It’s hard enough to divorce a normal, healthy partner. But leaving a narcissist? A person whose symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle any criticism and a sense of entitlement? That’s a different level of hell and pain.
The Village has extremely useful advice on how to leave a narcissist, sadly, learned via the school of hard knocks. But knowledge is power… and the advice is a blueprint of how to do it with the least pain and damage possible.
“Gather your children. Get. Out. Now.”
“ Just be clear that the ‘narcissist’ only gets worse when you take command and leave. They are not rational when you make the move and the only tool they have is to lash out at everyone and anything.
I’ve often told friends and family that if he would have left me and not the other way round, I would have come off far better. The reality was that if I didn’t leave when I did, I would have gone mad.”
“The narcissist is one third of the Drama Triangle. The other parts are the victim and the caretaker and they all play a part in keeping the dysfunctional relationship alive. I was a caretaker for 40 years to a borderline/narcissist/addict sister until I found this incredible book. It changed absolutely everything for me. I highly recommend it. It explains in depth how we come to find ourselves trapped in these roles and how we can get out of it. https://www.takealot.com/stop-caretaking…/PLID38350688…”
“US Author Terrence Real is a fantastic help on this subject: please do yourself a favour and order: “The New Rules of Marriage” all of his other books are great too. He understands the importance of empowering women in relationships first. He pulls no punches when it comes to men and narcissism and grandiosity, and he does it with firmness and compassion. You can google his website: terryreal.com and there are some videos online to acquaint yourself with how he thinks while waiting for the book.”
“The only person a narcissist can adore is themselves. They may be able to pull off the grand gestures, but you can’t rely on them and their help & support whatever the weather. You can see this every time they have to make a choice between what they want and need and what their child / partner needs. Whenever theres room for only one person to win its ALWAYS them. They will happily screw over their kids so they get what the want. You need to prepare and plan. I knew my ex husband was a selfish lazy arse, but I didn’t realise he was a narc until I told him I was done and then had to deal with the endless threats to sell the house/car not pay maintenance etc.. it’s been truly hideous, and not quite over yet. But it’s a JOY not to have him in the house, being lazy, vile and threatening. Expect manipulation and threats. Remember you have MANY rights, find out about them. Save money in cash if your can. If you buy in places where they have cash back, do it and keep the difference (it’s not traceable). Keep a diary of his behaviour. GET STUFF DONE AROUND THE HOUSE NOW! I’m stuck in an old house with al work having been done 9-12 year ago so it’s all helpfully falling apart now! 👍🏼. Hold your nerve. You are very strong and you will find out how very strong you are when you leave. Keep your chin up. Literally. Remember the flamenco emoji! Chin up and think bring it on, whenever you’re dealing with his crap. Even if you want to cry or you’re terrified. Never let them see that and stay strong. Good luck and message if you want to, it will be awful for a while, but eventually you will be free! Read books these are great. Forewarned is forearmed x you’re a badass!”
“A very hard decision to make. I reasoned that if I stayed, I would at least be able to protect my children from the toxic behaviour (exhausting, because you have to try and predict when it will happen, run interference and do damage control all the time). The thought of basically delivering my children into the lion’s den, every second weekend and half of every holiday – with no way of shielding them – is what caused me to stay much longer than I should have. In the end, what swayed it for me, was the question ‘what am I teaching my children by staying?’ That was what I needed to make that final break. In the end, the children have been fine with going to him. He wants to be a popular parent and as a result his behaviour is better. The most important thing is to let your child know that he/she can talk to you about anything. The good and the bad, so that you will know what is happening and what is being said to your child in your absence. That way, if need be, you can put the pieces back together, until they are old and strong enough to decide whether to still have contact with your husband or not. However, if you ever become aware of any form of abuse, you must take the necessary legal steps to ensure sole custody..”
“I think getting professional support through a therapist would be wise given the challenges you are facing. A good support system will help weather what sounds like what could be a rough storm as you start to take your own life back.”
“Plan your extrication very, very carefully. Even if it takes months. Speak to a lawyer and a psychologist before you even hint to anyone that you’re going to go. You need to already have barricades up against the storm that is going to hit but you’ll be so much stronger and empowered by the preparation that you and your kids will get through it with minimal damage. Just walking away was far more damaging for me than if I had just hung on a little longer and prepared myself better.”
“Be prepared that he will use every third party to his advantage and turn them against you. They are masterful manipulators and can spin anyone’s head around. My other advice is, don’t fall into the trap of playing games, trying to beat him or out smart him; unless you are a worse narcissist you won’t win. Don’t stoop to his level. Don’t believe a thing he says, only measure his actions. Master a poker face and don’t show any emotion. Less is always more. The more you say, the more contact you have, the more you fight… the more he has to use against you. Every day of no contact you will heal a little bit more”
“ A narcissist’s biggest fear is you leaving him and he will make your life hell if you do – the only way to do it and to have a great lawyer and have no communication with him every thing must be done through the lawyer – the minute you engage with him post the divorce they are vicious. But to wake up everyday without that pit in your stomach or without having to walk on eggshells everyday is 100% worth it .”
“ I concur with those advising an exit strategy in as short a time as possible but a prepared one, and when you drop the bomb, you need to move quickly. Please make sure you have funding to sustain yourself for a period of time because the first thing they do is cut the financial support off so that you beg them and that they can punish you for rejecting them, the worst, they can not cope with it and will make you pay for it.
I stayed for an extra 10 years as I was a stay at home mum. I had the courage to leave only when I started producing an income even then it was not enough to be independent and he punished me. He divorced me fraudulently, withheld money, gas lighted me, “unadopted” my girls that he adopted, they became my children, turned my boys against me, turned the boys against the girls …. and much much more. If I knew then what I knew now I would have planned my exit more strategically. Make copies of all important documents, marriage certificates, birth certificates, investments, all contracts of any sorts. Prepare in advance to build a strong case, things disappear quickly and you are fed fodder. Prepare for the worst case scenario, they will try and drag it out for as long as possible and try and wear you out. In this preparation time become emotionally stronger, get counselling so that you will cope a bit easier. You will need the support of some close friends and family. It is hard but gets easier in time, they become very predictable. Good luck and be courageous”
“Make sure you will be as financially secure as possible before leaving. It’s a good idea to make copies of all important documents and keep where he can’t access them. Strength to you as you make your decisions.”
“Narcissists use money as a manipulating tool. They withhold and then become generous. It’s in order to confuse and control you.”
” A new strategy that I hadn’t heard of before is called The Grey Rock Technique.” It was coined by blogger, Skylar, and you can find her detailed piece on it on her website.
She says, the ideal way to deal with a narcissist is to avoid all contact at all, but if you cannot, in circumstances such as
- you have a child or children with a narcissistic ex
- you have a narcissist colleague or boss in a job that you feel unwilling or unable to leave at the present moment in time (although you should make it your long term goal to find work in a different company or department)
- you have narcissist parents or family members who you will have to see occasionally at family events
The theory is, in a nutshell, that you make yourself as uninteresting and as unresponsive as possible. Narcissists thrive on attention and drama, without it their focus CAN shift their attention elsewhere. This means sharing no information, answering questions with the least detail as possible, never referring to anything that can inflame jealousy or envy, portraying yourself as the dullest person around. She suggests never raising to bait, never getting yourself hooked in, even to the most seductive, charming or innocent-seeming conversation – charm and seduction are the weapons of sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissist. That charm is one of the the most common reasons why people find it so hard to leave them. They love bomb you to get you back.”