How to Divorce a Narcissist and Win

Are you divorcing a narcissist and afraid you're not going to win? If so, you already know that dirty tricks, scamming, lying, pressuring, and even stalking and manipulating are not beneath them. But, there are ways to actually beat them at their own game.

Before we dive into what to do about that narcissist in a divorce, let's explore what narcissism is and some of the tricks and manipulations a narcissist may try to pull.

What is a narcissist?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a diagnosable mental health disorder. People with NPD appear to focus on self-grandiosity and display a lack of empathy that often results in the abuse of others. While it is easy to call someone a "narcissist," only a mental health specialist can diagnose the disorder.

Still, if you have been living with someone who displays symptoms such as exaggerated self-importance, manipulation of others, a lack of empathy, or an aversion to personal criticism, you might wonder if they are a narcissist, whether they have an official diagnosis or not. These are the folks we're focusing on in this article.

Signs you are dealing with a narcissist

Narcissists tend to use manipulative behavior that follows a pattern and is actually quite predictable. Here are a few signs that you might be dealing with a narcissist. 

They must win at all costs

The top thing a narcissist tries to do is win. At all costs. To achieve this, they may try to make you look as bad as possible, no matter how ridiculous it seems.

What can you do? Put everything in writing. Anticipate that everything you say or do could be twisted and manipulated. This person may want to make you look as bad as possible (and themselves as good as possible), but if you write things down – incidents, conversations, and such – you have concrete evidence should you ever need it. 

They seem to want to get the best of you

Despite the apparent goal of winning at all costs, the desire to win is not necessarily the key motivator behind a narcissist's actions. Instead, their motivation is to manipulate you.

Now that you're stepping out of their world, you don't have value for them. That's because, for a narcissist, other people only have value when they offer a potential gain. Since you no longer have value in their eyes, their goal is to manipulate you and make your life miserable. They want to hurt you before you hurt them.

They use the court system as their sword

Expect the narcissist to file as many motions as possible, litigate as much as possible, and make you spend as much money as possible. They gain a sense of power by making you miserable and dragging you through the court system.

They obstruct you

Expect the narcissist to try to obstruct you from everything. They're not going to provide the discovery that they're supposed to. They're going to make you work for everything. As part of that, you're going to end up having to file motions to compel. This, in turn, will run up your fees. They'll even have court orders, and they're not going to obey them.

Now that I've scared the crap out of you, here's what to do about it.

How to successfully divorce a narcissist 

Develop a clear strategy

First, you've got to have a clear strategy. A crystal clear, strong, and powerful strategy. Prepare to play offense, and have your leverage ready. Do your research. Do your homework. Have everything you need to incentivize so the other side will want to come to a resolution with you.

It may sound counterintuitive, but if you want them to come to a nice, easy conclusion, you're going to have to incentivize them to do that. The only way to incentivize is to get leverage. This leverage may come in many forms: It may be knowing what motivates them, such as money, custody of the kids, or not looking bad. It may be an embarrassment factor.

Whatever it is, your goal is to motivate the narcissist to be in a resolution conversation with you.

Team up with Hello Divorce 

At Hello Divorce, we can help you find a strategy to deal with a narcissistic soon-to-be-ex. We offer an assortment of online divorce plans with varying levels of personal assistance and services such as divorce coaching that can help you make the best decisions for your future, even under immense pressure.

We understand that, as a narcissist, your ex might say things like, "Hello Divorce is out to break us up." Or, "Hello Divorce is just trying to get your money." In short, a narcissist will say whatever they can think of to manipulate you into distrusting your team. But you already know that you're dealing with a pathological liar ... so why would they start telling the truth now? The only reason they want your team out of the picture is so they can regain control over you.

Document, document, document

Put everything in writing. The narcissist is going to say to you, "Oh, let's just meet at Starbucks and have a conversation. We can do this ourselves." Regardless of where you meet, write down everything that is said. This includes discussions you have about property you share, children you share, and debt you share. If you can, bring along a witness to support you and back you up, should you need their testimony later.

Remember, you can't change the other person, but you can take steps to protect yourself and help yourself feel more on the offensive than on the defensive through this process.

Keep your cool

Keep your emotions in check because if you don't, you're playing right into their hands. They want you to lose your cool. They want to get under your skin. As soon as you allow them to do so, they're winning. And then, whatever manipulation they're trying to pull, it's working.

Divorcing a narcissist is one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do. But consider this: You're in hell either way. At least with the divorce, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. If you were to stay, you'd feel like you were burning in hell forever. Just remember that it is possible to escape relatively unscathed.

If you're about to negotiate with a narcissist, grab my free Crush My Negotiation Prep Worksheet to make sure you're as prepared as possible. Sending you lots of white light as you journey through the process.

Did you know that Hello Divorce can prepare and file all your divorce forms? Explore our low-cost plan options now.


Contributing Writer & Family Law Attorney
Rebecca Zung is one of the Top 1% of attorneys in the nation, having been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Lawyer in America”, as “Legal Elite” by Trend Magazine, and recognized by her peers and the judiciary as AV©, preeminent rated in family law, the highest possible rating for an attorney by Martindale Hubbell. She is the author of the bestselling books, Negotiate Like You M.A.T.T.E.R.: The Sure-Fire Method to Step Up and Win; and Breaking Free: A Step-by-Step Divorce Guide for Achieving Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Freedom, and is a sought after major media contributor. Her perspectives are in high demand by television and print outlets, as she has been featured in or on Extra TV, Forbes, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Time, Dr. Drew, NPR Talk Radio, Good Day New York and CBS Los Angeles among others. Now, based in both Naples FL and Los Angeles, she is available for speeches, to facilitate trainings, and for media interviews. More information at Grab your free Winning Negotiation Cheat Sheet at