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So 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 in the Resource section here, 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.

This post ran previously, feel free to comment!

Ask Chump Lady

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    • I just read “Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family” by Dr. Karyl McBride. It doesn’t address infidelity much but it gives lots of great tips about dealing with a narcissist in court and in custody battles. I thought it was a very helpful book. It has a great 50 question survey to help you decide if your spouse is really a narcissist. Here’s the survey online: . I answered 48 out of 50 of the questions yes- and I was on the fence if he was truly NPD or not.

        • Three (read that, three! Mine, his and the kids’) therapists diagnosed him as a narcissist. I still didn’t really believe it. The love of my life? All those good years? Yes, he behaved monstrously, but was that REALLY him? The real him?
          It has taken years to accept it.

          • 47/50 for me, and the three that were left I couldn’t answer yes or no because that would have meant he actually talked to me.

            It was all about simmering rage, disdain, disgust and then dismissal with him toward me. SO glad I’m OUT!

              • Cheaterssuck–don’t worry, I didn’t think nice was exclusive to the midwest! I used to live in the NE (last time for 16 years) and encountered plenty of kindness.

          • Transplant to Minnesota here. I stayed because it was such a great place to raise children, and now my friends are here, along with my own little homestead.

        • Me, too. Hopkins, Mn.
          fwiw, Senior US open qualifier in Madison was held today. I had my hotel booked. Had to withdraw. 14 year old daughter refuses to live with her mom. She cane to my condo and i had to stay with her and get her to school. So, i had to withdraw.
          I spot from this qualifier and the fellow who got it shot 71, one over. I have not been below 74 all year, so far, so it would have been a longshot. Not much power anymore at 61.Good drive goes about 255.
          need to start lifting and yoga.

          • Your daughter will remember how you put her first in a time of need. You already know this was the right thing to do.

            My narc FIL preached to me ONCE that “motherhood (or parenthood) is not martyr-hood!! Nope. It isn’t. But decent parents are committed to the healthy development of their offspring even if it means forgoing out immediate wants to make sure their needs are addressed. I get the message that your kids cannot be the center of your life. Responsible adults already know that.

            All that freaking “wisdom” for a super certifiable narc who created children all over the U.S. and NEVER raised one.

    • I wonder if her then boyfriend “big daddy” realized that she had emotionally abused him by cheating and if that did not set the tone that led to the relationships ultimate demise.
      Seems she justifies the cheating based on the level of the guy’s attractiveness.
      This attitude may xhed a whole different light on her characterization oh her husband and the marriage. It is a pretty warped attitude rife with entitlement.

        • I like to start at the very beginning of blogs and catch up… Perhaps no one went to the beginning like I did.

          Also, I realize this has nothing to do with how hard divorcing a narcissist is. You ladies have my sympathy. Mine was a narc, but was so under the OW thumb that he did whatever she wanted. Narcs have no spines when sitting in the lawyer’s office between between their angry AP and their angry spouse. I’m sure he’s spun a good tale since then…

    • It never ceases to amaze me how people who have been cheated upon, and know the full horror of that experience, could ever turn around and cheat on someone else. Disappointing doesn’t come close to covering that.

      • I saw this with my ex father in law, Tempest. The story is that one day , early in the marriage, he broke down cryinb at the dinner table, in front of the kids. He had found out his wife had been having an affair with the minister of theif church.
        25 years later, he was busted with the Swedish Ambassador’s wife. I think he never forgot about his wife’s cheating and he felt he owed her one. I sort of get that. Had i reconciled,Imwonder if I would have tried a little payback, myself.
        That is one of the reasons I never considered reconciling. I did not wznt to be a person like that.

        • I particularly liked how feral points out her projection re how any of us would have done the same thing. Pretty insulting, but these folks need to feel justified.

    • Not sure how someone close to 50 has not figured out that when one is in a two year relationship and discussions about moving in together have taken place, it is not okay to cheat regardless of not having 4 kids together, not currently living together, and the relationship being less than a decade old, even if the guy looks really good.
      Also liked the intro ” for ye who judge”. We have had a lot of discussions here about the appropriateness of using judgment. Yeah, you cheat on your partner, and the small minded people call foul. Of course, these peasants have no idea of what it is like when you are within tongue distance of a smoking hot plate of male, right?
      I bet many of us had opportunities to cheat with very good looking people. Is it okay because the person was so good looking? Is it okay if our current relationship is 2.3 years vs 6.432 years.? What if we had one kid and a dog together vs 4 kids?
      Everything about that post smacks of entitlement and justifying cheating. Then, she has the temerity to complain when she gets a taste of it, herself.
      I really would question a person’s characterization of her XH and her marriage and post divorce dealings if this is her mindset.
      So, it goes like this: really good looking guy, 2 year exclusive relationship, no kids, and not living together = OK to cheat ( as long as you feel a little bad about it).Less than super good looking prospect, 2.1 year relationship, no kids but a cat, and you live together = not okay to cheat. Is that it?( exception: unusually large dong and it reverts to being okay).

  • Thanks Chump Lady. I am just diving head first into this mess. Attorney hired, but have not filed yet. I am trying so hard just to get through every day as he will not leave the home. You have all been a wonderful support system in the middle night when I can’t sleep and need to reassure myself that I am not alone and that I am doing the right thing.

    • AllOutofKibble (love that name!) – you’re doing the right thing! Life is hell when they won’t leave (mine stayed for over a year after I filed) but there is life after the hell. You can do it, get through it, and reach meh! CN is here for you.

    • Mine would not leave home for 18 months after I filed. It was a nightmare. But now it is almost a year since he finally did leave and the divorce went through and my life is great. Life is so much better on the other side, and I do know it is hard to see that at the stage you are in. Stay strong, visit CN often, develop a really good network of support around you and don’t protect your husband, let people know what he is doing. Honestly, my life is better in every single way.

      • Mine wouldn’t leave our home either. I left a few times…. forgave him, came back. Forgave him, came back. Forgave him, came back. I’ve been gone over a month now. It sucks. That was MY home that I took care of…. But I could no longer deal with the ‘cell phone’ shit he would pull right in front of me. Him and his fucking cell phone drove me up a wall. I have told asswipe he can have the house – but he and his appraiser appraised it for $66,000 LESS than my appraisal. Go figure. I think we should just sell the fucking thing. Why should he get MY house? He’s living there now and I am living with my son. I took care of everything – the house, the yard, the kids and he is living there and I am living with my son. Fucked UP!

        • Mine squatted in our home for one full year before he was court-ordered to leave by a certain date, but left a week later because dammit, “It’s still my property.”

          Assholes to the core, every one of them.

          • LOL!
            I thought I was the only one! The X squatted for a year in our house, and scuttled two offers, and was working on a third when I told him i was going back to court, to tell the judge. Then he signed. He stole thousands in equity from me, and didn’t care one bit.
            It was super sad for me recently, I saw MY house got resold last month. Lots of my personal touches were still on the house- the fireplace I put custom stone on, my firepit. Boo, stupid cheater!
            Someday, I’ll get another house, and he won’t destroy that one!

        • I don’t understand why anyone has to live with a cheater. I threw his shit out when he was going to do a sleepover and took his keys. Why do they insist on staying.

