The Aftermath Of Divorce From a Narcissist
If you’re divorced from a narcissist you know that the conflict has continued after your divorce was finalized. Divorce doesn’t put an end to the irrational behavior of a narcissist. In fact, divorce ramps it up and causes him to become worse.
And his ramped up narcissistic behavior can have you constantly spinning your wheels, living in a state of increased stress and responding in ways that aren’t healthy for you.
If you don’t learn how to respond to your narcissistic ex’s irrational behavior in a productive way, it can have severe emotional and physical consequences. And, most women don’t know how to respond to and process the constant conflict experienced after divorce from a narcissist.
3 Mistakes Women Make After Divorce From a Narcissist
1. Have Unreasonable Expectations
- They expect him to be reasonable and rational.
- They expect him to care about their situation.
- They expect him to do what is in their children’s best interest.
2. Believe They Can Fix the Problem
Narcissists target empaths, empaths are natural problem solvers and fixers. If you were married to a narcissist you probably spent years trying to fix the problems in the marriage. If you’re divorced from a narcissist, you’ll have the same inherent urge to fix the conflict between the two of you. It is, after all, the way you’re wired. How do “fixers” try to fix the conflict? Below are 2 examples.
- They justify their position. They believe that if they defend and justify their position on an issue or their needs they will eventually make him understand and “come around.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Trying to get him to understand their point of view on any issue is just added work and stress to an already untenable situation.
- They roll over and play nice doggy. They believe that if they give respect they will eventually get respect. What they don’t realize is, by playing nice doggy they are showing the narcissistic ex that they are vulnerable…that they need something from him. All this does is open the door for more emotional punches from the narcissist!
3. Fail to Understand the Emotional and Physical Harm Done by His Narcissistic Behavior
Narcissists are conflict generators. In the aftermath of divorce from a narcissist, if a woman doesn’t respond to the narcissist’s behavior in a manner that is healthy for her, she doesn’t have the opportunity to process her emotions and recover before the next onslaught of conflict.
She’ll find herself in a constant state of hypervigilance. She’ll be constantly on guard because she knows he will cause another conflict for her to deal with. She lives her life waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Living in constant state of fear and hypervigilance does both physical and emotional harm to the victim of a narcissist. What she is actually dealing with is trauma on an ongoing basis and, if not relieved can turn into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What are the Symptoms of Ongoing Trauma?
- Pain disorders
- Somatoform disorders
- Problems sleeping
- Menstrual problems
- Gastrointestinal problems, just to name a few.
- Unhealthy coping strategies. Working too much as a distraction. Using drugs or alcohol to relieve stress.
- Anxiety and panic attacks.
- Depression and agitation.
- Compulsive/impulsive behaviors
In other words, if a woman isn’t responding to an irrational, narcissistic ex in a healthy manner she’ll end up with far more problems than a bully of an ex.
Below are 4 tips for healthy responses/interactions with a narcissistic ex.
1. Communicate Via Email Only
No in-person communication, text communication or phone communication! It’s acceptable to nod and say hello if in the presence of the ex but keep all communication about post-divorce issues strictly to email. Doing so gives you written proof should any issues turn into legal problems.
Using email also gives you the opportunity to back away from the computer and not respond immediately. To gather yourself emotionally and your thoughts. Remember, you don’t want to get drawn into conflict, you want to avoid conflict. The best way to do that is keep a rational head and not engage or allow him to push your buttons.
2. Lowered Expectations
If you expect the worst from someone you’re not going to be upset when that is what you receive. Expect NOTHING from a narcissistic ex!
3. Stop Trying to Fix Things
You aren’t MacGyver. You’re not going to be able to fix a problem you aren’t causing no matter how hard you try or how much faith you have in yourself to tackle that task. He is never going to negotiate fairly with you. He is never going to return respect, no matter how much you shower him with. Please, for your own wellbeing, stop believing that if you can only say or do the right thing, he’ll change. He won’t!
4. Check in With Your Emotions
It’s important to stay mindful of your emotional state. If you’re living in a constant state of stress and fear make sure you are doing what needs to be done to take care of yourself emotionally. If you’re feeling overwhelmed you may need something as simple as time away from the kids and stressors, you may need to seek help from a therapist in processing your stress.
When dealing with a narcissist after divorce it’s important that you choose your battles. If you choose wisely you’ll find yourself engaged in very few battles. don’t feed his need to control you via conflict by responding in an unhealthy manner.
For more resources, check out these articles:
- Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome: Could This Be You?
- 4 Stages of Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse
- 5 Communication Tips For Dealing With a Narcissistic Ex
- 10 Strategies For Dealing With a Narcissistic, Challenging Or High Conflict Ex