Here’s what you’ll learn in this guide:
- How to divorce your narcissistic husband and leave him for good.
- A step-by-step guide for divorcing a narcissist and safely break free from his grip.
- A simple plan to help you to stay safe and best prepare yourself for the hell to come.
- Insights into his narcissistic tricks, strategies, and tactics and how to easily beat him at his own game.
Unfortunately, I see it happen far too often. Friends or female clients who fall into the hands of a narcissistic man. When she first meets him, there’s no sign of him being anything other than a great guy. He just looks confident and charming.
His narcissistic nature is slowly showing itself
But he appears to have a completely different personality besides his self-confident side. One where he can’t tolerate it when things don’t go his way, and makes you feel completely empty by the way he is treating you.
A narcissist has:
- Little to no empathy. That means he doesn’t care how you feel during moments when you would expect him to. That’s why he can be cruel at times, and throw you to the wolves if it suits him better.
- A strong sense of self-worth. But a little more extreme than what’s healthy. He thinks he’s great, without any reason. As a result, your wishes and needs are pale in comparison to his.
- A strong need for attention & admiration. If he doesn’t get attention and admiration from someone on a daily basis, his whole world falls apart. Due to a combination of lack of empathy and his need for admiration, he can be ruthless to others.
There are endless ways a narcissist can destroy your marriage
If you still have doubts about whether you should divorce him, I understand that. Having a relationship with a narcissist can go well for quite a long time. You don’t have to experience any problem at all until it’s too late, and you’re in too deep, and perhaps married or have kids together (or both).
But it’s like joining a cult. People often think you have to be a very weak person to be willing to become a member of a group that takes away your identity, and tells you to hand in all your money.
But why people join cults is because they offer to solve a problem and give you a place where you can be yourself. It’s the same thing with having a relationship with a narcissist.
You’re not doing it because you’ll think, “Hey, you know what I’ll be doing today? I’m going to completely subject myself to a man who says he loves me, but who turns into a monster and treats me like garbage.”
You did it because you started to like him, and after a while, you started to love him. It was only later that you found out that he’s a selfish a**hole who only cares about himself and does nothing but makes you feel worthless.
How to divorce your narcissistic husband and free yourself from his grip – in 7 steps
It’s not easy to break up with a narcissist. But here I will provide you with a step-by-step plan and list all the tools you need to achieve this as pain-free as possible.
It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your entire life.
It will require that you are prepared both mentally, physically, and economically for the hell to come.
Divorcing from a narcissist without any pain is like climbing Mount Everest without getting tired. It’s impossible.
The only thing you can do is prepare yourself well, have a clear roadmap of where you’re going, make sure you have help, and learn to control your fear as much as possible.
I’m here to help you with that.
I’ve helped dozens of women who were stuck in a relationship with a narcissist to get out of the relationship as painless as possible.
Here is my step-by-step guide on how to divorce a narcissist and come out on the other side safe and sound.
Step #1: Prepare yourself for the hell to come
Ask yourself: Which type of narcissist are you divorcing?
Approximately 1% of the male population has a narcissistic personality disorder. That’s 1 in 100 men.
But there are many more men who have narcissistic traits. They have similar characteristics but to a lesser extent. Which can cause the same problems you would have with a full-blown narcissist, but at a lower intensity.
On one side, you have men who don’t care about themselves at all. They are on the modest opposite side of a narcissist. And on the other side of the spectrum, you have the people that show all the signs of narcissism.
And they do nothing but systematically hurt and use everyone in their path. These are ones who are very sick. They’re often seeing a psychiatrist, or they should be. He needs a constant stream of attention, admiration, affection, and appreciation. Because without it he feels completely empty, depressed and his whole world falls apart.
It’s at the far end of the spectrum where it can get really dangerous. So it’s crucial to think about your physical safety. A narcissist under stress is very unpredictable so think hard about what type of narcissist you are divorcing.
“But Tim, I thought all narcissists were deeply insecure?”
That’s what science believed until recently. Because meanwhile, the opposite has been proven. Although some narcissists may have an insecure side to them, this is not the norm.
David Sullivan is a researcher specializing in narcissistic cult leaders. The first objective for him when working with people is to make it clear to members of the cult that the leader has absolutely no compassion for them. When the members realize this, it becomes increasingly easier to get away from the narcissist.