          • They insist on staying for the control factor. Over the years I have wanted to end my marriage so many time asked my ex for a divorce. He would just act like it was a huge joke, and then he would start showing concern for me, engage in sex and be attentive just enough to make me question myself and drive myself crazy with internal dialogue on why was I questioning him? Why didn’t I trust him? Why did I get so angry with him all the time? What was wrong with me?
            They love the control either by force or by deception. The sad part is they don’t care who they damage in the process or how.

      • Same. Mine stayed for months after the divorce. I moved out with my teenage daughter and the realtor had to tell him, “hey the house has closed and is no longer yours, get out.” And to Sarah, I will tell you not to make the same mistakes I made like trying to solve things in mediation and expecting them to be reasonable. Because he told me he would pay half of my child support costs, I BELIEVED HIM! Gosh, right up to the end (how chummy I was). It’s really hard to wrap your mind around the Narcissistic Personality Disordered. They really have no remorse, no thought of doing the right thing. It’s all about them. Now I am trying to modify the divorce decree to get child support and it’s hellish. I wish I had found this site earlier and done what the majority, including CL have emphasized, get good legal help right from the start.

    • AllOut – I wasn’t 100% sure about going through with the divorce when I filed in March, but I KNEW I needed him out of the house so that I could quit having panic attacks, calm down, and start to think straight. Filing protected our joint finances, gave me exclusive use of the house, a date that he needed to be out, and legal standing to MAKE HIM LEAVE. He left when he was supposed to, under threat of me enforcing the order with the police.

      Filing doesn’t mean you have to get divorced. It does give you tools and options while you’re trying to figure out what’s best. And yes, it is so much better when he’s not around!

      • This is a wonderful, wonderful post, Chumptastic. So many people don’t realize the sheer power of being able to “think straight” in the wake of D-Day and usually months of dealing with the Cheater and gaslighting. Filing sets in motion the legal process that can protect finances and assets and make child support a legal and financial obligation. There is never a guarantee that the system will work as it’s supposed to, but there is a 100% chance that someone who is already cheating on the marriage vows is also going to look for every advantage in other ways–although it is hard to figure out, from a normal person’s perspective, what narcissists are willing to fight over. Money? Garbage cans? Your cat? Some gift you received 10 years ago? Weekends with the kids they’re ignoring in the same house? But filing starts the process of figuring that out.

      • How did you get a legal standing to make him move out? Does the judge have to agree to and sign such an order, or did he agree to it?

        • Buddy, I’m in TX, so what I describe here may not apply in your state. And I’m not a lawyer, so please consult a divorce/family law attorney in your state. After you file in TX, you can request that the court issue “temporary orders” which covers child support, visitation, use of property etc while the divorce case is pending. There’s a standard form and you just tweak the particulars for your situation. You can either jointly agree to the temporary orders, and then have the judge sign off (which is what happened in my case), or if the cheater won’t cooperate, there would have been a court hearing where I would have asked the Judge to issue the Temporary Orders. the Temporary Orders are a legally enforceable court order – voila! Bye Bye Cheater!

          • Also, if cheater moves out of the house a temporary order can stop him from entering the home you are living in. Otherwise, they can renter, break in and take possessions.

        • Ask your lawyer to file a temporary residence order when you file for divorce. It is a quick process. Otherwise they can come and go as they please. Asshole has never been back. And you can sleep better knowing their out.

    • Oh yeah, I put the last pieces to the puzzle together at about 2am on a Sunday night. Hired lawyer on Monday. Went out of town for a few days to think, returned to town and he received his “papers”. And then wow, when I refused to negotiate outside of my lawyer….the bullying, refusing to leave the house, living with a fucking man-teenager, began. And he stayed until he was court ordered out last Monday. I still have to provide access to the house for him to get his stuff out….I changed the locks first day after he came while I was gone to “get a few things”. He bullied me by staying, lurking, stalking, ignoring kids, etc…for a year. All I wanted for him was to be gone. My lawyer told me “hang on, you want him out, but every time you get upset about him staying, you take your eyes off the money, and right now you need to stay focused on the money”. So, my advice, is “suck it up, it is awful, but follow the money” in the end,you can endure way more than you think is possible! I got a decent settlement (so long as he pays). We are currently wrangling over the summer parenting schedule, but my house is drama free! Hold tight if you are divorcing a narcissist, they have zero remorse! And you have to pretend to have “zero emotions” in order to play this game. This whole scenario played out over a year. He stalled and stalled, refused to answer interrogatories, lied on depositions, we subpoenaed everything and even then he refused to play by the rules. Our agreement was ironed out on the courtroom steps, hours before it would have gone to trial….he didn’t give a shit that our kids were suffering. HIs only goal was to hurt me as much as possible. I’m day 7 being divorced and just barely beginning to breath again….and I’m sure the “games will begin again” over something new….

  • adding another layer to this: divorcing SOCIOPATH NARCISSIST is another level of hell. It makes you insane. Will I survive it? Time will tell.

    • With the sociopath narcissist I gathered all financial information (both his and my own) for leverage. Remember, they are pathological liars and typically when you file they will NOT disclose this information. Keep all financial information and evidence of cheating in a separate location. X broke in and luckily was unable to destroy evidence. Hire the best lawyer and don’t wait to file as they hide money quilt. Never negotiate with them only through a lawyer. Once the mask is off X raged like a five year old. Do not have any contact at all. This is hard at first but very necessary as they are manipulative and become unbelievably cruel. Make the fucker pay.

    • Don’t give up. I was soooo tired of fighting, tired of all of it. Thank god my pitbull attorney went the distance because I would of given up…..stay strong. Think of the future and long run.

  • I think the most important thing is to remember that they don’t play fair and to be on guard. Mine pulled some sneaky (and illegal) tricks to hide joint assets from me and took all the money from our joint account. He was definitely hoping to “punish” me by leaving me destitute even though he was the one that walked out. Leave no stone unturned researching finances. Take that money from the joint accounts. You’ll need it for legal bills. He also let my car insurance lapse without my knowledge. The bill was going to him. I wasn’t even thinking of things like that. He didn’t want me to get my own attorney. We could do it on our own in mediation. Big red flag.

  • Dear Sarah: Would you attempt to hand-feed a lion with a thorn in its paw? Pet a python? Then don’t attempt to negotiate with a narcissist on your own. Turn everything over to the lawyers; the extra cost is well worth your sanity and health.

    In your STBX’s eyes, you are attempting to take away something that is HIS (narcs don’t grasp the notion of community property). And a wounded narcissist is a dangerous thing. Go incommunicado (except for brief texts if you are have a child), but under no circumstances discuss settlement with the idiot directly.

    And exercise–the jerk will put you through the wringer and you need to maintain some level of health and stress-relief.

    • P.S. Do not mediate with a narc!! They will drag things out by arguing over petty things, shifting the ground as soon as you think you’re close to agreement.

      In the meantime, compile EVERY piece of documentation, bills, paycheck stubs, last year’s taxes, etc. that you can. Mine didn’t even put up a fight after a few attempts because every time he tried to argue, I simply said, ‘See p. 4 of the documentation I sent.”

