consequently, many of those who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder have a hard time with the precision and meticulousness of litigation and legal proceedings.

The spouse of a narcissist will have a better time minimizing interactions with the opposing party in a divorce. Often, the narcissist’s unreasonableness and deceptive behavior can trigger an overly intense emotional reaction in their spouse. However, the court—who has experience dealing with various personalities in divorce cases—will eventually see the problems with a narcissist. There is a decent chance that a narcissist will paint themselves into a corner with their own fabrications, delusions, and deceptions.

To help facilitate this process for your attorney, spouses of a narcissist should focus on documenting and making records of everything. A comprehensive record of incontrovertible evidence is the narcissist’s worst enemy, second only to themselves.

Narcissism and Child Custody

People who have narcissistic personality disorder lack the ability to put the best interests of others above their own self-interest. In child custody determinations, courts must consider the best interests of the minor child when deciding on a custody arrangement.

A parent’s relationship with their children is a significant concern in cases involving a narcissistic parent. The narcissist may attempt to control how their children perceive the parties, manipulating them in shocking ways. In extreme cases, a narcissistic parental will make attempts at parental alienation—getting children to hate the other parent through manipulation and deception.

In cases where a narcissistic parent is attempting to promote parental alienation, the resulting harm to the parent-child relationship can be irreparable. As a result, it is vital to establish a strategy and legal plan of action to prevent the narcissistic parent from poisoning their spouse’s relationship with their children.

This can be difficult since divorce and custody cases are already wrought with intense emotional conflict between parents. Again, maintaining a thorough record of evidence and documents is one of the best methods of disrupting the narcissistic parent’s efforts at manipulating the children’s relationships with the other parent.


A crucial part of dealing with getting a divorce from a narcissist involves forgiving one’s self. In cases involving psychologically legitimate narcissistic personalities, spouses have the unreasonable burden of catering to the narcissist’s needs.

Narcissists often engage in emotional and psychological abuse that can have lasting repercussions on their loved ones’ own psyches. A narcissist can guilt-trip spouses and romantic partners into not leaving them by profusely apologizing, and attributing their conduct to past personal hardships and trauma.

However, these are features of a vicious cycle that keeps spouses and others trapped. The narcissist will imply that their spouses are cold and uncaring as a result. Some spouses who are concerned about “doing the right thing” or “standing by their man or woman” will find it difficult to escape.

However, it is important to understand that you are not responsible for the behavior and wellbeing of someone suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. By surrendering responsibility and attachment to the narcissistic personality, you can begin the healing process.

Consult The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc. for Quality Legal Counsel Today

If you are seeking the advice of a professional legal advocate regarding a divorce or other family law matter, you should get in touch with The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc. Our legal team has experience dealing with emotionally challenging family law cases, including divorce and child custody.

To schedule an appointment with a member of our team, please call Neshanian Law Firm at (949) 577-7935 or contact us online today.