Many of the expat destinations that attract us to a better life are lavish, luxurious, futuristic cities, twinkling their delights at us. They’re also interesting and challenging cultural melting pots, full of people with different backgrounds, different values and different goals, all living under the same sun. This diversity is what makes these destinations so much fun when things are going great and paradoxically what can make them so challenging when things fall apart. If you’ve fallen into the trap of marrying a narcissist, divorcing may be your only option.
With family and friends left behind and no one to help moderate their “out-their” behaviors, a person with Toxic Narcissistic tendencies can find themselves in deep waters before they even have time to blink. These expat havens can inadvertently help feed a Narcissist’s need to feel important and admired and with this need met, a toxic Narcissist’s sense of entitlement can grow stronger each day until eventually they believe that they are truly invincible. Couple this with the fact that they may believe that they are above everyone and can do no wrong and you have a recipe for disaster.
Further along the line if they are caught in behaviors inappropriate to their marriage, a toxic narcissistic doesn’t like to admit fault. When something doesn’t go their way, it’s because someone else messed up. There is often no way to rationalize with their behavior, even if they are the ones in the wrong, degrading their spouse and using their spouse’s weaknesses to add more power to their goals.
So why is it more challenging divorcing a Narcissist, whilst living abroad as an expat, than in our home countries? Living in a space where the laws can be misinterpreted, a toxic narcissist will use this to add to their spouse’s fear. This is made easier by the fact that the spouse will probably find themselves isolated, away from their trusted friends and family, not knowing where or whom to turn to for help, especially if they have allowed their spouse to convince them that everyone likes and admires the toxic narcissist over and above themselves.
If you are divorcing a spouse with a toxic narcissistic personality you can protect yourself by learning the telltale signs.
As a Relationship, Marriage and divorce Coach here are my 7 top tips for avoiding the toxic Narcissistic sting When Divorcing
1) Avoid being derailed. No matter how wronged you may feel, you will no doubt be reasonable and want to address and resolve issues justly. This may seem quite straight forward to you, after all you have been sharing your life with this person for a good number of years. You would hope that you can now uncouple in an amicable way. The problem is that Narcissists don’t want you to hold them accountable for anything so they will re-route discussions to benefit them. This type of diversion has no limits in terms of time or subject content, and often begins with a sentence like “What about the time when…”
Don’t be derailed. Continue stating the facts without giving in to their distractions. Redirect their redirections by saying, “That’s not what I am talking about here.” If they’re not interested, disengage.
2) Avoid revealing any of your vulnerabilities. If your biggest fear is that you could lose your children because you live abroad, or that you could lose your house because you are no longer in your home country, or that you could be declared unstable because of that time you took anti-depressants years ago and never told anyone, the Narcissist will load this up like bullets into a gun to fire at you.
For support share your fears with your Divorce Coach but avoid sharing it with your estranged partner.
3) Avoid nonsensical conversations. If you think you’re going to have a thoughtful discussion with a toxic Narcissist, think again. Narcissists like to use circular conversations, arguments, projections and gas lighting to disorient you and get you off track. They do this in order to discredit, confuse and frustrate you, distract you from the main problem and make you feel guilty for having thoughts and feelings that might differ from theirs In their eyes, you are the problem.
Spend even ten minutes arguing with a toxic narcissist and you’ll find yourself wondering how the argument even began at all. You simply disagreed with them about their absurd claim and now your entire childhood, family, friends, career and lifestyle choices have come under attack. Remember: toxic people don’t argue with you, they essentially argue with themselves and you become privy to their draining monologues.
Each time you attempt to provide a point that counters theirs, you feed them supply. Don’t feed the narcissist supply. Cut the interaction short as soon as you anticipate it escalating and use your energy on some self-care instead.
4) Believe in your true worth. Narcissists like to continuously move the goal posts. So even after you’ve provided all the evidence in the world to validate your argument or taken an action to meet their request, they set up another expectation of you or demand more proof. The goal posts will perpetually change and may not even be related to each other or the divorce. The sole purpose of changing the goal post is to make you beg for validation. By raising the expectations higher each time or switching them completely, toxic narcissistic people can instill in you a pervasive sense of unworthiness and pull you into obsessing over any of your own flaws or weaknesses instead.
Don’t get sucked in. Validate yourself. Know that you are enough and you don’t have to be made to feel constantly deficient or unworthy. If you find this a difficult task to do by yourself, find a Divorce Coach experienced in dealing with the fall out of Narcissistic behaviors and work on building your strengths.
5) Establish firm boundaries. Narcissists weave tall tales to re-frame what you’re actually saying as a way to make your opinions look absurd. Let’s say you bring up the fact that you’re unhappy with the way your spouse is speaking to you. In response, he or she may put words in your mouth, saying, “Oh, so now you’re perfect?” when you’ve done nothing but express your feelings. This enables them to invalidate your right to have thoughts and emotions about their inappropriate behavior and instills in you a sense of guilt when you attempt to establish boundaries.
Simply stating, “I never said that,” and walking away can help to set a firm boundary in this type of interaction.
6) Stay mindful of who you are and your own worth. Toxic narcissists often presume to know what you’re thinking and feeling. They jump to conclusions based on their own triggers rather than stepping back to evaluate the situation mindfully. They act accordingly based on their own delusions and fallacies and make no apologies for the harm they cause as a result. They can put words in your mouth or depict you as having an intention or viewpoint you didn’t possess. They can also accuse you of thinking of them as toxic as this serves as a form of preemptive defense.
Stay mindful of your reactions and stick to the facts. This is especially important for high-conflict divorcing with toxic narcissists who may use your reactions against you. Finding a Divorce Coach who is well versed in these behaviors is vital.
7) When all else fails and when they can’t think of a better way to manipulate your opinion or manage your emotions, narcissists will turn to name-calling. Name-calling is a quick and easy way to put you down, degrade you and insult while invalidating your right to be a separate person with your own perspective. Name-calling can also be used to criticize your beliefs, opinions and insights. Your opinion becomes “silly” or “idiotic”. They target you as a person and seek to undermine your credibility and intelligence in any way they possibly can.
End any interaction that consists of name calling. Don’t internalize it – this is not a reflection of you.
If you are considering divorcing or for more help in this area call or contact me through my website or on my number. With the right support you can overcome your worries, your fears, and your anxieties to go forward into a life filled with clarity and purpose once again.