      • Thanks Tempest. I am using the time between mediations to get my stuff together. I am actually drawing it out so I have more time to get everything together. And then when I have the basics we will probably go for discovery and depositions. I also needed “time” to prepare mentally. The more distance from realization day (the day it changed from feeling sad and wanting things to be back to “normal” to an inner rage) the better. Helps me focus that rage. Take no prisoners.

        • Mine wanted to stick with mediation and the mediator seemed to favour him. I am seeing an experienced divorce lawyer who specializes in financial settlement and police divorce – my appointment is in a couple of weeks.
          She is going to brief me on what I would be likely to get in court – top and bottom figure- and a list of questions. She says that I can give mediation one more go armed with that and if I do not like the way it is going then to tell him that I am handing it over to her!
          The woman he is cohabiting with is refusing on principle to allow any information to be disclosed regarding her income or assets although she is working, in receipt of a pension, and sold up last summer to move into his rental while “flathunting” while her furniture is in storage.
          He claims that she is paying nothing toward rent or expenses….you know, just typing this is making me angry at being taken for such a fool.
          I have let this drift for way too long….newer chumps please take heed. I consulted a lawyer 6 years ago when he first moved out and when I said that I did not feel ready to file as the marriage was not 100% over she just smiled sadly and shook her head like she had heard it all before.

      • I did mediation b/c it fed my Ex’s narcissistic sense of “oh poor me I’m really a nice guy”, but I manipulated it to my advantage. Also? I had an additional attorney who read every agreement version, advised me, and was generally very tough, and brilliant. The mediator actually recommended that we each have our own independent lawyers…just that mine was better than his. Ha!

      • I might add that narcs hate feeling stupid. I brought my warrior spirit to court and kicked his cheating ass. Yes he hid money however I got everything that was important to me. He got a used vagina pig and junk vehicles. I got my pension and the aging serial cheater has no idea what he lost in the deal. He never thought I would remarry. Play on their entitlement. They can’t help but expect that they will always control you. I hate the fucker. Karma.

  • Sarah, Be prepared. MY STBX landed up filing first. Full of lies. Try to anticipate. STBX set me up for some things that he did. If you think he had not thought this through a thousand ways, think again. Our integrity, compassion, wanting to do things the right way puts a rosy colored lens on things. Remove the lens. Replace it with a hyper focus lens.

    You have to play the game. If you are playing, then win. It is a battle. You know that. Through everything I STILL thought there was a shred of decency in flying monkey, but no, time has proven otherwise. Protect yourself, protect your assets, anticipate, and go nc as much as possible unless you need to get more info.

    I wish I could have had this talk with myself a year ago. I would have kicked the blubbering, thinking we’ll be back together fool and told her to woman up. I would have sunk my teeth into his throat and not stopped until the breathing stopped. Now I am playing catch up to his years of planning and my kids are being hurt in the process.

    STBX would not even look at me when he walked by after our first mediation (in separate rooms), but he was laughing. The next mediation I will not be in separate rooms because I can’t tell if he is actually telling any truth. If forced separately, I am walking. I am taking my power back.

    Like Lina, mine is out to punish me, the kids, his parents and any friends that are not supporting him. Amazing what happens when the mask slips.

    My best to you.

    • Yes. Not to keep repeating myself but mine tried to punish my 91 year old Dad who was nothing but good to the bastard.

      • To call him a sonofabitch is demeaning to all good dogs everywhere. They don’t make words to describe people that low.

    • And they spend years carefully training their spouses in the concept of “my money”, so when we’re ready to leave, we all say, “I just want the kids, I don’t want any of his money.”

      Oddly enough, my stbx kept saying the opposite of the truth–that his money was used to take care of the family, and I always spent the money I earned on anything I wanted. That always mystified me, as I housed, clothed, fed, activity-ed, transported, insured, and educated them. Thank you, Tempe, HeHid, KarenE, and all the other wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee folks on this site. I will be meeting with lawyer today, probably last time before our settlement conference, and I have a brand new attitude about this concept.

      • Yes – I got all that bullshit too.. it is “HIS” money. Excuse me dumbass – I worked full-time too. How do you think the house payment got made every month? Who do you think bought all those Christmas gifts for YOUR family. He sent me a text that basically said I was spending ALL his money and once he finds another girlfriend he will be rich. Right. We went in for our tax appointment and because he so stupidly cashed in his ROTH – we owed over $5000. If we would have claimed separate – he would have owed over $8000. I made him pay the $5000 (It was all his anyway). Then he HAD to get himself a lawyer because OMG – I am actually expecting HALF (and more) of our assets! There was another $3000 he had to dish out in one month. His shoebox that he’s been hiding money in isn’t as full anymore. Dick.

        • Mine too… His money…. I raised the kids ,cooked,cleaned. But you know. He worked all day. Mine took the kids college fund and bought a house in ow name paid cash…

  • Sarah, CL just saved you a ton of time and money on books, therapists, counselors, etc….she gave you the Cliff Notes version of who you’re dealing with and what you need to do….I went through months of exhaustive reading to come to the conclusions CL got you to in as long as it took you to read her response. My ex was exactly like what she described….she got caught in her affair, I told her I was divorcing her, she told our son I WAS THE ONE breaking up the household….”it happened only once”…then when I didn’t cave…”It’s gone on for longer than you’ve known!….I had the time of my life!…..” recently she told me she’s been nice in spite of “how she’s been treated”….it’s divorce due to you having an affair a–hole…nice ain’t in the game plan. The sweetest revenge I’ve had yet was the day I divorce was finalized, she sat outside the courtroom with her lawyer, weeping. Yup….I’m your huckleberry!

    • I got the “I’m a horrible person because of how I treated him” too. Apparently not giving him sex as often as he wanted. Well – when he comes home from the bar at 11:30 on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday night, when I have already been sleeping for an hour, NO – I don’t want sex. He stinks like beer and cigarettes, doesn’t brush his teeth and is wearing the same clothes he went to work with. UMMM – yuk! I don’t have a union job where I have the luxury like him to sleep on my half hour breaks and lunch break. I actually have to stay awake from 8-5. Now – the nights he actually came to bed at 9:00 and sober – I wasn’t as much of a prude as he claims I was. He had absolutely no respect for my needs. Like sleep. It’s all about him and HIS needs…. Dick.

  • Its all about strategy at this point. Your POS spouse has attempted to turn yr world over like a snow globe… Few more shakes and its a full blown blizzard and you cant see strait. And while u are vulenerable and very emotional he will launch his attack. You need to shut off your emotions at this point. My elderly neighbor grabs me by the shoulders and told me to get my shit together… And cry later. Thats what I did. It wasnt any less painful … So you will not be spared that but you will be able to navigate better thru this shit storm.
    Plenty of good advice here… Use it. Be careful.

    • I can finally credit that quote. I’ve re-told that story here to newbies more than once, but couldn’t remember the source. “Cry later!” Damn straight.

  • I had to work with some of these bozos. NEVER TALK TO THEM ON THE PHONE. They will ask questions to set you up. I have had them try to record me. Communicate through your attorney. And get a bulldog lawyer that loves to win. If you have children never talk about him/her to the kids. EVER. If they visit and want to talk then listen but do not comment. These people want you to bleed. If they stay true to form they may lose interest in the kids once they hit puberty and don’t worship the pos anymore. That is when you can take a deep breath. On the other hand if your stbx is dangerous, and they can be, you need to proceed with caution.

