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What is the Narcissist Divorce Rate?

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC

The divorce rate in America is now over 50% for first marriages and even higher for subsequent marriages.  The reason for the higher rate in later marriages is generally believed to be due to divorce being easier after the first time and spouses not willing to stay as long to repair a broken marriage once they realize there is nothing they can do.  But what about the divorce rate for narcissists?

The narcissist divorce rate has never been specifically counted, primarily because the vast majority of narcissists are undiagnosed.  It’s nearly impossible to get a narcissist to submit to testing; they insist there is nothing wrong with them.  But, since we know narcissism occurs in 1-5% of the population, we can estimate the divorce rate among narcissists to be largely the same.  Most of us would think it would be much higher, but surprisingly, marriages to narcissists tend to equal those of normal couples. 

Let’s take a deeper look.

Do Narcissists Have a Higher Divorce Rate?

Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (not just narcissistic tendencies) are not able to make meaningful connections.  And yet, a marriage cannot be successful without meaningful connection.  So, does that mean that narcissists automatically have a higher divorce rate?  Surprisingly, no!

The biggest reason for this is the narcissist’s tendency to marry codependents.  Codependents will stay with the narcissists through thick and thin.  And when it seems that things are going downhill in the marriage, the narcissist will love bomb the codependent right back into full commitment.  This cycle can continue for years and even decades.  And with that, a narcissist can actually stay married for a very long time.

One other demographic that prevents a higher narcissist divorce rate, maybe even for life, is religious couples.  Many religions believe that divorce is wrong.  This fact causes many deeply religious people to believe that they cannot get a divorce, but must live with the decision they made.  I was one of those people–until I realized that’s not what the Bible says at all.

This is not to say that many people married to narcissists don’t seek a divorce sooner than later.  That definitely happens too.  But the point here is that people in narcissistic relationships will work just as hard as their “normal” counterparts to make a marriage succeed before just throwing in the towel.  Going through a divorce is a deeply difficult, even torturous process.  So many people will do everything they can to hold on to the marriage to avoid that dreadful end, even if the marriage is itself difficult and torturous.

Do Narcissists Have a Lower Marriage Satisfaction Rate?

Surprisingly, no, narcissists don’t have a lower rate of satisfaction in their marriage leading to a higher narcissist divorce rate.  At least not in the everyday sense.  That is because as long as they are getting a steady stream of narcissistic supply, they will not feel like anything is wrong.  Even when their spouse tries to talk to them about issues in the marriage.  They will immediately shut that spouse down so they can continue to revel in their perfect supply.

As long as they are getting everything they want, they are happy.  And they are clueless that their partner is not happy or wants something different.  They don’t see their partner as a partner or even as a person.  They are only a tool that they can use to get what they need.  And as long as that partner continues to give them what they need and be a good partner to them, they will continue to think that everything is wonderful in the marriage.  Until the partner announces they are done with the one-sided relationship.

I remember in counseling that my then husband said repeatedly that the marriage had been perfect for the first 25 years and that he had no idea there were issues.  When our therapist asked him what he thought when I had approached him about problems.  His answer was that they were my problems.  His side of everything was just fine.  I was floored.

What Causes Narcissistic Couples to Finally Resort to Divorce

There are two reasons that cause narcissistic couples to divorce:

  • The narcissist no longer feels satisfied with the level of supply they are getting from their spouse and know they can get better from someone else.
  • The narcissist’s spouse decides they have had enough of the abuse and with no improvement in sight, choose to cut their losses and start a new life.

When the narcissist no longer feels satisfied, they won’t immediately get rid of their spouse.  First they must find their next source of narcissistic supply.  They likely have several possibilities in mind.  And they will start to play the field accordingly.  This can happen very early in the relationship and go on for years, until they finally get a divorce and proceed to the other supply.  Or it can begin at the end of the marriage, when the narcissist begins scrambling to find the new source of supply.  Either way, the extra time the they take to find a new source of supply does at least minimally affect the narcissist divorce rate.

When they begin looking for a new source of supply mostly depends on how satisfied they felt during the marriage and how successful they were at totally manipulating and controlling their spouse.  As long as they had their spouse completely under their thumb, there would be no need to even think about another source of supply.

Regardless, once they realize their spouse is not longer a viable source of supply and they have a suitable replacement, then they see it is time for a divorce.

As for the second reason, when the narcissist’s spouse decides they are done being the narcissist’s doormat, the narcissist will at first try to get them back under their control.  When that proves futile, they will begin looking for a new source of supply immediately, likely from the pool of people they already know they can take advantage of.  Time is of the essence.  They can’t be without supply.

At the same time the narcissist realizes they can no longer “depend” on their spouse, they also feel contempt for them for putting the narcissist in this position.  And they will feel the need to destroy that spouse while moving on to the next one.  The divorce will not be an easy one.

Are Narcissists Always Prepared for Divorce?

In many cases, narcissists are always prepared for divorce, and will have no qualms about flaunting it to keep the spouse walking on eggshells to do everything possible to preserve the marriage.  Just like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, the narcissist can’t imagine the spouse not wanting to be forever attached to them at the hip.  This could bring some balance back to the narcissist divorce rate from the previous point about narcissists waiting for a better source of supply before leaving compared to regular couples just leaving when they are done.  Once a narcissist feels they have everything lined up, they can’t leave fast enough.

But unless they feel like their spouse is totally on board with whatever they throw at them, their insecurity will always be there and they will always fear that they cannot keep their spouse engaged as their primary source of supply. And since that is their primary reason for being married, they are always thinking in the back of their head about what they will do if the “relationship” goes south.  Their behavior will speak volumes about this insecurity.  They will be unwilling to totally commit within the marriage, even though they were in such a hurry to get married in the first place.

