The Ultimate Guide to Divorcing a Narcissist

How to divorce a narcissist

If you find yourself in the abominable position of divorcing a Narcissist, my first words to you are: Good luck and may God be with you.

This is not a fight for the faint of heart, and you must be braver than you’ve ever been.

So, my second words to you are: Buck up, grow some balls, put on an ‘I don’t give a flying F’ attitude, set major boundaries, and settle in for a long, nasty ride.

Because the only thing harder than being married to a narcissist is divorcing one.

Some don’t even have the stomach for it – or will get only so far before they give up from fear, intimidation, and/or sheer exhaustion.

And never expect them to run out of steam or back down. They thrive on running you ragged, on ‘winning’, on seeing you punished for daring to go up against them.

Remember when your narcissistic ex made you feel like YOU were the crazy one because they could NEVER be wrong about anything EVER!? They could argue that the sky is red and, in the end, make you think you had it all wrong this whole time by thinking it was blue.

You know exactly what I’m talking about my fellow sufferers of narcissistic spouses.

And if you need a refresher on how a narcissist operates, listen here:

Narcissism 101

narcissism 101

For starters, it’s important to realize that narcissism is a personality disorder often linked to other personality disorders (Bi-polar, Borderline, Psychopathy, etc).

Narcissists come in many shades.

For example, I was with an (undiagnosed) narcissist who also had borderline tendencies. People with Borderline Personality Disorder have difficulty managing ambivalence (the ability to hold two feelings at the same time), and very intense emotions. Couple this with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and it’s a full-time circus.

Narcissists are preoccupied with fantasies of limitless self-importance, success, and power. They over-exaggerate their accomplishments, popularity, and social importance.

They exploit or take advantage of others for personal gain. They require constant feeding of their egos, and thus crave excessive admiration.  They pit people against each other to get what they want. They divide people to conquer and gain power over them; they will sequester you from concerned friends and family. They manipulate by influencing emotions like fear and anger, employing threats and lies.

A major manipulation technique often used by narcissists is redefining reality by repeatedly fabricating fiction and presenting it as fact. They lie and present alternative facts, leading listeners to question their own understanding of reality. Victims often experience a twilight zone phenomenon.

Narcissists make others pay, and get nasty with those who don’t give them the agreement, admiration, and respect they feel entitled to. They expect automatic compliance from everyone around them (traits are often found in militant dictators).

Narcissists are toxic to people and situations. They are only decent to people who support their agenda. But they quickly discard (and/or make miserable) anyone who begs to differ or offers an opinion that challenges them. A Narcissist acts as the judge, jury, and executioner should you dare to defy them.

Their ego provides them with the only pleasure they experience; Their ego keeps them safe from that horrible person they’ve hidden. The only way to not hurt is to feel better than everyone else.

But, they don’t know they have a disorder. They will think others are overreacting and weak. They may realize that every relationship ends the same way for them, but place the blame on others and don’t recognize their part. Their ego protects them from having any faults.

Even if they agree they have a problem, their ego will justify their behavior, making therapy difficult.

Divorcing a narcissist requires that you be prepared: mentally, physically, and financially!

Which type of Narcissist are you divorcing?

types of narcissists

Granted ALL narcissists are malignant, especially when divorcing.

But, scientists say there are two types of narcissism: Grandiose and Vulnerable .

Vulnerable narcissism is rooted more in poor self-esteem, although the person living with the condition often appears outwardly confident. Since vulnerable narcissists have low self-esteem, providing some reassurance (just enough to stoke their egos) may keep them happy and less prone to being complete devils.

Grandiose narcissism involves individuals who have very high confidence levels, egotistical and entitled behavior, and think they’re better than others. Often, they do achieve high status and positions of power. Grandiose narcissism includes a desire to maintain a pretentious self-image, an exhibitionistic tendency, a high need for admiration, selfishness, callousness and lack of remorse.

Lucky me, I had the privilege of experiencing this kind, the more dangerous kind, because they actually believe the lies they tell themselves and others- any lie necessary to boost their ego and diminish others.

Regardless of type, narcissists get pleasure in working other people up, especially you.

Try to stay calm and keep your eye on the prize. The prize is not having to deal with them for the rest of your life.

The Finances

Chances are, many of you have relinquished all, or most, financial control over to your narcissistic spouse.

My ex kept all of our finances hidden from my eyes, especially bank and credit card statements. While this is classic, controlling, narcissistic behavior, turns out he was also spending a ton of community funds on treating his mistresses to luxury vacations, spa days, and shopping sprees.