    • Yes, good advice; never, ever talk to the narcissist or an attorney or a surrogate for the narcissist (friend, relative) about the affair, separation or divorce over the phone. I was once involved as a witness in a legal case at work. One of the attorneys called me at home and asked a few benign questions that then can back at me out of context in the deposition. No real harm done, but a lesson learned. That is why I also say DO NOT TEXT with these people either. It’s too easy to get into a back and forth. Email allows you to slow down, draft your 1/2 of any conversation and record times. Emails are easier to archive for your own court needs, if your STBX is angry, hostile or threatening.

    • Let go – this is good advice.

      I tried to talk with STBX on the phone and all I got in return were threats and intimidation. Then he tried to use what I said against me – even though he’s the one with a poor memory.

      And, I completely agree with not talking to the kids about him/her. I was there if my daughter asked questions and answered honestly but without disclosing everything. I was there to listen if she needed to vent about things he said, she saw, she heard but did not give my opinion or thoughts. When she complains about spending time with him, I simply remind her that she can make her own decisions since she’s a teenager.

      None of it is easy at all but somehow we seem to get through it.

    • “If you have children never talk about him/her to the kids. EVER. If they visit and want to talk then listen but do not comment.”

      This is painfully difficult to do, but do your best. Kids will be grilled over at dear old dads (or mom’s place if you’re a dad chump) for any and all information you share with them. And they will unwittingly throw you under the bus because it pleases their father, and all they want to do is please the man who abandoned them.

      For a while. Then, the day will come when it dawns on them that they have unknowingly hurt you by sharing with dad. The guilt will be crushing.

      • Early in the separation our daughter told me my ex was asking about me, my work, arrangements at home, etc. I asked if she was uncomfortable with that, she said she was, but didn’t know what to say when he asked. She didn’t want to reply that it was none of his business. Our son piped up with ‘just say you don’t know’, and we decided that was a great answer. So even to the most obvious stuff, they’d say they didn’t know, and he gave up after a bit.

      • I was guilty of doing this a bit during the early days but now I just ask general questions, such as ‘Did you have a nice dinner?’ and things like that, so that the kid that sees ex feels alright about talking about life over there. I don’t really want to hear anything and don’t care what goes on over there but my kid needs that outlet to talk about part of his life.

  • Some of the best resources on this situation can be found at High Conflict Institute. Mr. William “Bill” Eddy is both a therapist and an attorney. His focus is on high-conflict divorces; i.e. chumps dealing with narcissists and worse. His materials are used in Family Courts. One of his books is listed in CL’s recommended book list.

    I recommend that the first thing anyone does that is dealing with a high-conflict situation is to read and obtain his materials. He has several resources that are produced specifically for judges, attorneys and others in the legal field, not just materials for the individuals divorcing.
    That way, the chumps have information written by an expert in the legal field that they can use to educate legal personnel that may not understand the ‘workings’ of these crazies!

    ForgeOn, all!!!!

    • I second the recommendation for Bill Eddy’s stuff, he has been in the trenches and has very practical material. His book ‘Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Borderline or Narcsissist’ is excellent!

  • I would adjust one part of CL’s advice. Don’t ask for all the assets, ask for what you want. Don’t fight for anything on principle. If you don’t really care that he gets both cars, let him have them. If you want to keep your car, make it non-negotiable. He will try to string things out, but your stance needs to be cut-to-the-chase and business like at every turn. Make sure you have a lawyer who understands your concerns and your non-negotiables.

    I second the advice to grab all documentation now. Take it or xerox it, just make sure you have it–ideally at work or in a box at a friend’s home. Remove your name from any shared credit cards. Make sure you have all the information you need to keep insurance in place (health, homeowners, car, whatever). Take 50% out of any shared accounts and open independent ones. Do your best to split assets 50/ 50 before he can take a swing at them. Be prepared that every sensible step you take may result in his absolute rage (my EX was beyond furious when I stopped our joint credit card and took 50% out of our joint account–the fact that I had recently discovered he had a secret bank account he’d been funneling a few hundred a month to for 5 years was apparently not a justification in his mind for my decision to split our funds. And I never went after that account–getting exactly half the money wasn’t something I needed. The legal costs of obtaining it would have exceeded the value of the account. My own priorities centered around custody issues.)

    Document everything and play it all absolutely straight. Keep a copy of every text. Record phone conversations (if legal in your state). Have a friend or other witness with you at any necessary face-to-face meeting. The more reasonable and unflappable you are, the more vividly his narcissism will shine in court.

    If you are dependent on him and can’t get at accounts and things, let your lawyer know and have him/her start throwing the book at him with demands for all the documents, spousal support, etc.

    • Your advice is exactly great for anyone, even those who haven’t decided to file. If you are going through D-Day and even in “reconciliation,” gather that information. Copy tax, bank, pension, investment and insurance records. Split off your own car insurance. Have the bank and insurance statements sent direct to your email. Make sure you have your own checking and savings and consider getting that post-nuptial agreement and asset split before you reconcile or start marriage counseling. Catch a cheater? Start the consequences rolling. Because if he or she is a narcissist or on that end of the human empathy spectrum, levying consequences is the fastest way to find out who you are dealing with. Don’t wait until the cheater files, appropriates all the assets, and gets started on the narcissist cheater PR campaign. The smartest thing I did (and I was not married and just dumped without explanation or a return or the business account money (mine) was to send him a snail mail letter telling him I was aware that his MOW was not discrete. He had yelped loudly about me “not going public” and I told him we were on a two-way street about everything. He did NOT want his family to find out what he did. But clearly, I had a chicken-shit cheater. It’s always better to be on offense.

  • This is good timing for me as well as Sarah. I am in the ‘thick’ of divorce and everything Sarah has mentioned I too am experiencing. It is MY fault he cheated. He wanted to try and settle this without lawyers – but then I wasn’t sure how to get half that pension of his without a lawyer….?? Once he figured out that yes – I will take half MY pension asshole, he lawyered up. He said he wanted me to be ‘comfortable.’ Well his thought of ‘comfortable’ was that he just gets the house, all the vehicles (except my 1 car), all his SHIT and I just walk away. I don’t think so dumb ass. You owe me half – and actually with the bullshit you have put me through, I am going for more than half. As someone else mentioned earlier, my jackass wouldn’t leave the house. I finally did and have gone no contact. It’s frustrating when I don’t hear from my lawyer for weeks because she is waiting for his bank statements and credit card statements. He will drag it out. I’m hoping he will just pay up my dissipation claim because I think he is afraid of becoming more exposed – and I CAN’T wait to show everyone (including my kids) what the bastard was up to the past few years of our marriage!

    • Funny, mine used that same word…comfortable. I will be ok, fine, he will be fair. Weasel words that mean nothing.

