Why is Everyone Suddenly Married to a Narcissist?
More than once a week, when a potential client is describing to me why they are getting divorced and need my help they say: ‘Open the dictionary and look up the word “narcissist” and you will see a picture of my spouse! They are a classic narcissist. I looked up the signs and they have them ALL.” Or something very similar.
I have some strong reactions to that.
Narcissism has become a convenient buzzword to describe a complicated person. It’s rare for someone to be clinically diagnosed with narcissism and yet, so many people are labeled as such by non-mental health professionals. In one-on-one relationships and without proper assessment tools, people are misdiagnosed as narcissists when they demonstrate problematic behaviors. Let’s go back to describing behavior as mean, self-centered, deceitful or suspicious without labeling a person a narcissist.
And here’s the most important thing. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that you are 100% correct in your “diagnosis.” When you are getting divorced, the task ahead of us is exactly the same. Our work does not change one bit if your soon to be ex spouse is a narcissist. We still have to figure out how to divide your marital assets and liabilities and, if you have kids, how the two of you can best co-parent them. Whether your spouse is a narcissist or simply a complex person exhibiting mean, self-centered and deceitful behavior, that is who they are and who they will be. As I often tell my clients: “You don’t have to diagnose them to divorce them. Let’s get to work figuring out what your future looks like.”