You finally realize that for nearly your entire relationship you have meant very little to your husband. (If you are a male victim of narcissism, adjust the spousal terms and pronouns to fit your situation.) Sure, there were times he gave you lavish gifts, took you to amazing places, had great times with you. But you realize it was all to make him look like an amazing husband and father. Or because he wanted himself to feel like he had an amazing life with an amazing wife. It just wasn’t at all about you as a person.
Once we realize that our narcissist spouses place no value in us as partners in our marriages, we realize that divorce is really the only option that will allow us to lead emotionally healthy lives. But do narcissists care if you divorce them?
To answer the question of whether narcissists care if you divorce them, you have to see the issue from their perspective. While they didn’t seem to value you from your perspective, they thought everything was fine, especially if you were taking good care of them, giving them your best. So, initially, they will be devastated that you are rejecting them. They will be confused as to why their love bombing wasn’t enough to keep you. Then they will realize they are losing their number one source of supply. And that will make them very angry. Next, they will be determined to destroy you for the trouble you are causing them. They will do everything they can to beat you in court, including making sure you get the least money and property possible and trying to win a custody case, even when they are largely uninvolved with the kids.
I did a huge amount of research into narcissism, relationships with narcissists, healing, and divorce from narcissists. And then I used all that I learned to regain my life and health. And with all of that, I have Let’s break all of this down and take a deeper look.
Table of Contents
Narcissists Care if You Divorce Them Because They Feel Rejected
If you have done any significant research on narcissism and how it originates in people, you will know that narcissists are believed to become that way after being rejected and abused by their parents or other caregivers when they are small children. Because they have no secure upbringing from an early age, they learn to mask their behavior and feelings. They only show people what they know those people want to see or hear.
So, when a narcissist is told by their spouse that they want a divorce, they feel an unbearable amount of rejection. They cannot fathom going through this again. And this causes devastation or narcissistic collapse on their part.
First, they will try to love bomb you or charm their way back into your good graces. If that doesn’t work, the rejection becomes even more painful because to them it feels magnified. And then they begin to get angry that “you would do this to them.”
Narcissists Care if You Divorce Them Because They Lose Their Narcissistic Supply
Narcissists care if you divorce them because as soon as they begin to get past the idea of rejection, the next thought they have is that you have been their significant source of narcissistic supply. And now they are losing it because you are leaving.
If you caught them off guard with your decision to divorce, then they may not have someone waiting in the wings to be their next narcissistic supply. But in some cases, narcissists will always keep several others on a short list to be their supply. This can be a secret lover, co-worker, friend, neighbor, or any other unsuspecting person in their life who believes their act and returns their “kindness” regularly. These people are often called flying monkeys, just like the ones in the Wizard of Oz movie that did the Wicked Witch’s bidding anytime she asked.
Even if narcissists use this alternate form of supply, it won’t be at the same level as a spouse, with the exception of a secret lover. And if they don’t have one at the moment, they will likely pick one up along the line quite soon so they can be “back on their feet.”
I was always confused about how my ex was able to convince these people about what a great person he was when his whole life–family, most friends, neighbors, church–had all walked away from the narcissism and toxicity. I do know that the majority of people he convinced to stick it out with him were told by him that he had no idea why we all walked away. He only ever loved us.
I am sure that is what he told his current wife. He definitely didn’t tell her he was removed from our home for abuse toward the kids and me. Or that over a hundred counselors, church leaders, and people in the court system had tried to speak truth into him to help him to heal and return to his family. She literally just thinks he is an amazing Christian guy. And she is now his main source of narcissistic supply.
Curious about the narcissist divorce rate? Click here to find out more!
Narcissists Care if You Divorce Them Because They Always Need to Win
Narcissists care if you divorce them because they always have to win at everything. And bringing your life into the court system is like needing to win on steroids. They will take you down any way they can.
It took my ex husband a few tries before he started to understand that he couldn’t behave unchecked in the court system like he did throughout our marriage. When our church had him removed from our home, he first tried to tell them that I could leave but he was taking control of the kids and the home. When the counselors asked him how he was going to do that when he was so largely uninvolved in the home already, he said he just would. He didn’t care about the disruption it would cause.
When mediators were brought in, he told them what he was willing to do and said it wasn’t up for discussion. They told him there needed to be some meeting in the middle. He said no. One of the mediators (a retired judge who had been brought in because we all knew he would run over the mediator) shut the mediation down because he wouldn’t do the required work.
Once there was a separation agreement, he suddenly disagreed with it, even though he had set the terms. And he took the money and rented his own house before telling me what he was planning to do. He ended up giving up the house and giving the money back when my lawyer and the mediators told him they would get it back in court.
He fought for custody of our 4 youngest kids who were under 18 at the time. Because things weren’t going well for him so far, he hired a high powered lawyer. The lawyer told him that he couldn’t force the three oldest kids to spend time with him. In the end, I got sole custody. He got 3 hours one weekday a week and 3 hours every other Saturday.
He took my money once again and told the kids and me we had two weeks to get out of our home of 17 years. The kids had never known another home. By this time, he had already lived in 7 other homes in two years. And honestly, I was more than willing to give him the house. But the way he took it and treated his family was abhorrent. He was taking us down. I ended up moving out six weeks later with only half of our belongings. He threw ALL of them in the dumpster. Gone forever.
He thought he was winning all of those things. He was flexing his authority. And fortunately, the law and the courts protected my family.
