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How Do You Divorce a Narcissist?

Serial cheaterDear Chump Lady,

Although he fits the readings, although the therapists tell you he is a narcissist, you don’t quite believe it. It isn’t quite human. How can someone be this weird?

I decided when I worked out that our “reconciliation” was actually emotional abuse, when I discovered I had descended into a bitter, hopeless, angry person I didn’t like much, when I found him back in touch with OW, that I wasn’t going to participate in my own mistreatment any more.

And I filed.

This? Is MY doing, and MY fault. Everything that has gone before, has magically vanished. Communication has shut down.

It is now scarily inhuman and strange, and total out and out war.

He is going to fight to the bitter end to keep the main assets.

HELP, soldiers already in the trenches! What do I do? How do I stay calm? How do I stop the funds being cut off? Are there any good books you recommend, about divorcing a narcissist?

What strategies, what tactics?


Dear Sarah,

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Many of us here have had the unfortunate experience (and legal bills to show for it) of divorcing a diagnosed narcissist. It’s ugly. They’re bullies.

The first place I can direct you is this interview I did with Dr. George Simon (his books are in the Amazon box, btw) for Huffington Post on “Divorcing the Character Disordered.”  You’ll probably recognize your situation. Unfortunately, the article is long on description and short on prescription — but IMO, knowing what you’re dealing with is half the battle.

Meaning — expect that they are NOT going to be reasonable. They aren’t going to fight fair. And they will be totally manipulative. If charm doesn’t work, they’ll try self pity (chump bait). If self pity doesn’t work, they’ll try rage and bullying. It pretty much cycles through those three tactics, in my experience. Sometimes in the same encounter. It’s just what they do.

Here’s what they DON’T do — accept responsibility. Mediate as an honest broker. Volunteer information. Abide by orders. Act reasonably. Do What Is Best for the Children.

It’s pretty much all about them and their hurt egos — You Will Pay.

Now, you could ask yourself — hey! Didn’t I already pay? Didn’t I already get cheated on and played for a chump?

No, you’re looking at that all wrong. You must pay because you have stopped supplying ego kibbles. Kibbles are the narcissist life force. He sees it as you starving him. Doesn’t matter that he has 1,500 other sources of narcissistic supply — he feels entitled to yours. It’s his. How DARE YOU? You Were Of Use — and now you are not. Do you know how hard it is to find a good chump?

Moreover, you have committed the grave sin of seeing behind the mask. You know the real him. You aren’t loyal to the wonderfulness that is him. You might talk. That might jeopardize the greater ego kibble supply chain. You’re a threat. You must be stopped.

Sarah, when you see things not in human terms, but in terms of ego kibbles, it all makes a perverse sort of sense.

You can understand him. He CANNOT understand you. And that’s your first tactical advantage in divorcing a narcissist — he will underestimate you. By virtue of the fact he is a narcissist, he underestimates everyone. He is the smartest person in the room.

So do those things he is not expecting — go on the offensive. Hit first, and don’t pull your punches. You get the best legal help you can get. He wants all the assets? YOU ask for those and more. You let the lawyers play that game. You depose his affair partner(s). You get a forensic accountant. Whatever he is afraid of — exposure, for example — you use to your legal advantage.

This is what you do not do — appeal to his better nature. Beg for mercy. Explain how unjust this is. He doesn’t care. You needing him — for ANYTHING, including an explanation — is kibbles to him. It’s control. He feeds on this.

So — you go totally no contact. You only communicate by email or text, about children and finances. Preferably, you only communicate via lawyer. If he sends you incendiary emails — you send them to a friend, send them here — you laugh at them. If it’s really threatening? You call the police. You get a protection order. Your lawyer will really make hay with that, but you do what you need to do to keep yourself safe. A protection order will mean there are dire legal consequences if he gets in touch with you — like jail time.

As Dr. Simon says at the end of the article I linked to — they only change their behavior when the cost of fucking with you is too high. It has to hurt THEM. They have zero empathy. It does not hurt him to hurt you (or your children, if you have any). Make the cost of fucking with you exorbitant.

Now, you might get a wing nut that is impervious to punishment. Who will sue you and go on a scorched earth campaign regardless of the personal cost. These people are, fortunately, rare and they’re usually truly mentally ill. (I would put my first ex in this camp.) If your ex is like this, all I can say is it’s a marathon. Don’t let his crazy ruin your life. You’re free of him. This kind of spiteful insanity is very transparent and judges HATE it. My ex (who, those new to the story, sued me mostly pro se for over a decade) lost every court battle. And he lost them grievously — had to pay more money, got less time, had his parental decision making stripped away.

If you have no children with your narcissist? Then Sarah, he’s got no leverage in your life. You’re truly free. He’ll probably squawk and rattle his saber and eventually go find a new victim to make miserable. The agony is finite. Breeding with a wing nut, alas, pays drama dividends.

Also check out some blogs from folks who’ve gone through this — Tina Swinthin of “One Mom’s Battle.” (Check out her HuffPo article for tips too.) And also Pauline Gaines Peril’s of Divorced Pauline. These women divorced narcissist nut jobs and survived — and you will too!

Don’t let him intimidate you, Sarah. You’ve got this.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I agree completely with what C.L. said. Sarah, if you are fortunate enough to have no children with your STBXH, I recommend you cut your losses and fight for nothing that you don’t need. The peace of mind and sanity that you gain will far outweigh whatever assets you might salvage from this mess. If you do have kids and need something of what he is threatening to take, do exactly as C.L. said. Hit him hard and hit him low. Make it too painful for him to fuck with you, otherwise he will likely drag it out for the reasons described. Good luck and I am so sorry you have to go through this. You will survive and you are already better off. He is gone and that is victory all by itself.

    • My son married NPD she left for a married boyfriend with his baby, who by the way is now gone, she got there house plus my 30,000 that I helped them with then she went after my house which I put in my sons name as I’m 65 so he would have no taxes on my death, and so it goes on when is this country going to wake up to decent honest people, and not allowing people like this to run rough shod over people’s lives. I have never hated anyone so much in all my life she is just a creature, and in charge of my little grandchild.

      • I know exactly my ex Narc is trash and he had slutted with both affairs in front of my children he disgusts me!

    • I am married to one now and want a divorce. He has no empathy, is a extremely negative, had lots of charm in the beginning and only to other girls now. I resent him every time I look at him. He rushed outta the house last night around ten saying he forgot to turn off the wielding bottles, I just had a feeling so I followed him, sure enough to caught him jacking off to pictures of other women on his phone. He was inraged at me! I just laughed at him called him a perve. I want out but everything we own is in his name. What do I do??????

      • Hi Stephanie I’m going through the same exact thing, my husband is a barrister and uses his profession to manipulate me all the time. He tend to be a snob w hen I met him, but as months go by, he started to social us e more. Later on in the relationship before marriage he would mat urbane every opportunity he gets if he is at home and know if I was in the kitchen cooking. He does this even in his sleep I get mad as fuck!! I’m here next to and your doing this. Caught him masturbating to porns, go in attic and said he was/his looking for paper etc but really it’s to jerk off to porn.

        • Let us hope the genetic pool overlooks your grab her of I’m Im inA mess helping my daughter thru marraige w narcisstic and I’m 71 it awful it came as a total shock he wanted out its a mess
          Get a lawyer a good one usually assets are joint marital property that was a big mistake allowing him but you might be ok

      • It’s awful I know I have been fighting mine for over a year now he’s insane but very stay strong for my kids and I have the dog with me thank God. He sent me a warning two weeks ago it went directly to my lawyer they call him a player.

    • Don’t forget, if you have children with a narcissist, document everything, hire a PI, whatever it takes. Your main job is to keep your children safe not to get in a pissing contest. Narcissist feed on your emotions, don’t let them win

      Us, men, are in a disadvantage in “family court” when facing a woman narcissist. Judges tend to believe everything they say. However, if you’ve been unfortunate enough to be in court with one of these nut-cases more than one time or they have provided written statement in several occasions, make sure to request the transcripts and to compare notes. Bring this info to court. Most likely, the narcissist is also a liar and has exaggerated or lied about something more than once to a Judge or Law Enforcement. Ask the narcissist the same questions. Set her up to give her “facts” – Surely, she’ll lie again. Then, challenge her with your findings from previous testimony. This is how you hit low and hard and expose her. Remember, only a lie has different versions!

      • Yup my Narc exaggerates everything had me arrested but I was fortunate and got off after 9 times in court and Jury duty got me off for free. This guy is a 53 year old psycho

  • I agree. you have to hit hard, don’t hold back and be fast as any hesitation will cost you. remember to smile when your doing it because when their looking at your face you can get the best shots in. run for cover every once in a while to rest as you will be in the ring going a few rounds more, long after the fight is done. CL gave you good advice.

  • I love your perspective, Sarah, about reconciliation with a Narcissist being like participating in your own abuse. I wrote that down, actually.

    Learning to stop being a “giver” in divorce has been a hard lesson for me, but not at the expense of my settlement and future wellbeing, thankfully.

