The Difficulties of Divorcing Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder
By: M. Scott Gordon
The term “narcissist” gets used colloquially to describe a person who seems more interested in himself or herself than in other people, or to describe a person who appears especially vain. Yet it is important to realize that narcissistic personality disorder is an actual mental disorder that can have a significant impact on the lives of those with this disorder. Indeed, as the Mayo Clinic explains, a “narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school, or financial affairs,” and those with this disorder can become very unhappy or disappointed when they are not treated in a specific manner by others.
As an article in The New York Times discusses, getting divorced from someone with narcissistic personality disorder can be extremely difficult. To be sure, these are often high-conflict, contentious divorces. If you are in a marriage with someone who might be a narcissist, and if you have questions or concerns about moving forward with a divorce, an experienced Chicago area divorce attorney can assist you.
How Do You Know if Your Spouse Suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Being married to someone with narcissistic personality disorder can be extremely difficult, but it may be enough tougher—in the short term—to go through a divorce from someone who has this type of mental disorder. How can you know if your spouse suffers from narcissistic personality disorder? This is a mental disorder that would be diagnosed by a professional, but there are certain signs and symptoms that tend to be common among people with the disorder. The Mayo Clinic cites some of the following signs and symptoms of a narcissistic personality disorder:
● Exaggerated sense of self importance;
● Requiring constant admiration;
● Having a sense of entitlement;
● Expecting special favors from others;
● Taking advantage of others for your own betterment;
● Inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others;
● Being envious of other and believing others envy you; and
● Behaving in an arrogant manner.
Why Are Divorces So Difficult When One Spouse Has Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Traits?
The article in The New York Times emphasizes this: “When people are in relationships with either a full-blown narcissistic personality or even people with a high number of narcissistic traits, it becomes a very traumatic experience for them and the children. When they file for divorce and decide to leave or even think about leaving, it becomes an even bigger nightmare.” Why is divorce so difficult and complicated if one of the partners is a narcissist?
In short, divorcing a narcissist is never a “normal” event. Instead, as the article underscores, “they seek revenge, and the court system is an incredibly great platform for a narcissist . . . where they can just continue the battle with the partner and continue to seek revenge.” Not everyone with this disorder has the same traits and to the same degree. Typically, the more traits associated with a narcissistic personality disorder, the more difficult relationships tend to be (and, therefore, the more difficult a divorce process).
Speak with a Chicago Divorce Attorney Today
Given the difficulties of divorce when one partner exhibits narcissistic traits, it is important for family therapists to consider more deeply the links among narcissism, family relationships, and the dissolution of marriage. In the meantime, however, if you have concerns about filing for divorce because your partner suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, you should know that a Chicago divorce lawyer is here to help with your case. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC to discuss your options.