Was I too trusting or plain stupid? Definitely both! The bad news for me is that I made many mistakes divorcing my narcissistic ex, but the good news is I can now tell you what NOT to do, and help you divorce yours.

First off, when your sh*t-show of a divorce kicks off, your mindset needs to shift into thinking strategically, not emotionally. Put on your best game face and let the show begin!

Hire A Kick-A$$ Divorce Lawyer

Think of it as an investment in your future, don’t go bargain basement. Or worse, do what I did, and fail to retain a lawyer of your own (totally idiotic on my part).

The outcome of your divorce decides what your future will look and feel like in every aspect of your life.

Never take your ex’s word for it or trust that they’ll do what’s right or fair.

You need a lawyer to sniff out their bull crap and remind you that words are just words until put into a contract.

My ex made many, many promises he never intended to keep and I’m still suffering for it. Lawyer up people!

During your divorce, your spouse may try to gaslight you. Gaslighting is a method of manipulation that makes you question yourself and your reality. Some of the tried and true tactics gaslighters use include:

  • Saying they didn’t do something, even if you have proof that they did
  • Trying to turn others away from you, and telling you that those around you believe you are crazy
  • Telling you that your loved ones are lying
  • Telling blatant lies
  • After doing something wrong, they would give you a compliment or use positive reinforcement to make you believe that they aren’t that bad

Your spouse may lie not only to you but also to the attorney, judge, children, and so on. Your soon-to-be-ex may even deny conversations or invent events that never took place.

Be prepared. Gaslighting is one of the favorite tactics of a narcissist – and they tend to ramp it up during a divorce, especially if they feel like they’re starting to lose control.

Do Some Pre-Divorce Reconnaissance (…if you have the advantage of foresight)

Time to channel your inner spy-ninja and gather up as much intel as possible.

Make copies (or take photographs) of all assets and important documents. That way you’ll have proof when assets ‘go missing’ on permanent vacations to exotic off-shore locations after you file.

Here is a brief list of what to document:

  • Bank Accounts (joint and sole)
  • Documents pertaining to Real Property
  • Mortgages and Lines of Credit
  • Recent Pay Stubs
  • Tax Returns – past 3 years minimum
  • Insurance paperwork
  • Vehicle registrations/title
  • Valuable Antiques/Art/ Jewelry
  • Investment Accounts
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Birth certificates, marriage certificate, passport

Open an “Armageddon Fund” BEFORE Divorcing a Narcissist: Stash That Cash!

saving money to divorce a narcissist

Do what you must to stash away some mad money. Start years before if you can.

Open your secret account with a totally random bank, one neither of you have used before. You can set the account to have little communication, or set it up with a secret email address. Don’t even get an ATM card or checks, too risky.

Put in a little here and there, slowly but consistently, every bit adds up.

Sell jewelry, gold and luxury gifts if you must. I particularly recommend this for those who are stay-at-home parents and are totally dependent on their spouse for all income.

You’re going to need this fund when your controlling narcissistic spouse goes ape-sh*t and tries to ‘smoke you out’ via cutting off the money.

And don’t worry, you can’t be accused of stealing. Just inform your lawyer how much you have set aside, and it can be treated as community property when dividing assets. Think of it as borrowing.

Plus, you’ll need retainers for lawyers and other divorce professionals- like a Divorce Financial Analyst – which I also highly recommend!

Learn How to Negotiate with a Narcissist

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Divorcing a narcissist is hell on earth. Sometimes we all need a little handholding, but now you need a life preserver.

Top 1% divorce attorney, Rebecca Zung’s 4-hour crash course SLAY Your Negotiation with a Narcissist is your step-by-step blueprint to regaining power and control.

Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll learn:

  • What manipulation tactics to expect from a narcissist and how to shut them down
  • How to develop a bulletproof strategy to drive the outcome you want
  • How to create leverage to motivate and incentivize the narcissist to resolve your issues
  • How to anticipate exactly what the narcissist will do and stay two steps ahead at all times
  • How to focus on YOU – building your case, your confidence, and how to develop a winning mindset

There’s even an exclusive NarcSlayers Facebook group so you have a built-in support system right out of the gate.

Plus, here are a few of my favorite bonuses:

  • 50 Key Phrases to Disarm the Narcissist
  • Questions for vetting a lawyer when dealing with a narcissist
  • Scripts you can use to respond to those abusive texts and emails and disarm the narcissist
  • 45-page workbook to help you stay on track

I only wish I had something like this when I went through my divorce!