    My own ex is definitely an NPD, but skirts a bit left towards normal – like he can see normal, from where he lives. He does a decent job of parroting what the normal, healthy answer ought to be in a given situation. He doesn’t usually come up with it on his own, but I get a lot of mileage out of saying (for example), “I know you will want to be a good father in this situation, so I suggest we _________.” He almost always will agree, because it clicks in his brain that it might be a good idea, to look like a good father. (And of course, I’m not actually suggesting anything unusual or difficult in these scenarios, either, lol – pure, straight up healthy & normal.) I just tell this little tale to contrast with the other far end of the spectrum, where you aren’t going to get any cooperation at all, as spotlighted by CL.

    • KB, that’s a great strategy too. It’s all about how they are being perceived. If you can suggest — oh hey look! kibbles this way! you may be able to manipulate the outcome.

      My experience, unfortunately, is with the more control-freaky of the narcissists. It’s all about winning and losing. In your example, he would be the Good Father, only at the expense of you being the Terrible Mother.

      • KarmaBuilder this tactic has worked for me, as well! Making statements like “I know that you understand” or “I know you want me to express myself” or “I know you care about me and how important it is for me to feel OK”. This completely seems to help with my NPD ex.

        None of those things above is very true at all when it comes to him, but saying it that way strokes his ego (“I am a good person!” which is what he seems to want to portray himself as no matter how many horrible things he does). It also keeps him more agreeable because it SEEMS like I’m complimenting him. I also suspect that he truly feeds off of my empathy and relational skills, so when I say “I know you want me to feel ok” he truly likes that he can use me telling him what the appropriate thing to feel/react is!!! It’s taken me 20+ years to realize this tactic, by the way. I’m slow. 🙂

      • Yup and mine cuts me down at every opportunity in front of my kids, I have learned to never do that it makes you look pathetic!

    • Diana, it depends whether you live in a “community property” state or some other kind of state. I happen to live in PA, which is an “equitable distribution” state. I very nearly lost my house (which had been paid for using MY funds from the equity in a previous house, plus money from an inheritance) and very nearly had to pay spousal support to my Narc ex-husband, even though HE was the one who had the affair and wanted out of the marriage. Further, he asked for assets that had NEVER been marital assets, including copyrights I inherited from my late father. (The Narc definitely had the entitled attitude of “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.”)

      I write this as a warning, because the very laws that were written to try to protect rural women who married into farm-owning families (where the property passed from father to son for generations) worked against me because I was the marital partner with a real job and tangible assets, and he was the “dependent” partner, at least on paper. I only got to keep my home because money he owed me came to more than the equity in the house. I only avoided paying spousal support because he hired a lawyer whose specialty was medical malpractice and not divorce.

      My recommendations:

      (1) If property is non-marital, make sure your spouse’s name is NOT on it anywhere, and that payments on it have never been made with marital funds. Also have a really good paper trail showing that it belongs to you and is not marital property.

      (2) Get a really savvy divorce lawyer, preferably one who is familiar with narcissists. I hired the #1 divorce attorney in my county. I paid a premium for his services. But the peace of mind was well worth it. My case never went to court, but if it had, I had the biggest gun. (Side note: my attorney knew my Narc’s attorney, and my Narc’s attorney had NEVER beaten him in open court.) As one of the other posters said above, shock and awe, baby.

      (3) Document, document, document. If you have access to receipts showing money the Narc spent on the Other Woman, or records showing any hinky financial dealings, photocopy or scan them, and then keep copies somewhere away from your home (perhaps with a trusted friend). My Narc was arrogant and stupid and left things lying around that he should not have. Before I was done, I got 10 years of the books from his business, receipts proving he was traveling a lot with the OW while not paying taxes and bills at home, etc., etc.

      (4) Go No Contact and let the lawyers do the talking. This is very easy for you to do because you do not have children with your Narc.

      Good luck!

      • I need to know the “best” lawyer, in New England area, not saying specifically the city, since reading below to keep my mouth shot. How can I know the name of the lawyer you used please? I do not know who to go to before pulling the trigger because most lawyers will say they are the best when they may not be. My husband is a lier, multiple times cheater, hiding everything under 6 email accounts that I can’t get access to, – he threw crumbs of 4 other email accounts that he is not using for that purpose any more, – unemployed for 4 years (of 6 year marriage), pretending to start a big business during all this time (working hard on it often, but no money), telling me that I am not a good mother – when he speaks to me, which is now rare – , renting an apartment he can’t afford for years – subletting to others to pay his rent – , but not once paying a part of the rent for living here (mortgage is under my name). etc etc. I am yelling at him, calling him names, telling him to leave. He stays saying he wants to first get a place with our son. He says he stays around because he says I am spoiling our child. He shoves our child, doesn’t sometimes hig for a whole day or barely talk with our child. Doesn’t take care of anything, unless I have to travel for work and give him instructions. He can’t even move to the apartment he is renting b/c he doesn’t have any money. We are both sick, I am for 4 years and still working because I am the bread winner. He has no sympathy, empathy, cheats and lies, doesn’t get a paying job. I need the best lawyer, and the best psychiatrist to diagnose him and help me through this.

        • Ask your friends who have gone through divorces what attorney they used, and whether they liked them.

          If you have friends or business associates who are lawyers or work in a law office, ask them if there is anyone they would recommend.

          Look for a legal firm that specializes in Family Law. Look for an attorney that has been practicing family law for 20-30 years. They’ve probably seen it all at that point.

          When you do an initial meeting with the attorney, make sure they understand Narcissistic Personality Disorder and understand what kind of stunts your former spouse might try to pull.

  • Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone what your plans are. Not a soul. If you show your hand, it WILL get back to your STBX. Guaranteed. Nobody but nobody can be trusted except your attorney. Zip your lip. Hit early, hit hard, and hit below the belt. Shock and awe, baby. Because if you don’t, you’ll always regret it. Show him what you’re made of. Be tough and don’t back down. Just put on your game face.

    • Yes. And never make threats. Even ones you can back up.

      The vacuum of information will start their paranoid minds spinning with possibilities and this will work in your favor. They will never see your blows coming because they are too busy anticipating what they “think” you are going to do.

      I’ve said this before, but make sure your communications with your lawyer are air tight. Don’t use email for anything legal related. Use a fax for documents. Talk landline to landline if possible or at least have a dedicated tracphone for communications. Never take a cell phone into a meeting with your lawyer.

        • Or take the chance your where abouts are being followed by locating you via GPS on the phone.

          In order for your signal to be completely disabled:

          1. Turn the location tracker to off

          2. Turn the phone off

          3. Remove the battery AND wrap it in several layers of aluminum foil

          4. Wrap the main body the same way (less the battery) with aluminum foil

          5. Keep the main body of the phone and the battery that are now wrapped in separate areas of your purse, car, wherever you are going to store it. Keep them from touching.

          Yep, it’s a pain, but it WORKS.

          This was shared with me by a detective.

          • Though it’s been almost two years since this comment.. if by chance you would get this.. do you have any thoughts on these dang smartphones (S6) that do not seem to come apart?
            I’ve either gone and lost my mind, or this husband of mine has been tracking me, monitoring, and Lord only knows what, for quite some time. Home, car, phone, I don’t have a shred of proof.. just a thousand little pieces of clues.
            He has completely cut me off from mothering, and financially (I became a SAHM. When I prepared to leave, he called CPS and filed emergency custody of our children.).
            I once asked him (upon his ‘loving’ return from a week or two long silent treatment/separation) why he ‘does this?’ His response was he intended on ‘breaking me.’
            He is coming oh-so-close, and not being able to use our account to even pay for my medication (lol.. not crazy meds, as he has everyone believing) to keep me plugging through another day of this hell.. well.. If I can’t find a way to bring the truth to light.. I dare say after all this.. I just can’t let him break me! My hope has rested on ‘proving’ somehow these things that he is/was doing.. is this a worthy pursuit? And/or at the least I would love to disable my phone such as you suggest.. I wondered how, even with it off, he would appear at ‘divine’ (his words) appointments of mine.. even since I left.
            Do you have any suggestions whatsoever re any of this? Mind you, I haven’t a penny right now. I should still have an asset or two once this is all said and done.. I think..
            Well, I truly hope these lives have come full circle.. and one of these days I can join you!

  • This post was a good refresher course for me. A lot of you know my long story, no marriage, no kids (with him), but 13 years of my life and a lot of pain to all, my kids, his Mom, etc.

    The house of cards tumbling down…leaving me with financial, physical, mental problems. He pretty much stopped trying to torture me about 4 months ago, and I am like a kid in a candy store when I keep being able (sometimes by the skin of my teeth) to pay my rent and bills and can come home from work, curl up with my 2 cats, watch whatever I want on TV and breath a sigh of relief as I tell the cats we are home free for another month.

    Wouldn’t trade this for anything.

    Welcome to the Chump Club Dear Sarah, nice to meet you even though we all hope it was under better circumstances. The entry fees we paid and are still paying to belong are very high but this site with CL and the rest of us Chumps can make you believe in good again!

  • Hi Sarah,

    Welcome to chumpville! A great book that helped me was called ‘splitting’. It was more for borderline personality disorders but, its the same premise.

    Go no contact, be nice only if its to your advantage, let him lean waaay in, then punch that mother fucker in the face!

    Good luck.

