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If you've discovered the meaning of the word narcissist because you're careening toward divorce, let us provide some tips on getting through it.

What’s the meaning of a narcissist? How to survive divorce

It’s no big secret that divorces can and do get ugly. This might be especially true if you find yourself married to a narcissist. Divorcing a narcissist will likely be an unpleasant, drawn-out affair. Anticipating how your narcissistic spouse is likely to act, based on their personality disorder, can help you weather the marital storm.

What is narcissism?

Although it’s commonplace to think of anyone who’s arrogant, overly-confident, or egotistical as a narcissist, pathological narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder are actually distinct psychological conditions that only apply to an estimated 1% of the population. In the field of psychology, narcissism is measured using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), which was developed in 1979 by Calvin Hall and Robert Raskin.

Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)

The Narcissistic Personality Inventory is best thought of as a scale or a graph. The NPI measures narcissistic traits and assigns people a score between zero and 40. Like most statistical data sets, the results over a large number of tests make up a normal distribution, or bell curve, with most people scoring somewhere close to the middle, or 20.

A person whose NPI score is extreme (close to zero or close to 40) is either an empath (a person with an extraordinary degree of empathy) or a narcissist. Everyone is different, but in general, narcissists exhibit:

  • A complete lack of empathy for others
  • An inflated and unrealistic sense of importance
  • An unquenchable thirst for attention
  • The belief that they are special, that the rules should even be bent or broken just for them
  • The belief that all others are inferior to themselves and unworthy of argument or explanation

Narcissism and marriage

It may be a tough pill to swallow, but if you suspect that you’re married to someone who is legitimately narcissistic, it’s important that you understand how your spouse likely views you.

Brace yourself. 

If your spouse is a narcissist, then in their eyes, you’re just an extension of them. They could have married anyone, so you’re lucky they picked you, and you should be grateful they put up with you at all. To divorce them is a ridiculous insult, the dumbest thing you could ever do; you need them. 

This is the attitude you’re dealing with, and your spouse believes it as sure as they believe the sun rises in the east. Obviously, this is asinine, but you can’t expect that this will ever occur to them.

In a marriage between two people who aren’t narcissistic, a lack of empathy is a sign of looming divorce that evades many. If you married a narcissist, though, there was never any empathy to begin with. Your spouse is likely to assume you’re the problem, that something must be wrong with you.

Narcissism and divorce

Narcissists are well known for their ability to appear charismatic when you first meet them. Don’t be surprised if, when you decide to call it quits, your narcissistic spouse reverts into the charming person with whom you fell in love; it’s a ploy, an insincere attempt to get you to change your mind and preserve your spouse’s self identity. 

Once a narcissist feels that they’ve manipulated you into staying, they’ll resume the attitude and selfish behavior that caused you to question your marriage in the first place. Their behavior will never improve because they simply aren’t capable of it. 

If you have no doubt that your spouse is a narcissist, you have to keep in mind that any positive changes in your relationship are temporary and artificial. Life is too short to spend it with someone who’s incapable of actually caring about you or anyone else.

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