      • Yes “comfortable.” Comfortable in my apartment because you want the house? Comfortable with my car when you take the rest of the vehicles, the boat, and the tractor? Comfortable with my 401K when you have an additional $13000 in your 401K plus a Roth (that he cashed in thinking I forgot about it or something) plus your pension? Yes – I will be comfortable in MY new home as soon as I receive half of that Roth you cashed in. I will be comfortable with an additional $6500 in my 401K. I will be comfortable with half that pension. I will be comfortable when you pay me half for your brand new truck, sports cars, motorcycles, boat, tractor and the equity in OUR home. Dick. Or yes – “weasel” is an excellent description!

  • I didn’t know it at the time, but I believe my first husband was a Narc. I’m guessing most abusers of the physical type are. The charm/self pity/rage mo is classic for abusers. He was jealous of every single thing in my life. Family, friends, work, pets, hobbies. Everything in life had to be about him. . I never could get him to leave. He had trashed our finances by not working, which made it difficult for me to leave. Not to mention the death threats to me, my family, pets, friends, etc. He died of a massive heart attack years ago.

      • I can recommend the three pack of cigarette/12 pack of beer a day diet. It’s very effective, especially if you are 49 years old.

        • Sounds like him – except it is more like a 6/pack Mon-Thur, then 3 cases Fri-Sun. Hmmm – got to get him to smoke more…. His health is already going to hell from his drinking. He has sleep apnea. (That is only one issue) I don’t think he knows, but I sure as hell am not going to tell him. My co-workers x died from alcoholism at 46. She brought in some of his lab work before he died and I compared them to my stbx’s. They were quite similar. My stbx is 44. 2 more years…Maybe we will ALL get lucky!

          • I remember when I got a copy of his autopsy report, one of the DX listed was Alcoholic something another. I was surprised, and said How did they know he was an alcoholic? This stuff is very damaging. His official cause of death was Cardiomegaly or something like that. Enlargement of the heart.

            He didn’t have any diagnosed health problems but he avoided doctors like the plague. I think he had high blood pressure and periodontal disease, both of which are risk factors. It was in the summer, and he mentioned throwing up while mowing the yard in the heat. The morning of the HA he threw up a lot. I thought it was due to drinking a lot the night before. He laid down, I was in the kitchen eating a sandwich. I started hearing all these odd wheezing noises from the bedroom wher.e he’d laid down. He was unresponsive, I called 911, and had to administer CPR till the ambulance arrived, in about four minutes. . I think he was probably dead at that point. It was very traumatic for me. Nobody knew about the abuse so it was really weird. Amazingly I felt a lot of guilt and didn’t date for a year. Wore my rings and everything

            • Wow – that is traumatic. I made stbx get a physical last year. I told him I would not seek spousal maintenance if he did (which was unlikely I would receive it anyway – but he doesn’t need to know that.) Otherwise he would never see a Dr. I called the nurse to have a GGTP done on him (a test for chronic alcoholism) so he could see that YES – dumbass – YOU ARE AN ALCOHOLIC. Well – they never did the test. I was pissed! Other tests showed diabetes, high triglycerides and all his liver and kidney tests were within ‘range,’ but BARELY. The Dr. (So I was told from cheater) didn’t seem too concerned with anything. So – maybe it was a good thing they didn’t do the GGPT. If they didn’t seem too concerned, then he will continue to do what he is doing and therefore will hopefully leave this planet sooner :-).

              • Lol, Lady Strange. One thing about it, if he’s a narc, they think they are invincible. Know everything. Rules, even if nature, apply to everyone except them. So he’ll probably keep right in doing what he’s doing…

              • Oh – he’s a Narc alright. And yes he does think he is invincible and unfortunately he has been….no DWI’s, flies to Denver to buy pot and bring it to Las Vegas, never gets caught, family, friends, and our children don’t think he has a ‘problem’ because “he doesn’t get drunk EVERY weekend.” Not only is he an idiot – so is everyone else who denies the problem. And it is amazing how many people have ‘sided’ with him after word got out about him cheating….wtf??? I pray for death daily.

            • Not Juliet, OMG I was thinking I was alone. Five days before I was going to file he had a heart attack.he did not know what I had planned. He is on hospice now, all the arteries in his heart are blocked, he has diabetis, high triglycerides, blood preasure and LDL cholesterol. He is 60, I am not the loving, caring wife about to lose her husband. I will get all the assists and the life insurance. After 40 years together, not heavenly ones, will I pretend to be the greaving widow? I do know I will cremate him, and my grown kids or my roses will get the ashes.

              • Wow, Still A Chump, how horrible for you. I did play the grieving widow, and truthfully I really was freaked out. It was very sudden, 10 a.m. I’m in my kitchen eating a sandwich. One p.m. that afternoon i was a forty year old widow. I didn’t have kids, my parents had been dead for a long time, siblings in other states, and I didn’t have many friends. Everyone was either married with children, or single and wanting to party. I spent about a year in a very rough place, till I met Mr. Wonderful, the Cheater. How lucky for me.

  • The hardest thing for me was that I had to put on a warrior persona. I was not a warrior by nature, although I am inclined to participate in a verbal battle of the wits when challenged — especially if it is something I consider fun, like analyzing a book or a movie, or making up a fake back-story for some character spotted in the mall or Walmart. But a warrior mentality is entirely different. A warrior is trained to go for the kill, because he doesn’t want to have to face the foe again. It is more expedient to kill than to wound. In the case of divorce war with a narcissist, you keep that warrior with you at all times. You can go into a divorce/child custody & support/division of assets meeting in your Trojan Horse disguise. You may look just like you did back in time when you were the most wonderful woman he had ever met, but inside, you are a warrior. My battle plan was ask sweetly, kill quickly.

    The best preparation for battle is to have as much intelligence gathered as possible. Realize that there are some assets that are gone and will not be recovered. I had to face the fact that he had probably been hiding cash assets ever since the start of our relationship — a trick he had learned from his father — I did not have the time or the resources to get a forensic accountant. I also had two children to raise, and they were my primary concern. I had already decided what concessions I could make, and what I wouldn’t do, but I asked for more than I expected to get so that he could feel he had won a few of the battles. I kept my eye on the finish line. I was going to win the war. Whenever he would start into a rant — like “You are going to ruin my business, you are never going to let me see the children, blah, blah, blah, big bad mama bear” I would bring out the facts — Why would I want to ruin your business, I want you to support your children? How can you have custody when you travel with your work? Don’t you think the children need stability? Can your schedule accommodate getting them to school and extra-curricular activities,doctor’s and dentist apts, help them with homework, get them in bed on time, do their laundry daily (sports practice at least 4 days a week) etc, etc. I didn’t say No you jerk, you don’t deserve and your children don’t deserve to be exposed to you that much — although that was what I was thinking — I stayed calm and reasonable and let him figure out how time consuming raising children was. He really had no idea, since he had not done any of it since the children were born, and when he started calculating how much of his freedom he would give up, and he thought I was willing to share the children if he was willing to step up his parenting game, he quickly agreed to me being the primary custodial parent, willing to give him liberal visitation. I knew he would not sustain the visitation, because it did not provide enough kibbles for him, and was entirely too much work for him. I had to swallow knowing that he would have a string of OW along for the ride, and I could only hope that they may have a little mother instinct when it came to caring for my chlldren — if only to try and impress him with what great marriage material they were. He wasn’t interviewing them for marriage, and none of them lasted very long. That also taught my children some painful but necessary life lessons about their father’s priorities.

