A narcissist is someone who has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, which is part of the Cluster B personality disorders along with borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and others. Key traits of narcissists are a lack of empathy, being focused on themselves and their own needs, and the need to be above other people.
Divorcing a narcissist can be extremely difficult, and it can make the process much more complex and emotionally draining. If you think that your spouse may have these qualities, it’s important to talk with an attorney who has experience with narcissists as soon as possible.
How Can I Tell If My Ex Is a Narcissist?
It can be very difficult to tell if your ex is a narcissist until you are further removed from the situation. Those who have been in relationships or gone through divorces with narcissists only realize how bizarre and extreme the situation was when they look back on it. Situations that involve abuse, whether that’s physical, sexual, emotional, or financial, often involve narcissists, as do cases of domestic violence by proxy – sometimes referred to as parental alienation. If you think your ex is a narcissist, it can also be helpful to seek assistance from a counselor or therapist who has experience with these types of relationships.
What Makes Divorcing a Narcissist Different?
No one enjoys the process of divorce, but healthy people are able to recognize that divorce is necessary and try to navigate it as best they can. Narcissists, on the other hand, are known for drawing out divorces, wanting to fight over every little thing, and trying to use the children or finances against the other person. Divorces involving narcissists can go on much longer than a normal divorce, can be more costly, and can get emotionally overwhelming quickly.
Should I Say That My Ex Is a Narcissist?
Unless your ex has been formally diagnosed by a mental health care provider as having a narcissistic personality disorder, it’s important to avoid labeling them in any official setting. As a layperson, you aren’t able to officially diagnose anyone, and the courts may see this as combative or trying to disparage the other party. Even if your ex does have that diagnosis, it’s something that’s best left for your attorney to bring up and address.
Narcissists often get very angry and escalate their behavior when someone threatens to leave them. If you are planning on divorcing a narcissist, it’s important to be as prepared as possible, have an attorney who has experience with these types of cases, and understands how these types of divorces are different. Contact our law firm at (213) 351-1000 to take your first step and find out how we can help.