Narcissists are well known for their selfish behavior and explosive rage. They are not often described as being nice, so when they do act nice, it’s reasonable to wonder why they would be acting that way. Though initially they can be very charming, that usually changes fairly quickly once they feel they have you where they want you. They are nice in the beginning to get you hooked, but why would they be nice during a divorce when most narcissists want to crush their ex?
When a narcissist is being nice during a divorce, it is likely because they are managing their image. They need people to see them as the sane, calm, nice one so they can get what they want out of the divorce. Rarely, the narcissist might have a moment of clarity when they also see what they lost.
For a narcissist, anyone who disagrees with them quickly becomes an enemy. A spouse seeking to abandon them can easily become the most dangerous enemy, so if the narcissist is being nice, it is significant. If you’re going through a divorce with a narcissist, you need to understand this dynamic to best protect yourself from their manipulation. Let’s take a look at just why they would be nice to you during this contentious time.
Why is Your Narcissistic Spouse Being Nice When You’re Divorcing?
It’s not uncommon for narcissists to go through a divorce. They often marry multiple times. Narcissists will usually cheat on spouses, and of course, their inability to experience empathy, fear of intimacy, and inability to express emotions that make them vulnerable like love all usually contribute to a poor outcome for most marriages.
But another part of narcissism is a fear of abandonment, and during a divorce, that is happening in more ways than one. They are losing their spouse and the life they have become accustomed to living. They may also lose their children and home as well.
Even for psychologically healthy people, divorce is typically difficult and contentious, so it’s particularly surprising when a narcissist is being nice. It’s important to understand that narcissists are master manipulators, and that’s often part of what is happening.
They are effectively managing their image. They want people to see them as the wronged partner in the marriage. Even if they did something bad like cheating, they are trying to give the people around them the idea that whatever they did was ultimately caused by their partner’s toxic behavior.
It’s important to them that people see them as the victim who was so mistreated in the relationship that they may have acted improperly. Who could blame them for cheating when their spouse is so obviously cruel? They are a nice individual – after all, look at how they’re behaving during the worst of times – and their spouse is making such horrible claims.
It’s a tragic image that the narcissist is cultivating during a divorce. It’s not necessarily to get their spouse back, though that may be part of it; rather, it’s the image they want anyone else watching to see. They can claim they tried to maintain a friendship with their ex.
Does a Narcissist Ever Take Responsibility for the Divorce?
Attorney Todd Skyler says it best when he writes, “Narcissists by their nature rarely, if ever, accept any degree of fault.” Accepting responsibility for their role in the breakup of a marriage means admitting they are flawed.
When narcissism develops, the traumatized child becomes filled with shame and self-loathing. They believe their true nature to be hopelessly flawed, and as such, worthless. They construct a false self-image to be functional in the world, and they infuse that image with ideals of superiority and perfection.
Admitting they made a mistake directly threatens that false self-image, and so, most narcissists are unwilling to take any responsibility for their actions. That being said, there are times when a narcissist may have a moment of clarity.
During this brief time, they may see that they are losing someone they really love and need in their life. That can also prompt them to be nice during a divorce proceeding. Alternatively, they may also be thinking ahead to the possibility that they will come back into the life of their ex.
Narcissists often come back into your life, sometimes even after years of being apart. They think – and are often right – that you have moved on and let go of what happened. That may make you more willing to listen to them and forgive them.
In a moment of kindness, you might be willing to let them back into your life. They are, in effect, laying the groundwork for that eventuality.
Will a Narcissist Ever Be Fair During a Divorce?
Most of the time, your narcissistic ex will do everything possible to get everything they can. Usually, when you move to divorce a narcissist, they immediately begin to view you as the enemy, and as such, they want to completely destroy you.
You’ve seen this play out in some high-profile divorces involving narcissists. But sometimes, they are willing to be fair. This typically happens when they need to get the divorce proceedings over with quickly and with as little fanfare as possible.
If their bad behavior might be exposed during the divorce proceedings, the narcissist may fear that will damage their public image. They might also be concerned about how their work colleagues or boss may view it. For that reason, they might be willing to give you what is considered fair without a fight.
In most cases, however, it’s all about power for the narcissist. They want to show the world they are the victim in this marriage, and they will often proceed like they are executing a military mission. That’s part of why it stands out when they are being nice.
How Can You Protect Yourself When Divorcing a Narcissist?
It’s usually in your best interest to go to court when divorcing a narcissist. Unless you’re getting exactly what you want or what you consider to be fair without going to court, it’s better to use the system.
When you go to court while divorcing a narcissist, it takes the proceeding out of the narcissist’s control. They must do what the judge tells them to do. That is sometimes the only way you can get a fair resolution.
It’s often a messy situation because the narcissist will typically make claims about how you mistreated them during your marriage. They may insist you committed adultery or were abusive. If they feel they are losing, they are likely to do anything to get the upper hand.
That’s why it’s important to prepare before going ahead with the divorce. You want to make sure you have your financial records in order, and any evidence you have of the narcissist’s bad behavior needs to be safeguarded. You will likely need that during the proceeding.
Finally, prepare yourself mentally for the fact that someone you once loved will come at you with unexpected ferocity. It’s hard for anyone to realize that someone they loved at one time might make unfounded claims about them or try to destroy them, but that’s exactly what many narcissists do.
You’re going to need a strong support network to help you through this difficult time. You’ll also need to practice good self-care so that you make it through with your own sense of self intact.
Divorcing a narcissist will be one of the most difficult experiences of your life. Though the narcissist may be nice at times, that’s usually a manipulative technique they are using to get what they want. You need to take good care of yourself through this difficult time in your life. You will experience many emotions during the proceedings, and the narcissist will try to use those against you.
It’s important to get your emotional triggers under control. It not only helps during a divorce, but it’s a very healing process. My 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers can help you identify and heal your emotional triggers so that your narcissistic spouse can’t use these against you during a divorce proceeding. For a free copy of this handy guide, just click on the link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox.
If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel