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They’ve been called inconsiderate, arrogant, self-centered, and entitled, and believe us when we say it, these people are really suffering. Though it’s relatively rare, narcissistic personality disorder is a condition that can seriously impair a person’s ability to function and thrive in a long term relationship or marriage. While narcissistic personality disorder may be a trendy label to throw on people we cannot tolerate, it’s important to remember that these labels contribute to the stigmatization of a disorder that profoundly complicates those who are suffering from it and their relationships with the people around them. If your ex is suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, it is important that you are compassionate but extremely firm in setting boundaries.

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

As previously mentioned, narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition that affects the way a person views themself, the people around them, and the world. Those who are suffering from narcissistic personality disorder may lack empathy, feel entitled, have an excessive need for admiration, and more. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be able to maintain successful careers, happy marriages, and good friendships. However, it will all depend on the circumstances. There are a lot of cases where a person who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder is unable to effectively navigate a committed relationship, such as a marriage. In these cases, divorce may be necessary for both parties to have a less stressful situation.

Does Your Ex Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The only person who can tell you whether or not your ex has narcissistic personality disorder is a qualified mental health professional. It’s important to remember that a person is able to have narcissistic traits without having a full-blown personality disorder. A lot of people going through divorce may exhibit signs of a personality disorder like NPD without actually having the disorder. This is because many people conduct themselves in ways they wouldn’t normally conduct themselves in during highly emotional or extremely difficult situations. Whether or not your spouse has narcissistic personality disorder will not affect the legal proceedings of your divorce: a spouse with narcissistic personality disorder still has the same rights as you when it comes to alimony, custody, child support, and more. For this reason, it may be more helpful to put effort into mitigating the effects of their inappropriate behavior as opposed to putting energy into deciding whether or not they have narcissistic personality disorder.

Know What You Can Expect

Since narcissistic personality disorder frequently impairs the sufferer’s thinking patterns and worldview, it’s important to remember that, though their behavior may seem self-destructive or counterproductive, they are acting in a way that they feel is justified and logical. For someone suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, it isn’t that they don’t want to be considerate or empathetic. Instead, those suffering from narcissistic personality disorder have a limited capacity to be considerate and empathetic. It’s possible that, deep down inside, they would like to make a change, but they don’t know how, and may fail to see the benefit of doing so. While this certainly does not make their conduct excusable, it is helpful to understand that, in a lot of cases, they cannot change. For this reason, it’s important to know what you can expect from them.

Set Firm Boundaries

They’re not likely to change so it’s important that you meet them at their level and set firm boundaries. For example, if you know that you can expect lengthy text messages filled with colorful vocabulary and insults, you can show your spouse that this behavior will not be tolerated by ignoring all such messages. If you know they’re going to show up at your door, have a plan in place for if they do. Make sure that plan doesn’t include a lot of interaction with your spouse. Instead, you may decide to firmly ask them to leave, and contact the appropriate authorities if they refuse to leave. Setting boundaries with a person suffering from narcissistic personality disorder likely means refraining from engaging with them when they’re being intentionally antagonistic. Setting firm boundaries can help you de-escalate the conflict in your divorce and prevent more unnecessary stress in your life.

When You Need Legal Advice

If your spouse is suffering from narcissistic personality disorder and you’re ready to end the marriage, CoilLaw is here for you. Our experienced attorneys have helped many clients manage high-conflict divorces involving parties who are suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Due to the behaviors associated with narcissistic personality disorder, many spouses find that they need custom legal advice when divorcing a spouse with NPD. If you’re considering ending your marriage, contact CoilLaw for an initial consultation. 

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