The challenges of divorcing a narcissist

While we do not want to jump to diagnosis, narcissistic personality disorder is not uncommon. Estimations say that five percent of the population has narcissistic personality disorder, one of the 10 personality disorders that people may have.

The Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as “a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships and a lack of empathy for others.” Such a personality disorder can contribute to difficulties in relationships, including marital ones.

Divorcing someone with narcissistic tendencies or diagnosed with NPD can have its own challenges. Here are a few that you may want to consider throughout your divorce process:

  • Refusal to cooperate: With high self-esteem, a tendency to be competitive and hold resentment against others, it is likely that someone with NPD will not cooperate throughout the divorce process. This may mean not providing or hiding financial information and assets, not listening to lawyers and even disobeying court orders.
  • Manipulation: Those with NPD often are very good at being likable, charismatic and successful while also being interpersonally exploitative, meaning that they may take advantage of you for their own desires or needs. Be wary of a spouse who is charming to get their way or uses other tactics to manipulate, including involving children.
  • Intense arguments: Because someone with NPD often has difficulties regulating their behavior and emotions, they may be angry without trying to be. Arguing with someone with NPD can be difficult as they often have difficulties reigning in their reactions and emotions, contributing to a more contentious divorce.

While not everyone who has high self-esteem or is manipulative has NPD, and not everyone with NPD acts this way or refuses treatment, these are important challenges that you should be aware of during a divorce. Watch for these signs and prepare yourself for a rocky road when divorcing a narcissist.