    • One little tip, Sarah is to never talk via phone or in person to him about your settlement or anything for that matter, because they will lie, deny and trick you. Any communication should be able to be documented like in email. I made this mistake once and sure enough he screwed me over… But never again!

    • That’s the book I just got. It seems to have a lot of good advice. I am not quite into the legal battles, but I am doing my best to prepare.

  • CL- do you think alcoholics are a different “kind” of narcissist? I read a lot on the disease, attend al-anon and it is unanimous that the disease and cheating come hand in hand. Not a matter of if they cheat but when, I know he is a narcissist but didn’t know if you have noticed differences between alcoholics and NPD types? Thanks!

    • Hi Dazed, there is a definite link with narcissists, alcohol and other abuse.

      As my shrink says (he is an addiction specialist):

      narcissists prefer bottles to people. Bottles don’t have needs.

      I sit in Al-anon and hear people talking about their struggles with ‘my’ alcoholic. And I sit there and think: when are they going to talk about the other sh*t? When is someone going to mention the affair, the disrespect, the neglect that I personally KNOW goes down with an alcoholic?

      And I don’t know whether I should bring it up or not. Al anon is great, but it is quite sanitised. See, my alcoholic doesn’t come in at 3 in the morning, and have to be undressed and carried to bed. He is, like the rest of the huge number of lawyer and banker alcoholics very high functioning, holds down a good job that he does extremely well.

      He just treats me like absolute shit and makes me feel very bad about myself and lonely. When will that stuff be talked about in al anon!~

      • My husband is an alcoholic and a cheat but I don’t think he is a narcissist. He is definitely selfish, entitled and very passive aggressive.
        He is not ‘high functioning’ (except in his own delusions) but functions and holds down a job. He is the sort of alcoholic who comes in at 3 in the morning (if at all) and I often used to wake up in the morning to find he had come home and passed out fully clothed on the sofa (often still with his coat on). He is also the sort of alcoholic who blames everything and everyone else for his drinking and refuses to acknowledge he has a problem or seek help.
        The image he presents to the world is of a sparkly, hard working bloke who likes a drink and a laugh. Unfortunately the world doesn’t see the miserable, selfish drunk under all the glitter. They also don’t see the ruined dinners, cancelled plans, ignored phone calls and texts, inappropriate ‘friendships’ due to poor boundaries blurred by booze, the emotional neglect and abuse.
        I spackled over this shit for fourteen years. I was always second best to alcohol. I finally asked him to leave when I discovered an affair with a work colleague (I am convinced it wasn’t the first but it was the first one I had the sense to gather concrete evidence for so he couldn’t deny it and put it down to my insecurity) and I realised that I was so exhausted from doing a pick me dance with the booze I had no inclination to also compete with a nasty, manipulative rooting hog whore. I still think he’s shocked that I didn’t put up more of a fight for my ‘prize’.
        What I’m trying to say that six months on and with the agonising benefit of hindsight I am still trying to understand how I let someone else’s shit define me and knock my self esteem to hell. Don’t give him the power to make you feel bad about yourself. I was a confident, fun loving, popular person until I allowed years of disrespect and emotional neglect turn me into someone who felt they just weren’t good enough. Yes, I ‘allowed’ it. I need to own that part. Don’t allow him to make you feel you’re worthless.

        • ” I am still trying to understand how I let someone else’s shit define me and knock my self esteem to hell. Don’t give him the power to make you feel bad about yourself. I was a confident, fun loving, popular person until I allowed years of disrespect and emotional neglect turn me into someone who felt they just weren’t good enough. Yes, I ‘allowed’ it. I need to own that part. Don’t allow him to make you feel you’re worthless.”

          You wrote that for me too, Alice, thank you so much. My H has taken leave of his senses. His grandiosity has left him out of touch with reality. It is hard to not worry.

      • Patsy – my alcoholic is functioning as well like the majority. I wouldn’t consider him highly functioning but he can keep a job. I personally think he hasn’t had more trouble with the law (dui’s etc) because he has always had me to drive him around and keep him somewhat “in-line”. Unfortunately, over time I became more his mother than his life partner.
        If you feel comfortable, you might try to bring up your comments in Al-anon. I have learned through life that most people have similar quesions/comments but are scared to bring them up. My group is very open and we talk about the “real reality” with living with an alcoholic but it is probably attributed to the group dynamic.
        It is amazing that most alcoholics operate to the same play book.

      • Yeah my dad was like that, big time Alkie.(also an excellent lawyer and abusive as hell before he sobered up).
        You will find personality disordered folks way over represented among the CD crowd.
        Best away to divorce an NPD,IMO, is,pretty much the same as for any cheater(by definition a selfishasshole).get a really good lawyer and run everything through the attorney.

      • Alanon deals with the 12 steps…the slogans..most importanley. .the serenity prayer..say that prayer many times a day..alanon doesn’t talk about your alcoholic…every person at the meeting has a story and if everyone told their story it would be a gossip meeting….read your book every day and highlight what is important to you…when you are having a bad what is highlighted..what is important to you because everyone has a different probllem and a different day…all of the people at the meeting Truely LOVE you and understand what you are going through…they are comes another gift for you..called a SPONCER. is the time when you can talk about your alcolic…get 3.sponcers…your sponcers are so important…when you’re having problems and can’t think a sponcer…they will guide you..teach you..and most of the time they can even temporary. THINK. for you…calm you down..keep you safe in any violent situation…your sponcer may need to call the police if need be…you can use your alanon in any walk of life…I am an alanon member of 35years…I wouldn’t be here talking with you if alanon did not work…remember One Day At A Time…
        Mary Jane
        [email protected]

        God Bless You

    • I would definitely classify alcoholics as narcissists, but with the filters gone because of the drink. Nothing is their fault, everyone’s an idiot, they’ll create drama for fun, and lie straight to your face. I thought XH was abusive until I lived with an alcoholic relative last year because of a move. I was supposed to be there for a month, until my new place was ready; I lasted one week. It took me that long to realize she wasn’t just a mean drunk who occasionally overindulged at night; she was drank all day, every day, and actually sweated alcohol.

      Her family is in utter chaos because of it, yet she blames all of THEM for her drinking. When she started blaming ME, I left and went to a hotel. We were so close once, but I’ve learned through all of this that the only person you can control is yourself, and trying to reason with an alcoholic is like trying to discuss quantum physics with a two year old: it doesn’t work. Sadly, her husband and children are so bullied by her, they won’t even consider leaving as an option. I tried to tell her husband to get out while he could, but he won’t budge.

      The funny thing is, this relative NEVER liked XH. She made snarky comments about him for years, putting down his education, knowledge, publications, etc. I realize now it’s because they’re two of a kind – takes one to know one. Both sparkly, both charming, both successful – and both utterly intransigent in their “right” to their addiction (him OW, her alcohol).

      I can’t wrap my head around dealing with a cheating alcoholic, Dazed. You have my sympathy…

      • It is truly a mind boggling disease. I do think being drunk lowers inhibitions but my STBX had two affairs w co-workers and I know he wasnt drunk at work. He felt/still does feel entitled to this inappropriate behavior. But is shocked that I want to divorce him, really?!?! He has no clue why I would want to do such a thing.

      • I read a article by a woman drunk once. She attended AA and decided to try and figure out if alcoholics were assholes becAuse they drank or drank. Because they were assholes.
        She concluded that the latter was the case( despite being an Alkie, herself). Pretty honest.
        From what I have observed, I tend to agree.

    • I don’t know Dazed. I do think addicts behave really narcissistically, but my understanding is that if the addiction goes away, then the NPD goes away too. After all, you have to do that whole “moral inventory” thing and making amends. NPDs are just hard core, it’s their personality. Maybe that’s the whole dry drunk phenomenon — all the asshole behavior, just none of the drinking.

      It’s a very chicken and egg question. This site has some interesting articles on the science of personality and addiction —

      • My ex was a “recovered” alcoholic when we met and his abusive rages and other bad behaviors didn’t start until he started drinking again (in secret, took me 2 years before I found out). I do not think the alcohol causes the behavior, I think the alcohol just makes it easy for a person to allow their true self to come out. That said, my divorce would have been much harder if my ex had stayed sober during it. Thankfully he did not, it helped because his feelings of superiority and being the smart one gets even greater when he’s drinking, BUT he is impaired. This helps you in divorce, because a drunk person cannot pull off the manipulations the way he can sober.

      • Thanks for the link. My dad is 2 years sober and still works the program everyday. I have seen the change first hand and i can say my dad is not NPD (i think that is the differncw betwen STBx and my dad.) My dad was never verbally abusive and never disrespected my mom or called her nasty names. My parents relationship ended after 25 years -he had an emotional affair but he owned up to it and left. He didn’t mindfuck and blame shift. He knew it was wrong. He is selfish, an alcoholic but not NPD. Since getting sober he is so happy. I think your right that dry drunks are probably NPD or being forced into sobriety before they are ready. Gah, I wish I had all the answers.

      • No, CL, it usually does not go away when they stop drinking , IMO. I’ vs met a shitload of ”
        Recovered ” asshole NPDs.