Because just like in that cult, a narcissist seems to be incredibly nice to you, most of the time. Sometimes a relationship with a narcissist can go well for several years before things turn really ugly.
You’ve seen glimpses of his true self behind the mask many times in the past. But you’ve always brushed it off as it wasn’t ‘a big deal’.
- Maybe he was just having a bad day, again?
- Maybe you did overcook the meat, and that caused him to lash out on you?
- If only you were more beautiful, cooked better food, commented on his good looks more, always understood him, and initiated the sex more often – then he wouldn’t be so cold towards you
Don’t take it personally, it’s not your fault.
Eventually, you can’t rationalize it any longer, not even to yourself.
It’s time to leave him…
But even if you bring up the topic and threaten to end that daily supply of attention, admiration, and affection – then you have another thing coming…
Your (soon to be) ex-husband is sick
You’re his addiction. You gave him the attention and admiration he craved. For a narcissist, that’s what heroin is to a junkie or World of Warcraft for a computer addict. He can’t function without it.
The moment it disappears from his life, it literally causes confusion in his brain. That can make him do all kinds of crazy things, purely out of fear of losing his addiction.
When that happens he can seem really sweet and kind. But this is all a facade. He does it only to get what he wants.
Don’t fall for it. Because if you do that you’ll find yourself back at square one and he’ll continue to behave exactly the same way as before.
But more on this later…
The moment you divorce him he’s going to try and find another woman as fast as possible
He’s primarily doing this to:
- Hurt you and make you jealous
- Get a new supply for his addiction
Many women who were previously married to a narcissist are surprised when their ex-husband finds a new partner right after they divorced. And they hate it, and wonder what’s wrong with him. They’re surprised he is able to date a new woman in no time. It seems like he doesn’t even suffer from heartbreak, or that their relationship didn’t even mean anything to him.
But what it really means is that he is not in control of himself and that his need for a new supply of attention and admiration has completely taken over him.
So instead of going through the heartbreak, he’ll lose himself in new women, and prolong the pain that will inevitably come. In that case, he just wants a new partner as quickly as possible. Who that woman is, doesn’t matter. It’s another symptom of his illness.
But, this has unintended benefits for you.
Because the sooner he finds a new girlfriend, the bigger is the chance that it will blow over faster.
Divorce becomes a lot easier when he has someone else to run to and it stops him from using you as his person to lean on.
Sure, he’ll still be horrible to deal with. But it’s not as bad as the narcissist who doesn’t get any love and attention anywhere else, and who has nothing but time to figure out how to get you back into his grip.
Step #2: Understand that he’ll do everything he can to get you back
I wish no one had to go through the process of divorcing or separating from a narcissist. Best case scenario, he’ll put enormous pressure on you, manipulate you, and try to mentally break you. And worst-case scenario, your physical safety is in danger.
He’ll punish you for not wanting to be with him anymore, and seek back his revenge.
“How can you give me up, such an extraordinary creature of humanity?”
He can’t stand the fact that his ‘narcissistic supply’ is drying up. That’s a term for the attention, affection, admiration, and appreciation you give him.
For him, that’s something he owns, and to which he has the exclusive right. He has slowly been sucking you dry to make himself feel better. And when it runs out, it can ignite a mad rage, so when you leave him, it could mean that all hell breaks loose.
Emotionally speaking, he’ll be all over the place because he’ll feel like he has nowhere to go. And at a time like this, he’ll do everything he can to get you back. More on this in just a bit…
So when you deliver the news, I advise you to be as far away from him as possible.
In addition, the more distant you are, the quicker he will go through his heartbreak, and the less the breakup will affect you.
Step #3: Get someone to represent you
Your husband will do everything he can to make your life miserable.
The best thing you can do to prevent that from happening is to avoid being at the forefront of the divorce as much as possible. Because he’ll seize every opportunity he can to get back at you for hurting him. And to stop that from happening, it’s best to get as far away from him as possible.
This is why it’s so crucial that you have someone else that represents you.
