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How to break up with a narcissist

Monday 15th of January 2024
By: Gillian Coote, Founder of Coote Family Lawyers and image: pexels

You provided an exceptional service ensuring I was fully aware of the legal issues, options available and guidance during all decision making.

Speaking with Body+Soul, Gillian Coote shares her tips on how to survive an especially difficult breakup from someone with narcissistic tendencies.

While few breakups are without complication or hardship, the process can be especially messy when your soon-to-be ex is someone who exhibits narcissistic tendencies.  

"[Separation] can bring out the worst in even the most unassuming people", explains the founder, managing partner and accredited specialist in family law, Gillian Coote.

"Therefore, when someone with narcissistic tendencies finds themselves in this situation, it can exacerbate their challenging behaviours and see them become extremely uncooperative and disruptive" she adds.  

According to Coote, such individuals may exhibit zero empathy, present as unprepared to compromise, and are likely to stall the process to maintain a sense of control.

Coote says it's important to understand what behavioural characteristics and motivations your soon-to-be ex is likely to retaliate with, helping you feel prepared to cope with any nasty revenge tactics or emotional outbursts.

"One of the most common traps people get caught in when dealing with someone like this, is to get distracted by the often anxiety-inducing drama these people like to create" explains Coote, sharing that they may victimise themselves, tell untruths, gaslight you, or bad mouth you to others.

"The best way to avoid falling into this trap is to not react at all and stay focused on the process" suggests Coote, urging you to concentrate on making progress toward your new future.  "By ignoring your ex's deliberate attempts to derail you, they'll eventually tire of trying to get a rise out of you."

Coote recommends putting in place (and abiding by) a few boundaries early on.  This step is especially crucial for couples who share children.

"This could be limiting contact to matters only related to children and family, setting rules around handovers with children, how you communicate, and where and when you interact with your ex in person" Coote says.  

Coote recommends communicating exclusively through a parenting app and keeping a record of any questionable or out-of-line behaviour just in case you need to reference it at some point in the future.

"People with narcissistic traits like to fight and love to win, so be strategic in picking your battles.  Consider what's most important to you and be prepared to compromise on certain, less important things".

 You can read the full article here: How to break up with a narcissist

If you need advice about your situation, please contact our team of top Melbourne family lawyers on 03 9804 0035

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