It's safe to say when you began this relationship, you had no idea that your SO was a narcissist.
Narcissists are irresistibly charming and charismatic at the start of the relationship. They'll shower their partners with flattery, affection and gifts, but once the commitment is made, things start to go downhill fast.
Anyone who's lived through it will tell you that living with a narcissist is a nightmare. The only thing worse than being controlled by one is breaking things off with one.
It's easy to assume once the breakup is initiated, your nightmare will finally be over. But narcissists tend to ramp up their abusive tendencies during the breakup.
Separation can bring out the worst in even the most amicable of couples, but narcissists use the time to continue their crusade of fear and manipulation.
If you don't play the game carefully, strategically and without emotion, the whole ordeal can inflict severe psychological wounds.
It helps to have someone by your side who knows and understands how narcissists work. If you're married or have any joint belongings, experts recommend hiring a lawyer who has handled divorce cases involving narcissistic spouses.
Let's be honest, nobody wins in a breakup. But if both parties can come to a fair and just agreement, the end result is far more satisfying.
Narcissists are not likely to view any agreement as fair or just. They're in it to win it. There will be no negotiation and no mediation. Any sort of compromise on their part will be seen as defeat.
Narcissists need to be validated, and in this case, proven right. They'll say anything (no matter how far-fetched the lie) to get what they want.
The story they spew during the breakup will probably be far from the truth as they attempt to save face.
If you were married to this person, they will bring the baggage to the courtroom.
Narcissists will sling whatever mud they can get their hands on – whether it's true or not – just to see what sticks.
Be prepared for your partner to tell everyone how you're the bad guy, whether it be among your friend group or in front of a judge.
Narcissists lack empathy, have a desire to win above all else and could care less about the consequences of their behavior.
Your ex will work hard to pollute the waters and paint you black to your co-workers, family, friends and anyone else who will lend their ears.
No matter the situation or the circumstances of the breakup, narcissists will always view themselves as the victim. Your ex will want to know why you're "doing this to them," and will pin the blame on you entirely.
And when you try to bring up real issues that need to be addressed, the topic will be shifted back to you and your "poor qualities."
But no matter how inflammatory the remarks, it's important not to get lured into your ex's game. Take away your ex's power by ignoring these comments and staying focused on the issue.
If possible, keep communication to a minimum during and after the divorce. If kids are involved, you may need to discuss the logistics of visitation or travel, but it's okay to completely disregard any other communication. There's no need to continually reopen old wounds or expose yourself to your partner's abuse.
Your narcissistic ex will likely refuse to settle or negotiate during the breakup, especially if we are dealing with divorce.
Remember, narcissists only care about winning and getting what they want. There's no room for negotiation in their minds.
Whether it's dividing your assets or deciding on child custody and support arrangements, your ex will drag out the proceedings. If you aren't married, they will still likely play games with you throughout the whole process.
It can take years to heal from the wounds of a relationship and a breakup with a narcissist.
Having a good support system in place to help you handle the narcissist can help make the entire process smoother and less stressful.