Divorcing a Covert Narcissist? Consider these Communication Tips

slightly blurred woman in foreground sitting at bar with man wearing suit in background sitting at the other end of the bar
Dec 30, 2021 | Sara Khaki

While there are plenty of narcissists out there, not all of them overly display the signs and symptoms of this personality disorder. These individuals might appear modest or shy initially, but behind that reasonable exterior is a person who is hypersensitive to criticism and lacks any empathy for other people.

If you have discovered your spouse’s covert narcissism, it is understandable to be considering divorce. While divorce is rarely easy, dealing with a narcissist in these situations can be especially difficult. By finding the right attorney and minding these tips for communicating with your covert narcissist spouse, you could get through your divorce and move on with your life sooner rather than later.

What is Covert Narcissism?

Covert narcissists—which are also referred to as vulnerable narcissists—do not display many of the signs that point to narcissism. Instead of a grandiose personality that is openly demeaning, these people are often shy, reserved, and even self-deprecating.

In the end, a covert narcissist is still a narcissist. This is still a person with a warped view of themselves who is unlikely to have any empathy for the people around them. Even if the outward signs of narcissism are hard to pick up, the demeaning and demanding behavior is likely to surface eventually. If dealing with the mistreatment of a covertly narcissistic spouse is too much, it may be time to pursue a divorce.

Communicating with a Covert Narcissist during Divorce

The key to dealing with a covert narcissist is communication. There are different ways to communicate with covert narcissism during the dissolution of a marriage. While a covert narcissist is unlikely to make the process easy, careful communication could simplify the divorce process and set the stage for a passable post-marriage relationship if there are minor children involved.

Manage Your Own Emotions

It is easy to get frustrated or angry with a covert narcissist, especially during a divorce. However, it is never helpful to let your emotions get the better of you in these situations. As satisfying as it might feel to lose your temper, this is likely to cause a covert narcissist to increase the tension and conflict and make the divorce more difficult.

Set Boundaries

It is unhealthy to engage in long, drawn-out conflicts with a spouse during the divorce process. This is especially true when divorcing a covert narcissist, as they are likely to have limitless energy for conflict.

By setting boundaries on the extent of communication you’re willing to have with your spouse, it could be possible to reduce the pressure and opportunity for conflict. For example having your communication go through an attorney during a divorce is a great way to set boundaries.

Don’t Take it Personally

Covert narcissists project their own insecurities and failures onto other people. That can leave a person facing unfair or unreasonable criticism during the divorce process. Instead of defending yourself, the best option is to not take what they say personally and focus on bringing the marriage to a close and smoothly as possible.

Let a Divorce Lawyer Help You Communicate with a Covertly Narcissistic Spouse

Without question, the best way to communicate with a covert narcissist spouse during a divorce is through an attorney. Doing so could reduce the stress of your situation and allow you to focus on the positives that come with getting a new start in life. Reach out right away to discuss your options with a legal professional.

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