    Even if you are a great warrior, don’t expect to come out of the battle unscathed. There will be wounds. There will be scars. You will never be the person you were before you met him — life is irrevocably changed after the Narcissist Experience. Think of the Narc like Agent Orange from the Viet Nam War. Any exposure is going to have side effects, none of them will be pleasant, but if you survived being around it, you are lucky to be on the right side of the grass. You will never lose the warrior persona either. The warrior may fade into your emotional background and only come out if you sense danger, but knowing that you CAN be that tough if you need to be is a confidence builder.

    • Great advice Portia! I alternate between depression/fear, and confidence/courage; right now I’m feeling more of the former. I know I’ll need to go into full warrior mode once he’s out of the house and I file. I’m certain he’ll become completely engrossed in his own misery, and abandon all responsibility, or concern for our family. It would be awesome if there was “The Art of War for Divorce,” but your advice is as close as anything I’ve heard. Thanks!!

  • I found Chumplady via Infidelity Help Group a few weeks after DDay 1. I must admit I initially kept my distance, thinking your stance was a little extreme, because you know, we were reconciling, until I realized – or should I say admitted – that we weren’t. At that point I was all over this site, and this post helped me get in fight mode. I went no contact. I got a lawyer. I copied financial documents. The fact that this post is reappearing a year to the day that I surprised his ass by serving him with divorce papers at work makes me love it, and you, CL, even more.

  • Sarah, you are receiving great advice from the Chumps who have traveled this path. Most, if not all of us had, or still have, spouses/partners who would classify as having one or more of those heinous personality (read:character) disorders. Narcissistic, Sociopathic, Psychopathic, etc…they all follow the same or similar scripts. For their twisted mantra, I’m going to butcher a line from the Sci-Fi movie Dune: “THE KIBBLE MUST FLOW”. As CL and everyone here has stated: YOU WILL SURVIVE THIS. No doubt there will be moments you’ll feel like you’re at the end of your tether (sometimes 24/7). However, if you find your inner Bad-Ass and have her come out prepared to do battle, you will come out of this intact – wounded and scarred, but intact AND FREE! Please wait for your Tuesday – it will come, with you triumphantly arriving in the Land of Meh. ((Hugs)).

  • The best key is acceptance that your marriage is over completely and not try anything to please your ex.They are not your friend,they do not love you,they do not have your best interest at heart,they will not morph into a nice person one day,they are evil,they are liars,cheaters,deceivers and lead double lives.The world owes them so do you.You do not deserve anything.You crushed their dreams.You are selfish.The kids will be fine their reselient.The kids don’t matter.Hell they don’t exist.Me I’m perfect everyone loves me.I’m Mr.Charmer.Once you realise this there’s nothing else.Hire a lawyer with experience,smart,good track record and that will fight for you.My ex was also a narc and I didn’t want to believe until I read every lustful message to other women.Ja they do tend to get crazy after they discard you and then you discard them.It messes with their perfect view of themselves.I’m so special why would you want to dump me.

  • I wonder if Sarah came out of this OK. She wrote that letter back in September 2013. You out there Sarah?

    File fast, file for fault if it’s allowed in your state, go Jedi Ninja on the motherfucker before you end up flattened. No pity, no mercy.

  • Also pls don’t take this guy back cheaters don’t change.Serial cheaters inflict a lot of damage.I also got its your fault.But he cheated on every girlfriend he has ever been with.Nice try though.You were the common denominator in every relationship.Every women you have been with caused you to cheat?No you a sick disordered man.Try saying that to a narc and see how that goes.Full Narc rage not a pretty thing to see.I will never give myself to another Narc.Those people belong on a planet of their own where chumps can conduct experiments on them but then I guess they would enjoy that attention way to much.

  • Also know that some unethical lawyers will use your ex’s personality disorder against you. I’d like to think they were unaware of the dangers of divorcing a Narc because mine was especially Sparkley but if you’ve been in family law this should be a no brainer. Make your lawyer work. Be aware of your rights re pension, savings accounts, the house. The pension and house are your biggest assets; if you suspect your ex will not play fair be sure to protect these. In Ca a joinder is filed for a pension. You will then need to have a QDRO. Do not sign MSA until this is completed. Address finances quickly, my advice? Try to get a pro rata share of expenses paid (my ex walked out of my life leaving me with all the expenses and 1/5 of the income-mine-to do it on. Both lawyers-his and mine-sat back and let me figure this out. I lost my house because no one had the balls to call this idiot out on his crap (but again you have to choose your battles and the court has zero enforcement powers). Use resources for child support too if that becomes an issue. My ex actually worked part time as a bailiff in a family court affiliated with ours, preparing his “narrative.” I am only glad he didn’t have a life insurance policy out on me. I did a lot of reading, the internet is a great resource for case law, divorce, etc. know too that what you want can be very individualized. I addressed college tuition because it mattered.

    • Drew–Yes, I got a supplemental document to cover oldest daughter’s college tuition as she was over 18.

      • I’m trying to get stbx asshole to pay for my son’s medical bill. After my son busted the asshole cheating on his mother, my son was in the mental institution for 19 days. And because my son is over 18…. it is his responsibility. He can’t afford that! Insurance picked up the other $30,000 – but my son still has a $5500 bill that I have been paying $50/month on so they don’t hound him so much. I think the asshole should pay for my therapy sessions as well! Dick.

        • All ex did to me after walking out and then the bizarre stuff he did to our children was all I needed to know about his crap future and my absence from it. I seriously can not wrap my mind around the things he did on his way out. Who steals money from their own daughter’s college fund and then parties for two years while his kids stuggle to make ends meet and do without necessary medical appointments (and pursue a degree, something we all once planned for). Nothing quite says LOSER than walking out on your family. Cheaters really are crap people.

  • Couldn’t agree with you more Portia. I too am by nature a pretty laid back, easy going, fun loving person…until you piss me off. After going through the affair, separation, divorce…I can definetly say I’ve developed the “warrior” persona you speak of. My problem is now I have all sorts of little triggers and I fly off the handle, go on the offensive, or get defensive in an instant. I’m constantly “ready to go!”

  • See, this is one of the reasons that I think that my ex’s main issue is not narcissism, but aspergers instead as the therapist said. HE is not fighting me in the divorce. He is giving me pretty much whatever I want. HE was like dead weight as a partner and a parent, and is now alos dead weight in the divorce, but not antagonistic.

    I’m not saying he doesn’t have an elevated degree of narcissism, It think he does and that compounds the other issues, and MOW is BPD (suicide threats anyone?) but compared to everyone here, I simply don’t have this issue. Even the mediator seems weirded out by his level of passivity (He barely filled out his financial disclosures and instead told them to work from mine…)

    Am I alone in this?

    • Let us know if when you get to the part where he signs the SA, he actually signs it. If he doesn’t and puts you back to square one, there is an answer. If he signs a fair and equitable agreement, then I’d say you are one of the few lucky ones

      • We did the separation agreement and have approved final draft of the Judgment. We just need to get the final legal description of the house to put in the papers for it to be in front of the judge.

