If you’ve gone through a divorce with a narcissist, you know it’s an arduous process. When narcissists perceive someone as their enemy, they seek to crush them. They don’t want to just blame them for what happened, they want to destroy them. That usually means divorcing a narcissist is a very intense and painful process. But once you’re away, will they leave you alone?
Even if your divorce was messy, it is likely the narcissist will come back into your life later on. They may also continue to cause problems for you to make it clear to everyone that the divorce was your fault. Sadly, it’s extremely difficult to get a narcissist out of your life completely.
It can be a difficult reality to accept, but your narcissistic spouse probably won’t change all that much after your divorce. There are many reasons why your narcissistic ex will likely still be a considerable presence in your life. Let’s explore those reasons and discuss what you can do to finally be free of the abuse.
Why Won’t Your Narcissistic Ex Just Go Away?
Narcissists are a veritable nightmare in a marriage. They need a steady flow of praise, but they are reticent to give it in return. They need everything to be about them, and they are constantly manipulating the people they love to achieve that goal.
They gaslight, lie, cheat, and use triangulation to undermine your self-esteem and any relationships you have with other people. It’s exhausting, and when you finally leave them, you can’t wait until it’s all over.
Unfortunately, it never ends for the narcissist. First, they can’t accept being seen as the reason for the divorce. That would make them a failure at marriage, and that’s incompatible with their carefully constructed false self-image.
For that reason, they often embark on a smear campaign against you so that everyone will see you as the villain and them as the hapless victim of your abuse. But there’s more to it than just that.
Narcissists also enjoy drama and they like the game. They feel powerful when they’re able to successfully manipulate people into doing what they want. Toward that end, they will use techniques like hoovering to try to get you back.
It’s not that they really miss you or have realized the error of their ways, it’s that they want to know they can do it. It makes them feel superior, more intelligent, and as already mentioned, powerful. So they turn back on the charm and start trying to suck you back into their drama.
They haven’t changed, despite what they might claim, so if you are sucked back in, get ready for everything to be just like it was before. It’s likely your self-esteem has already taken a beating from the relationship, so it’s a good idea to stay as far away from them as you can get.
What Can You Do if You Have to Co-Parent with Your Narcissistic Ex?
If you don’t have any children with your narcissistic ex, it’s easier – still difficult, but easier – to get them out of your life. You can alert family and friends that you don’t want any contact with them, you can block them from calling you or posting on social media, and you can refuse to see them.
If you have children together, on the other hand, the situation is far more complicated. Unless they have been physically abusive to your children, they’ll likely at least get visitation rights. That means you’ll have to see them from time to time.
If this is the case, you’ll want to take certain steps to ensure you have minimal contact with them. Make sure all communication is via email or some other form that can be documented like text messages. Save all communication you have with them.
If you must meet to give them the children or get the children back from them, meet them in a neutral location and keep the contact minimal. Document everything they say and do in case you need to use it at some point in the future.
Keep the communication and contact with them short and focused. If they stray from the topic of the children, cut off the conversation and walk away. The more opportunities you give them to manipulate you, the more they will try to do just that. Depending on your specific situation, you might also arrange to funnel all communication through your lawyer.
You might also want to make sure someone is with you any time you have to meet with them. It’s a good idea to have witnesses to their behavior. You want to think of your narcissistic ex as someone you may need to defend yourself against in a custody battle.
How Can You Protect Your Children as a Result of Your Divorce?
If your narcissistic ex has partial custody or visitation rights, they will try to use your children against you. Triangulation is a favorite manipulation technique that narcissists use to undermine even strong family relationships.
It’s important to talk to your children about your narcissistic ex’s behavior without seeming to be demonizing them. If they talk about behavior that bothers them, you want to listen to them with empathy and compassion. Remember that this is one of their parents, and they don’t likely understand the problems with a narcissist.
That’s why it’s vital to listen to their concerns and let them know that they can always talk to you about anything their narcissistic parent does or says. Tell them that they should always double-check with you if the narcissist tells them something you said or did or are planning to do.
Reassure them that they are loved and they have an outlet for their feelings. It can help to get them some therapy as well. Divorce itself is difficult for any child even if their parents are relatively healthy. Add narcissism into the mix and you know they are likely to have suffered as a result of emotional abuse.
A therapist can represent a friendly but objective person in whom they can confide. This can help them process any narcissistic abuse they have experienced as well as other feelings they have related to the divorce.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Your Narcissistic Ex?
You also have to think about protecting yourself because your narcissistic ex may not stop until they have caused a lot of trouble for you. There are a number of things you should consider doing. Here are a few suggestions:
Block Them on Social Media and Your Phone
If they need to contact you because you share children together, you might not be able to block their phone calls, but you can block them from posting on your social media feeds. If you don’t take this step, you’ll likely find they are posting unflattering information about you on those feeds.
If you don’t share children together, you’ll want to block them from calling you. It may also be worthwhile to change your phone number altogether. If you give them the opportunity to contact you, they will take advantage of it.
According to retired psychologist Edward Tierney, a narcissist will only leave you alone if you, “…stay resolutely no contact, and block them so they can’t get to you.” That’s pretty much exactly what you need to do.
Notify Friends, Family, and Your Work
Another important thing to do is notify your friends, family, and perhaps even your work that you don’t want to see them and you don’t want them to know anything about your life. Narcissists are very adept at getting information from your friends, colleagues, and family members.
People in your life need to know that you have no wish to have any more contact with them and that they shouldn’t give out any information about your life to your narcissistic ex. This includes so-called ‘flying monkeys.’
Flying monkeys are friends of the narcissist who you also know. You may find yourself suddenly running into their friends in places you would least expect to see them. They may also seek out your friends, family members, or work colleagues. Like the flying monkeys in the movie The Wizard of Oz, any information they get goes right back to your narcissistic ex.
If Necessary, Take Legal Measures
In some cases, narcissists have been known to stalk or harass their ex. If this happens, you may need to consider taking out a restraining order against them. You definitely want to do this if there is a history of physical abuse, but it can also be necessary if they continue to bother you after your divorce.
It can be difficult to get a narcissist to leave you alone after you divorce them. They can’t handle anyone thinking they are to blame, and they like the game of trying to get you back. They can sometimes come back into your life years after being apart. That’s why it’s important to take steps to protect yourself.
If you are divorcing a narcissist or leaving a narcissistic partner, you need to read this article about what you can do to get them to leave you alone. It’s difficult to do, but these tips can help.
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