        • Exactly! My cheating husband kicked alcohol and drugs 27 years ago (brags about it a lot) and still ended up devastating me and many others with his lying and cheating. The alcohol and drugs didn’t make him any worse, just kept him in jail for 10 years. Now, sober, he stays out of trouble and has more time to hurt people. Selfish, sad excuse for a man.

      • Chump lady there is NO WAY my officially diagnosed narc H would EVER go to AA. For the very reasons you outline. Because admitting you are powerless, that your life has become unmanageable, submitting to a higher power, making a fearless moral inventory and making amends,

        is KRYPTONITE to a narcissist. When I went to al anon I was stuck by how much the 12 steps address narcissism. And co dependence is the other side of the narcissistic coin.

    • My belief is that alcoholics love their alcohol more than they love you. It’s not the same thing as being a narcissist, but the effect is still that the won’t treat you well and you may have to leave.

      Alcohol or other addictions may lead someone to cheat, but they may not think of it as I’m entitled to whatever I want so much as they lose control because they are drunk.

      There may be hope with an alcoholic, but only if they decide to stop drinking and get help.

      The bottom line, though, is that if someone is treating you badly, you have to take care of yourself and your children.

      A lawyer might have some good advice on how to handle an addict when you go to court.

      • I agree, not all alcoholics are narcissists. As I mentioned above my husband is an alcoholic but I don’t believe he has NPD. He did feel entitled to his cheating though. He didn’t have a drunken one night stand due to a momentary lack of control. He enjoyed a longer game of admiration and ego kibbles (thank you Chump Lady for explaining those) while deliberately deceiving me.
        What is undeniable though is that they love their alcohol more than anyone.

        • No, I still think narcissism is strongly correlated with alcohol. Entitled? Not caring how your actions hurt people you are supposed to care about? That’s narcissistic.

          • Precisely. But, there are many alkies who occupy positions of power in our society.They are/were heavily invested in promoting the “bona fide illness” paradigm. Lots of legislation, even the Americans with Disabilities Act cover alcohilsm. What is next, peadophilia ?

  • I second the recommendation for the book Splitting. I ended up buying two copies–one for me and one for my attorney.

    After you file, never talk on the phone or be alone with him. I learned that one the hard way. All communication should be easily documented. I won’t even text with Freakface. I quit when I realized that the sound my phone made when receiving a text was making me really jumpy. I now have him blocked. He has to send emails. If an email doesn’t REQUIRE a response, it should be ignored. Always wait a minimum of 12 hours before responding to a message, but 24 hours is better.

    If you have kids with the freak, it can be hard. I’m counting down the days until my youngest turns 18. My XH spent six months filing multiple frivolous motions regarding our children. I finally stopped him by mentioning the craziest threatening letter his attorney sent mine on Facebook. I also said on FB that I think he’s mentally ill. It got back to him. I know my lawyer would have yelled at me about it, but making the crazy/bad behavior public is the ultimate anti-kibble.

  • This is exactly where I’m at right now too! I’m terrified of the battle I have ahead of me. My STBX makes 3x as much as I do. I have a 6 year old child with him and I need his financial help desperately. We bought our home, but it’s mortgaged through my father. He is our Mortgager who out of the extreme kindness and love for his daughter (me) gave us an incredibly low interest rate, but he seriously needs his money paid back. I’m terrified my STBX is going to cut off my funds. When he moved out 2 months ago he started giving me $200 less per month which I do feel was fair, but I’m still struggling and have nowhere to turn. In the last 2 months my STBX and I have majorly fought about 3 times and each time he has threatened to stop paying me. He hasn’t stopped. Yet. I need to get to a lawyer ASAP, but something is holding me back and I don’t know what it is. I don’t want him back. I know that’s not possible. I think the reason I haven’t gone to a lawyer yet is I’m afraid of him. He can be such a bully and I have to deal with him because of my son. I know what I have to do. It’s just getting over this hump of fear. Ugh!!!!

    • For the love of God, see a lawyer! Okay, you’re afraid of him. What do you think is a safer position — being totally dependent on him and letting him control you? Or enlisting a legal ally and divorcing his ass?

      It’s great that your father holds your mortgage. If your husband defaults, your dad can foreclose on him and take back the house. There are legal remedies to getting his money back — and he has an asset — the house.

      Don’t let that jerk intimidate you. Also, your son is 6 years old, he’s in school. So time to start exploring the work force so you’re not dependent on your cheating ex. I know it’s scary, but the liberation will feel GREAT.

      • CL, my reading of the letter is that she is working for money already. It’s just that her husband earns 3x as much as she does. That may not be something she can change.

        Michelle, I second the idea that you should talk to a lawyer. Get someone on your side and find out what you can get legally in terms of alimony, etc. Is your STBX paying you more than you would get as it is and that is holding you back?

        Also, just as an economic thing, you might want to consider if you would be better off if you don’t get the house and move to a smaller place where you can pay the rent even if he doesn’t pull his share. And after you talk to a lawyer, you might want to talk to your father about this.

        • Basically, you need to get a lawyer’s advice and it all depends on where you live, but just a thought – if he is making you dance to get his money now, you might want to get assets or a lump sum from him rather than anything like spousal support where he can withhold it, etc.

          • Diana L – This is all really great advice. The moving into a smaller place – DO IT! For so many reasons… Also, the lump sum rather than monthly support – DO IT if you can. My Ex-NPD turned into a snarling monster about 30 minutes after I asked for the divorce. Taking the lump-sum aided my NO CONTACT with him greatly (and NC is the gateway to see my new future). Whether it is to mess with you, or because they are in denial (moving quickly on with their new sparkly lives) writing that monthly check is just a reminder of who they really are and how they failed. They Don’t Want To Do It! If they pay you the lump sum, you are free and they don’t have to think about you either.

    • Michelle;

      Get to a lawyer, file and get temporary support orders right away. Get your dad’s help in picking a lawyer if you need to.

      Narcs are bullies and only “respect” bigger bullies, of which in the narc universe would be the IRS and the legal system (which is backed by men with guns). A temporary support order is still a court order with serious consequences for disobeying.

      You will have the court system on your side — my experience was that it is staffed with men that are sick and tired of dealing with narcs. They are obnoxious, disrespectful jerks that ruin everybody’s day.

      • I’m getting past this fear and getting a lawyer. I need to do this for myself AND my son. I need to be strong and move on. Thank you for the great advice! I’m feeling motivated by all the responses!!

  • In a divorce with a Narc (EVEN WHEN THE NARC INITIATES THE D), you are not going to get justice or fairness if the Narc can find a way to “punish” you for refusing to be compliant and allowing the Narc to call ALL the shots…even though they may and usually have found a new “primary” supply, they are still compelled to defeat or destroy you. It is simply all about control.

    When a narcissist sees that emotional manipulation will not control you anymore, they typically unleash the big guns and try to destroy you financially. Even if you are self-supporting, they can be obstructionist in the EXTREME about finalizing a property settlement.

    In my opinion the single most important thing you can do is be well prepared to protect yourself financially …or even go on the offense financially.

    You must put your business hat on…get your information ducks in order (including PI documentation of adultery if it will help with leverage) and use all the resources you can get to back the Narc off you and force him/her to play more fairly.

    Be aware that there can be a lengthy, pitched battle in Community Property states …where the divorce and property settlement are two separate issues and property settlements have been known to go on for years after the finalization of a divorce!! (Took me three years to get a final property settlement. So, I KNOW what I am talking about. Thank God I was self-supporting and able to pay for good legal representation.)

    Go on Google and research everything you can about divorcing a Narc. There is a wealth of information out there. For example…

    Psyc warfare with a Narc is usually beyond the will and capabilities of decent and ordinary people, who are sick of being manipulated and generally just want out ASAP. So, it is better to let a good hard-nosed atty handle the Narc.

    But these articles (written by a self-professed Narc) are interesting reading…

    Please take CL’s advice and secure the most ruthless and efficient attorney you can find. Someone who will get it done and over with.

    • Not you, so true for most that you just want out so you give a lot up. Despite the PTSD I think his nearly killing me made me go crazy, I refused to let him take my shit after nearly taking my life – shit I’d become an Amazon chump and I used what I knew to get the best out of bad I could, not that it was great. I lied to him, I gave him sympathy, I filed for divorce writing things that humiliated me because I knew they would be worse for him, I pretended to believe he would settle and kept going toward court while he was to cheap to pay a retainer. I lucked out when the judge gave him contempt of court cos he didn’t respond to my filing…fucker was on DUI probation, he got that contempt and settled the next day. I was relentless, I was not going to die, so I treated him the way he had treated me, no empathy, no quarter, no remorse.

    • Yes, true NPD want to destroy you, not just divorce you. They want to “win”, and will even do stuff that is counterproductive to their own cause if it will hurt you. Many of them will keep up the harassment, veiled threats, hurtful comments and general mindfuckery even after the divorce is final. That’s why it’s so important to keep contact as minimal as possible, always remain calm and in control and document everything.

  • At least your STBX is being up front with his war on you, mine pretended to want a settlement, to be “amicable” and he drained a lot of money before I finally filed for adultery, abuse and desertion. I put quite a bit of the horrible shit he’d done and I named his OW. This was very useful, apparently DOING that shit didn’t bother him, but he was mortified that anyone else should KNOW he did it. He emailed me after being served and said my filing would ruin him and was humiliating.