        Honestly, he can’t be bothered with me. So I guess this makes me a “lucky” chump…

    • Stunt chump, just get him to sign the agreement and if he’s that into you doing a all the work get half the lawyers cost up front. However be carefule wit OW with mental health issues. As time went on and X’s disordered pig got wind he couldn’t marry him she went for blood when she realized he had no assets.

      • Oh, I totally get this. Right now, he is still feeling guilty and she still hasn’t realize she needs to help the poor man-child with his finances or she is going to be paying for everything, so the sooner this is finalized, the better.

  • People with Aspberger’s do not do nuanced anything. They cannot pick up facial expressions, body language or tones of voice. They concentrate on one thing to the exclusion of others. Very little sense of humor. If your ex has moved on then he is concentrating on her. He is turning over all of this to you and your attorney because it is too nuanced for him. Go get what you need and move on. Consider him as someone who has blinders on and sees nothing except what is in front of him.

  • Sarah, tons of great advice here. I also want to mention that attorney fees for divorcing a narcissist will likely be very high. Mine were and I cried when I wrote the check out to them. But they were just what I needed for dealing with him and his a-hole attorney (imagine a narc with a narc attorney). In hindsight, I didn’t have to communicate much with him during that process and I got mostly what I wanted in the end. It wasn’t easy though, that’s for sure but in hindsight, I couldn’t have done it without the attorneys so the money was somewhat well spent.

    • Oh my gosh, ByeByeCheater…I have a narc with a narc attorney, too!! I imagine I will cry when I have to write the check to pay for all of this…already over 20K. BUT, it will have been totally worth it!!! My trial is in 1 1/2 weeks and then I’ll finally be free!!!

  • I’ve had to play the long game to put myself and my children in the best possible position to weather the divorce and then the inevitable nonpayment of alimony and child support. This has included moving to another state where I will get a much better deal on custody among other advantages. I’m just going to try to collect as much up front as possible and be done with it. I hope. Chances are excellent that he’ll meet someone elsewhere and/or get new job and leave town within a couple years.

    What I wonder is can I protect the kids from him screwing with their little heads? What if he messes with my very elderly parents? Then there are the nightmare questions. What if he really loses it and gets violent? What if he takes the kids?

  • How do you divorce a narcissist? Very carefully. To them, it’s just another fun game. I finally cut my losses and called it a day. He kept playing for another year. That property settlement I agreed to have paid over five years was suddenly called spousal support, taxable to me and deductible by him. Those items on my list he agreed to hand over suddenly didn’t exist. Or he’d already given them to me and I was lying about that. Don’t expect anything but atrocious behavior, and you won’t be disappointed.

  • For all those chumps who can’t afford a lawyer… I am negotiating a divorce through the state, no lawyers, and it’s almost finished. I should (depending on the judge’s final judgment ) get FULL custody, alimony, and child support. My STBX is a bipolar narcissist. In my case, my narc had already decimated our finances, there wasn’t anything to fight about except some used furniture, an old tv, a 10 year old car was our most valuable possession. I’m sure there have to be other chumps out there who are dead broke, trying to negotiate a divorce on their own.

    • Inspirational, SO37!

      Good work.

      While I have an attorney, I am doing much of the legwork myself as I am also basically dead broke. Although I have a decent job, most of my income goes towards debts, taxes, bills, and unfortunately lots and lots of health care bills (doctors, hospitals and their collection agencies are some of the most aggressive out there. They make the IRS look nice.)

      But yeah, the good news is that there isn’t that much to fight over. The bad news is that I can’t afford my kids’ music lessons and travel sports teams. That part keeps me awake at night feeling like crap. Then some of the hatred and anger starts to come out.

      • Self-representing, too, as much as possible. And yes, brooooooke! And excoriatingly angry. Every. Damn. Day.

        Reconciled to the fact that I will need to pony up for college, and yep, my girl is rocking Target shoes and her peers are in Blahniks. She doesn’t give a hoot.

        But, you know what? We’re modeling integrity. There never will be justice -at least not on the terms I fantasize about- and its sucks our kids have these jerks for parents.

        But they have one good one.


        PS-About to get legal with Mr Fab over property…..another timely post, CL

    • I’m so impressed you could handle that yourself. I’m not sure I could do it myself. My paralegal is my beacon in the dark right now, keeping me focused.

  • Once the mask is off the narcissist, it is frightening to think you were living with such a total stranger. They put on a really good front. Mine did the 180 when I caught him still communicating with OW. Done. Kids are grown. Done. He became a two-year old who threw temper tantrums and did everything to break me when I filed. Mean, condescending, cold and heartless. His sister lived close, and he would have her spy on me. He did not help with selling the house, finding a new home for pets, or having a major garage sale to get rid of things (but he wanted half the money.) He battled about the littlest things that caused me to have to pay an attorney to straighten out. You will feel like you are walking through hell, but keep walking. CL is so right – no contact if possible. If you must, send business like texts and emails and copy someone on them (my attorney charged me to read them, so I started copying his attorney on them.) Also, ask for the moon. If they are with OW they will be pressured to just become divorced. I didn’t want maintenance, but asked for it as a way to smoke and mirror him from getting any of my pension. He thought he won – hey don’t have to pay her maintenance. Duh, didn’t want it to begin with – but now I get 100% of my pension. He’s moved on as I’m sure most do when you don’t let your world revolve around them. I’m a year out from D-day and 2 months from my divorce. Life is truly better. Good luck.

  • This is timely! Hope to finalize divorce soon. After 3 friend of court visits and 2 recommendations, STBX is still haranguing me for 50-50 custody. I’m definitely seeing the Jekyll and Hyde. I had asked my counselor for suggested reading to learn to effectively communicate with him but this may be enough!

  • The narcissist can never be a friend. Believe everything they do or have done. Get a kick ass therapist who understands narcissistic abuse. Know once you go no contact they try to fuck with your head. X started giving me compliments in court and telling me how he thinks about me all the time. They are deviant. They project their inadequacies on you like a crazed lunatic when their source dwindles and the realize what they lost. Burn that bridge quickly. Take care of yourself. Become selfish and be fucking angry. Stop making them look good and get a support system. Still waiting for the final order an my life after a year of bitter pain is finally peaceful and I am happy for the first time in 41 years. Taking back your power from a narcissist is well wort all the struggle and pain.

    • Donna, I agree that they “project their inadequacies on [us] like crazed lunatics.” Mine is also a master at transference of feelings on to me, such as hatred, greed, spitefulness, dishonesty, etc.

      I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. It’s a complete full-on attack of my character and integrity. All from the man I vowed to love for life.

      The mindfuck is astonishing.

      • Yes, recovering from the mindfuck is challenging, to say the least. Narc’s are on the Axis II level with mental retardation because both disorders are irremediable, chronic, and treatment is not paid for by insurance companies because these people never change. The hardest thing for me was to accept that I had been lied to for years, that our life together (24-years 2 beautiful daughters) was run by mindfuck, dr. jekyl and mr. hyde, and adolescent alcoholic misogynist abuse. And if that’s not bad enough, the WORST part is that in general most people did not see it. Thankfully my good friends did and thankfully I have this site, an incredible support system, and good therapy. There is another good site that addresses the Narc called Narcissistic Abuse Recovery, because it is truly abuse.

