Divorce and separation can often be very difficult and, in some cases, can be particularly distressing. This is especially the case where your ex-partner proves to be very difficult to deal with both during and after proceedings.
Some of the common issues related to divorce, such as making arrangements for your children and dividing your finances, can be especially difficult to solve if your partner demonstrates narcissistic signs.
In this post, we discuss what a narcissist is, typical narcissistic relationship traits, why dealing with a narcissistic ex can be so challenging, and the steps you can take to address any issues you might face.
What is a narcissist?
A common question often asked by people going through a divorce is simply – ‘is my ex a narcissist?’. To answer that question, it’s important that we establish exactly what a narcissist is and what sort of behaviours they often exhibit.
Put simple, a narcissist is someone who routinely demonstrates an inflated sense of their own self-importance, often at the detriment of others. They tend to seek excessive attention and lack empathy for others and their feelings.
Narcissism is a personality trait, but it can also form part of a personality disorder, known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
There are various narcissistic symptoms which could point towards someone being a narcissist. So, if you’re still wondering ‘was my ex a narcissist?’, these signs could help to clear things up.
Typical narcissistic signs for both men and women include:
- Inflated sense of self-importance
- Being entitled
- Needing constant admiration and attention
- Expecting special treatment/being exempt from certain rules
- Reacting negatively to criticism
- Being preoccupied with fantasies that do not reflect the real world
- Taking advantage of others
- Only keeping their own self-interests in mind
Why would it be difficult to deal with a narcissistic ex?
So, why would it be difficult to deal with a narcissistic ex? While the actual process of getting a divorce has been made much more straightforward, thanks to the introduction of no fault divorce (and the removal of the ability to contest a divorce), there have been no changes to the way any additional arrangements are made.
This means that you may find it difficult to come to agreements over important aspects such as where your children will live, and how much time they will spend with each parent, as well as how you will divide your finances.
If your ex has exhibited narcissistic relationship traits, you may quickly find that they are not willing to come to a suitable compromise if you do not agree on certain matters, and they will be less willing to listen to your point of view.
This can cause significant delays to the general process of getting a divorce and make it more difficult to come to an amicable agreement without having to refer to court proceedings.
Are narcissists jealous when you move on?
If you move on after separating from a narcissistic ex, it is not uncommon for them to experience jealously. This is because they often seek attention and admiration, which is something they won’t be receiving any longer if you have moved on to a new relationship.
This could potentially make matters even more complicated if you are having difficulties with your separation.
However, it is important to note that not all narcissists are exactly the same, and they are likely to react to different events in completely different ways. It is important to also consider how their other personality traits are likely to affect how they respond to challenges.
How do I deal with a narcissistic ex?
Dealing with a narcissistic ex can be difficult, but there are some steps you can take to make the situation easier, both for you and any children you might have.
Circumstances depending, you can deal with a narcissistic ex by:
- Recognising their behaviour
- Avoiding confrontational approaches
- Setting clear boundaries and limits
- Focus on the steps you can take to achieve a positive outcome
If you are struggling to deal with a narcissistic ex following a divorce or separation, one of the most important steps you can take would be to speak to an expert divorce solicitor for support.
How our divorce solicitors can help in dealing with a narcissistic ex
At Crisp & Co, our team of experts have substantial experience in supporting people who are struggling to come to an agreement with a narcissistic ex.
Our team’s aim is to provide first class and tailored divorce advice that helps to keep the entire process as straightforward and stress free as possible, no matter what your circumstances might be. With our support and guidance, we can help you to move ahead with the next chapter of your life with confidence, putting the difficulties you may be facing with a narcissistic ex aside.
Our team are specially trained in collaborative law and mediation. These alternative methods of dealing with the breakdown of family relationships and divorce help to provide a less confrontational approach to promote a more harmonious outcome.
Mediation is a method that separating couples can use to agree and resolve some of the typical issues that arise during the divorce process, and can be exacerbated by having to deal with a narcissistic ex.
During mediation, you will work with a neutral third-party mediator, who is present to facilitate the conversation, guiding you and your former partner through face-to-face discussions about matters such as children and finance. It is important to note that a mediator is a trained individual who is not present to represent either party or offer any specific legal advice.
If an agreement is reached through mediation, the mediator will draft a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ to formally set out the proposals. Your divorce solicitor then uses this to draw up an official agreement and advise you further.
Mediation is not suitable for all situations, but it can often prove to be the right solution for many people who are struggling to find a way of coming to an agreement. It is also worth mentioning that you will usually be expected to have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
Collaborative law is a legal process which enables divorcing couples to reach a resolution outside of court proceedings. It is a method of alternative dispute resolution that our solicitors specialise in and involves both parties appointing qualified collaborative lawyer to assist with negotiations, reducing the potential for tensions to escalate.
The process involves several face-to-face meetings, where you will work with your former partner with the aid of your solicitors to find a solution in an open and non-confrontational way.
Achieving a resolution through collaborative law can help to save you a substantial amount of time and money. This process is also very flexible, which means that you can attend as many sessions as you need to reach a resolution.
Before you engage in collaborative law, all participants including yourself, your ex, and collaborative lawyers, need to sign what is known as a Participation Agreement.
The Participation Agreement states that neither party is able to issue court proceedings while collaborative law is ongoing. It also outlines that, if collaborative law is unsuccessful in resolving matters, both parties will not be able to instruct the same solicitors for court proceedings. This commits everyone to making the process a success.
There may be occasions where mediation and collaborative law are not successful in helping to reach an agreement with your narcissistic ex. This may be because they are simply unwilling to come to a compromise, or because the issues you are trying to resolve are particularly complex, and require the intervention of a judge.
Our solicitors provide traditional representation for court proceedings, negotiating the best outcome for you and your family.
Contact our divorce solicitors for advice
If you are having to deal with a narcissistic ex who is making a divorce or separation difficult to handle, our divorce solicitors are readily available to assist you.
For help starting or responding to divorce proceedings, working out financial settlements, making arrangements for children, or any other aspect of the divorce or separation process, please get in touch.