This course is the best investment you can make. After all, your freedom depends on it.

Get $200 off SLAY Your Negotiation with a Narcissist with promo code SURVIVE200 >>


Try Working with a Divorce Coach

If you need even more hand-holding, you might want to consider a Divorce Coach . It’s hard to make life-altering decisions under the stress of it all. A Divorce Coach can help you stay logical and make strategic decisions, uninfluenced by your emotional duress.

You could use their advice as a shield.

It goes something like this: “Sorry Ex NPD (their name here), my therapist says I need to establish strong boundaries so you can’t scream and curse me out anymore- doctor’s orders” click (cursing continues on his/her end of the phone line). Don’t shoot the messenger!

I could have used one to walk me through panic attacks, or whatever those horrific, narcissist-induced episodes were. You just need to make it through this hard part, then you’re free(ish).

Take Extra Special Care of Yourself

Standing up to your narcissistic soon-to-be ex-spouse is a daily battle, and it takes a major toll.

To stay calm and stable for the sake of yourself and your loved ones, be extra kind to yourself. I did everything from yoga, Reiki, hypnotherapy, and daily meditation. If you’ve never meditated before, NOW is the time to start.

The words and actions of a narcissist can leave lasting damage on the people in their path toward self-aggrandizement and entitlement. Don’t let them take you down.

If you’re struggling emotionally, get the support you need. Taking care of your mental health is more important than ever. Talk to a trusted therapist.

If you don’t have one, consider trying therapy online. With sites like BetterHelp , you can connect with your therapist wherever and whenever it’s convenient for you by phone, video chat, or text. The best part is it won’t break the bank. You can get 10% off here >>

Be resilient and understand that their words are just noise. They are sad and disturbed beings who have a ton of work to do on themselves, even more than you- their targeted victim. I don’t envy them.

Understand You Are Not the Problem and Never Were

While you may feel victimized, it’s important to know you were never deserving of the harmful and abusive treatment narcissists dole out.

It’s natural to wonder how the prince charming who love-bombed you with affection, gifts, and admiration during the ‘courting’ phase somehow transformed into a callus, conniving, deceitful monster you married.

Looking back, surely there were red flags from the start, but they weren’t glaringly obvious at the time. The evilest of villains rarely advertise their malevolence, the ‘good’ ones will go undetected until it’s too late and you’re in too deep (i.e. married to one).

How do you protect yourself from a narcissist if they’re masters of disguise, and slip into your life unnoticed? For starters, the next time around, date someone for longer – at least 2.5 years. And take heed of any warning signs, don’t just brush them away or think you can change them.

Then, take a hard, long look within yourself. Often, the victim of a narcissist is predisposed with a mindset that seems to invite in these toxic relationships. A narcissist’s victim could have one, or all, of these three features: hyper-active attachment, the intense need to please, and is a harsh self-critic. The healing process is the solution to these flaws. Narcissists are like sharks who smell blood in the water; They seek out victims that they can easily sink their teeth into. Do the self-work to ensure you’ll never fall prey to a narcissist ever again.

Maybe they did you a favor in the long run. Life experiences, even terrible ones, force us to learn important lessons and grow. Work through the experience and you will come out a better, deeper, wiser person for it. In a sense, you can thank your nightmare past for a better future-  a narcissist-free future.

WHY are they like this? HOW do they not see it?

When you’re wracking your brain trying to figure out WHY they behave like a$$holes, and how they don’t see it as a problem, know that according to recent research, people with this disorder have actually been shown to have a different brain structure.

The go-to therapy for narcissism is psychotherapy. But like most personality disorders, narcissism is tricky to treat because people affected aren’t able to grasp that anything is wrong with them, and thus are not compelled to change. Everyone else is the problem. They are perfect. “No narcissists here,” they’ll insist. Nothing is their fault after all.

Understand that if you have kids with this person, you’ll never truly be free of them.

This is the kicker: the sad unfortunate reality that even though you went through the pain of divorcing, you’re never really divorced from their existence.

I can tell you first-hand how persistent a narcissist you’ve already divorced can be. They stop at nothing to make your life miserable because it feeds their ego and vast hunger for revenge.

My ex threatens to drag me back to court on the regular, it’s like a sport for him.

His goal is to pay as little child support as possible. He has spent bookoo bucks in legal fees in attempts to make it so. It seems he’d rather pay nannies and expensive lawyers than pay ‘me’ a dime. ‘Me’ is in quotes because of course, the money doesn’t go to ‘me’; it goes towards the kids – their activities, clothing, and feeding them healthy, fresh food (I try).