Unbelievably, we have been divorced for some time. But he is still trying to win. He is currently only paying child support for one of our children and not the other. It is a $600/month shortage. He has acknowledged that and told me he knows. In writing! But he said he doesn’t have to change the original amount of child support for three years regardless of the fact that he is making tens of thousands more dollars a year. My lawyer gave me options to get the money. While he thinks he’s winning now, when he realizes child support enforcement will be contacting his job in the next couple of weeks, he will realize that once again, his idea of winning didn’t work.
I am a lucky person because my narcissist loses his common sense when he wants to win. So he makes a lot of really bad decisions. While this is true for most narcissists, there are a few out there that are a whole lot smarter and do have the ability to destroy their loved ones. Those people will need all the documentation and support from authorities and others to succeed. And they will! In time, every narcissist gets found out as soon as what they are doing behind closed doors gets found out. They can no longer operate when they are no longer isolating those they abuse.
In the end they cannot win unless we let them.
You may be interested in these articles (click on them to check them out):
How Narcissists React to Divorce
So, the last section on narcissist’s need to win spoke a lot about how my narcissist reacted to divorce. It is a pretty typical pattern. Here is what it looks like in more general terms.
They will refuse to settle any offer you or your lawyer comes up with. Because that would mean you were right or you win. The only time they will sign off is if you accept their offers on their terms.
They will drag out your case if it means that they can benefit from it. But they will also steamroll the case ahead if they can benefit in that way too. It all depends on what they want at the moment and how they can get what they want. And honestly, usually once a narcissist knows what they want, they want it yesterday. Especially if it gives them an opportunity to destroy you for daring to stand up to them.
You are already familiar with most of this because it is the same as it was in marriage, except now it is magnified because you brought them to the point of divorce. Or they discarded you to the point of divorcing you. Either way, you are of no good to them, so there is no reason to work with you or make a deal. It is all about what last bit they can take out of you before leaving for good.
They will always make themselves the victim in this process. For those who do not have intimate details of the divorce/abuse, they will swear they loved their family with all their heart and they have no idea what happened to them. And many of those people, mostly new people in their life, will be devastated for what they “have been through.” But for those who were there when it all went down, they will see the narcissist for who he really is. This is the biggest reason why narcissists have to go start a new life.
Here is some bonus material for you: if you meet a wonderful Prince Charming type man who has no former friends, family, neighbors, church, or life to share with you, they are likely someone who was forced to leave their life behind. And that, more often than not, is because of their narcissism. You would do well to run the opposite way and never look back.
And finally, narcissists will try to control you as much through the divorce as they did in the marriage. You will see it in the barrage of texts and emails and attempts to constantly change things up or manipulate you in some new way. It doesn’t end, especially if you have children. Set and keep healthy boundaries. They won’t be able to control you like they used to! Only if you let them!
For more on guarding against the narcissist’s divorce tactics, click here.
Keeping Yourself Safe When Divorcing a Narcissist
Finally, I want to talk a little bit about keeping yourself safe when you are divorcing a narcissist. In the same way that I talked above about narcissists being worse through a divorce than they were in the marriage, it is absolutely the same for the level of safety in your marriage with the narcissist. If you were unsafe in any way in your life with the narcissist before you decided to divorce, know that you need to take steps to keep yourself safe now.
It may not be physical safety. It could be safety from emotional, spiritual, sexual, or financial abuse. Just know that it is probably not going to just stop. Especially if he gets a chance to get you alone.
Take the following steps to keep yourself safe:
- Don’t allow yourself to be alone with the narcissist. If you must be with them, make sure it is in a public place.
- Get a restraining order if things escalate and you are fearful. Pay attention to any warning signs so you don’t end up on the downside of this.
- Talk to friends to make sure that they know what is going on. Not all of them, just a couple of friends you can confide in will be best.
- Make sure counselors, church leaders, neighbors, or others know what is going on so they can advise you going forward.
- Keep a record of things that happen that are notable to use in court. If you have witnesses, it’s even better. You should have witnesses if you are not meeting with him alone. Or texts and emails if all contact is in writing.
Narcissists care deeply if you divorce them. But they don’t care deeply for you. They care that their feelings have been deeply hurt. They feel shame that you have not stayed with them. And they feel anger that they could not keep things under their control. All of these make the perfect storm. Don’t get caught up in it!
Believe it or not, there are times that a narcissist will actually regret divorcing you.
Do narcissists care if you divorce them? Yes, in the sense that they may be losing supply or shamed that people see them as failing in their marriage when they tried so hard to keep things squeaky clean in public. But not because they are missing you. That doesn’t mean they won’t miss what you gave them! They will miss all the supply you gave them. They won’t ever miss you as a person. Because they never saw you as a person.
And with that, are you going through a breakup with a narcissist? Have you been married for a long time, or were you able to figure it out pretty quickly? (Don’t feel bad if it has been a while–I was married to my narcissist for 31 years!)? I would love to hear your story. Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me here if you don’t want to make a public comment!
Hugs and love,
I have a free 57-page e-guide to divorcing a narcissist that I offer to those who follow my blog. It includes a checklist so you can make sure you don’t miss anything in the process. It will give you tons of tips to make the whole process easier on you. To download a copy or get more information, click here or on the book pic below:
If you found this article valuable, I think you will also love the following articles:
- How Narcissists Use Religion to Control and Manipulate You - December 26, 2023
- Do Flying Monkeys Ever See the Truth? - December 16, 2023
- Flying Monkeys Spying: Understanding and Dealing With It - September 21, 2023