In healthy relationships, Valentine's Day can disappoint if one partner forgets a gift whilst the other has gone to great efforts. But what happens when you have a narcissistic partner? Narcissists often go from charm to harm before you even know what has hit you. And what better day to use than Valentine's Day to belittle you? With stats showing that the official day of romance often sees a surge in online divorce searches, divorce lawyer and financial negotiator, Zoe Bloom offers a "how to guide" on leaving a narcissist whilst protecting yourself.
Separation is undoubtedly awful for everyone. Separation from someone with a difficult personality issue (borderline or narcissistic personality disorder) is terrifying. The manipulation, fear and control experienced during the marriage is played out on a new stage, the English legal system. Lawyers, judges and mediators become the audience to whom the narcissist performs. It is easy to feel powerless particularly when the patterns experienced during the relationship continue during the separation.
Clients are scared to tell us that they think their partner is a narcissist. They cannot be sure that it is true and they are frightened to speak up for fear of being shut down and not listened to. They have usually been ‘gaslighted’ throughout the relationship and are no longer able to distinguish between fact and fiction. They are anxious, confused and have lost their sense of identity. They may also suffer from co-dependency issues.
The English legal system is not designed to protect or to hear them. Lawyers are not trained to recognise the symptoms. Right from the outset the client may be told ‘none of this matters’ and encouraged to set aside differences to draft a low key divorce petition. If there is aggression between parties or solicitors the client is told it is not personal and that it is normal. They are encouraged to focus on the process and utilise alternative dispute resolution to manage their way through the period of separation.
The normal approach exacerbates the feelings of self-doubt and anxiety within the client. They are not believed or told it does not matter – all of which their partner probably told them would happen before they separated. Meanwhile the narcissist is positioning themselves.
Many solicitors now understand that they need to behave differently when they are faced with these personalities. It is vital to find one of them to act for you.
Some other things to keep in mind, if you think you might want to separate:
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.