At the Land Legal Group, our Los Angeles divorce attorneys know personality conflicts can lead to marital trouble for couples throughout California. In most cases, spouses are very different people from the start, who find love and often live happily ever after enjoying different activities and outlooks.
Being married does not require spouses to be the same person. Unless one of them is a narcissist.
A narcissist is a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves because of a personality disorder that is not specific to one gender. Narcissists not only want their spouse to do what he or she does, like what he or she likes, and become part of their complete world, they have the ability to manipulate their spouses and draw them into conflict when they disagree with their position.
In some cases, once one spouse recognizes the other is a narcissist, and realizes a person with this disorder may lack the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others, it becomes part of the reason to get divorced.
Unfortunately, when you share children with a narcissist, or are required to communicate about the sale of the family home, financial holdings, or other divorce details, putting up with their behavior can be as taxing now as it was when you were married.
Here are a few tips to help you cope with a narcissistic ex-spouse.
Coping with a Narcissistic Ex-Spouse After Divorce in California
Being married to a narcissist requires a great deal of work for the other spouse, as their narcissistic counterpart will feel that they deserve privileges and special treatment or be recognized as superior as they are preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate.
Unfortunately, just because you divorced a narcissist does not mean he or she is going to stop being a narcissist. This means continuing to be critical of and looking down on people they feel are not important and taking advantage of others to get what they want.
Here are a few tips to remain on the outside of their personality disorder:
- Know that a narcissist will never change.
A narcissist will not change his or her behavior because you are divorced. This means you should not expect him or her to be a different person or begin taking responsibility for their actions. This will only lead to frustration, and anger, and giving them exactly what they want — emotional space in your new life.
- Remember you are divorced.
You no longer “belong” to him or her. You do not have to communicate with him or her as you once did, “walking on eggshells.” Instead, keep your conversations focused on facts: The children, financial matters, or other loose ends from the divorce.
- Avoid heated reactions.
Part of having a manipulating personality is getting other people to react in a way that you want them to. This is narcissism 101. You do not owe your ex-spouse an explanation for anything. If he or she has a question, respond with a yes or no answer. Do not allow him or her to catch you in their web of making excuses for yourself, or your actions, or answering questions that have nothing to do with your kids, a house that is for sale, or other details that require you to remain in contact.
- Set clear and firm boundaries.
Narcissists are used to taking, not giving. This means you may have spent most of your marriage following his or her lead and getting taken advantage of for your trouble. This behavior will continue, unless you set clear boundaries.
No, they may not change your custody agreement or parenting plan as it suits their needs — even if that means canceling a pickup at the last minute because they know you have plans for the weekend. While there is little you can do about their behavior, you can insist on sticking to your divorce details, and the legally binding agreements therein, or take the steps necessary to revisit the agreement in court.
Your time should be respected. Be sure that it is by setting proper boundaries.
- Limit your interactions.
If you share children with a narcissist, make plans to exchange the kids in a public place. Pick the same place, so the routine is consistent, and limit your face-to-face interactions to reduce their ability to manipulate you and draw you into conflict.
- Walk away.
Most narcissists build themselves up by being abusive to others. Chances are, you have lived this scenario for years, where you are the one who is wrong, awful, unworthy of love, or any other manipulative and abusive comments they can offer.
You do not have to tolerate this behavior any longer. Walk away, hang up the phone, and ignore their texts or emails until you can respond without emotion.
This requires restraint, and setting new expectations for yourself, too. If you need additional help or strategies to deal with your narcissistic ex-spouse, contact a mental health professional in your area to discuss your unique needs today.
Contact Our Los Angeles Family Law Attorneys at the Land Legal Group Today
For those who may be married to someone with narcissistic characteristics and have questions about the California divorce process, contact our team of skilled Los Angeles family law attorneys at the Land Legal Group by calling (310) 552-3500 today.
Our dedicated Los Angeles divorce attorneys have extensive experience navigating proceedings with these personality types and can help you understand your legal rights and options to move forward with confidence, starting with a free consultation.