    One thing, you don’t want to end up in court, you file to force their hand, otherwise they won’t divorce you, because they consider you an extension of them. After filing I made another mistake, I still tried to do an equitable settlement and he always wanted MORE. So from my experience, if I had to do it over again, I would have offered him much less than was fair and then I might have come out with something close to equitable. We settled 28 days before the court date. One day in court would have cost me $10K minimum – I live in a high cost place. As it was, with no kids it cost me over $30K to get a protective order and all the bullshit trying to get a settlement done.

    • I have the same regrets in my first divorce DDW — I gave away the farm. I gave him much, much more than he was entitled to legally, so he would see how fair and generous I was being and it would be “amiable.” (I filed for the divorce and felt guilty for “abandoning” him for being mentally ill. I also did this to ensure I had primary, physical custody of our preschooler son, something I most likely would’ve been awarded anyway.) He did just like yours — held out for more. Not only did he want a huge settlement for himself, he wanted to pay less than baseline child support. I agreed to it in my desperation to divorce him.

      Never throw money at a disordered person to make them go away. If they don’t want to go away, money won’t help it. This is why you need good legal counsel. Let the professionals deal with this crazy — that’s what they get paid for. I wish I’d listened to my lawyer.

      On the protective order issue — in a lot of places (probably not enough) the county can refer you to a legal aid society that will provide you the legal counsel to get a protective order. My divorce attorney told me this — she handled the divorce, and my legal aid appointed lawyer did the PFA. She was looking to save me money AND she realized those folks only do PFAs and know their stuff. It’s something to look into if you find yourself in that unfortunate situation.

      • CL, thanks for that info on the protective order (PO), normally it is very inexpensive to get a PO.

        The reason it cost me a lot of cash is because my ex attacked me previously and got me arrested for it the night I told him we were divorcing (long story). Then he moved back in our house against my will because he “knew his rights” and tormented me for 9 months. When he brought a gun in the house and threatened to kill himself and me, I went for a PO and because I knew he had rights to live with me, I went in.fucking.sane making sure he could not get back in my home. I had to get a high dollar lawyer (he had a good one too) and pull out all the stops to prove he was a danger to me. That was only because he had given me a record of arrest for domestic assault. For most people, you can get with your local abuse shelter and they will help you with a PO for no charge.

          • Datdamwuf,

            I am glad you posted this, because Narcs and PA husbands are becoming even more clever about how to manipulate the law to their advantage and will deliberately provoke (in a PA way) the spouse to “meltdown” and fight back and then document and use that.

            There is a psychologist online who directs her efforts (for pay) at helping men truly victimized of abuse. However, just as somecontributors here had a sneaking suspicion that there was an OW here gleaning information about how to “chump” friends, I believe that there are abusive, Narc men who comb her site to find way to “chump” their own spouses. She advises the men who come to her for advice to ABR (always be recording), and I have my suspicions that some of these men who take her advice are not recording just for “self-protection”.

            She posted links in one of her “articles” to a situation which appears to be a “victimzed” man recording an “abusive” wife. But if you watch and listen VERY carefully, you can see that there are definitely TWO sides to this story. Note the provocative tone of the man’s voice. Note that he really does NOT sound afraid of this woman. Note the fact the HE posted this crap on youtube rather than keeping it confidential and using it in divorce court if he felt he needed it. That tell you anything?

            I will grant you this woman is acting like a TOTAL bitch, but who knows what kind of passive-aggressive provocation over the years finally put her into full blown rebellion? We just don’t know ALL of the story.

            The take away from this is: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allow the Narc to provoke you into “losing it” in front of him..or anybody for that matter. No matter what kind of superhuman self-control it takes on your part do NOT behave in a way (even when frustrated beyond human tolerance) that can be misconstrued as YOU being the abusive one. Because people who have not been subtly emotionally abused for years have NO CLUE how one can finally get enough of covert emotional manipulation, rebel and participate in overt retaliatory aggression…which then can be used again them.

            Anybody on here recognize anything familiar in this guy’s behavior? (This is the first of 12 links he has on youtube. )

            • Yeah, that’s creepy sick. I’ll say this, no matter who is at “fault”, the very instant one of them starts recording their interactions, or like my ex did, just monitoring me and the kids at home with a nanny-cam, the relationship is OVER. Why? because that person has ceased to be a participant in a relationship and is now an observer. And like a mad scientist running an experiment, they will twist the environment in the petri dish (your home) just for shits and giggles to see how you will respond. Twisted and sick.

              My one last revenge fantasy is for me to go first in this life so I can haunt the shit out of him. Let’s see how he likes being watched when he thinks he’s got privacy.

              • I’m not violent, in fact I literally cannot hit. When my husband was about to punch my head thru a wall I defended myself, badly, but it left a mark and that’s all he needed to set me up. As for that YouTube vid, that looked to me like mutually abusive people. However, my ex used to punch my buttons so I would raise my voice and call him an asshole, then he would say I have anger management issues. My therapist can attest that I do not, but when your husband is telling you how wonderful his OW is one is likely to get a tiny bit pissed off…

              • Many NPD women have Ben doing the fake abuse deal for the guy assholes are availing themselves , tooFUCKIN NPD ASSHOLES.

          • Wuf-had to reply here, there was no reply option for the comment I wanted.

            I so relate to what you dealt with-him telling you he’s super rational, that you’re the one with the problem, etc. Then 2 minutes later, he’s shouting, glaring, standing over you, if he’s like my stbx, he’s also making seriously outrageous claims-the other day he screamed that he doesn’t lie. And that I’m making our daughter hate him. Since he always puts her in the middle, & makes her hear that shit, she told him that’s not true, that mommy doesn’t call him bad names like he does me-oops. Never mind how awful it was to say to her, that she hates him, he doesn’t see how that wasn’t a decent to say.
            Wandering here, still getting all this out of my system.
            Anyway, I do know how NPD’s manipulate & since I found this site, I know we aren’t alone in that. We all know what they’re capable of.

            As for that video, the guy thinking he’s showing the world how terrible the wife is? She is. But he’s just as bad. I watched 2 clips involving their kids, neither of those rotten people should be raising those kids. The little girl made my heart sting, the parents made my blood boil.

  • Take note of what the narc is accusing you of doing, because that’s what HE’S doing. If he accuses you of having an affair, it’s because he’s having one. If he accuses you of hiding assets it’s because he’s hiding assets. Also, remember that if his lips are moving he’s probably lying, and he will have no compunction about telling lies while under oath. I was naive and thought my XH was basically honest. Oops.

  • Interview 4 or 5 attorneys. Realize the import of this choice. One attorney I spoke with was unwilling to expose my husband. Forget him. Others were a bit too much in their aggressive pitch, overselling me. One felt just right. You need to invest the time in the attorney you choose, get as many recommendations from as many places as possible, etc. Take this choice very seriously. Your future financial well being depends partly on this choice.

  • CL, that is your best illustration EVER.

    I talked to several attorneys, and felt like none of them got the situation I was in. Finally, I contacted a domestic violence agency, and they have been incredibly helpful. They really understand the tactics these narcs use. Even if it is “just” emotional abuse, they can be a great resource.

    The judges see guys like this all the time. They let them talk until they bury themselves. Just be sure you behave like the same one, and the contrast will show. Get a restraining order if he threatens or harasses you. Not only will this give you some protection, but it can also be an advantage in deciding things like spousal support and custody.

  • Dear Sarah: See that cartoon up there. the one with the smiley mask that moves aside to reveal a bloodthirsty shark? That’s my answer. Get a lawyer. A good, solid barracuda lawyer. (sorry to mix my flesh-eating fish metaphors.) Someone who will go after everything that is up for grabs and negotiate fiercely on your behalf for your fair share. someone who isn’t interested in “giving” or “appeasing” your STBX. My barracuda was 5 months pregnant when I hired her. Perfect. Not all good lawyers are expensive, either. Mine was willing to handle my divorce for a flat fee after she figured out the situation. (He had bankrupted us–a reality uncovered in mediation–and was hitting me for spousal support. So there was no money with which to pay her, and she knew it.)

    I live in California, which is a no-fault divorce state. The law is very clear. So even though your narcissist thinks he is entitled to EVERY THING EVER, the law here clearly states that he is not. Divorce law is heavily adjudicated in California. You get what you get. He gets what he gets. The downside is that no one in the legal system cares that he had an affair. They don’t care that he is the reigning world heavyweight champion of douchebaggery. They will give him 50% time with your kids, unless you can prove that it is detrimental to the children, and that is hard to do. If he is abusing your kids physically or sexually, then by all means eliminate his visitation or demand it be supervised. If he’s not doing anything like that, but is an asshole par excellence, there isn’t much you can do. At some point, your kids will vote with their feet and spend all their time with you anyway.

    Oh…and this: “Take note of what the narc is accusing you of doing, because that’s what HE’S doing. If he accuses you of having an affair, it’s because he’s having one. If he accuses you of hiding assets it’s because he’s hiding assets.” Hellz yeah, Elizabeth Lee.