Because they don’t attach to anyone emotionally, they are more prepared for divorce because there is less of a feeling of loss over the bond that was created.  And without that emotional bond, they see you as easily replaceable.  I remember my ex telling me soon after we were married that he could be successfully married to anyone.  I was confused, bewildered, and hurt by that statement, but let it go because I had no idea how to respond to it.  I still had no idea what narcissism was.  Now I understand it fully.

Additionally, the minute they think they have found something better than you, they are out the door.  In longer lasting marriages, this is not as common.  The long-time spouse has a long history of providing supply, so the narcissist may not see the new source as necessarily better.  It will feel like a gamble to the narcissist.  And they won’t be willing to easily throw away a long standing source of supply.

At the end of the day, no matter how long the marriage lasted, narcissists are only going to stay with you until they find a better source of supply.  Whether they initiate it or your  unwillingness to bow down to them forces it, their ability to walk away doesn’t change.

Do Narcissists Regret Getting Divorced?

Narcissists may regret getting divorced, but not in the sense of normal regret.  They regret that they couldn’t keep their source of supply indefinitely.  They feel the ache of losing the ability to charm you.  They bemoan the fact that their supply is no longer as easy to obtain as it was before.  They may regret that they have to pay a good amount of money in child and spousal support.

After they divorce and move on to the next person, they may regret that their new supply is not as good in some areas, although they may be better in other areas.  The give and take of this circumstance will be very hard for them because they want all of everything all the time.

They may regret getting divorced at the time of the divorce because they feel the shame of being seen as a failure in their marriage or life.  And they may regret that they can’t control/micromanage their family like they could when they were living with them and involved in everyday life.  Even though they were so minimally involved in the actual life of the family.

And finally, they may regret getting the divorce because they feel the sting of falling off the pedestal that they so carefully crafted for themselves.  They may fear not being able to get back up on that pedestal.  At least until the next source of supply comes along and they are able to reel them in.

They don’t regret getting a divorce because they are losing their relationship with you.  They likely now have a great source of contempt for you.  They now hate you.  And they only really care about themselves and what’s best for them, even if it destroys everyone around them.

Are Narcissists Happy to Get Divorced?

The narcissist could very well have mixed feelings about the divorce.  They are clearly losing a source of supply that kept them highly satisfied at one point in their life.  And now that is gone.  But they could also be excited about the new possibilities on the horizon.  Note that this is still all about them and what they are getting and nothing to do with the people that were or will be their partner in life.

So the question is, “are they winning?”  If they think they are moving up in the world, then they are very happy to be divorcing.  It’s like a huge promotion at work and the excitement that goes along with it.  They don’t see the mess they leave behind.  Except for the fact that they can simply walk away and start over as though the previous life didn’t exist.  If they found a better supply, they will move forward gleefully with never even a glance back to their old life.  And if they were able to successfully destroy the person that got in the way of their happiness and self-promotion, then even better.

Because of the contempt and hatred narcissist form for those who stand up to them, I doubt that any of them are not happy to get divorced.  Unless they realize down the road that their original source of supply was much better than their current one.  And if they find themselves in that position, it will be much easier to walk away from that source and start yet another one with yet another whole new life.  Each time it gets easier for them to move on.  Until they get older, lose their looks and charm, and can no longer find someone willing to give them the supply they so desperately need.


Do you feel like you may be married to or in relationship with a narcissist?  If you think so, take this test with instant results to get a better idea of where you stand and what healing you will need to pursue.

And if you are married to a narcissist and uncertain or fearful of what the future holds, especially if you are trying to free yourself from narcissistic abuse, this book, Will I Ever be Free of You? was amazing for showing me the wisest action steps to keep me and my family safe and wise throughout the process.  Check it out!

If at anytime in the process you feel that you or your family could be in any danger, you need to get yourself to safety immediately.  Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or check them out online at

Have there been narcissists in your life that got divorced?  Are/were you married to one?  How did the divorce play out for them?  For you or your loved ones?  I hope that you found comfort in the fact that  you were no longer a slave to their desires.  I would love to hear your story!

Leave your comment below, or if you don’t feel safe commenting in a public forum, feel free to contact me here.

Blessings and hugs,

If you found this article valuable, I think you will also find the following articles valuable:

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Can Narcissists Love Their Children?

How Can You Tell if Someone is a Religious Narcissist?

Can Two Narcissists be in Relationship With Each Other?

Understanding the Tactics of a Religious Narcissistic Father 

Dealing With the Trauma of a Religious Narcissistic Mother

When Narcissism Becomes Pathological

Will God Punish a Narcissist?

What to do When Your Narcissist Threatens You

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The Link Between Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism

Why Narcissists Want to Apear Godly

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Why Narcissists Love Going to Church 

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Religious Trauma Syndrome:  How to Preserve Your Spiritual Journey

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How to Heal From a Spiritual Narcissist

Can You Maintain a Relationship With a Spiritual Narcissist? 

Can Narcissists Have a Spiritual Awakening?

How Will God Judge a Narcissist?

When the Church Says to Move Back in With Your Narcissist

What Can we Say to a Christian Friend Who’s Divorcing?

Why Does God Hate Divorce? 

12 Ways the Church Helps Narcissists Abuse Their Victims

When Your Church Believes the Narcissist’s Lies

23 Reasons Why Narcissists are Drawn to the Church

What Does the Spiritual Narcissist do When You try to Leave?

When the Church Doesn’t Recognize Narcissistic Abuse

Will the Church Support Divorcing a Narcissist?

Are Narcissists Demon Possessed?

What Does the Bible say About Narcissism?

Can a Narcissist be a Christian?

Can a Spiritual Narcissist Heal?

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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