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Sherri Krueger, Elizabeth Juelich and Ryan Schmisek

The high stakes of splitting with a narcissist

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2022 | Divorce |

Sometimes, splitting with a partner is amicable and effortless. Other times, it’s a nightmare of epic proportions. People who find themselves in a divorce or breakup with a narcissist usually fall into the latter category. If kids are involved, the situation can grow especially fraught. When child custody questions hang in the balance, Minnesota judges weigh each situation on its merits and ultimately decide what is best for the minors. As such, it’s imperative to get all of your ducks in a row before heading into court.  It is also important that you do not attempt to diagnosis your partner, even if you believe they have characteristics of a narcissistic personality disorder.

What is a narcissist?

Before we dive into a few points about divorcing a narcissist, let’s first define it. In simplest terms, a narcissist is someone who has an excessive interest in, or admiration of, themselves. In truth, all of us have a selfish, narcissistic side. It’s coded into our DNA. Narcissistic personality traits exist on a continuum, from few narcissistic traits to a clinical personality disorder.

While only a very small percentage of the U.S. population suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), the impact of this disorder can have significant emotional and financial impact during divorce.  In fact, even when an individual’s personality traits do not rise to the level of a diagnosable disorder, working through a divorce with an individual having unhealthy narcissistic tendencies can be daunting.

So what are some of the unhealthy traits and behaviors associated with NPD? In most cases, people dealing with the issue:

  • Are incapable of putting other people first
  • Prioritize their needs and wants
  • Turn on the charm to win people over
  • Rarely take responsibility for their actions and bad behavior
  • Have little or no empathy

How do narcissists often behave during a divorce?

Narcissists typically use a triangulation approach when divorcing, meaning they:

  • Try to get your shared friends on their side
  • Manipulatively use the kids as pawns
  • Bring everything to the public forum via social media

Preparing for their slings and arrows is the best way to battle a narcissist. Also, make sure you’re safe. In worst-case scenarios, things can turn violent.

Child custody and NPD

Working out a child custody plan with someone suffering from narcissistic personality disorder can sometimes feel unmanageable.  It is important to work with an attorney who understands the dynamics and can offer additional support and resources for you to help manage the difficulties you will face when divorcing a narcissist. Requesting a court-ordered psychological evaluation to determine if someone suffers from NPD is also wise.