  • I D my exnarc now over one year ago. He remarried about 4 months later. He is the type who can also act normal to most….but saves his truly creepy narc traits for me and his child.

    So…I have always been able to manipulate him into his need – excessive need – to always be viewed as the nice guy and GREAT dad…..right.

    Anyway,,,,as it relates to our divorce, we ‘mediated’ but I had my own shark lady lawyer on the side advising me. I knew if we went to the atty’s….he would go to the mats to save face n a small town…and I also knew he was chomping at the bit to marry skank….and she was pushing it too. But, I’m a good business woman and I knew what he wanted most. So…I went for the mats in mediation, and he lost it several times in front of mediator…which caused him to back down to everything I needed/wanted. Shark Lady Lawyer was advising me on the side as to the law and my rights and how far I could push.

    Since then, I NEVER contact him. He contacts me on small shit, but I NEVER engage with him. This actually bothers him a lot I believe. Our daughter has his number now and gets it. I CUT him out of my life, and contact with me, forever.

    I got the best deal I could. Did not spend a fortune on atty’s. And best of all, that bastard is out of my life. Whenever I HAVE to email him, I use the same approach – appeal to his fake ‘higher self’….and give him kibbles to help him get to the place I need him to be to support daughter. Doesn’t always work on money now because he has skank who I think is watching the money a lot….and he does not work that hard now that he has trust fund skank wife….but usually I can manipulate his need to feel and look like a ‘good dad’…..instead of BE a good dad…which he cannot do.

    • I am trying this as well……guiding him towards doing things that a “good dad” does…..he wants to be seen that way, and he knows if he does certain things, he will get some kibbles for it, from me, his parents and my parents. I’m hoping this will work in the long run. I’m not sure. I have a hunch that it will work reasonably well until he finds a new gf/wife, at which time it will pale in comparison to her needs/kibbles.

      • Yes that is right. When they get new wife, things will change. Mine had his (a person we both knew and I suspected for years…) before he even left, but still…she is super high maintenance, has never worked and spends a fortune. He cannot keep that going at all, so he will have to squeeze our daughter to even attempt to keep wife happy or at least content.

        But, what is good is once they are married, they do release you from their crazy constant need for kibbles. It is a relief. Then its just focused in trying, not always succeeding, in bringing any influence at all toward the benefit of your kids. I believe ex’s wife is also a narc, or borderline, at least an alcoholic, so I think long term its grim. Keeping my daughter healthy and away from that brew is the tight rope to walk going forward.

  • Cl’s advice is spot on as is everyone else’s today. I have been trying to get divorced for almost 3 years now and my stbx narc just keeps coming up with new ideas to win.

    The best advice I have is to find a lawyer that you are comfortable with. Most lawyers give a free one hour consultation, so use that to your advantage.

    Get the “good stuff” out of the house and to your dad’s now. Make sure you know all of your accounts – saving, checking, retirement, charge cards, and other miscellaneous bills, etc and either make copies of the statements or just take the originals. Also make sure you have all the passwords to all of your accounts.

    Start policing your marriage – phone records, text records, spending habits, etc.

    DO NOT be nice to him AT ALL. I have learned this from experience. It’s very hard, but don’t do it. He will amp up his hate and games, but let him. Grow a tough shell and steel yourself against him.

    I too have completely “lost it” during two phone conversations. The first time he said “Wait ‘til the judge hears just how crazy you are!” Scared me to death, because I spewed all the hatred I had been holding in for two years. I contacted my lawyer immediately. He said not to worry about it for two reasons, stbx hadn’t told me he was recording me and once the judge heard the entire conversation he would toss it because it made stbx look like an idiot. The second time I started loosing it on him – I HUNG UP. Learn to do it. It feels very empowering once you do! If you don’t have kids no contact is your best bet.

    Taking the first step is the hardest. Believe me – it will get easier because each day you are away from him is one step closer to your personal freedom. Fighting the battle is not easy, but you have it in you. Once you get angry, your inner strength will reappear. Its been held down so long by that narc, but it is there. You never truly lost it, he just made you believe that you did.

    Hang in there! (((hugs))).

    • Love that last bit: your inner strength will reappear…so true. I thought I had no strength left but he was too dumb to realise that every time he was a total and utter ass towards me I got a little bit more angry and that anger fuelled my strength and propelled me forward. Now he tries to be nice to me and I just blank him. He’s a useless shithead and I’m well shot of him.

  • So much good advice here. I will only add that you cannot expect the truly disordered to do anything they agree to do in a settlement or even a court order. My ex did not get his own attorney and dragged out every single thing possible to cause my own expenses to go higher. He didn’t even turn in the official disclosure of finances that is required, and was ordered to pay a fine of $3000 because of this, but never paid the fine.

    He signed a settlement agreement 5:00 PM the evening before we were scheduled to go to court. He has never once paid the amount he agreed to pay. I believe a large part of the reason he remains unemployed is to get out of paying support. I opened a case with the state agency, but they are useless. He hasn’t even turned in his paperwork, but they don’t follow up. And they told me that if he is unemployed, has no home, no assets, they will basically do nothing.

    Get what you can get, and expect to be screwed. It is unbelievably unfair, but that is the reality of divorcing the disordered. Be prepared to raise your child without help, although NPD love to act like they are Dad of the Year for their own image.

    Be sure to have his salary attached for support money, or open a case with your state child support agency to attach his money. Don’t count on him doing the right thing on his own, because if he is truly disordered, he won’t.

    • Be prepared to raise your child on your own….Exactly right. This is what I expect moving forward.

      I fully expect for exnarc to continue to shuttle as many expenses as he can to me. He already does, and squirms every time he is presented with some type of real expense that the agreement obligates him to. But, then, I have to decide how much is it worth my sanity in interacting with him over it. For me, because I’ve always made my own way…and that was even true in our marriage, it is not worth it at all. Its easier for me to make the money myself than to deal with him. So I don’t.

      My family disagrees with me on this. They think I ought to fight and make him eat everything I’m owed. But…this is the difference between living a life with a narc, and only seeing what a prick he is from afar. They hate him and have for many many years….before even they knew he was abusing me. But, still, they think we should make him be responsible.

      You have to finally decide in your own mind with these fucks what your own sanity is worth. Mine is worth a lot….

      • My ex also signed an agreement at 5pm before court. Fun times.

        My ex was prepared to battle to the death for custody *because* he didn’t want to pay child support. He wouldn’t have gotten full custody, no matter what, but he definitely could have dragged out a court battle, with anxiety and expense through the roof. My STBX’s own father never paid a dime in child support his whole life, worked under the table for decades to avoid it. I knew my STBX would do the same. So I didn’t see child support as being all that valuable to me. So…..I waived the child support for a visitation schedule that suits me, as opposed to the “every other weekend” template that they give. My kids are very young (my baby was just born last week!) and having her gone for two overnights in a row would be so hard for me (and hard for breastfeeding, since I’ve not even started pumping yet). I got primary physical, with my own custom visitation schedule, without having to go to court.

        And here’s the good part – I can “opt-in” to child support any time I want. In other words, one phone call to the Friend of the Court and my STBX will be in the court system and will start to owe support. Those are some *big* guns. And I can call it in any time. My STBX has every reason to keep me happy because he doesn’t want to be on the court’s books, doesn’t want to pay, and doesn’t really want to pay an attorney to fight against it, either. I’m hoping this strategy will work out in the long run.

  • Sarah – A realistic view is your best bet. I am half-way through my D with a narc. I was soooo scared to start this process, but it has been manageable so far. I attribute this to the the “sucker punch” I gave him when I told him I wanted a D and then filed the next day. He never saw it coming and it made him sit up straight and take notice. As CL has said, it really was as if his own hand was slapping him in the face. If I would have given him warning, I’m betting he would have been raging about it. But with the surprise sucker-punch, he was taken off-guard.

    Sarah, definitely get your own attorney. I felt very empowered knowing for a *fact* what my rights are, and what my odds are of settlement, custody, etc. No more guessing, no more needing to bow to his wishes – I had the law to back me up. It’s a powerful thing. I’m betting you will feel empowered, too, knowing how your case stacks up. It’s also great just to have someone else squarely on your *side*. That helps a lot, emotionally speaking.

    I also recommend the book “Splitting”. It is prepares you if your STBX gets ugly. Someone also mentioned “One Mom’s Battle”…..this is an interesting book, but be careful with this one because it can really scare you. The author had one of the worst kinds of narcs and it was a horrible battle, kind of a worst-case scenario. I read that book before I filed and it really scared me and held me back from filing because I didn’t want to have to face all the horribleness. But it’s not always quite that bad for everyone. I give Tina major props for what she did but I have to say that after reading her blog and other things online it seems like she is kind of a difficult person and I think it made her case worse (it doesn’t excuse her narc-ex’s behavior, I’m just saying it seems like she put fuel in the fire of the “battle”).

    A few words of advice that I haven’t seen posted here yet: When divorcing a narc:

    1) Do *not* go back-and-forth with him. Once you decide to leave, mean it. Don’t take him back, tell him you love him, text him for reassurance, have sex with him, etc. It seems to make things worse in the long run. Just make a clean break, no more romance.

    2) Do *not* date other people until he is gone. This enrages them. It’s the ultimate ego-injury.