Don’t let him control the situation
When you are no longer at the forefront of the divorce, it becomes a lot easier for you to handle the whole situation. He will then have to deal with his emotions on his own and is not able to take them out on you. And therefore no longer stuck in a vicious cycle of disappointments with frequent attempts to punish and control you. Instead, you make the situation as impersonal as possible.
Here are some people that might be able to help you:
- A solid relative of yours. (Maybe a brother or father.)
- A strong friend or girlfriend.
- A relative of his, but who’s on your side. (Not always the easiest as the narcissist is an expert at convincing others that you’re the one to blame, and it’s all your fault. His family is likely to side with him, unfortunately)
Whoever it is… The important thing is that YOU avoid all direct contact with him and get someone to talk to him for you. That way he can’t hurt you more than he already has.
The narcissist wants to get you back in his grip and will use all the tactics he can during your divorce.
When you decide on which person to represent you, it’s best to consider someone who’s not sensitive to his manipulations. A person who’s very rational, strong, and who has your best interest at heart at all times.
Step #4: Create your plan for becoming independent of him
The first thing you’ll have to do is to make a list of your important belongings and valuables that you want to bring with you.
Write down a list of all your important possessions that are currently laying around somewhere or are currently being used by him.
It could be anything from:
- Photos or other things with a high personal value
- Valuable antiques
Take your time and give it at least a few days so you don’t forget anything. The narcissist tends to make his victims dependent on him. Make sure he can’t use this against you later on.
Double-check that you have direct access to everything you write down on your list.
- Is anything laying around in the attic?
- Or at his parents’ house?
- Or in storage or someplace where he’s the only one with a key?
Already start to think about the most important things you want to bring with you, and how.
Do you have bags to pack everything, or is that something you’d need to buy?
Who would be able to help you to move, or can you afford to hire a mover to help you with it?
Maybe you can subtly move one small item at the time over to a friend’s house. Things that he won’t notice.
Here are some important documents you should make a copy of to make sure they don’t suddenly ‘disappear’.
- Property documents
- Bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts
- Your recent pay stubs
- Lines of credit & Mortgages
- Tax returns – at least going back 3 years
- Registrations of any vehicle
- Papers of insurance
- Birth & Marriage certificates
- Passport/ID card/drivers license
Your secret bank account
It’s likely that you gave up most, if not all control over the finances to your man. This is one of the classic narcissistic ways he gets control over you.
One of the first things your abusive ex-partner is going to do when you deliver the news is to completely cut you off financially.
When that happens you need to have money saved up somewhere, that he can’t touch. That’s for helping you with any unforeseen expenses, retainers for lawyers, and other divorce professionals.
Here’s how you set up a new secret bank account:
- Create a new email address. (This is where you receive all the bank information.) It can be done in a few minutes here.
- Open up a new bank account in a NEW bank that you or your partner have not been using.
- Transfer some money to your new account every now and then. The sooner you start saving up, the better.
- Don’t even get a bank card (it’s too risky if he finds out).
Figure out where you and your kids can stay
The next step of your escape plan is to figure out where you’ll go when the sh*t hits the fan.
I’d recommend doing this at your work computer if possible to avoid any saved browsing history.
If that is not possible then do it from your phone using the Tor browser. But remember to uninstall it every time you have used it to avoid any suspicion if he checks your phone. Tor is a free and open-source browser that enables you to surf the internet anonymously. In other words, you get an untraceable IP address with no saved browsing history.
Do you have any close friends or family members you could stay with for a while until you find your own place?
- Where would you go if you had to leave in an hour’s notice? (If things turned to sh*t fast) Talk and confirm with the most suitable friend or relative, and write it down in your plan. Just in case.
- Is there anywhere you can stay for a month or two until you get your own place? Talk and confirm with the most suitable friend or relative, and write it down in your plan.
Step #5: Talk to a professional divorce lawyer with narcissist experience
This is a direct investment in your future and you should see it as such.
Because how your divorce plays out more or less determines how your future will become in every aspect of your life.
Don’t trust his word for anything. Remember, he wants to get revenge. And this could be a way for him to try and screw you over.
But he can’t fool a professional. So hire someone who knows what they’re doing, and who can make sure you get what you deserve.
Another good idea might be a divorce financial analyst.
Step #6: Start the nightmare, and file for divorce when you’re ready
You know better than I do whether your narcissistic husband can become violent, or whether he will only stick to manipulation.
