Introduction

The holiday season can be a bittersweet time for those navigating life after a divorce or separation, particularly when a narcissistic ex-partner is in the picture. Managing the complexities of co-parenting and communication during festivities requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. In this guide, we will explore 7 ways to respond to a Narcissist, Narcissistic Ex-Partner.

1. Set and stick to Clear boundaries for all post-separation communication.

Following your divorce or separation communicating clear boundaries becomes paramount. The inherent need for control and manipulation often associated with narcissistic behaviour means you must clearly and often define and redefine your boundaries around communication.

For example: a narcissistic ex-partner will want to control your time, your availability and will make constant demands to speak with you. They often ‘guilt-trip’ you into picking up the phone and having long-winded and circular conversations or ongoing text messages.

Your response: You must be to tell your narcissistic ex-partner in no uncertain terms that you are only available at a specific time during the day and only for a 5-10minute duration. Most importantly you must have the self-control and discipline to stop when the time approaches.

Sample response via text:
“Thanks, got your message. I am available at 5 pm today for 10 minutes.”

2. Prioritise self-care during the Holiday Period.

The post-divorce period can be emotionally tumultuous and dealing with a narcissistic ex-partner during the holidays can intensify stress. Prioritize self-care by connecting with people you love and care for. By taking time for walks in nature, reading or listening to your favourite music.

Make sure that you have ex-narcissist free days. Remember you are divorced now; you don’t need to be in constant communication or even think about them unless it involves urgent or critical matters.

3. Maintain Positive and Calm Responses and Communication Style

All interactions with a narcissistic ex-partner must be positive (without fear), calm and in control by you. This is a learnt skill and with commitment, practise, and time you will master this incredibly powerful communication style.

Keep your messages polite, concise, and rational.

A good rule of thumb is to assume someone else may one day read your communication. Think about how you want to sound. The last thing you want is to sound like some crazy, emotionally unstable, and out of control person (remember this is what your ex-narcissistic partner wants to achieve). Don’t let them.

Sample of a decent and concise email:
“Hello [name]
Got your email/text/voice message. Yes, given what you said thought. Sorry doesn’t work with my schedule/my plans/our agreement.
Thanks, and take care,
[your name]

4. Strategically Plan for the Christmas and Holiday Events.

Anticipate and be one-step ahead of your narcissistic ex-partner during the holidays. Think and plan in advance what Christmas, New Year and the extended holidays will be like. Clearly communicate well in advance with your narcissistic ex-partner will also save you tension, stress, and headaches.

Most importantly do not change or shift your plans at the last-minute request of your narcissistic ex-partner. The moment you do this, is the moment that they believe they have the upper hand because they have again taken control of your plans during this period.

5. Think of your Children: don’t involve them.

Sometimes you will have to share the care of the children with a narcissistic ex-partner. As difficult as this may be, your focus must be the well-being (emotionally and physically) of your children. At no time is it appropriate, reasonable, or fair to involve your children in how you feel about their parent. Your feelings, views and thoughts are yours and must remain so.

Why is this? – Because children have a right to know and love their parents and extended family (unless they are being hurt or harmed).

Don’t:

  • Allow children to see or read text messages or emails.
  • Allow children to hear your arguments with their parent.
  • Ask your children what they think of their parent (no matter how old they are).
  • Ask your children to choose or decide when you as the parent are responsible for making decisions.

6. Seek specialist support from Divorce lawyers or Divorce counsellors.

In every person’s life there comes a time when some crises occurs. It may be illness, work-related or in your case divorcing from a narcissistic partner. It is your responsibility to seek and following the advice of expert divorce lawyers or divorce counsellors. This is too important to manage on your own.

Although you may think you are okay and can cope, it is always prudent to get early support from people who know what they are doing (because this is what they do every day) – remember this is not your expertise.

Of course, it’s your life and your pain this is understood, seeking help and assistance is a sign of empowerment and your willingness to grow, heal and move forward with strength.

7. Learn to let go of that which is not in your control.

The “control test’ is a brilliant tool that you can use to give you space and room to breathe and let go when things becoming overwhelming when dealing with a narcissistic ex-partner.

What is the control test?

Essentially in life you can control only 3 things (whether you agree or not or like it or not):

  1. Your character (that is who you are being; courageous, wise, measured, honest, fair etc).
  2. Your action (your behaviour, what you do or don’t do).
  3. Your reaction (how you respond).

Everything else outside this is ‘out of your control’.

Some things that are out of your control are:

  • What others think of you.
  • What your narcissistic ex says or does.
  • Understanding why your narcissistic ex is the way they are.
  • Whether your children will discover what the other parent is ‘really like”.
  • Whether others will forgive you.
  • Whether your narcissistic ex-partner will ever apologise.

Conclusion

You got this. With some considered and careful planning, setting clear and consistent boundaries and knowing what you can and can’t control you are on your way to handling with power your narcissistic ex-partner.

Prioritizing the well-being of yourself, your children and by seeking support are vital components of successfully navigating the post-divorce landscape with a narcissistic ex-partner.

More Information

Contact us, email info@cominoslawyers.com.au or call 02 8999 1800.

Cominos Family Lawyers established in 2010.

You can trust us to know everything there is to know about separating from a narcissistic ex-partner.

Disclaimer

The content provided here is general information. It is not intended to be relied upon for the legal advice.