  • So, I just divorced my narc husband on Friday. They do play by different rules…. What an asshole. He spent the whole week last week huddled with the boys pushing for 50/50 custody which I would never agree to. My youngest at bedtime would just cry to me that why can’t you just agree to it…. When court came around Friday, he didn’t even ask for it. Out of a 2 week period, he gets 5 days and I get 9. Again what an asshole to hurt the kids like that. And, according to his attorney, I have trouble distinguishing my needs from the needs of my children? Really?? Wasn’t I the one who was 99.5% of the time with the kids… Oh, and yes, the divorce was due to his adultery but the marriage was over long before his adultery and it was a loveless marriage. Funny, nobody told me that!! He also said that I didn’t invest in the marriage, lacked intimacy, and was ALWAYS cold and distant according to his attorney. Wow, this was all news to me. Nothing like taking responsibility for your own actions. I invested EVERYTHING into my marriage, my large inheritance, time, effort, blood, sweat, tears and my soul. If it is was so loveless and I was really like that, than why the fuck didn’t he divorce me?? Will they ever stop making excuses for being assholes? That just hurt me really bad. As if the pain of his affair wasn’t enough they did nothing but badmouth me. And to top it all off…. he still wouldn’t leave the fucking house. He has till Oct 1 to vacate the house but spent Friday and Saturday night there even though he has had a place for at least a couple of weeks. So thankful to be rid of him…

    • Yeah, I feel you, the marital home, you can’t kick then out, they assert thier right to live with you and you cannot afford to pay for it and a place of your own. It is the worst shit sandwich.

    • Oh, yes, the “marriage was over long before… So the new younger person has nothing to do with the marriage.” That was also my reaction, funny, you did not tell me! (And actually, I had evidence to the contrary).

      The lack of personal responsibility is my last stumbling block on the way to meh.
      Forget the relationship stuff, it’s exH blaming daughter as the reason son was not permitted to attend their father’s wedding (4 months post divorce). Sorry, sir, it was YOUR CHOICE to exclude son when daughter did not want to attend. I would have allowed son to go even though it was during my kid time… Son wants it, he gets it. I can put my feelings aside for the children.

      Sigh… Truly almost there. Big step was telling exH we are not friends anymore, so please stop confiding in me. He actually seemed upset. I told him to talk to his therapist if he could not understand why we are no longer friends after 23 years.

      • Don Draper told everyone the same thing. “It was bad for years.” (Really?? Um, yeah, it might’ve been because you were fucking that younger ho-worker while you traveled together on business.) But then my daughter asked him, “Then why did you stay, Dad? Why didn’t you just divorce Mom?” His reply was “I stayed for the family.” And wonderful daughter replied, “But you were never home, Dad!” Gotcha, asshole!

        • Wow, kudos to your daughter for figuring that one out.
          My ex was the same, reinventing history, “the marriage was over for at least 10 years and for discussion purposes we only ate dinner together and slept together”. Seriously, delusional. I felt he had checked out, kept asking him what was up, surprise no answer …. for at least 10 years I carried his dead weight, while he screwed around. I won;t settle for less than fair in divorce, I settled for 23 years, enough of that.

      • Every cheater uses the tired excuse that the marriage was terrible for years, or a mistake, or no longer having sex. Yeah, maybe if they were investing their energies into the marriage instead of the affair, there wouldn’t have been problems. But no, cheaters never are willing to do the hard work. They just want kibbles and excitement of the new.

        • It’s true, GIO. I told STBXH exactly that. If he had put even 10% of the energy he spent on the affair into our relationship, it could’ve been great. But no. He needed the excitement of the younger woman.

  • The only thing more painful than being married to a cheating, self-absorbed loser is trying to divorce one, especially when children are involved. When you become stronger and less prone to their abuse, they go after the kids.

    I have three pieces of wisdom to share:
    1. Find a friend who can serve as your “phantom spouse.” This person is the one you send all your truthful, snappy, vicious, well-deserved retorts to the bullshit that is sure to come your way via email and text from your X.
    2. Go no contact. It drives them insane, and you will often get some great diatribes to use in court should it come to that. If you must be in touch, write every email as you would cancel a credit card. In other words, just the facts.
    3. Go easy on the wine. Drinking in pain and emailing your loser X only hurts you. EVERY. TIME.

    Hugs. This is very difficult, but you can do it.

    • ChutesandLadders, you are right. I divorced my narcissistic husband, all right, but I have to deal with him because of the kids. Now that I am having serious trouble with one of my children (mental health issues, made worse by his verbal abuse), it seems that he uses the situation as the opportunity to inflict more hurt on me, without regard to the effect on the children. I wish I had advice for others in my predicament. I just try to be the best mom I can to the kids and live with the regret that I ever met and reproduced with such an unworthy, damaged person. I count the days until my girls are 18 and I don’t have to “co-parent” (read: mostly do what he says, though lately I am beginning to stand my ground) with him anymore.

      • Oh, yes-if he can’t strike directly at you, well, then, just damage the child. Cause it sure upsets Mom. Using their kids as tools to hit us with is a great strategy, in their minds, always effective. They’re not going to consider the child’s feelings/well-being any more than they did ours. I really believed my stbx would, like, suddenly grow a heart after we had a baby. Nope. Once she started talking, it was on. She’s simply taking the spotlight off him, therefore she must also be punished. And he didn’t start physically cheating til we had a kiddo. Unless I overestimated him, which is all too possible. I don’t understand how they get away with all they do. Right now I feel like there’s simply no justice anywhere.

        • MammaLyn, I think I had exactly your experience. I also suspect the real reason for my ex’s cheating was that he was secretly jealous of all the attention I lavished on the children. Even though he’s had other women, I believe he thought of me as a possession, and was enraged that I actually left. He is still trying to punish me through mistreating the kids. And because he isn’t hitting them, and there’s no trail of police visits, it’s perfectly legal and I can’t do a damn thing about it. Maybe there are some wonderful people who are successfully co-parenting their kids, but I seriously question whether it’s appropriate to even try when one of the parents is a narcissist.

          • Possession is exactly right. If we start to defend ourselves, or leave, they do lose it, just like your ex did. Or is. Anyone who could damage any child, much less his own kid, has no heart. I seriously wish more was being done about emotional abuse, it should be a crime, like any other abuse. It’s known now that the mental abuse leaves deeper scars than any other. And any kind of abuse at all-sexual, physical, anything, has to involve mental abuse also. So why isn’t it being taken seriously? I promised myself that after we get out, & heal-cause right now I’m a wreck-I’m going to join whichever orgs advocate for abuse victims. I have found out that emotional abuse can be cause for taking custody from the abusive parent, but from what I’ve heard, if a parent isn’t beating the total crap out of a kid, then the courts can’t be bothered, in general. CL mentions getting counseling for the kids, & our health coverage will likely start back up in a month, I can’t wait to go back into counseling. This time, my kiddo will also be seeing someone.
            I know exactly how you feel, trying to comfort your child after their dad hurts them, simply cause he enjoys it, & being so helpless to do anything about it. It’s completely rotten. We have to wait for the kids to be old enough to speak for themselves, then maybe the courts might listen? Except the worst damage happens when they’re youngest. I’ve told my stbx that if we split (I say “if” because my plans are not his business, anymore, I’m waiting til the end of the school year to get an apartment, he’ll know what’s up when I start packing the big stuff) that visitation will take place in my home, if he wants to take her somewhere, I’m going along. Kinda screws the NC part of it, but he’s made some spectacularly bad choices involving her, I already know the kinds of things she’d be exposed to if I let him. If he can’t handle the agreement, he can take me to court. I’d sing like a canary, & reveal everything, no matter how humiliating it would be for me. His image, that mask he needs so badly, would be finished. I can only hope that’s enough to scare him so that he doesn’t force my hand. He’s committed felonies, in front of her, he also helped himself to my prescriptions for a year straight. And I never knew. He “spanked” her, 7-8 times, after the first time, in front of me, I made it clear I wouldn’t tolerate it, so he did it when I wasn’t around. The last time, he spanked her so hard, I HEARD the smack all the way downstairs. I told him then he’d go to jail if he did it again. So, now he likes to take credit for not spanking her anymore. And, “I haven’t stolen your pills for a long time!” Yeah, I know, ever since I started hiding them. What a prince.
            Had no idea I’d be venting like this, I really need to go back into counseling, can you tell? 🙂
            How do you handle it when you find out your ex treated your kids badly? How old are they? Sometimes I just don’t know what to say to my kiddo, (she’s 7) other than I’m sorry, & that I’m working to get us out. Lately I’m wondering if we can move to Canada. I don’t know if I’d ever come back here.
            Much luck to you & your kiddos.

            • If you are in the US, they do take emotional abuse seriously. The US Department of Justice recognizes emotional and psychological abuse. Contact the national domestic violence hotline at 800 799 7233 and get a contact for a local referral. They can help you get out and get on your feet. I know some courts are more conservative than others. A local DV agency should be able to tell you how your local court responds to cases like that.

              I hate when my h treats our kids badly. I know “sorry” isn’t enough. The best things we can do for our kids is to get out. Good luck to you.

