The Narcissistic Ex

Were you married to a narcissist or recently broke up with one? If that is the case, then you have experienced how utterly painful divorce can be. You have to deal with the loss of the relationship or sense of family, and worry about the children and money. Yet to make matters worse, you are made to feel as if all those good years counted for absolutely nothing as your narcissistic ex will say or do anything that reaps him benefits at your expense. There is no loyalty or appreciation for all the good years and effort that you put in to the relationship. Now that you have split, whatever is in his or her best interest is all that counts. It’s depressing but it can also be frightening.

The Pattern

Why would anyone fall in love with a narcissist, the master manipulator? To begin with, narcissists are very charming and often present themselves so as to be attractive and charismatic. They are what the person wants them to be. They are often the center of attention and tend to be successful in whatever field they have chosen. When a relationship first starts with a narcissist, they shower their new partner with affection, admiration, and compliments. A narcissist appears to have really loved you- because falling in love feels so good to them. They thrive on being enchanted by a partner who sees them as the fantasy they imagine themselves to be. They adore you for adoring them and love being loved. Most people find that falling in love is just the first step toward a more intricate and intimate relationship. However, when the bloom of romance fades for the narcissist that is when things can get doubtful and risky.

As the high of being in love wears off, the narcissist begins to realize that being in a serious relationship will involve times that are not all bliss and that they cannot hide their own flaws forever. Furthermore, they cannot tolerate your flaws either as they feel it is a reflection on them. A narcissist will be super sensitive to criticism but will regularly dish it out without any remorse.

At some point either you or your ex had enough of the conflict and abuse and chose to break up. The stress of the split most often makes the narcissist even more difficult to deal with, and you will have to cope with the realization that you were never truly loved in the first place. It’s not easy.

Breaking Up

As you break up with a narcissist, be prepared for a battle unlike what you’ve experienced before. While you are an emotional wreck, he maintains composure and is as cold as ice. You are left to deal with the real-life responsibilities while he walks away from everything; you will be left to clean up the mess he has made and pay his bills. It is common for them to leave you to clean up the house while they clean out your bank account. He will find ways to punish you in ways you couldn’t possibly have ever imagined (even if he is the one who left, he will still blame you for the failed marriage).

The narcissistic ex will continue to act in abusive and manipulative ways. He may even engage in destructive acts. Once the breakup becomes a reality and nonnegotiable, his ‘false persona’ will probably disappear altogether and you will experience vengeful and hurtful behavior. He is completely lacking in empathy and remorse, and since he is no longer receiving narcissistic ‘supply’ from you – he will dismiss you and discard you (and the time you put into the relationship) as worthless to him.

The ex will consistently manipulate the children, often with gifts, to enlist their sympathy to his side. Yet he also will dump them at their mother’s house on his custodial days if he happens to have a date that night.


A narcissistic ex often finds reasons to remain in the life of the former partner and continues to present problems after the relationship ends. If you are in the process of ending a marriage with a narcissist, it is important to take full advantage of the legal system to help end the relationship in a safe manner. A therapist or support group can help people who have children with a narcissistic ex learn coping skills for interacting with the narcissist calmly and how to maintain personal boundaries. Narcissists are only concerned about themselves and can be unreasonable, selfish, emotionally volatile, and manipulative. It is important to avoid engaging emotionally with the narcissistic ex as that is a form of supply, and consistently reinforce strong personal boundaries.

Narcissists commonly launch personal attacks against their victims. When dealing with a narcissistic ex, refuse to respond to personal attacks and that may help de-escalate the situation. Responding back with equally strong emotion of one’s own can have the undesirable effect of making the narcissist feel validated and will encourage his behavior. Respond to the narcissist’s explosive emotions with calm detachment, perhaps using a statement such as “You’re obviously very angry.” Even if maintaining an air of calm in the face of narcissistic abuse doesn’t stop the behavior, many experts believe that it can stop the behavior from escalating.

Many narcissists also respond well to a flattering statement. Rather than emotionally engaging with the narcissist, try using flattery to suggest a change in behavior. Statements with flattery such as, “You’re so generous, I know you don’t mind sharing the cost of Billy’s school clothes,” can make the narcissist feel validated and secure, thereby minimizing emotional volatility and improving the chances of cooperation.
Most people with narcissism fail to respect the needs of others. A narcissistic ex may easily disregard personal boundaries since he will generally believe his own needs, desires, and feelings are far more important than others’. Dealing with a narcissist often means stating and re-stating your boundaries repeatedly, and consistently sticking with them. If you give in just once, the narcissist will continue to invade the boundaries you have set. It is not uncommon to have to reiterate your personal boundaries to a narcissistic ex at each new meeting. Most experts advise identifying the consequences that will occur if the narcissist crosses a personal boundary, and sticking to these consequences.

Narcissistic ex’s can be vindictive; they will tell lies to friends and family members in order to ruin the reputation of their ex-partner, attempt to blackmail their former spouses by threatening to spread vicious lies about them, steal money from them and even try to turn the children against their mothers. They can go into an explosive rage, sometimes becoming physically violent, when challenged. They will always lay the blame for the failed relationship on the ex-partner. Prepare yourself for battle.