        • I was lucky and came out of divorce financially okay. If he dies and I don’t remarry, I think I the amount of Social Security he has which is more than mine will be.
          Although fortunate financially, I seem to have worse luck mentally. I fight every day to not let the negative thoughts about myself take over. I feel I am the opposite of everything he used to tell me because so much of what he did and said were lies. So if he told me I was pretty, wonderful, smart, talented, etc…I must actually be the opposite. Seems like an easy thing to fix as I type this, but it’s so, so hard. I’ve worked so hard in therapy and on my own to understand what made me vulnerable and to shine reality on the negative thoughts but it’s constant work.
          Anyone have any magic tricks to make it all better. I’m tired and weary of it.

          • NWRain–you are eligible for X’s social security amount even if he doesn’t die (as long as you were married at least 10 years, and are not married at the time you start collecting. Even if you remarry, and get divorced before you start collecting–not that you would–you are still eligible for X’s soc sec if it is higher than yours).

  • Totally supportive of Dr. George Simon’s work – excellent resource; his books treats thoroughly with issues of Character Disturbance, Narcissism, Entitlement, and much more. I’ve purchased a copy of each, and recommend them highly.

    As CL said above, understanding what’s truly going on is very helpful… and believe me, it’s very interesting to know why manipulative persons do what they do – and how to protect/defend yourself.

    Also check out Dr. Simon’s blog:

  • Thank you SO much for the mention – this was my favorite quote…maybe ever: “These women divorced narcissist nut jobs and survived — and you will too!” 🙂 — Tina Swithin, Author of “Divorcing a Narcissist” and One Mom’s Battle (blog)

  • A few more survival tips for divorcing the narcissist that continues to help me tremendously…

    1. Visit ChumpLady daily for your daily dose of reality, hope and pep talk from those who are in different stages of extraction from a sicko relationship to a narcissist.

    2. Get a counselor who is willing to talk tough with you about establishing your boundaries with the narcissist. Someone who recognizes the trauma you’ve been going through and isn’t willing to yes you to death over your troubles; someone who knows the local resources including restraining order requirements and what to expect in court AND is able to give you solid advice on action steps.

    It’s one thing to find someone you can cry openly around and pour your heart out; it’s another thing entirely to have someone helping you navigate a minefield of uncertainty when it comes to divorcing a mean-spirited individual. If you have to choose, go with the second professional first. Tip: THAT PERSON IS NOT YOUR ATTORNEY! KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BEFORE YOU’RE SHOCKED BY THE FEES INCURRED FROM CRYING ON THE TELEPHONE.

    3. Find a friend you can email all the true venom you WANT to reply to your narcissist. Send it to your friend instead. A good friend will empathize instead of use it against you. And your “NO CONTACT” pledge will be easier to adhere to, knowing your friend has heard you.

  • Coming to this party late.

    I divorced a Narcissist this past year. Very long story short => I filed. We basically had no assets to settle. Just a lot of debt and a bull-shit business. It should have taken a month, and maybe $15K total. It took 9 months and $70+K because he insisted on dragging it on and on. Literally 4-5 times we were on the brink of signing the papers when he “needed a night to think it over”. Well, that bullshit came to an end when he realized he had to pay my attorney just over $20,000 for those shenanigans.

    Chump Lady hit on all the major issues.

    I would emphasize, don’t get stuck on arguing who gets the Ski-Do. Do your financial homework and split your assets the way your state expects you to.

    We had to go to a mandatory divorce class (separately of course) which is billed as a “parenting seminar”. It’s all about the divorce though. The lady giving my class actually said: “We don’t give a damn who you slept with – everything gets cut down the middle”. In my state, although Adultery is still a fault reason for divorce, but over 90% of divorces are settled out of court. Our county court tells us that divorce trials are their “last priority” and they can go on “for years” due to delays, and cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars”. So, in the end, you need to take all emotion out of it and settle as best you can. You may have to hold your breath and give away something you don’t want to – but you have to consider what is worth your sanity. That’s the bottom line.

    • How true – emotion gets us nowhere fast in this. We have to cut emotion dead here and be practical. There is only so much money in the pot and “winning” can be knowing when to fold. Lets not play at all. Lawyers are not therapists so let them get on with the job we are paying them for and take their expensive advice – so he fucked two women and probably more – you are divorcing him so does it really matter any more?
      Mine has done the whole range of charm ( hey, I will always care about you and can see us together again) – self pity (I worked since I was 16 and deserve to be happy) – rage (why the hell cant you start up your own pension scheme even though you are 58).
      Engage in none of it – never complain – never explain – just think practical.
      If we give these guys a foothold into our minds they will go right back to what they are good at – screwing us over.

  • I need to remember to check in with my counselor. The shit from STBX gets so deep that I need a reality check sometimes. That’s where the UBT helps too! The latest blame game I’ve been hit with is “how will you explain to our children why you’ve kept them from their fathers love?” I guess he forgot he wasn’t involved when her was having multiple affairs!

    • Wow, that is some psycho shit. The short answer is. “I won’t, because it’s not true.” Keep thr UBT handy!

  • How apropos to read this on the anniversary of my marriage. Fortunately I have a new anniversary that took it’s place. The date the divorce degree was granted.

  • This is such great information!

    I wonder, though, if there are significant differences between male and female narcissists? A male loved one is undergoing a process and it’s taken significant reassurance to deprogram the B.S. that he’s lived under for almost a decade. He almost lost everything!
    Do the tactics change at all with a female narcissist, or do narcissists generally act the same regardless of gender?

  • VERY important when separating from and divorcing any spouse but especially when said spouse is disordered (NPD, BPD, etc.)…do NOT let any other relative influence you…not any of his relatives obviously….but also not YOUR relatives either. Get the best attorney you can afford, and listen to him/her exclusively. You have got to focus on what’s important…primarily your future financial stability…and also your kids’ if you have any. A well-meaning but still-interfering parent or sibling who’s pushing you to fight for something non-critical….like some oddball antique…or to do the opposite, like to give it up as a way of showing some kind of “good will” effort (!!!) during the settlement negotiations….is a dangerous distraction. Assume people around you will pester you for some details. Anything you let slip could turn into a nightmare for you. As if you aren’t already having a hard-enough time! Keep your head up high…and your lips tightly shut.

  • I have been abused by my narcissist husband for going on 11 years and I finally stood up to my bully and put him in jail for hurting me and everybody thinks that I’m the bad guy cuz I stood up to him now he’s divorcing me because he has his girlfriend that he’s had since oh I don’t know a year lying to me cheating on me getting me into all this other crap in the Name of Love and now he’s divorcing me and trying to kick me out of the home because he said it was premarital and he lived with me for free for four years while we fixed up this home and he lies about his wages he’s a master something and he makes good money but he doesn’t claim it he gets a lot of it under the table and I’m trying to keep my wits together and I know God is the only one that’s going to help me through this but I need some advice on lawyers cuz apparently the lawyer that I have is not even recognizing what he’s done to me my husband is a brutal cruel is she nasty perverted old man and I don’t think it’s right that I have to deal with this but I’m running out of resources so you have any grants or loans anywhere that you guys can tap and do to help me out just saying.

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