Whatever the case might be…
The most crucial thing is that you look after yourself.
Make sure you and your kids are safe
I advise you not to take any risks and to put the safety of yourself and your children first.
The moment you reveal to him that you want a divorce, he will become overwhelmed by emotions he cannot control. And he certainly won’t have any feelings of empathy for you.
He’s going to do all kinds of insane things to get you back.
It can be anything from:
- Blast out in a mad rage and scream at you.
- Blame you saying it’s all your fault he mistreated you.
- Become physically violent and threaten you.
- Break down and cry and promise you it’s going to be different this time.
- Making you doubt and question your decision, such as “What’s best for the kids? You can’t do this on your own”
If you have children together, you’re never going to be completely free of him
He’s the father of your kid(s), like it or not. And there is nothing you can do to change that.
He will stop at nothing to make your life miserable because it feeds his ego and hunger for revenge. He wants to win at all costs and might even try and turn your son, or daughter (if they are old enough) against you.
Don’t let this fool you. It’s all a trick to get you back.
The best thing you can do is take care of yourself and your kids.
- Look after yourself.
- Try to eat healthily.
- Exercise (Yoga is a great way to let your thoughts go and to be more present).
- Spend as much time as you can with your closest friends and family members.
Your life is in for a nightmare and likely your toughest battle ever. Pace yourself, this is likely going to be a marathon. Don’t expect him to get tired after mile 10. It can last for years.
But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.
If you wake up when you’re sleeping on your friend’s couch and you…
- Miss your old kingsize bed
- or the big house
- the money or the frequent gifts he sometimes showered you with
- or that he sometimes was actually pretty sweet and kind to you…
When he tries to manipulate you, or make you feel guilty, this is a time when you’re especially susceptible to it. You have a lot of history together. You even got married. So of course, you don’t just forget all of the great moments you’ve had together, overnight.
But when these thoughts and memories arise, it’s important to remind yourself of the reasons why you want to divorce him.
And remember that a narcissist can NEVER change
It may not be as fun or as luxurious for the foreseeable future, but it’s just temporary.
You’ll get through this and become happier than ever.
Step #7: Break all contact with him
I recommend all women who’re going through a divorce to get as far away from their ex-husbands as possible. Whether this is because you wanted the divorce, or because he wanted to leave you: it’s the best in every situation.
This has two major advantages:
Advantage 1: You process your heartbreak faster
Do you remember a time in the past when you injured yourself and received a band-aid on a small wound? When it was healed you could either decide to pull the band-aid off very slowly or rip it off in one go.
The first option always hurts more than the second. However, with heartbreak, most people choose the former. They stay in touch with their ex and keep communicating on a regular basis, so neither of them never really realizes they’re not in a relationship anymore.
Here’s what I recommend you to do instead: Rip that band-aid off in one go.
That’s how you speed up the process of your heartbreak and limit the time you spend alone in front of Grey’s Anatomy with a bowl of ice cream.Every time you see your ex-partner you interrupt the natural cycle of heartbreak. Stop this from happening by pulling that band-aid off immediately.
Advantage 2: You allow your narcissistic husband to deal with his heartbreak
The principle mentioned above also applies to the narcissist. By keeping as much distance from him as possible, you deprive him of the possibility to interrupt his heartbreak cycle. He’ll have to deal with it right away.
- Is that something he’d like? No, definitely not.
- Is it something he would choose? No, definitely not.
- Does it reduce the risk of him imposing himself on you? Absolutely.
So don’t be afraid to break all contact with him, and let someone else handle all contact with him for you.
Block his number. Don’t answer any calls from an unknown number. And if he shows up at your doorstep, you don’t open.
If you have kids together and you need to communicate with him, then you can use a transparent communication tool such as,
- Talking Parents
- Our Family Wizard
That way he can never delete or hide any messages. It could also be wise to have as proof for a future reference if it goes to court. And to prevent the narcissist from being able to bend the truth.
This is how to divorce a narcissist and win back your life
I’m confident that if you try to think rationally and strategically as much as you can, let others talk with the narcissist for you, and you protect yourself – then you will get through this and become happier than you’ve been in a long time…
I wish you the best of luck. You got this.