Divorcing A Covert Narcissist: Tips & Traps To Keep In Mind

Breakups and separations are tough, but it gets harder when you’re divorcing a covert narcissist. They are the ones who don’t want to be found.

These narcissists can manipulate you without you even knowing. You’re in for a rough ride on a rickety rollercoaster. They can play you until the last moment your divorce is finalized.

You might not even realize the emotional maze you’re in until many years later.

But here’s the deal: knowledge is power. Trust me, you’ll want to be prepared.

So, let’s break down the tips and traps you need to know to get through this.

9 Ways A Covert Narcissist Acts During Divorce

“Narcissists install a mental filter in our heads a little bit at a time. . . . Will he get upset if I do/say/think this? Will he approve/disapprove? Will he feel hurt by this? Until we can uninstall the narcissist-filter, our actions are controlled by narcissists to some degree.”

– Sam Vaknin, Professor of Psychology. Author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited
  1. Self-Importance Excess: Be prepared for your spouse to act like the world revolves around them during the divorce. Don’t let this throw you off; keep your focus.
  2. Fantasy (La La) Land: They may paint a picture of how they’ll thrive post-divorce. Don’t buy into it; it’s a tactic to make you doubt your decision.
  3. The “Special” Card: They’ll try to isolate you, claiming only certain people can understand them. Don’t fall for it; keep your support network close.
  4. Admiration Addiction: Expect them to seek validation from everyone, including the court. Don’t let this sway your own narrative.
  5. Entitlement Alert: They’ll expect special treatment and may not comply with legal requirements. Be ready to hold your ground.
  6. Exploitative Moves: Watch out for attempts to use your vulnerabilities against you. Keep personal information guarded.
  7. Empathy Drought: Don’t expect compassion or fairness. Stick to the facts and legal advice.
  8. Envy Traps: They might try to make you jealous of their new life or relationships. Ignore it; it’s a diversion.
  9. Arrogance Overload: Expect a condescending attitude. Don’t let it get to you; it’s just another manipulation tactic.

6 Emotional Traps Covert Narcissists Use During Divorce

Understanding these emotional tactics can equip you to stay strong and focused during the divorce process.

Keep your eyes open and watch for their emotional traps:

  1. Mind Games Galore: Covert narcissists are masters of manipulation. They’ll twist facts and situations to make you doubt your own reality. This is known as gaslighting, and it’s a tactic to keep you off balance.
  2. Emotional Rollercoaster: One minute they’re sweet, the next they’re cold. This emotional whiplash isn’t accidental; it’s designed to keep you anxious and uncertain.
  3. Blame Shifting: Get ready for a world where everything is somehow your fault. They’ll never take responsibility and will shift the blame onto you, especially in front of lawyers or in court.
  4. Silent Treatment: This is a classic. If they’re not getting what they want, they might shut down communication to punish you. It’s a control tactic, plain and simple.
  5. Victim Playing: They’ll portray themselves as the victim, trying to win sympathy from anyone who’ll listen, including the court. Don’t let their sob stories distract you from the facts.
  6. Guilt Tripping: They’ll use guilt as a weapon, making you feel bad for standing up for yourself or for wanting the divorce in the first place.

Financial Traps To Avoid

  • Watch for Hidden Assets: Covert narcissists can be sneaky about money. Make sure your attorney digs deep to uncover any hidden assets.
  • Don’t Rush To Settle: They might push you to settle quickly. Don’t. Take your time and make sure you’re getting a fair deal.

Communication Strategies To Use

  • Manage Your Emotions: You’re going to be tested, emotionally speaking. Keep your cool and don’t let their tactics get under your skin. Easier said than done, but it’s vital.
  • Set Boundaries: Limit how much you talk to them. The less, the better. And when you do have to communicate, keep it short and factual.
  • Use Your Attorney: Seriously, let your attorney do the talking. It keeps the stress off you and puts a buffer between you and the narcissist’s games.

Protecting Yourself And Your Kids

  • Set Strict Boundaries: Make it clear what’s acceptable and what’s not, especially when it comes to your kids. Stick to these boundaries like glue.
  • Use Attorney As A Shield: Again, let your attorney handle all communication. It’s the safest way to protect yourself and your kids from their manipulative tactics.

Legal Aspects To Consider

  • Pick the Right Attorney: This is crucial. You need an attorney who understands what narcissism is all about. They’ll be your shield and your guide through the legal maze.
  • Document Everything: Covert narcissists are sneaky, but they’re not smarter than a paper trail. Keep records of all interactions, texts, emails, and financial transactions. This evidence can be a game-changer in court.

Final Words

Divorcing a covert narcissist is a battle, but it’s one you can win. Equip yourself with the right legal help, set firm boundaries, and keep your emotions in check. You’re not just ending a marriage; you’re reclaiming your life.

The narcissist lives in an emotional vacuum. Don’t let them suck the life out of you after you decide to divorce them.

Take-Home Messages:

  1. Choose an attorney who understands narcissism.
  2. Document everything—your evidence is your power.
  3. Keep communication minimal and through your attorney.

Each of these points is a tool in your toolbox. Use them wisely and you’ll be better prepared for the challenges that come with divorcing a covert narcissist.

Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher.

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