Divorce and narcissism
So, you’re in love with a narcissist.
The term narcissist is used a lot. And everyone seems to have a “narcissistic” ex. This seemed like an over generalization. Then, I encountered a few actual narcissists. Here is what you should know:
In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following symptoms:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
- Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
You will notice how these personality traits seem wholly and completely incompatible with a healthy relationship. In fact, a typical pattern emerges within relationships with narcissists that go something like this:
- Love Bombing: The relationship starts off with you being the center of the world. The narcissist puts you on a pedestal and showers you with constant attention and flattery. This is beyond a normal “honeymoon” phase and is closer to “love bombing.”
- Fall from grace: soon after the love bomb, you will be thrown from grace and your narcissist will go from hot to cold with staggering frequency. One moment you are on your pedestal, the next you are criticizes and put down. Along with the fall, you will be blamed for every “mistake” that lead to the criticism. You are left trying to be perfect, to maintain the love bomb and avoid the criticism.
- Projection: Your narcissist is jealous, possessive and needy, and yet these characteristic are the exact characteristics projected upon you. You end up feeling completely unhinged and begin questioning your own mental state.
- Next you are looking at a series of shame, blame, gaslighting, triangulation, scapegoating, normalizing and neglect.
There is nothing that you can do to change the behavior of an actual narcissist. They can be charming, charismatic, fun to be around, witty, talented, and intelligent. They also have the ability to elicit sympathy from anyone around them. Ultimately, an actual narcissist views you (and/or your children) as an extension of themselves, if not property. No amount of reason can make a narcissist treat you well, show you respect or become reasonable.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist- get out. It is the only way of protecting yourself and your children. You must get far away, seek counseling and begin to heal. Work with your attorney to make sure they understand the narcissists tendencies so that your children can be protected and so the judge can order a parenting plan and legal decision making plan that accounts for the narcissism. Seek a psychological evaluation early. As I stated, many people throw around the term narcissism, dealing with an actual narcissist requires special attention and care. For more on how do you know if you are divorcing a narcissist, click here.
Talk to an attorney who is experienced working with victims and survivors of domestic violence.
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