It all circles back to their need for control. They must control the money like they did when you were married.

Life After Divorcing a Narcissist

Be glad you are on your way out of their lives (for the most part). Be thankful that you are (somewhat) intact, and that your self-esteem is not regulated by other’s admiration (sounds exhausting).

G-d bless the next poor soul who falls for their cool facade and vibrant charm.

Though surely the guy is still the same ol’ lying womanizer he was during our marriage, my ex seems to have found himself a new girlfriend. And I recognize his same patterns of courting and spending grandly to buy her admiration.

Knowing what I know, seeing her adorned in his gifts of expensive, fine fashion, only makes her look cheap. I think to myself, this poor girl has no idea what she’s getting herself into.

If she were to read up on narcissism, it would click by chapter 2. I wish someone had warned me- given me a manual.

So, to warn all the future girlfriends of narcissists everywhere, here is a basic rundown on how your relationship will play out:

Since he’s such a FANTASTIC covert narcissist, when you start dating him, it’s magical. You’re his soul mate, he’s been waiting for you his whole life- until he’s got you.

Then the devaluation begins. The abuse starts slowly and subtly. By the time you realize you’re being abused, your life is thoroughly enmeshed with his.

You saw the mask, but the wonderful person you think you’re with doesn’t really exist. But now that you’re hooked, you don’t see that. You may notice a few red flags, but because you’re wearing rose-colored glasses, they don’t look so red.

Once you’ve married this man of your dreams, you can’t believe that the guy who was so generous, charming, loving, and complimentary could be capable of being so mean and nasty.

Then you’ll think, you must have done something wrong to elicit such behavior. And, of course, he tells you this. If only you hadn’t made him so angry -It’s YOUR fault he did that (fill the blank nastiness).

The verbal and emotional abuse becomes more frequent until it starts to feel ‘normal.’

You work hard at trying to be the perfect spouse, wearing those awful clothes and hooker-style boots he requires, so that he’ll go back to being the wonderful man that you married.

Only, the gas-lighting, blame-shifting, projection, and manipulation has done some major psychological damage. You’ll find it harder and harder to find within yourself the strong, happy, independent woman who fell in love with this douche. Not to mention the stress of always walking on eggshells will affect your physical health as well as your mental well being.

You might daydream about leaving him, but you cannot even begin to fathom how you’d go about doing so- he’s completely taken over your finances and your life.

Oh, and make sure to get yourself routine STD checks because he’ll have women stashed all over the continent for when he ‘travels for work.’

After all that, you’ll find yourself here- reading this article. I pray it doesn’t take you as long as it took me.

Forgiveness, Boundaries, and Prayer

forgive to move on after divorce

Divorcing a narcissist has taken more strength, determination, and healing than I thought I had. But I do struggle with forgiveness.

How do you forgive someone who a) is unaware they did anything wrong, b) is undeserving of it, and c) keeps the wounds fresh by continuing to attack? Every time I come close to forgiving, he comes at me with something new to torture me over.

But I’m at a stage now that I simply do not care. I’ve lost all respect for him, but have gained some sympathy.

It must be awful to be so stunted and completely out of touch with yourself. All that external grandiose showboating isn’t real. I doubt he’s ever been happy. It must be hard having to keep up with all those lies, seeing people become disgusted with you, always worried about being cheated out of your “due”, trying to impress, and constantly having to search for a new source of narcissistic supply.

I know I wouldn’t want to live like that. So, I pray for him.

I pray for his enlightenment. That he will gain the ability to see himself, to acknowledge his flaws. I pray his heart softens to make a change toward his soul evolution… though I won’t hold my breath.

But ultimately, you don’t find forgiveness for these people. You choose to forgive, to accept apologies you will never get.

Forgiveness is letting go. And it’s for YOU – your heart, mind, and future. Choose to forgive so you can be free from being their victim.

It’s a practice like anything else – choose to do it every day.

Forgiveness helps release the pain, the bitterness, and the resentment. It’s not easy. But you do it for you- not for them- to live freely and untied to the past.

And while you’re working on the forgiveness, set strong boundaries (if you haven’t already).

You have a second chance to choose right (granted you make it out alive, I barely did). Take time to heal, reflect, learn, and NEVER fall for a narcissist again.

Warn your friends and loved ones too! Shouldn’t there be a National Narcissist Awareness Day!?

Looking for more great divorce tips? Here are a few of our favorite resources:

Related Content

Recent Posts