Divorcing a High Conflict Personality

Therapists are trained to help you become self-aware and self-confident when struggling through a divorce. Once you are self-aware, you can begin to find the right career, the right mate and the right track for your life. However, this is a “typical” scenario. And most people don’t understand that this type of therapy can actually make it very difficult for you to divorce or separate from someone with a very high-conflict personality.

Marriage and family therapist Virginia Gilbert believes that therapists need to stray from traditional philosophy when someone is divorcing a narcissist. Instead of allowing their client to be self-aware, they should encourage them to be strategic. Especially when children are involved, giving people the “traditional” advice to be vulnerable and open can really harm someone in a divorce process.

Here are four tips Virginia provides for divorcing a narcissist, or someone with a high-conflict personality:

1-   Minimize contact. More than likely, it’s when you’re engaging with your ex that his/her plan to make your life hell is underway. The less contact you have with the person, the fewer chances you’ll give them of using you. You may want to try to defend yourself, but he/she isn’t thinking rationally and you’d be wasting your time.

2-   Keep your feelings to yourself. It’s challenging to not express your feelings to a person you once, and still may, cared deeply for. But showing your vulnerability and “weak spots” will only empower someone who is truly a narcissist. He/she will interpret a different point of view as a threat, and it’s not worth the risk.

3-   Plan for the worst. Don’t believe that your ex will change and move on, because it probably won’t happen. Assume that he/she will do anything to make your life difficult, and plan accordingly.

4-   Stop trying to co-parent. Common advice tells spouses to try their best to make co-parenting work. But if you are divorcing someone with a high-conflict personality, you’re wasting your time. He/she could use your children against you, or use your kids to creat more drama. Consult an experienced Orange County family law attorney about the best ways to handle parenting throughout the divorce process.