              • I have an appt scheduled with a caseworker from the YWCA community outreach program, they provide advocacy for just about everything I need help with, including court appearances, I think. I haven’t even thought about checking the local court system, we live in Indiana, which is pretty darn conservative-we also have seriously high rates of suicide, teen std’s, smoking, drinking, etc. I’m totally convinced the extreme conservatism has something to do with quality of life here, think I just assumed the courts in my city were the same. That’s definitely something to ask at my appt, so I’mglad you mentioned that. I’m somewhat fearful of going to court, but I will if I have to. Considering the things the stbx has gotten away with-even if I own my part in it, by not turning him in-it’s not a stretch to think he could get unsupervised visitation. Which would be disastrous for my kiddo. The guy has no conscience.

  • YOU ARE SPOT ON! Absolute BEST advice I have ever read! So far I’m four years in with 22 trips to court. My husband underestimated me and I have done well in this awful war. It’s hard to comprehend at first, but it’s not personal.
    THANK YOU. I am inspired as I prepare to sue him for contempt and fraud.

  • My attorney once tried provoking my ex “to scare him out of going to court” with something. I asked, “Do you feel better? Because if you do, I suppose that gambit was worth it, but understand that you did nothing for my case. He is a sociopath. He does not feel fear when he ought, or when normal people would. You have awakened him, you have made him aware; he is not afraid now, but he is willing to engage, to fight. He feels himself under your skin…. and he likes it there. The best thing to do with this man is to lie very still, play dead, and when he lets his guard down and draws near so as to investigate what he thinks is your corpse – rise up and take his head off.”

    Like others have said: don’t talk, just do. Do what has to be done. Don’t hesitate, don’t negotiate. Go for it all. He will. And bear in mind that if the new relationship doesn’t work out, he will be back, because he needs his kibble. He will try to charm you back; if that doesn’t work, he will simply move back in, tell you it’s his house and you have no legal right to keep him out of it.

    The book I recommend is The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

  • Many men, dealing with PD women, have the additional challenge of dealing with society’s bias against seeing a woman as a predator/NPD etc.
    Really, therapist even seem to lump women NPD/Sociopaths into the BPD category or bi-polar because of their distate for facing the reality that neither gender has a monopoly of being immune from NPD /ASPD.
    I am seeing more and more cases where the woman is the monster.
    Just look at that video. The woman admits to striking the guy with a closed fist and other acts of extreme violence. Yet, there is doubt re her abusiveness and his having provoked her.
    While I know that these folks do provoke, I doubt if the admissions of violence were coming from a man, there would be as much speculation re provocation.
    Just look at movies etc. Women slapping guys all over the place and we do not bat an eye. reverse it and there is an uproar.

  • I can across this post while doing some research for my own website. I wish I had seen this a few years ago before my divorce proceedings. I went through a divorce from a very controlling women. I just took it as she was controlling.

    During the divorce proceeding, which I though was going to be fair and mutual, I got taken for a ride. I lost almost everything including the one thing that meant the most to me. What she said was going to be “fair and equal custody with equal visitation.” The lawyer I have I would love to see on the street. He was recommended by my brother and seemed honest and supportive.

    This lawyer, knowing my financial status after a temporary order left me living on $250 a week. The day of the trial requested I pay $750 that day of he was going to withdraw from the case. When I told him I didn’t have the money and his request to withdraw was denied. He hung me out to dry.

    As the my now ex-wife. I have done some research on divorce and divorce cases over the last few month for my website and came across the narcissist diagnosis. Everything I have found, or at least 98% of my research, defines my ex-wife to a “T.”

    I guess turning back the clock will not happen. So until I can find a way to guide my children in the right direction. They are almost doomed with her.

  • My situation exactly! Was feeling like I was the one going crazy! He’s all this plus 2 underage online profile on MySpace – nope, not against the law so there is nothing I can do about that. He says he wants to work things out so when I think I can trust him, he screws me over and when I bring it up, it’s my fault and I’m left picking up the pieces while he grins and smirks. What has helped me is I was told by my attorney to use the police to document situations where he is harassing me or my 2 young kids. The ongoing reports will help my case when it’s time to go back to court. He was caught leaving the kids alone and not using car seats. He lost his car a few weeks ago and I had to pick up my kids from his parent time in a public place. He followed us to my car and started taking pictures of me seat belting my kids in the car. I asked him to step away from my car and when he refused, I told him I’d call the police and told me to go ahead. So I did. He left. Police came and I had it documented. He did the picture taking out of spite and being an $&@hole (to say it politely). We divorce about 2 years ago and his bullying gets worse and worse. Everyone, including my attorney, thought he would be gone by now, but nope – this nut job keeps hanging around bothering the &$@% out of everyone.

  • Very good article, very true. I just finished my divorce from the cheating narcissistic husband of over 2o years. I did exactly the above, I hired the best, most aggressive male attorney, I cut of all contact. There are no minor children, so I changed my email and phone no..if he had anything to say it went through attorneys. Once my attorney threatened to dispose the young mistress/co worker, all hell broke lose. He is a cop and did he ever hate being made public. He tried everything in his power but he totally underestimated me…at the end I was the winner. I was awarded permanent alimony (in this state in long term marriage usually awarded), I was awarded a big chunk of his monthly army retirement. He lost it all, his home, his family, his money, his integrity…for what? Some sex with the young co worker…..Please, whores come and go, but family is forever. As for me, I am glad I got rid of this liar and cheater. My best advice is to go no contact…like above any begging will only feed his ego and things get worse. I learned that the first few months when I tried to talk to just can’t. They put themselves above God…Thank God I have peace and sanity now. He deserves for me to never look at him again. And thats the promise I made to myself….for the rest of my life…

  • I just read part of this like the beginning of this to my husband this is after he just used his usual tactics of “I’m gonna do the right thing ” speech he gave me a half an hr ago. I am speedy to the computer and find this thank you thank you he is the biggest pussy I have ever met but can destroy me with a word or an action I am destroyed inside but there is that little me inside that keeps telling me red flag red flag stop loving him you know him better than anyone he tells me / you are scary how well you know me / I have invested 10 years I know this mofo inside and out how does he still pull at my heart is inhuman I’m done I’m soooo done is this what it takes to be human really ? I know I am a sucka but I also know that I am super smart and on to this narcissit and I can say he is true to the T of this personality disorder it’s amazing on embarking to find answers well I am tired of reading about the symptoms they are here and live thanks so much for finally an article to fight back I’m tired of finding out about symptoms what about the meds to irradiate this disease that I never contacted but contacted me I want to know if I’m gonna survive it sucks to be where I am suffering my health my mind my everything this man has compromised me a human being in a very devastating way you can’t make this shit up people never in a million years I would think that I’m desperate I just need facts that this devil can not bring me to more demise and my children need a hopeful future if you have gone through a successful divorce please write back

  • Very informative! First article that is direct and truthful and very helpful. Thank you!


  • Restored! Here is my story to the world on how i got my love back and saved my marriage. I really love James so much that i can not even do without. I was married for 7years with 2kids and we lived happily until things started getting ugly and we had fight and argument almost every time… it got worse at a point that he filed for divorce… I tried my best to make him change his mind & stay with me because i love him with all my heart and didn’t want to lose him but everything just proved abortive… He moved out of the house and still went ahead to file for divorce… I pleaded, cried and tried everything but still nothing worked. The breakthrough came when someone introduced me to this wonderful man who eventually helped me out with spell… I have never done things like this before but just decided to try reluctantly because I was desperate and left with no choice… He did special prayers and used herbs… Within two days james called me and was sorry for all the emotional trauma he had cost me, moved back to the house and we continue to live happily, the kids are happy too and we are expecting our third child. I have introduced him to a lot of couples with problems across the world and they have had good news… Just thought I should spread my experience cause I strongly believe someone out there needs it. You can email DR Thomas via (drthomasherbalhome21@gmail. com) Don’t give up just yet, the different between “Ordinary” & “Extra-Ordinary” is the “Extra” so make extra effort to save your marriage/relationship if it’s truly worth it.

  • Love this!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you! I am in court on Tuesday 2nd August 2016 and it will be the first time seeing him in 3.5 years since what we call “the incident” where me and our daughter had to leave the house immediately. I was researching “how to negotiate with a narcissist” and this was on google page 1. The Ego Kibble idea is mind blowingly clarifying. The “go for everything, ask for no explanations, hit low and hit hard” was great advice. “Do it with a smile on your face” was exactly the advice I was looking for…. I was struggling with “do I show him the effect of his actions? Do I look brave or stalwart? Do I look like I haven’t a care in the world?” and so this was right on the nose. Thank you for taking the time to post this article. It has helped me prepare to meet with a person who also was extremely violent to us and as I approach the 3 court date including unsupervised negotiations, I feel a little calmer.

  • On another note, I was wondering how you and your spouse got your divorce (if you don’t mind me asking) My spouse and I are planning our own divorce and we want it out of the court because of financial reasons. Is there another possibility for divorce to be done online? Thistoo seems ok ( for reference), but I’m doubting on whether or not it’ll be trustworthy, as they are handling a lot of confidential information. Does anyone have experience with online divorce? Any suggestions would be appreciated thank you.

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